Blade Runner, as a franchise, has had a lasting impact on anime, particularly in the Cyberpunk genre. In the lead-up to Blade Runner 2049, an OVA – Black Out – was released to expand the setting. As a further part of those efforts after 2049’s release, Adult Swim & Crunchyroll collaborated with Shinji Aramaki & Kenji Kamiyama to put out a CGF animated series set between the Black Out OVA and 2049 – Blade Runner: Black Lotus. Crunchyroll & Adult Swim’s last collaboration – Fena: Pirate Princess, was somewhat mixed, and unfortunately, this series, Blade Runner: Black Lotus, is much the same.
The show follows Elle, a replicant who escapes from a “Most Dangerous Game” style hunt in the desert outside of Los Angeles (called the “Doll Hunt”), who initially sets out to get revenge on the people responsible for the hunt, before moving on to finding out who created her. Her main ally on this is “J” – or Joseph, a former Blade Runner who decides to help Elle on her way, and Doc Badger, a junk dealer who appeared in 2049. However, pursuing Elle is a Blade Runner – Marlowe. There’s also a cop, Alani Davis, who starts digging into the case as the victims become more and more high profile. And then there are the internal power struggles between the father & son heads of the Wallace Corporation – Niander Wallace Junior & Senior.
This should be grounds for a really great series, but it keeps finding ways to stumble. Perhaps the most egregious of these is the show constantly recapping information in the first 2/3rds of the show. All of this, alongside a recap episode at the halfway point, which feels less like production issues and more like a deliberate choice born out of a failure to trust their audience. This is made odd by the fact that the show does display an appropriate amount of trust with its callbacks to the original film and its call forwards to the sequel.
The animation for some episodes of the show can be a little rough, but honestly, they go for the gusto in where it counts, in the action sequences and several of the significant dialog sequences, so I can’t fault it too much.
Ultimately, Blade Runner: Black Lotus pales in comparison to the other films in the franchise. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, and I was glad I watched it.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus is currently available on Crunchyroll.
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