An oral history of the English dub of Cowboy Bebop – the best anime dub ever

Despite his initial reluctance to consider himself an actor, Steve Blum became prolific. Since then, he has played Wolverine in many “X-Men” cartoons, Green Goblin in “The Spectacular Spider-Man”, Starscream in “Transformers”, Orochimaru in “Naruto”, Amon in “The Legend of Korra”, Zeb Orrelios in ” Star Wars,” Roger Smith in “The Big O,” Makoto Shishio in “Rurouni Kenshin” (Wendee Lee, by the way, voiced Shishio’s lover, Yumi), and more.

He also voiced a key role in the previously mentioned “Samurai Champloo”, where he worked with Kirk Thornton full-time rather than just for one episode. Thornton confirmed to me that he didn’t realize until later how “Champloo” was connected to “Bebop”: While the “Samurai Champloo” character, Mugen (Blum), inherited Spike’s appearance, another character, Jin (Thornton ), made Spike keep his cool, “a personality that flows like water.

In commemoration of his work on “Cowboy Bebop,” Blum included a voice recording of Spike’s final line (“Bang”) tattooed on his left arm.

Beau Billingslea still has the most diverse filmography of his castmates, combining voice-over work, on-camera work, and stage acting (“his “first love”). “You have a live audience reacting in real time,” he beamed. “If you say something funny and they laugh, or you say something sad and they cry, it’s just that immediate interaction with the audience, that immediate exchange of energy, which is a beautiful thing. That’s why I really like the stage.”

Melissa Fahn also spent some time on stage (see: “Wicked!”) and continues to have a steady voice-over career. Not only in the dubbing: she played Gaz Membrane in “Invader Zim!”

Both Wendee Lee and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn continued directing in ADR in conjunction with acting. Lee’s credits include “Haruhi Suzumiya” (in which she played the title role), “Bleach” and “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners,” while McGlynn’s credits include voice-directed projects including “Naruto,” “Digimon” and “Silent Hill” (in which she also used her musical talents by singing many of the soundtracks).

On a personal note, Steve Blum and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn are now married – Spike and Julia have had their happy endings in at least one universe. The cast stays in touch even outside of organized reunions and conventions (Billingslea tells me they talk together in a group text chat).

On the production side, Handler’s trip to Asia has proven to be enduring: he now lives in Cambodia. In addition to writing ADR, in 2003 he worked on the writing staff for the reboot of the “Astro Boy” anime, helping to develop the story with the Japanese creators rather than just translating. He recently completed the book “Collaborative Screenwriting and Storytelling,” which he says “teaches how to write stories, how to create stories from a collaborative point of view, because most screenwriting books take a point of view where you just sit at the typewriter.” to write and write history, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Very few stories are written this way.

Jason DeMarco remains at Cartoon Network (his current position is vice president of action and anime at Warner Discovery). Over the past few decades, he has helped not only import anime series but also develop them, such as the “FLCL” sequels and Watanabe’s upcoming “Lazarus.” In our interview, he gave me a preview of this series:

“I can say that Watanabe gives 150%, as if he was putting all his strength into this series. And I think he’s really hoping that it does really well in the US and Japan because he deliberately didn’t go back to the sci-fi action genre since Bebop because he didn’t want to go back to the old style. But I think after his experience with Netflix and the remake of his show and all that, I think he feels like he wants to step in again and remind everyone that there’s a man that no one needs to be reminded of, but he thinks he does. . So I think he has a little bit on his shoulder with this show and I think that really motivates him to make it the best job he’s ever done, that’s what he’s trying to do here. So as a fan of Watanabe and a fan of all of his work, I’m very, very excited.”

As for Cowboy Bebop itself, its reputation as the best English dub of anime has not changed, even though the quality of dubbing has improved significantly over the years. I asked the cast and crew members I was lucky enough to talk to what they thought about that reputation and why they thought Bebop endured.

Jason DeMarco: They were really lucky to choose a cast of incredibly talented voice actors who brought much more to the film than many people did at the time. So that’s number one. Secondly, the way they were recommended was definitely to play more often… you could tell the material was respected […] I think it was a combination of coincidence and really caring about the material. And I think Ken. No one ever mentions Ken’s involvement, but Ken produced the show with Watanabe in Japan, and Ken made sure the dub was done properly.

Beau Billingslea: I feel very proud when subscribers come up and say that “Cowboy Bebop” is one of the few dubs they will watch because they liked the original Japanese. But yes, I’m very proud of “Cowboy Bebop.” I’m proud and very happy to have been chosen to be on the show, and also very proud and grateful that it has endured as it has, and that I can continue to go to conventions and soak up the love from the fans, which doesn’t get any better than this. When you’re in a booth and you’re just making a cartoon, you don’t think about the fact that it’s going to have a huge impact on anyone or their lives.

Wendee Lee: [“Bebop” is] one of those iconic shows that has a really high quality and is so based in Western culture that in many ways it was easy for us. It was really easy for us to find sophisticated humor and comedy, as well as dryness and wit and sass and all those cool elements. I feel like a lot of the series I’ve done are on the same level. It’s just not always a show that includes all the other special elements. But yes, I have a lot of experiences with this series. It’s certainly always my goal for a series I direct to seamlessly adapt the location of the material so that the viewer is immersed in the experience and gets the most bang for their buck.

Marek Handler: You know, writing ADR is a bit like being the bass player in a band. You don’t expect recognition. The singer and lead guitarist are highly respected. But you don’t expect it and it doesn’t bother you. You are happy that you can play your role and contribute to the development of the team. But when people recognize you, it’s a surprise and we really appreciate it. Of course I have to say that’s how I feel, but I was just part of the team: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, the director and the actors, Kevin, Steve Blum, Wendee Lee, Melissa Fahn and Beau… I think we worked very well as a team. We are part of a dubbing community where we all know each other and generally cooperate. So it really was a team effort.

Moreover, it must be said that we contributed only one part of what was created. The real credit, of course, goes to Watanabe-san and Nobumoto-san [the late Keiko Nobumoto, a screenwriter for “Cowboy Bebop”] and Yoko Kanno, and all these amazing people. When I think about it, I can say that if I believed in astrology, I would think that the stars were aligned because our team was truly amazing, but the team in Japan was amazing, they just came together at the right time to create this amazing series. And it was Watanabe’s first series. It was just killer.


There’s nothing left to do but say, “See you later, space cowboy.”

Mr. Blum and Stellrecht were not available for comment.

Representatives for Ms. McGlynn and Ms. Fahn did not respond for comment.


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