Cowboy Bebop is quite possibly one of the most popular and iconic Anime to exist. Created in 1997 as a Manga created by Cain Kuga running in the pages of Monthly Asuka Fantasy DX. Set in the 2071 some fifty years after and incident made the Earth uninhabitable humanity has finally pushed its way into the stars colonizing and inhabiting the solid rocky planets of the solar system. Since the crime rate began to rise an intergalactic police force developed a legalized contract system where Bounty Hunters, referred to as Cowboys, could hunt down and turn in criminals for a rewards. The Anime was written by Keiko Nobumoto and directed by Shinichirō Watanabe. Cowboy Bebop is often credited as a gateway for new fans into Anime especially Western viewership. In early June of 2017 it was announced that Tomorrow Studios was developing a live action television adaptation of the Anime being written by Chris Yost. With Hollywood’s history of whitewashing Anime adaptations its safe to bet that the same fate will potentially fall upon this Cowboy Bebop adaptation, however I figured I’d help them steer clear with a fancast.
Takeshi Kaneshiro as Spike Spiegel (スパイク・スピーゲル)
Born on the planet Mars in the year 2044 Spike is a former member of the Red Dragon Syndicate, a Mars based Yakusa inspired crime organization. Spike general shows an offhanded cavalier attitude, but Spike isn’t a stranger to compassion when it’s needed. He is very slothful and indifferent to most situations and people. Just like Faye he is also quite lazy and perfers to spend much of his time watching tv, lounging, or sleeping. Spike is a helluva martial artist with his style and movements being heavily based on the legend Bruce Lee. Many may recognize Takeshi as Captain Jin from the classic House of Flying Daggers. Takeshi is an immense talent who can more than handle the role of the former criminal and The Bebop’s main Cowboy. Takeshi has the perfect amount of charm and wit to play everyone’s favorite Cowboy.
Brian Tee as Jet Black (ジェット・ブラック)
Jet Black is a Cowboy and a friend of Spike’s. Jet is a retired member of the Inter Solar System Police or the ISSP, the organization responsible for the contract that allows Cowboy’s to operate within the confines of the law. After his retirement from the ISSP Jet become the Captain of an old converted vessel which he named The Bebop with his pal Spike Spiegel. As the eldest member of the Bebop Jet’s personality is exactly what you would expect it to be, he is extremely wise, mature, and the source of great advice. Brian Tee is no stranger to playing a badass, but he is also more than capable of playing the wise austere teddy bear that is Jet Black.
Gemma Chan as Faye Valentine (フェイ・ヴァレンタイン)
Originally the daughter of a wealthy Singaporean family Faye Valentine is the female lead of Cowboy Bebop. In the year 2014 Faye and her parents traveled into space on a private craft where an accident occurred which killed both Faye’s parents and severely injured her. Faye’s injuries were so severe that she was cryogenically frozen in order to preserve her and her body until such a time as a cure could be found. Faye is a 1/5 of the Bebop’s bounty hunting crew as well as a wanted bounty. She is extremely gorgeous and provocative which she generally uses to her benefit to convince men to do as she pleases. Personality wise Faye is selfish, arrogant, lazy, and a well documented opportunist whose out to save herself. She also comes with a host of “bad habits” like smoking, alcoholism, gambling, and violent tendencies. Gemma possess the perfect amount of talent to play the bounty hunter that you just cant take your eyes off of…..or trust.
Willow Smith as Radical Edward (エドワード・ウォン・ハウ・ペペル・チブルスキ)
Originally from Earth Ed is a child prodigy gifted in the complex art of computer hacking. Ed was left in an orphanage by her father and little else is known about her past other than the fact that she was born January 1, 2058. Ed is extremely eccentric, comedic and burst at the brim with life. She exhibits extremely peculiar behavior such as talking to herself a loud, being susceptible to distraction, and singing nursery rhythms. Ed is insanely intelligent with a humongous curiosity and enjoyment of life. Shes is very tomboyish and childlike oftentimes being considered a free spirit. Her androgynous appearance often times causes her to be mistaken for a boy. She spaces out quite often in trances that seem to remove her from reality and she shares many behavioral traits of the very animals whose company she prefers. Willow Smith would be the perfect Edward because just like the character she is bursting at the brim with life and curiosity. Willow could 100% pull off Ed’s androgynous look while also serving as comedic genius.
Todanobu Asano as Viscious (ビシャス)
Vicious is the ruthless bloodthirsty antagonist of the Cowboy Bebop series. Viscious and Spike both share a history within the Red Dragon Syndicate, with Spike having been his mentor. Viscious is known for his ruthless and bloodthirsty attitude as well as his willingness to do whatever it takes to secure a position of power and his goals. He is often times referred to as Spike’s darker counterpart. Under the tutelage of Spike Viscious quickly ascends the ranks of the Red Dragon Syndicate which he would one day overthrow and take over as leader. He spends much of the series hunting down Spike and a woman named Julia. He is cold, calculating, and extremely feared by the other high-ranking officers of the Syndicate. Todanobu Asano would make for the perfect Vicious because of his ability to perfectly portray cold and stern characters.
Devon Aoki as Julia (ジュリア)
Initially the girlfriend of Vicious, Julia and Spike began to develop feelings for each other which would in turn spin out into a full-blown affair. The result of the affair would be Spike offering to leave his life of crime with the Syndicate behind to elope with her and start a new life. It is unknown if Julia was a member of the Syndicate herself, but it is known that she had heavy ties to the organization through both Spike and Viscious. Spike spends the majority of the series searching for Julia only to be reunited with her briefly before the two are ambushed and she is fatally wounded. Devon Aoki would make the perfect Julia because of her ability to make just about any character she plays a complete badass.
Hopefully these suggestions help Hollywood steer very clear from their usual desire to whitewash and erase Japanese culture from Anime adaptations. Casting Japanese actors and keeping the cultural aspects of Anime in tact when doing American live action adaptations can serve as a means to show people the richness of Japanese culture. Japanese characters and Anime offers the audience the opportunity to take a look into a culture and view that culture through its own lens. I hope that the original anime is done justice through its first ever live action adaptation, but with Hollywood’s trackrecord I remain cautiously optimistic.