John Cho Was Understandably Bummed By The Cowboy Bebop Cancellation

When news broke of a live-action adaptation of one of the most influential anime series of all time, fans lost their collective minds. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the original animated "Cowboy Bebop" ran over over 26 episodes ("sessions") on Cartoon Network, and was the first anime to air on the Adult Swim block and credited for bringing scores of western anime fans into the fold. Finally, the deep space adventures of bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine would get a flesh-and-blood retelling, with beloved star John Cho in the lead. The show, highly hyped by Netflix, dropped on the streamer on November 19, 2021 with big shoes to fill. André Nemec, developer of the live-action adaptation, told Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos that he was so ready that he was locked and loaded with material for season 2, should Sarandos give the green light.

That light never came; the 10-episode season of "Cowboy Bebop" arrived on the streaming giant to great fanfare, but critical and fan response was underwhelming. "A pale imitation," "artificially prolonged," and "at worst, a parody of itself" were among the complaints on social media, though /Film's Danielle Ryan had kind things to say, calling it, "like a cover song by artists who love the original." As such, the show was canceled in December after its first season due to low viewership numbers, and no one was more disappointed in the cancellation than the show's lead, John Cho.

See you later, Space Cowboy...

The "Harold and Kumar" star spoke with THR on his debut middle-grade reader novel "Troublemaker," and the subject turned to the rise and fall of the "Bebop" adaptation. Here's how he felt:

I put a lot of my life into it. I'd gotten injured shooting that show and so I took a year off because of the surgery and devoted myself to rehab, came back and finished the show. It was this huge mountain for me to climb, healing from that injury. I felt good about myself as a result. We also shot the show in New Zealand, so my family moved there. It was just a huge event in my life and it was suddenly over. It was very shocking and I was bummed. But I was very warmed by the response. I wish I could have contacted everybody and gotten hugs. You can't do that now, but ... I don't know what this is. I'm mystified a little bit about how you can connect with people that you don't know doing your work, but I won't question it. I will value it and treasure it. I'm just really deeply appreciative that anyone would care. It's stunning to me.

Next up for Cho is Hannah Marks' adventure dramedy "Don't Let Me Go," about a single father who takes his teenage daughter on a road trip to find her estranged mother, as he tries to teach her all of life's lessons along the way. The film is currently in post-production.