Cowboy Bebop: How They Built the Bebop

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Published on 25 Nov 2021, 14:00
It's tough to categorize Cowboy Bebop. The wildly influential jazzy neo-noir space western has become "a new genre itself," and doesn't neatly fit into "science fiction." But even with its much bigger ambitions, Cowboy Bebop set a new bar for spaceship design. And translating these iconic animated spacecraft into live action was no easy task for the Netflix Cowboy Bebop show.

In this video, we delve into how the ships of the classic anime were recreated for the Netflix series, talking to showrunner André Nemec, production designer Gary Mackay, and visual effects supervisor Victor Scalise to get the inside scoop on their process.

For all its artistry and maturity, Cowboy Bebop began the same way as countless other animated projects: as a vehicle to sell toys of, well, vehicles. Creator Shinichiro Watanbe was initially given one instruction. "As long as there's a spaceship in it, you can do whatever you want," he was told. So legendary mecha designer Kimitoshi Yamane concocted the perfect fusion of anime aesthetics and Western "used future" style, giving the crew of the Netflix series a solid, if slightly intimidating platform on which to build their version of the Bebop.

In the anime and the Netflix Cowboy Bebop, Jet Black's Bebop - a massive fishing trawler turned bounty hunter bachelor pad - is depicted somewhat inconsistently in the original anime. For the uniformity required of live-action realism, the crew had to blend together the best possible version of the Bebop. But this was just one of many problems the team faced when transforming this and the other spaceships to live-action. Watch the video for the full story!

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