Why should One Piece fans around the world be worried about Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the beloved anime series, Cowboy Bebop?
One Piece is one of the biggest media franchises in modern history and it’s safe to say that fans around the world are delighted to know that a live-action adaptation is being produced.
However, with any live-action adaptation of a beloved anime series, there is an exceeding amount of pressure to produce a show that not only satisfies the core audience but brings in new viewers to the franchise.
Whilst there have been a plethora of poor anime or manga adaptations over the years, those of us who are patiently waiting for the One Piece live-action series from Netflix should be worried by the platform’s recent attempt at Cowboy Bebop.
The One Piece live-action series
The One Piece live-action series was formally announced in July 2017, as part of the manga series’ 20th-anniversary celebrations.
Almost three years later, author Eiichiro Oda then confirmed in January 2020 that a 10-episodes adaptation had been ordered by Netflix, with producer Marty Adelstein later revealing that all 10 scripts had been written before the casting process had even begun.
On November 9th, 2021, the first cast members for the Netflix live-action series were revealed: Inaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy, Mackenyu as Zoro, Emily Rudd as Nami, Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp and Taz Skylar as Sanji. You can find a more detailed breakdown of the One Piece live-action series here.
Whilst there is a consensus from fans that the casting for these fan-favourite characters is a good thing, there are concerns that the upcoming One Piece series will be disappointing because of Netflix’s recent attempt at a live-action adaptation…Cowboy Bebop.
The Cowboy Bebop-flop
Cowboy Bebop is an iconic anime series that cemented its place in the anime-hall-of-fame shortly after making its debut in 1998.
So, when Netflix revealed in 2017 that a live-action adaptation was in the works, there was understandably a lot of hype and expectation from fans both past and present.
Fast forward to today, when the Cowboy Bebop live-action adaptation has been available to stream for a few days and the sentiment from fans is now unanimously negative.
There is only a handful of anime series that are more beloved and respected than Cowboy Bebop, one of which is the long-running One Piece. So, why should fans be concerned by the recent flop or are they two separate productions that can’t be compared?
Concerns raised for One Piece fans…
Netflix has a history of creating disappointing live-action adaptations of anime, manga and comic book series – there’s an entire Know Your Meme subsection simply titled ‘Netflix adaptation’.
However, the concern that the upcoming One Piece project will fall under that category has been emphasised by the discouraging reaction to Cowboy Bebop.
The sole reason why fans should be concerned is simple: both the live-action adaptations of Cowboy Bebop and One Piece are produced by the same company, Tomorrow Studios.
Tomorrow Studios, the team behind both productions, is a partnership between ITV Studios and producer Marty Adelstein – who also produces both series.
“Thinking about how bad live action Cowboy Bebop was I can’t imagine what’s gonna happen with Netflix One Piece, cause One Piece gets weird right out the door. Like Cowboy Bebop SHOULD’VE been easy to adapt into live action. One Piece is gonna be a mess.” – ‘Cartoonbrains’ via Twitter.
Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with Cowboy Bebop’s production, the reviews from fans of the original should be enough to convince you that things needed to be changed behind the scenes if the series was to be received more positively.
The only saving grace for Luffy and his crew may be the time taken on the scripts and wider production. Cowboy Bebop premiered around four years after it was first announced, but it will be closer to five years for the One Piece series as it’s set to make its debut in 2022.
Will that extra year of work on the scripts, set pieces and editing be enough to save One Piece from a fate similar to the Cowboy Bebop-flop? One thing is for certain; something needs to be different if Netflix was expecting both shows to be global success stories.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]