Netflix has debuted a new, live-action interpretation of the hit Japanese anime “Cowboy Bebop,” a story that has been described as an action-packed, neo-noir space western.
The new series, now steaming, stars John Cho as Spike Spiegel, one of three bounty hunters or “cowboys,” hunting down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals, all while trying to outrun their own pasts.
The original theme song, “Tank,” by Japanese jazz composer Yoko Kanno, has been given an electronic twist for the Netflix series by DJ Steve Aoki. Cho and Aoki chatted about the show and its music last week.
“I’ve always been into anime culture,” said Aoki. “And it’s just been such an iconic, classic anime growing up. And when I heard about [Cho] getting involved, that was very cool… And then I got to remix the iconic track, ‘Tank.’
Aoki said he’s not sure where he came into the conversation about a redeux for the music, be he’s grateful for the opportunity.
“This was a big deal for me, when it came to my table, that I could remix ‘Tank,’ because I was already an anime kid at heart. It was always tough when you have pressure on something so iconic.
“I wanted to make it groovy. The original is very jazzy. And electronic music is not jazz. It’s hard to take those types and put it in terms of something that’s very structured. But I wanted to make it groovy. I wanted people to dance to it. This is something you can play in a show or club. But you definitely play just sitting in your home or whatever.”
Kanno has returned to provide music for the new series, and Cho said that was eesential for the success of the project.
“What did ‘Cowboy Bebop’ mean to you as a Japanese American?” Cho asked of Aoki.
“I love when Japanese culture is being heralded and showcased,” Aoki explained. “And we can go back to classics like this. And revisit it and bring it back to this new life. And any time any sort of Japanese culture comes out, it’s really exciting.”
“Cowboy Bebop” is now streaming on Netflix. In addition to Cho, the 10 episodes also star Mustafa Shakir and Daniella Pineda.