Well, it looks like all those rumors were true, and TOKYOPOP hadn’t been jumping the gun after all. ANN announced this morning that Sunrise has officially confirmed the live-action Cowboy Bebop project as a collaboration between itself, 20th Century Fox, and 3 Arts Entertainment. And whaddaya know, Keanu Reeves is going to be Spike after all.
I can’t say I’m really surprised, but with every bit of news that comes up, I find myself getting a little more optimistic about the prospects for the film. It’s a cautious optimism, but it’s optimism all the same. At the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to give Reeves a chance. It’s true that almost all of the roles I’ve seen him play (which admittedly, isn’t many) all have the same general personality — that stoic, reserved, almost confused kind of person that doesn’t really suit Spike Spiegal at all. But nevertheless, if Reeves is really an actor, then he should be perfectly capable of acting outside of his comfort zone, especially if it’s for a character he actually likes and admires. I had huge doubts about Heath Ledger being cast as the Joker, but look at how that turned out. I think it’ll be really interesting to see if he can pull it off and perhaps grow as an actor.
Another point of optimism is the fact that so many original staff members seem to be involved. I’m thrilled to see that Shinichiro Watanabe, among others, will have a hand in producing. Reeves had mentioned wanting to stick as close to the source material as possible, and while neither he nor Watanabe will be the director, I can hope that their influence on set will gear it in a canonic direction. And anyway, Bebop’s story and plot is much more flexible than say, Dragonball‘s, so I think any changes they do make will be less of a deal; they should be able to integrate everything much more smoothly.
I’m still interested in knowing who the rest of the cast will be and whether any of them will be cut from the movie for the sake of brevity and relevance (I would much rather see characters cut then having to split limited time between too many characters). Though I love both characters, I think that both Ed and Ein are pretty expendable, especially considering that they’d likely be the hardest to cast for. For Ed, they’d have to hunt down one hell of an androgynous kid, and for Ein, anything less than a perfectly trained Welsh Corgi will send fans into a rage. Because I’m not too knowledgable about actors, I don’t have any ideals for Jet or Faye, but I feel like their achetypes are common enough that it won’t be too much of an issue (the fact that I like Jet and Faye both less than Ed and Ein will also mean I’d probably be less critical).
Someone on the ANN forums mentioned his/her desire to know about the musical credits of the film — what a damn good question! I’m kind of surprised no one else has really brought it up before now. The music in Bebop is a huge part of the experience, and I’m not sure I can really imagine Bebop without it. If they can get Ayumi Hamasaki to do music for Dragonball, will they be able to convince Yoko Kanno to come back and reprise her role in Bebop as composer? Personally, I wouldn’t mind just recycling music from the anime series or animated movie if they can’t get Kanno, but I understand that’d kind of be a cop out. Would it be the same with someone else? There are plenty of talented composers out there, and even though you don’t hear a lot of jazz in films these days, I’m sure there’s someone that can pull it off… even so, will it be the same? Sometimes I think that fans attach too much importance to the original people, but sometimes, there’s a good reason for that.
Reactions across the community thus far seem pretty mixed, but I wonder about how people’s opinions will change as more is revealed about the project. Right now, I have higher hopes for this than I’ve had for any other live-action adaptation by an American company. Part of that is simply because Bebop itself is more accessible to the mainstream than a title like Dragonball. Sci-fi can be mainstream, especially if it’s filled with badasses and busty women. Serenity was a box-office flop, but I kind of blame that on the fact that it was a sequel. Bebop won’t be a sequel. I can see non-anime fans watching and liking it if it’s done right. At the very least, they will be able to take it more seriously than they could Speed Racer or can Dragonball. The former demanded you know and appreciate the original cartoon. The latter will demand that you be missing part of your brain.
More wait and see. I wonder if it’ll really be done by 2010. Seems like a huge stretch, but hey, so did the whole Reeves thing at first.
In other news, this is my 100th blog entry here. :3 Go me.