In 2017, Netflix caught the wrath of viewers for not including Japanese actors among the top-billed cast in its live action version of “Death Note,” which originated as a manga series set in Japan, as Indiewire explores:
The only reason to take such a uniquely Japanese story and transplant it to Seattle is to explore how its thorny moral questions might inspire different answers in an American context, so for this retread to all but reduce America to its Whiteness indicates an absence of context more than anything else…. Why go through all the trouble of setting “Death Note” in America if you’re not going to set it in the real one?
On Thursday (April 4), The Washington Post reported that the streaming giant took a step away from its Whitewashing ways with the casting of John Cho as the lead in its upcoming live action adaptation of anime series “Cowboy Bebop.” Cho will play Spike Siegel, a bounty hunter with swagger in outer space. The series has followers worldwide; many of them breathed a sigh of relief that an Asian-American actor was cast in the role.
The last year has seen modest improvement in Asian representation in films, with the likes of “Crazy Rich Asians,” Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Searching,” which made Cho the first Asian-American actor to headline a mainstream Hollywood thriller.
This latest casting is a win for the meme-turned-movement #StarringJohnCho, which showed what major films would look like if they cast more actors like Cho in lead roles. Cho expressed his excitement about “Cowboy Bebop” via emoji.