Netflix has been known to cancel quite a few notable projects after a single season, and unfortunately a surprise to many, their new take on Cowboy Bebop has now been added to the list after it was also unceremoniously canned following its debut last month. The series now joins an increasing group of popular series seemingly cut before they had a chance to truly blossom, and while this new take on Cowboy Bebop was not without its criticism from fans of the original anime it was also a huge hit to much of the general Netflix audience instead. But it was not enough.
Cowboy Bebop's cancellation seems particularly surprising not because it's a huge anime adaptation that caused a stir with many fans of the original, but because it received such a huge push from Netflix. It's part of their greater effort to expand their original anime productions and licensing, and live-action projects have seemed like the next major step of this endeavor as they already have a number of other potential adaptations now in various stages of productions. Now the burning question remains, what does Cowboy Bebop's cancellation mean for those future live-action anime projects?
It could mean quite a lot, actually, depending on the lessons Netflix takes from this experiment. Cowboy Bebop might not have been an immediate hit with fans of that original anime, but it spent quite a lot to nail down specific elements of the original's look. This also goes into how much was spent in its promotional materials, licensing, and more. Couple this with the fact that Netflix's own performance numbers are largely a mystery for each series, and one could guess that the cost of this series combined with its performance numbers in the first few weeks resulted in a weaker response than Netflix had hoped.
It isn't exactly clear as to whether or not the negative response online had impacted the decision either, but it surely didn't help. This is what will ultimately seem like a failed experiment due to how open ended Cowboy Bebop's only season really is (that ending clearly was written with a Season 2 in mind), and unfortunately also now puts an even heavier weight on future projects to succeed. Netflix could respond to this by taking even less live-action anime adaptation chances (which is probably what many want, ultimately), but could also trim down their current plans.
As of this writing, Netflix most notably has the live-action licenses for Sword Art Online, Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. These are all in various stages of production (with Airbender now filming its first season), and there are even more licenses that have yet to be announced. Each of these new projects will have a much closer magnifying glass, and are no longer guaranteed to have follow up seasons. Cowboy Bebop fans had all the confidence the series would be moving forward, but even something like that is no longer set in stone.
One Piece is touting its new production as a Season One, and Avatar: The Last Airbender likely won't be wrapped in a single season either. Yu Yu Hakusho is the first in a huge new collaboration with TOHO, so that might be planning for more than one season also. But these shows need to carry themselves with the idea that a single season might be all there is. This could also serve as a positive to the other shows as well, but it's not exactly set what fans will want from each production either. It's not as easy of an answer as simply being more faithful to the anime, nor is it easy as approaching it as originally as possible. It's going to be a lot of wild swings to see what sticks.
Netflix's Cowboy Bebop decided to land somewhere right in the middle, and apparently wasn't suitable for anyone. This means each new show is going to need to toe that line even more cautiously because a second season is no longer a given. It's an even riskier game than before, and now these adaptations are about to swing for the fences just for a chance to continue. It's a real wild west of new releases coming our way. But what do you think?
How do you feel about Cowboy Bebop's cancellation? Does it make you curious for Netflix's future live-action anime releases? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!