The original Blade Runner‘s impact and legacy has been often-discussed by film critics through a Western lens. While the film has certainly been influential in Hollywood, it has also made a huge splash overseas. And it is this that has inspired Joseph Chou, Shinji Arakami, and Kenji Kamiyama, in their latest collaborative effort.
From works like Akira and Ghost in the Shell right up to modern anime, the cyberpunk genre would not exist as it does today without Blade Runner, and this reverence for the original source material shines through in the Behind the Scenes look at the new series Blade Runner: Black Lotus.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus tells the story of Elle, an amnesiac replicant whose only link to her forgotten past is the titular black lotus tattoo on her shoulder. Like the films that precede it, it explores the nature of humanity both through its characters and the wider setting of its story. While in the original films this was more opaque, as the replicants were runaways who were hunted down by police, Black Lotus deals with this question in a more direct and brutal way. Elle and her kind were specifically designed to be hunted down and killed by mysterious, rich benefactors. It is this conceit that sets Black Lotus apart from the other material in the series, committing it to explore the inhumanity of man and deeper philosophical questions of morality.
Technically, the show looks incredible. Embracing the famous rain-soaked noir aesthetic the series is known for, the modern CGI animation makes the dystopian vision of a future Los Angeles first rendered in Ridley Scott’s original into a living, breathing environment, moving well beyond the famously limited scope of the first film. It reflects 2049’s willingness to explore not only this part of the world but the wider world as well. Arakami discusses the project’s desire to explore the unseen parts of this world, especially as they relate to the “replicant world” – the underground parts of the world inhabited by replicants on the run.
The show utilises modern CGI animation techniques with live-action motion capture to deliver a visual spectacle. While some anime purists may turn their noses up at CGI productions, the reverence of the creative team for the original product shines through in this preview. While not featured in the video, the cast is also hugely talented, with Jessica Henwick (Blood of Zeus, The Matrix: Resurrections) taking on the titular role, with Will Yun-Lee (Altered Carbon) and Stephen Root (Office Space, Dodgeball, Barry among many others) playing the antagonistic Police Chief Earl Grant.
Ultimately, this behind the scenes look at the series is a very promising one. Both for pre-existing fans of the property, as well as anime fans, I think there’ll be plenty to unpack in the upcoming weeks.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus is available to stream on Crunchyroll. I’ll be reviewing the entire series once it has aired.
Take a behind the scenes look at Blade Runner: Black Lotus here:
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