Los Angeles, 2022: Something is wrong
Everyone is talking about Blade Runner 2049. From the early reviews, critics are raving about director Denis Villeneuve's visionary work. As the sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 cult-classic film, it takes place 30 years after the events of the first movie, when a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge the world into chaos.
To bridge the gap between 2019 (when the original Blade Runner took place) and 2049, Villeneuve enlisted the talents of acclaimed Japanese anime director Shinichiro Watanabe--creator of Cowboy Bebop--to create Blade Runner Blackout 2022.
Picture Los Angeles, May 2022. Everything's gone dark. Cars are falling out of the sky, and there are no lights or power. Who's responsible for this? A replicant named Iggy. This citywide blackout is to show humans and the Tyrell corporation that replicants deserve the right to life, and a life free from persecution. Iggy is a Nexus 8, a new type of replicant built with a natural human lifespan--a development that caused natural humans to begin taking their anger and paranoia out on innocent replicants.
Upon hearing Denis Villeneuve wanted an anime set in the Blade Runner universe, Mamoru Oshii, director of Ghost in the Shell, came to mind as the perfect candidate. But no one can argue with Watanabe's expertise. He directed Cowboy Bebop, one of the most celebrated anime series ever. And the man knows his way around the science fiction genre. One hallmark of Watanabe's work is his ability to use different anime styles within the same story without overdoing it. In Blackout, the scenes in black and white show the paranoid state of humanity, while bright colors are used to establish a sense of hope.
The city landscape feels familiar, with images almost mirroring those from Ridley Scott's film. The atmosphere is dark and hopeless. Buildings stand tall and hover over the city. Tensions are high, and there's violence on the ground, replicants fighting to stay alive.
Speaking of fighting, Trixie has an amazing action sequence in which she moves with the same slithering acrobatics as Pris (a replicant played by Daryl Hannah in the original Blade Runner), even down to the blend of gymnastics and martial arts she utilizes. The fight scenes are well choreographed and hyper realistic, as you can hear and feel every bone-crushing kick and punch.
Then there's a quick appearance from Morton Sapper--a significant easter egg for those looking forward to Blade Runner 2049.
In 2049, Sapper is played by Dave Bautista. His appearance in the anime gives the audience some insight into Sapper's character, implying that he's not just a replicant, but also a military deserter. Of course, this raises yet more questions about the upcoming film: Is K is hunting him because Sapper’s gone AWOL? Or does Sapper play a larger role in K's mission?
Blade Runner Blackout 2022 is a visually stunning follow-up to Blade Runner, and a welcome refresher before the release of Blade Runner 2049. Shinichiro Watanabe’s modern animation techniques manage to capture the spirit of the original while giving the audiences a taste of what to expect next. Animation is also a smart way to connect the material to a new era of sci-fi fans by giving them something easy on the eyes, with a story engaging enough to make them want to see more.
Bladerunner 2049 is set to release in theaters nationwide on October 6, 2017. Read GameSpot's spoiler-free Blade Runner 2049 review right here!