André Nemec, the showrunner for Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the monstrously popular 1998 anime series Cowboy Bebop, has said many times that fans shouldn’t expect his show to be a one-to-one remake of the original. That was abundantly clear when the first Cowboy Bebop trailer dropped this week, which was recognisably Bebop, but offered glimpses of some of those small changes will annoy nitpicky fans and likely no one else. But now Nemec has revealed what is perhaps the most important change to the new show.
In an interview with Syfy, Nemec said the show’s “aged-up feel” was quite intentional, and for good reason. He calls the anime’s characters “a little archetypal,” and he’s exactly right. It doesn’t do the anime any harm and it’s appropriate for the medium, but a live-action series required adding a bit of depth to Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda): “I think that really became clear to me that to really feel for these characters, to really want to track and live with them, they needed real depth of life experience in their soul.”
But the anime still provided the road map for what those expanded experiences would be: “Spike Spiegel is a cowboy with a broken heart, that really is who he is at his core. Jet Black is the eternal optimist, a grumpy guy with a heart of jelly beans. Faye Valentine, at her core, is a survivor. Someone who is not going to let the hardships of the world around her, while they try to keep kicking her down, she continues to press forward. We looked at all of these things. And once we had those, we then began to craft stories for these characters.”
It’s as Nemec has said before, it’s all about keeping true to “the spirit” of the original anime. Of course, how much success he had keeping true remains to be seen until November 19, when Cowboy Bebop premieres on Netflix.