'Cowboy Bebop' Creator Reveals Anime's 'Star Wars' Origins

Cowboy Bebop stands as one of anime’s most critically acclaimed series. The space western went on to redefine the medium internationally and bolster its growing sci-fi interests. Now, the man responsible for Cowboy Bebop is opening up about the show, and he admits it came about because of George Lucas.

Or, well, rather the Star Wars prequels he brought to life.

Not long ago, the team at Otaquest shared an interview it conducted with Shinichiro Watanabe. The director was asked about the conditions which led to Cowboy Bebop’s creation, and he called out Star Wars specifically.

“There was a very real buzz on the streets in regards to a “Star Wars” revival which had everyone excited. This piqued the interest of Bandai’s toy division in producing something with spaceships as a central element — they thought both the series and affiliated merchandise would sell well. That’s why the offering of my “Bebop” project was taken,” Watanabe said.

Continuing, the artist said he was approached by Studio Bones for a pitch to kick things off, and the request prompted Watanabe to make up Cowboy Bebop in under a week.

“Masahiko Minami, who is now the president of Studio Bones, was someone I had known for quite some time. He approached me to ask if I had any good ideas for a new project, and after about 2-3 days of deliberating, something I had thrown together over the course of an hour known only as “Bebop” surfaced,” the creator admitted. “Usually, the things that are quickly slapped together become the big hits, rather than the ones you would painstakingly deliberate on.”

After more than twenty years, Cowboy Bebop has become a sci-fi franchise which Lucas would be proud to know he helped inspire. Yes, the Star Wars prequels are considered controversial to say the least, but they helped give Watanabe's brainchild a chance to grow. Now, Cowboy Bebop stands to follow in the footsteps of Star Wars as its first live-action adaptation is in development, so here's to hoping Watanabe will have better luck with the project than Lucas did with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

So, what do you think about this report? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!

Cowboy Bebop was first produced by Sunrise in 1998. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, with scripts written by Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, and songs composed by Yoko Kanno, the series explores many existentialist philosophies as it follows the adventures of Spike Spiegel, and a group of bounty hunter misfits aboard the titular spaceship the Bebop in the year 2071.

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