Cast Announcement for Netflix’s Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series

Netflix has announced that cast of its 10-episode live-action series adaptation of the 1998 Cowboy Bebop television anime. The announcement describes the series as a “TV drama.” Netflix also provided character descriptions with the announcement.

John Cho is Spike: Haunted by visions of the woman he loved and lost, Julia, Spike’s criminal past slowly catches up to him — putting him and the Bebop crew in the crosshairs of the solar system’s most lethal criminal organization, the Syndicate.

Mustafa Shakir is Jet: Jet holds tight to his honor and optimism, acting as a father figure to his misfit crew, always seeing the best in his partner, Spike… until it’s too late.

Daniella Pineda is Faye: She’s always on the search for the person with the key to her identity. In the meantime, she’ll fake it till she makes it.

Alex Hassell is Vicious: Once he was Spike’s best friend, now he’s his mortal enemy and is obsessed with taking him down.

Entertainment news website Deadline has also reported that Alex Garcia Lopez will direct the first two episodes.

Source: ANN

Anime Soundtrack Review: Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 is a 17-track CD that includes the opening theme song, as well as 16 of the musical pieces from the anime. The music is performed by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts.

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1
Publisher: Victor Entertainment
Release Date: May 21, 1998

The disc opens with “Tank!,” the iconic opening theme song for the Cowboy Bebop anime series. It’s thematically jazz in style, and it’s very catchy. As soon as you hear it, you instantly recognize what this song is. It’s a perfect opening song for the CD.

The seventh track on the CD is “Space Lion,” the song which was used as the ending theme in the episode, “Jupiter Jazz Part II.” It’s the longest song on the CD, but it’s just as recognizable to fans of Cowboy Bebop as “Tank!” is. It’s primarily an instrumental piece, but it’s very much on the melancholy side.

The fourth track is “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” and it’s a very catchy track. Apparently, it opens with a cover of Tom Waits’ “Midtown” before going into its own interpretation. To me, it’s one of the more memorable tracks on this CD, alongside “Tank!” and “Space Lion.”

“Rush” wears its jazz influence on its sleeve. That’s not a bad thing, though, since I have an appreciation for jazz music. To be honest, this is something I could hear on a jazz radio station, like the one I was a DJ at back when I was in college. While it may not be as catchy as “Tank!” or “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” it’s still a great song.

“Spokey Dokey” has a strong emphasis on the harmonica, which fits in with the “cowboy” portion of the anime’s title. This is another piece of music that sounds familiar to viewers of Cowboy Bebop when they hear it.

“Cat Blues” brings the disc back more toward the jazz side of the musical score. There’s a good arrangement here, and you can’t help but bop along with the song as it plays.

“Cosmos” is one of the slower songs on the disc. While it’s more on the jazz side, it’s not the upbeat jazz that appeared earlier on the soundtrack. For the sequencing of the disc, this is in a good spot, because the five previous tracks were all upbeat numbers. This, along with the next track, “Space Lion,” help to slow down the tempo and let the listener take a break musically by hearing something a little different.

“Waltz for Zizi” immediately follows after “Space Lion,” and it stays in the slower side. Is it just me, or does part of the music almost sound like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”?

“Piano Black” starts picking the pace of the music back up, right around the time I was starting to get a little tired of all the slow material back-to-back. “Pot City” is more of midtempo jazz number, with a strong focus on horns.

“Too Good Too Bad” is a more uptempo number, and it also has a strong emphasis on the horn section. While I can’t place where exactly I remember hearing this, it sounds very familiar to me.

“Car 24” is a more playful song, and it sounds like something that was intended for a more lighthearted scene. “The Egg and I” is also a more playful number, and I can’t help but move along to it as I listen to it.

“Felt Tip Pen” has a bit more of a country and western feel to it when compared to most of the songs included on this soundtrack CD. But since some of the show has a bit of a “wild west” feel to it, it shouldn’t be surprising to occasionally have a piece of score music more in this vein.

“Rain” is a song with lyrics that are sung by Steve Conte. This is a case where I believe the Japanese singer’s version was included in the anime. But this version is still very well done, and Conte has the voice to pull this off. The liner notes for the CD have the lyrics for this song printed in them.

“Digging My Potato” is another song with a heavier focus on the harmonica, and it’s more on the slower side. The CD concludes with “Memory,” which is probably the piece of music you hear the most in the series outside of “Tank!” This slower song almost sounds like you’re listening to a music box, and it’s a piece you hear right at the beginning of the first episode. You also hear it during important moments of introspection. The version of here is specifically used when referring to Spike Spiegel’s past.

I have a strong admiration for Yoko Kanno’s work, and this CD highlights just how versatile of a composer she is. I can’t say that any of the songs included in this release are weaker than any of the others. The sequencing decisions that were made help to make this soundtrack an enjoyable listen, and it sounds like the songs flow naturally from one to the next.

If you’re a fan of Cowboy Bebop, I would highly encourage you to add Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 to your music collection if you haven’t already.

Netflix to Produce a Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series

Netflix has announced that it is producing a 10-episode live-action series adaptation of the 1998 television anime Cowboy Bebop. Variety noted that the series has been in the works since 2017. Netflix did not announce a release date for the series.

The series is a co-production between Netflix and Tomorrow Studios, with Netflix handling physical production. Tomorrow Studios is a partnership between producer Marty Adelstein and ITV Studios. Shinichiro Watanabe, the original anime’s director, will serve as consultant for the project. Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio are credited as showrunners and executive producers.

Tomorrow Studios’ Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements; Yasuo Miyakawa, Masayuki Ozaki, and Shin Sasaki of Sunrise (the studio that animated the original series); and Tetsu Fujimura and Matthew Weinberg are also credited as executive producers.

Chris Yost will write the first episode, and is also credited as executive producer.

Source: ANN

List: My Favorite Anime from the 1990s

About a year or so ago, I posted a list of my favorite anime from the 1970s and 1980s. Today, I have decided to post my personal five favorite anime from the 1990s. There are two titles on this list that technically began airing in 1989, but the majority of their run on Japanese television was during the 1990s, so I am including them on this list. But as is usual with my lists, it is being presented in alphabetical order rather than being a Top 5 list.

Cowboy Bebop

I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that Cowboy Bebop made the list, since it’s considered to be such a classic now. It really has withstood the test of time, because the creators of the show made sure not to utilize elements that would have made it feel dated years later. This is especially true when it comes to the music. Yoko Kanno’s score is brilliant, and it still sounds just as fresh now as it did when the series first premiered around 20 years ago.

Cowboy Bebop really stands out from a lot of its contemporaries, due to how it was able to combine several different influences viewers wouldn’t normally expect to see together. But the writing is so well done that these disparate influences work well together.

Dragon Ball Z

After the Dragon Ball series, Dragon Ball Z took the franchise to a whole new level. There’s more sci-fi elements involved, and the addition of the Saiyans to Goku’s back story really changed the tone and storytelling for the franchise. There’s still plenty of fights, though, so it doesn’t lose its roots as a fighting anime.

Admittedly, as the series goes on, the power ups and fights can get a little ridiculous at times. However, many of the characters in the franchise, whether we first met them in the original Dragon Ball series or in Dragon Ball Z, are fun and interesting enough that it helps the viewer overlook some of the absurdity and ridiculousness of the power ups.

The Dragon Ball franchise is still going now, thanks to Dragon Ball Super, which is a testament as to how much of a classic this anime has become over the years.

Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday is a Studio Ghibli film directed by the now late Isao Takahata, and it was released in Japanese theaters in 1991. It may have been a Studio Ghibli film, but it’s not what one would now consider a “typical” film for the studio.

The main protagonist is an unmarried 27-year-old office lady named Taeko, who has lived her whole life in Tokyo and works at a company in the city. At the beginning of the film, she decides to take a trip into the country to help her elder sister’s husband with the safflower harvest.

While traveling on the train, she recalls memories of when she was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in 1966.  When she reaches her destination, she meets and is picked up by her brother-in-law’s second cousin, Toshio. The film shows Taeko learning about harvesting safflowers, getting to know the family she’s staying with, and the time she spends with Toshio. Taeko’s memories of her 10-year-old self are intertwined with what’s happening to Taeko in Yamagata, and Taeko finds herself questioning her feelings and what she wants in life.

I really enjoyed Only Yesterday, and thought it was a very well-done film. It probably helped that I was in my later thirties when I saw the film for the first time, so I was able to understand where Taeko is coming from.

Ranma 1/2

This anime has become quite the classic, with its quirky humor, martial arts mayhem, and romantic comedy. Ranma and his father, Genma, fell into the cursed springs at Jusenkyo, and Ranma now turns into a girl and his father into a panda when they come in contact with cold water… and hot water returns them to normal. Genma and his old friend, Soun Tendo, arrange an engagement between Ranma and Soun’s tomboyish daughter, Akane. These two really hate each other at first, but seem to grow closer as the series progresses. But as new potential love interests for both characters enter the scene, some very strange love triangles (or whatever shapes they end up making) develop.

The series is definitely at its strongest in the earlier episodes of the series. By the end of the series, though, the stories are nowhere near as strong. Unfortunately, since the manga was still ongoing when the anime was being produced, there was never a true ending for the series. However, as readers of the manga know, there still wasn’t a true ending in that version, either. But even with some of its weaknesses, Ranma 1/2 is still an enjoyable comedy series and deserves being called a classic anime.

The Vision of Escaflowne

The Vision of Escaflowne follows a 15-year-old girl named Hitomi Kanzaki, and she’s a runner for her school’s track team. She has a fascination with tarot cards and fortune-telling, which ties in with a pack of tarot cards and a mysterious pink pendant that her grandmother gave her when she was a little girl. Hitomi learns that Amano Susumu, a boy on the track team that she has a crush on, will be leaving her school. Hitomi asks Amano to watch her do a practice run; if she beats her time, she wants Amano to kiss her. While in the middle of her run, a boy about Hitomi’s age named Van Fanel suddenly appears on the track; the boy is wielding a sword. A dragon appears, and together, Van and Hitomi defeat it. After Van claims a stone from the dragon, both he and Hitomi are taken a planet called Gaea.

Hitomi and Van find themselves having to fight the Zaibach Empire, and are aided by a steampunk mecha called Escaflowne. Other characters join their party, and the story really takes off.

As the relationship between Hitmoi and Van develops over the course of the series, I found myself wanting to see the two of them somehow be able to remain a couple if Hitomi finds out how to return to her world. Without providing spoilers, all I will say is that even though the series may not have ended with the “happy ever after” ending I was hoping for, it still ends in a realistic and satisfactory manner.

The Vision of Escaflowne mixes fantasy, steampunk, mecha, and romance to create an interesting and compelling story, and the animation really complements the story. Many of the protagonists in the series are characters that the audience can relate to and care about.

Even though I’m heaping all this praise of the anime series, I would highly recommend avoiding Escaflowne: The Movie. It’s a re-telling of the anime series, and for me, it just wasn’t very enjoyable.

FUNimation Entertainment to Screen the Cowboy Bebop Anime Film in U.S. Theaters From August 15-16, 2018

FUNimation Entertainment’s Funimation Films website is listing that it will screen the Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door anime film in the United States on August 15, 2018 (English subtitles) and August 16, 2018 (English dub).

The film originally opened in Japan in 2001, and screened in the U.S. previously in 2002 and 2003. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on DVD several times between 2003-2005, and Image Entertainment re-released the film on DVD in 2010-2012. Image Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray Disc in 2011.

The Cowboy Bebop anime series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Source: ANN

New York Comic Con to Host Cowboy Bebop Writer, Character and Mecha Designers

FUNimation Entertainment has announced that it will bring character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, and mechanical designer Kimitoshi Yamane to New York Comic Con as guests. They will appear at a 20th anniversary retrospective for the Cowboy Bebop anime.

FUNimation is hosting a campaign to win a dinner with all three staff members. Entries are open to those who are attending and have purchased FUNimation’s Cowboy Bebop 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. Three random winners will be selected from all entries submitted before July 13, 2018.

A co-founder of the BONES animation studio, Kawamoto is best known as the animation director and character designer for Cowboy Bebop and Wolf’s Rain. His other designer credits include Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, Golden Boy, Noragami, and Blood Blockade Battlefront. He also served as a key animation director for Sword of the Stranger, Escaflowne: The Movie, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Eureka Seven. His career as an animator includes titles such as the first Mobile Suit Gundam series in 1979, Nadia – Secret of Blue Water, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Nobumoto debuted as a scriptwriter after winning the Third Fuji TV Young Scenario Grand Prix. She has written for live-action, animation, and stage. She handled series composition for Cowboy Bebop and Wolf’s Rain, and wrote the screenplay for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, and collaborated with Satoshi Kon on Tokyo Godfathers. She has also contributed scripts for Space Dandy, Macross Plus, and Samurai Champloo.

Yamane began his career as a mechanical designer after approaching the animation planning and production company ARTMIC with a project. He later went independent, and has since provided mechanical design for anime such as Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne: The Movie, Infinite Ryvius, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, and Mobile Fighter G Gundam.

New York Comic Con will be held at the Javits Center in New York City from October 4-7, 2018.

Source: ANN

FUNimation Entertainment Is Gearing Up for a 20th Anniversary Release of the Cowboy Bebop Anime

FUNimation Entertainment will be marking the 20th anniversary of the Cowboy Bebop anime with a new box set release. There are actually three box sets planned, but if any of the three options receive over 1,000 pre-orders, that will be the one that will be produced.

Pre-orders start from May 1, 2018 until May 31, 2018 via FUNimation’s Cowboy Bebop anniversary site. The general purchase period will tentatively begin on June 4, 2018 and last until July 13, 2018.

All three verisons include the TV series and movie bundled with vinyl record versions of the soundtrack and an all-new hardcover art book.

The three releases are as follows:

Bebop Crew

  • Two PVC figure bookends featuring the Bebop crew
  • The complete series plus Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door on six Blu-ray discs in a digipak disc holder
  • On-disc special features including a newly recorded extra
  • Two-LP vinyl record set of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack
  • 200-Page hardcover art book featuring illustrations and newly-translated intensive liner notes by Dai Sato
  • Five lithographs
  • Suggested retail price: $500

The Boogie Woogie Box

  • The complete series plus Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door on six Blu-ray discs in a digipak disc holder
  • On-disc special features including a newly recorded extra
  • A unique display rigid box with metal clasps
  • Two-LP vinyl record set of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack
  • 200-Page hardcover art book featuring illustrations and newly-translated. intensive liner notes by Dai Sato
  • Five lithographs
  • Suggested retail price: $350

The Bounty Hunter’s Steel

  • Limited Edition Rigid Collector’s Box
  • The complete series plus Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door on six Blu-ray discs in three steel collector cases
  • On-disc special features including a newly recorded extra
  • Two-LP vinyl record set of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack
  • 200-Page hardcover art book featuring illustrations and newly-translated intensive liner notes by Dai Sato
  • Five lithographs
  • Suggested retail price: $250

Source: Forbes