Review by C.J. Bunce
When I previewed Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series last month I’d hoped writers Jeff Bond and Gene Kozicki (a visual effects artist on the series) would dig deep into the unique style of the very futuristic series. I am happy to say I was not only not disappointed but dazzled by the level of work completed for what could have been the next major science fiction franchise. What does the future look like? Going back to Syd Mead’s future-defining work on films like Blade Runner, you must count as the next futurism visionaries production designers Grant Major and Gary Mackay. Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series delivers photographs of props and sets that viewers didn’t get to see in the series, providing another level of behind-the-scenes production design not ordinarily seen in this kind of “making of” book.
It is key to the look of the live-action series that the production team used the world’s most influential anime series only as a starting point for the look of the ships, the space and planetary environments, and the costumes. The book combines a discussion of the design for the series as well as what you’d expect from a showcase of the characters, with cast and crew interviews, and significant detail of how the crew differentiated the live-action series from its anime source material. Half of the book is filled with the kind of speculative science fiction visuals you’d once find in magazines from scientists predicting Earth’s future. Best of all, the look of these developmental images feel real, but the final result became entirely new places and spaces viewers had never seen before.
The best parts of the book? Mark Yang and Henry Fong’s concept designs and photographs and development discussions of the ship itself–the Bebop–Spike’s streamlined spaceship, the Swordfish II, Faye’s Burner ship, and the Red Tail. And Anneke Botha’s unique, lived-in style set work can be found on nearly every page.
The Cowboy Bebop art department joins visionaries Erich Kettlehut, Raymond Cusick, Ralph McQuarrie, Matt Jeffries, Andrew Probert, Richard Delgado, Michael Lamont, Roger Christian, Joe Johnston, Ken Adams, Rick Sternbach, Mike Okuda, Greg Jein, Neville Page, Dan Curry, John Eaves, Carey Meyer, and Ben Mauro in creating the next influential science fiction world of the future. Just because Netflix canceled after only one season 2021’s best sci-fi TV series, best western TV series, best space fantasy series, best retro fix, with the best TV soundtrack, best costumes, best actors and guest stars, and best borg on TV, doesn’t mean fans of the show can’t keep reliving the fantastic live-action reboot/homage series Cowboy Bebop.
The official companion book to the Netflix TV series featuring concept art, sketches, behind-the-scenes photography and interviews with the cast and production crew, Cowboy Bebop: Making the Netflix Series is available now here at Amazon, from publisher Titan Books. If you love all things sci-fi future, you’ll want to check it out.