When Hampton Fancher and Michael Green chose to set the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 thirty years after the events of Blade Runner, they took on the task of recreating an environment that is considerably advanced, while also maintaining a logical continuity with the world Ridley Scott created in 1982. So, what happened since we last saw Scott's dystopian vision of Los Angeles in 2019? Although there's a lot to catch up on, an anime prequel titled Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 plans to shed light on how the city developed into the one we'll see in Blade Runner: 2049.
With a dream announcement for anime and sci-fi fans alike, it has now been revealed that legendary Cowboy Bebop mastermind Shinichirō Watanabe has been hard at work to bring Black Out 2022 to life in time for a September 26th release. Set (unsurprisingly) in the year 2022 — a mere three years after we last saw Deckard and Rachel and 27 years before the upcoming sequel — the film centers around a mysterious blackout that will surely be connected to specific dystopian environments seen in Blade Runner 2049.
News of this incredibly exciting project first broke when Blade Runner's Japanese twitter account released a short teaser with a brief discussion from Shinichirō Watanabe.
For those of us that don't speak Japanese, Bleedingcool reported that the Cowboy Bebop director spoke about Blade Runner's influence on his own work, and how this led him to create Black Out 2022.
"Watanabe credits the original film as being influential in his having chosen his career path towards entertainment and storytelling ... He expresses that his deep feelings led him to feel that they needed to respect the original film and it’s visual style, but also to be careful not make this animated version an imitation of the original."
As if seeing Watanabe contribute his vision to the Blade Runner franchise wasn't enough, he also partnered up with Steven Ellison a.k.a. Flying Lotus for the anime's score. The hugely popular experimental producer provided music for the upcoming short, and the anime short is clearly something the popular multi-genre musician is immensely proud of.
Watanabe and FlyLo's upcoming #anime is one of the many supplementary short films to be released prior to Blade Runner 2049's release, suggesting that there could be plans to further expand the franchise into a multimedia universe in the future.
Back in 2003, The Matrix franchise expanded the franchise's lore with a series of anime anthology shorts from the likes of Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll) and Peter Chung (Æon Flux), collectively known as The Animatrix. The series was a huge hit with fans and helped elaborate on aspects of the universe that were never shown in live action. If Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 turns out to be as exceptional as it sounds, fans will surely demand more from the dream team duo of Shinichirō Watanabe and Flying Lotus. After all, there's more than enough to explore, especially when you consider the thirty-year gap between Blade Runner and Denis Villeneuve's upcoming sequel.
Shinichirō Watanabe's Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 will be released on September 26, 2017.
Are you looking forward to the upcoming anime short set within the Blade Runner universe? Let me know with a comment below.