Three Reasons the Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Was Doomed from the Start


There’s something humorously monotonous about Hollywood’s growing list of artistic failures.  Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop is the latest exhibit in this Museum of Failure.


Each one is based on the same flawed business models, the same contempt of the audience and the same lack of creative energy.  is there any wonder they all meet the same ignoble fate? 


For the record, I didn’t so much as watch the trailer because this thing was such a pointless money-burning exercise that it wasn’t worth my time.  It still isn’t, but let trample the corpse of yet another creative debacle for fun and amusement.



The “Insult the Core Audience” School of Marketing

I really do not understand why studios continue to do this.  The whole point of buying the rights to a well-known property is that you get a pre-interested audience.  Instead of starting from scratch, a bunch of the public is automatically going to pay attention.


Once upon a time, this meant guaranteed revenue because everyone who liked genre movies would automatically buy a ticket.  Not any more.  It’s almost like there’s a how-to guide:


Old and busted:  “Hey fans!  We’re bringing back your favorite!  Watch this featurette about how we’re working hard to be true to the source material and make something you’ll absolutely love!”


New hotness:  “Hey fans!  Your favorite was always kind of dumb, so we’re going to turn it into something you’ll absolutely hate!  You’re all bigots and racists so give us your money!”



When you’re doing something with anime, this is doubly self-defeating because by definition you are dealing with a niche audience with very particular tastes.  It’s hard for anime to break into the mainstream, especially because the titles are often impenetrable.  I had zero interest in watching Cowboy Bebop for years because the name seemed incoherent nonsense.  Once you watch the show you get it, but it doesn’t exactly draw you in.



Punishment Doesn’t Make Good Storytelling

Starting in the early Aughts, Wokesters in Hollywood came up with the punitive remake, a product designed to annoy and piss off core fans by fundamentally altering the nature of property.  (Yes, I’m going to check my Battlestar Galactica box because that was the biggest, earliest example.)


Looking back, I think that Hollywood learned exactly the wrong lesson from Woke Battlestar Galactica because while it drew a tiny audience in absolute terms, it got a lot of attention and discussion going.  The show also leaned heavily on current political events which has made it more dated than Space: 1999.


There’s also the truth that just swapping genders (or races) doesn’t amount to good storytelling.  Even if you keep the name the same, changing something fundamental about a character results in a different character. 


Because the Woke are devoid of creative talent, they return to this play again and again because it’s easier than actually writing a good story with relatable characters.




The Live Action Delusion

This is a big issue and it seems to be getting bigger.  Having pretty much strip-mined live-action properties, Hollywood is now cannibalizing animation for spare parts.  The core issue here – which isn’t so much an elephant in a room as a beached blue whale sitting on the house – is that these are fundamentally different art forms.


Animation allows for a precise use of imagery, motion and voices that is impossible in live action.  Animation used to allow otherwise impossible backgrounds and effect, but CGI has eliminated this advantage.  Paradoxically, what that means is that live-action films are becoming more cartoonish.


The strength of live action films is their realism.  Hollywood used to be capable of making powerful and intensely relatable movies about people dealing with everyday problems like the death of a friend and the onset of middle age.  You’d think watching old friends hang out over a weekend would be mindlessly dull, but you’d be wrong.


Hollywood could also make great films about flawed people caught up in epic events beyond their control.


Instead, they’re spending their money making old Disney cartoons Communist-compliant and boring.


Cowboy Bebop | Opening Credits | Netflix


A New Power Rises

Nothing is truly too big to fail.  The collapse of the Soviet Union proved that.  History is littered with the carcasses of businesses that thought their size and bankroll made them invulnerable to market swings.


That’s still true today, and it’s why the tech oligarchs are waging a desperate struggle to lock out content they don’t own and don’t like.  It’s not working.


The advantage normal people have over the Woke is that we can make a pitch for our stuff that doesn’t rely on political fealty.  You should buy my books because they’re good, not because I agree with your politics.


Art used to bring people together and it can again, but only if storytelling comes before ideology.


On one level, Cowboy Bebop’s failure is just another self-own by clueless studio executives.


But on another it’s a sign that these people are incapable of reform and are burning up their cash reserves in the process.



Netflix came out of nowhere and it can go right back there sooner than anyone thinks.



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A.H. Lloyd

Obscure author and curmudgeon. Read my other ravings at and buy my brilliant books.