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The anime series was given a live-action reboot on the streaming service in 2021, and was cancelled after just one season.
Watanabe has now shared his judgement on the end product, which was developed by Thor: Ragnarok co-writer Christopher Yost – and revealed that he couldn’t make it past one scene.
“For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check,” Watanabe said.
“It started with a scene in a casino, which made it very tough for me to continue. I stopped there and so only saw that opening scene.”
He added: “It was clearly not Cowboy Bebop and I realised at that point that if I wasn’t involved, it would not be Cowboy Bebop.
“I felt that maybe I should have done this. Although the value of the original anime is somehow far higher now.”
When the project went into production, it was reported that Watanabe was brought on as a consultant by Netflix. The director stated at the time: “I have no choice but to pray and hope that it will turn out good.”
There was a lot of hype surrounding the reboot considering the original, released in the late 1990s, is revered as one of the greatest animated shows of all time.
Lead star John Cho called Netflix’s decision to axe the series “shocking” as he “was very warmed by the response”.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: “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.”