Earlier this month the news that Shinchiro Watanabe, the anime director behind Cowboy Bebop and Terror in Resonance, was working on an anime prequel to Blade Runner took the internet by storm.
The anime short, Blade Runner Black Out 2022, bridges the narrative gap between the original Blade Runner film and it’s upcoming sequel, Blade Runner 2049. The short runs for 15 minutes, and has now been released, with Japanese-dialogue only, through Sony Pictures Japan’s official YouTube channel.
Blade Runner Black Out 2022 is set three years after the events of the original Blade Runner film, in the same Los Angeles metropolis Detective Rick Deckard patrols. The Tyrell Corporation has begun producing human replicants that live natural lifespans, and are indistinguishable from other humans, except for a serial number on their eyes.
The gorgeous and haunting short shows a series of ‘archival footage’ recalling the robo-phobic riots of The Animatrix, following an introduction of Trixie, a sex worker Replicant, and Iggy, escaped military-use Replicant, who want to close the human robot gap. We are treated to a series of brilliant fight scenes, similar in style to Cowboy Bebop’s scenes, and a jazzy beat throughout the 15 minute short.
“Blade Runner was definitely the movie that influenced me most as a director,” Watanabe states in the teaser for Black Out 2022. “I was careful about two things when creating this anime piece. The first was to pay the greatest respect to the original Blade Runner. The second was to make this anime true to the world, but not an imitation.”
Looking at the short, you can clearly see Watanabe’s influence and why he was chosen to direct the prequel. His hit anime series, Cowboy Bebop, has been compared to Blade Runner for it’s bleak urban setting and the questions it raises about technology and humanity, among other 90’s cyberpunk anime.
If Watanabe ever directed a movie or a full series based on Blade Runner, we would watch it in a heartbeat.