Japanese anime studio Cygames Pictures has revealed its development of Blade Runner: Black Out 2022, a promotional anime short that will serve as one of multiple prequels to the upcoming American film Blade Runner 2049. Cowboy Bebop & Samurai Champloo director Shinichiro Watanabe is directing the work. Gundam Wing & Argento Soma character designer Shukou Murase is providing the character designs and serving as animation director.
Director Ridley Scott’s seminal film Blade Runner is set in 2019.
The Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 anime is set in 2022.
The 2036: Nexus Dawn short film occurs in 2036.
The 2048: Nowhere to Run short film occurs one year before the events of the sequel film Blade Runner 2049.
I’ve taught the 1982 Blade Runner film numerous times in my freshman college level introduction to literature class. While I have high hopes and expectations for director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, I do hope that the anime prequel demonstrates some recognition that the strength of Blade Runner lies as much in its subtext and noir inspiration as in its cyberpunk visual aesthetic. Blade Runner (1982) is arguably one of the most symbolically and thematically complex movies ever made, deeply analyzing the discriminatory nature of human instinct, questioning the definition of humanity, and constantly shifting character roles. The film even subtly works the title of the original source novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, into the theme of the movie by depicting Roy Batty as the “sheep” who, at the film’s climax, sheds his “skin” to reveal himself as a “wolf,” thereby again reversing the roles of hunter & hunted and further creating a suggestive parallel that there may be more similarity between Roy and Deckard than the later detective realizes.