• Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Cowboy Bebop: Mustafa Shakir on Bringing Jet Black to Life and Why the OG Anime was So Popular

Nov 18, 2021

”A lot of it is just the outfit, man,“ Shakir told TheWrap


Whenever Mustafa Shakir walked onto the “Cowboy Bebop” set, he knew he was already halfway there to bringing to life Jet Black, the gruff bounty hunter with a metal arm and a heart of gold.

“A lot of it is just the outfit, man. It’s like half the battle is his get up,” Shakir told TheWrap. “If I stand on a street corner anywhere, I’m going to get a particular response just looking like that.”

Shakir stars alongside John Cho and Daniella Pineda in Netflix’s remake of Shinichirō Watanabe’s famed anime series of the same name. “Cowboy Bebop” holds an indelible mark in pop culture history. It was among the first anime series that took off with U.S. audiences and was among the first programming staples of Adult Swim, helping to usher a wave of that genre towards the West.

“It’s a hodgepodge. There’s so many different elements that are just super compelling. You’re blowing through space listening to a solo by Dizzy Gillespie. There’s something that’s like, ‘What the fuck am I experiencing?’ about it,” Shakir said. ‘”Cowboy Bebop’ was ahead of its time.”

Netflix’s live-action take is more of a remix vs. a remake, going deeper in the backstories of Cho’s Spike Speigel and Pineda’s Faye Valentine. The series is an action-packed space Western about three bounty hunters, aka “cowboys,” who are all dealing with their own issues from their past.

Shakir, who himself got into the series around 2001-02, said he purposely didn’t put pressure on himself to do the character right by the fans, noting that you’re only going to invite unflattering comparisons. It can’t be understated how beloved the 26-episode series is by anime fans.

“There wasn’t any pressure in my head. I just felt like: Show up and do your best — which I do with anything — no matter what. Really put your heart into it. And I think that translates,” he said. “I feel like it would not translate so much if I said, I’ve got to make this a certain way for the people.”

However, Shakir did say there was one key element from the original series that their version could not do without: Yoko Kanno’s and her iconic score.

“Without Yoko? No. It would not be [the same show],” Shakir said. “That was what pulled me in. That music is so cool.”

“Cowboy Bebop” premieres Friday, Nov. 19 on Netflix

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