The production of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop has been halted following star John Cho being injured on set. The sci-fi series follows a mismatched assortment of bounty hunters who crew a starship, accepting work wherever they can to stay free of the violence and corruption that runs rampant the entire Solar System. If you think this setup sounds similar to Firefly, it’s not a coincidence.
Cowboy Bebop was originally an anime series that aired in Japan in the late ‘90s, a time when the West still largely considered the medium to be little more than extreme violence and porn. It aired in the States in 2001 on Adult Swim, the first anime to ever do so, and along with the likes of seminal movies Akira and Ghost in the Shell, became gateway viewing for audiences by introducing them to what anime truly had to offer.
According to Deadline, Cho’s injury took place on set during the final take of a scene that was entirely routine and had been extensively rehearsed, being described simply as a freak accident. To receive surgery on his knee, Cho has been flown back to Los Angeles from where the show is filming in New Zealand, and afterwards will require rehabilitation to regain full function. As a result, production on the show has been shut down, forcing a delay expected to last between seven and nine months.
In the above post from Cho’s Instagram thanking people for their support, a belt buckle is seen emblazoned with the Chinese character for water, accompanied by Bruce Lee quotation “Water can flow or it can crash,” an analogy extolling the virtues of not limiting yourself to one thing, but instead striving to remain endlessly adaptable, and so affording yourself the ability to become anything you want and overcome whatever obstacle is placed in your path. In keeping with such a philosophy, Cho has not limited himself to any one style of acting, having appeared in comedy, drama, mystery, sci-fi, thriller, horror, action and romance, in both TV and film.
The production of Cowboy Bebop being unable to move forward without Cho is to be expected since he is playing the show’s central character Spike Spiegel, and very little takes place with which he is not at least partially involved. The show has been in production for less than two weeks and it would have been easy for Netflix to simply recast Spike to get it moving again. That they haven’t is an indicator of how confident they are in Cho’s performance and that the end result will be of a high enough quality that the extensive delay in getting the series to audiences will be worth the wait.