With the long-awaited sequel, Blade Runner 2049, soon to hit theaters, indubitably the question will be raised of what happened in the years that passed between the two films.
While other franchises have taken to comic books or novelizations to fill in the holes, Blade Runner will release an anime, helmed by the director of Cowboy Bebop. It’s somewhat fitting for a franchise that has so heavily influenced the cyberpunk wave of anime in the ’90s — which has made it back to the big screen in this year’s adaptation of Ghost in the Shell.
The short Blade Runner anime will be directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who rose to fame by helming acclaimed anime Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. Titled Blade Runner Black Out 2022, the anime short is set a few years after the events of the original film and takes place during — what else? — a power outage, according to NetLab.
Blade Runner Black Out 2022 also follows two other short film prequels released on the iTunes Trailers site, titled 2036: Nexus Dawn and 2048: Nowhere to Run. However, this will be the first short released as an anime, as the other two star actors who appear in Blade Runner 2049, Jared Leto and Dave Bautista.
The preview clip shows test animation, concept art, and a few shots of finished animation from the short film.
None of the characters are familiar faces, though that’s to be expected. We see a shadowy figure emerging from smoke and fire, and a hooded girl who is likely the protagonist of the short. There are also wide shots of the grimy cityscape as well as armed police officers.
“The work that has influenced me the most in my anime profession would be, of course, Blade Runner,” Watanabe says in the clip, translated by Kotaku. Kotaku reported that Watanabe “adds that in making this short, he’s keeping two things in mind: paying maximum respect to the original Blade Runner and trying not to create an imitation.”
The cyclical nature of Blade Runner and the cyberpunk genre in anime is fascinating. While Ridley Scott‘s film drew heavily from Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as well as the burgeoning Hong Kong cityscape, Tokyo in the 1980s would become a bustling, neon-lit metropolis not unlike the one depicted Blade Runner — spawning a whole new wave of cyberpunk anime. Ghost in the Shell in 1995 led the pack, and would go on to influence American projects as well, notably The Matrix. And the cyberpunk era has returned with the Scarlett Johansson-starring Ghost in the Shell (though whitewashing controversies helped turn the film into a box office bomb) and the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. So it’s fitting that Blade Runner would eventually become an anime as well.
The Blade Runner Black Out 2022 short will premiere on Sony Pictures Japan’s YouTube channel on September 26, 2017.
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