The Live Action Cowboy Bebop, or Animating Casablanca

What would the reaction be if Hollywood announced an animated remake of Casablanca starring Michael Keaton as Rick and Halle Berry as Ilsa?

The response, I imagine, would be overwhelmingly negative, and rightly so. Casablanca is as close to a perfect movie as you can get. It needs a remake less than pretty much any other film ever made. So what would be the point? There is no choice you can make, no new angle you can explore, that will improve upon the original film while still being a version of the same story.

Moreover, Casablanca is an indelible piece of film history. It is a landmark film, one of the greatest pieces of popular culture made in the 20th century. It SHOULD be left alone, because that’s what you do with landmarks. You preserve them. You keep people from messing with them.

And what would be the point? Literally any result is going to come out and be compared negatively to the original. It’s not going to give you anything of value.

Well, we all know the point.

But still.

Hey, in unrelated news, Netflix is making a live action version of Cowboy Bebop!

Yeah. Here’s the thing. Cowboy Bebop is not *just* a classic show. It’s not *just* critically acclaimed. It is an absolute masterpiece, not only one of the greatest and most consistently excellent shows ever but one of THE landmark shows of…well, anime. Its influence pretty much can’t be overstated, in Japan, yes, but even in the states. It was one of those shows that was pointed at by Americans when they wanted to show people that anime could tell REAL stories with REAL depth. It in a very big way brought respectability to the medium. And even today it’s still used for that purpose, because both the overall story and the individual episodes still show a maturity and originality in their storytelling that just isn’t normal for, well, anything. Not just anime, shows and movies generally.

So what the hell are we doing remaking it?

Okay, yes, we know what we’re doing.

But we shouldn’t be okay with this, any more than we should be okay with remaking Casablanca. The spin is already beginning. “If it’ll introduce the show to people who wouldn’t pay attention otherwise, what’s the harm?” Well first, who cares if people don’t want to pay attention, and second, the problem is that time and attention is being given to THIS and not original works…or at LEAST some sort of story that could actually justify a remake.

Trigun, for example, is an all time classic anime, one of my favorites, but like Fullmetal Alchemist it ended up going off on its own path separate from its much longer, also fantastic manga. An adaptation that goes through the manga more faithfully actually wouldn’t be terrible to see. Of course, I wouldn’t want it to be live action in a million billion years, but one thing at a time. At any rate there certainly are stories that can use the remake treatment, if you REALLY are that incapable of coming up with new ideas. This is not one of those stories.

The second biggest defense goes something along the lines of “Pffffffft, it isn’t as good as people say it is anyway, there’s totally stuff you can improve on!”

Indeed, there is. I always thought Lazlo was a bit of a cipher – he’s fine, but it would be nice if he had a little more of a personality. Maybe Ilsa could stand to have her personality livened up a bit too? She’s just a tad one note as well.

Oh, wait, I’m sorry. We were talking Cowboy Bebop, right? Well, no, not every single episode is literally an all time classic.  Sometimes they don’t get the balance of humor and drama quite right. I would have made maybe some slightly different creative choices in the amazing two part finale. And of course certain episodes are executed more expertly than others. We-ee-eeee-llllllll, you know what that means! Remake time, kids!

No.

Sigh. Look guys. Cowboy Bebop is as close to perfect as you’re going to get in a show.  Everything about it works – the insane and insanely catchy Yoko Kanno soundtrack, the characters, the animation, the visuals, the dialogue, the overarching story arc as well as the individual storylines involving the leads…everything is pitch perfect. It Does. Not. Need. A. Remake. It should not get one. The way it ended? The final shot of the show? I-freaking-conic. That was the end of that story.

Sure, a follow up movie was made…with the same team, in the same continuity, in between episodes of the original series, that could also work as a standalone. And guess what? If they announced they were doing that, *everybody would be on board*! But they’re not doing that. They’re saying “Yeah, it was good, but look at how *I* do it!”

Newsflash: You aren’t going to do it as well. Nobody will be impressed.

And the script for the first episode leaked. Hey, look, Jet is gonna be a black dude! This is so important that screw color blind casting, we’re gonna write it into the script! What are you, racist?

Just say no. Stop taking all of the crappy, cash grab, live action knock offs of animated classics. We don’t need them. I know I don’t want them. But Hollywood is going to keep making them because, well…

Yeah.

So don’t give them that money. Don’t let them animate Casablanca.

We can do better.