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Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎, Watanabe Shin'ichirō, born May 24, 1965 in Kyoto) is a Japanese anime filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for directing the critically acclaimed and commercially successful anime series Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Shinichirō Watanabe
Shinichiro Watanabe 20090703 Japan Expo 01.jpg
Watanabe at the 2009 Japan Expo
Native name 渡辺 信一郎
Born (1965-05-24) May 24, 1965 (age 52)
Kyoto, Japan
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, animator, producer, actor
Years active 1990–present

Watanabe is known for incorporating multiple genres into his anime creations. In Cowboy Bebop, for example, Watanabe blends classic cowboy western with 1960s/1970s New York City film noir, jazz/blues music, Hong Kong action movies, and sets the entire series in space. In his later work, Samurai Champloo, Watanabe unites the cultures of Okinawa, hip hop, modern-day Japan, and chanbara.



The main cast of Cowboy Bebop from left to right: Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein.

Born in Kyoto, Watanabe, after joining the Japanese animation studio Sunrise, supervised the episode direction and storyboards of numerous Sunrise anime, and soon made his directorial debut as co-director of the well-received Macross update, Macross Plus. His next effort, and first full directorial venture, was the 1998 series Cowboy Bebop, which received universal praise and is considered by many to be one of the greatest anime series of all time. It was followed by the 2001 film Knockin' on Heaven's Door. In 2003, Watanabe directed his first American-produced anime, the short films Kid's Story and A Detective Story, both part of The Wachowskis' The Animatrix, an anthology of animated short stories from The Matrix. His next directorial effort was the critically acclaimed 2004 anime series Samurai Champloo which began broadcasting on Fuji Television in Japan on May 19, 2004.

Following the release of Samurai Champloo, Watanabe directed a short film called Baby Blue which was released on July 7, 2007 as a segment of the anthology film Genius Party.[1] In recent years, he has been active as a creative music producer, overseeing the 2004 film Mind Game, 2008's Michiko & Hatchin, and supervising the storyboards for episode 12 of Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode. In 2012, he directed the anime series Kids on the Slope (Japanese title: Sakamichi no Apollon), a coming-of-age story about young jazz musicians, which premiered in April 2012 on Fuji TV's Noitamina block.[2]

In 2009 it was announced that Watanabe would be working as an associate producer on the upcoming live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, alongside his fellow Sunrise staff members Kenji Uchida and Keiko Nobumoto.[3] As of 2014, the project is in hiatus. During FicZone in Granada, Spain, it was reported that Watanabe was collaborating with anime studio BONES on a space science-fiction comedy. BONES subsequently confirmed that the studio was working with Watanabe, but did not confirm the genre of the series.[4] In late 2013, the original trailers for Space Dandy were released to the public. The dubbed version premiered on Toonami on January 4, 2014 in the United States, before airing in Japan. He is frequently ranked among Japan's best animation directors.[5]

Notable worksEdit

Television productionsEdit

As director



Use of musicEdit

Watanabe has a distinct vision regarding the importance of the film score of his works and believes that music is the universal language. Cowboy Bebop is heavily influenced by American culture, especially the jazz movements of the 1940s, hence the title "bebop". This style is blended with a score by the prolific composer Yoko Kanno featuring jazz, blues and funk music. The anachronistic soundtrack of Samurai Champloo, though an Edo period piece, draws heavily from hip hop music, while the later series Kids on the Slope demonstrates many classical forms of jazz, and Space Dandy draws from primarily disco and electronic influences. His latest series, Terror in Resonance utilizes post-rock and ambient music influenced by Icelandic band Sigur Rós.


External linksEdit