Netflix knows what the people want, and that is a trailer for Cowboy Bebop starring John Cho. So, of course, we did not get that during their “Tudum” fan event on Saturday. Why bury Cowboy Bebop, one of their biggest projects coming this year, amidst the content avalanche of the “Tudum” event, when they can drop that trailer later, when it can, most likely, dominate the entertainment news cycle for a day? Instead of a trailer, we got the opening credits of the series, done in the style of the 1998 anime series. It’s not an exact recreation, but it’s close, blending animation and live action elements. It also uses the same song (“Tank!” by Seatbelts). You can see the original opening credits here and compare them. John Cho continues to look great as Spike Spiegel, and this opening sequence is showing off bits and pieces of the larger world in which he inhabits. It looks very cool. I look forward to an actual trailer.
I just worry that Cowboy Bebop might run into the “John Carter of Mars effect”, in which a text is so wildly influential that it starts to feel old and stale by virtue of having been copied so much. The anime series has influenced everyone from Rian Johnson to Joss Whedon to Quentin Tarantino. A lot of post-2000 sci-fi owes a debt to Cowboy Bebop, but could that influence bite it on the ass? It happened to John Carter. By the time Disney got around to making a live-action movie of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi/fantasy series of novels, it had so heavily influenced cultural touchstones like Star Wars that John Carter itself felt like a retread, even though it is the original thing. I really hope this doesn’t happen to Cowboy Bebop. I hope we’re far enough away from Firefly—most overtly guilty of lifting style and substance from Bebop—that this series has a chance at finding a wide audience. I want this for John Cho. I want this to be his defining leading man moment. It’s so long overdue.