Same deal as with the TRON 3 script, I forgot to upload it. Note that today the fourth episode of Blade Runner: Black Lotus is being released. I was planning a review but something came, maybe next week. The video of this script can be found online on my channel @ SciFiEmpire – YouTube. Please like the video or subscribe to my channel!
Introduction to Blade Runner Black Lotus
Welcome to my short review on the first two episodes of Blade Runner Black Lotus: City of Angeles and All We Are Not. Black Lotus is an animated series set between the events of the original Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve.
This series is coproduction by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim in partnership with Alcon Entertainment who own all rights to the Blade Runner franchise. As such this series is considered canon just as the comic book series that were started two years ago.
On paper a Blade Runner series should have everything going for it. The cyberpunk world of future Los Angeles is an excellent backdrop for a story that questions what is real and what is human. Though a series had been announced years ago I had nearly forgotten it was in the works, until the summer of this year. So as a die-hard fan of Blade Runner I found myself pleasantly surprised this series exists. However, there is precedent. Shinichirō Watanabe who directed the animated short film Blade Runner Black Out 2022 just prior to the release of 2049 acts as producer for Black Lotus. This series, directed by Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama is set 10 years after of the events of Black Out.
Before watching this series, I had become somewhat anxious. Reviews posted about a week ago gave the series a distinctly average rating. The story and characters met with positive reactions but the animation, specifically those of the characters were not – and were frankly lambasted by most reviewers.
In a nutshell, my opinion is not much different.
Story & Setting
As mentioned, this series takes place in 2032, about 10 years after the Black Out and 13 years after the events of the original movie. For those unfamiliar, the Black Out was a replicant attack targeting the Tyrell Corporation registers of known replicants. Using a nuclear weapon over LA the Electro Magnetic Pulse wiped out all electronics in the city and afterwards replicants were banned. By the turn of the decade Tyrell Corporation was long gone, being replaced by the Wallace Corporation. With it, production of Replicants has also returned.
Black Lotus starts outside of Los Angeles with a young woman trying to survive an ordeal that started in the desert. She suffers from amnesia, only carrying with her piece of technology that looks like some sort of camera, but that remains password locked. Eventually she manages to make her way back to LA and attempts to uncover her prior life. Viewers are left with subtle clues that she is in fact a replicant: her super-human fighting ability, a nightclub dancer that looks like her and her supposed amnesia which may just as well be the absence of memories. However, Elle, as she calls herself attempts, naively, to uncover this mystery. In doing she obtains help from Doc Badger, the black-market dealer, from 2049. In return she helps him with some local thugs that are out to get them both.
By the second episode she also obtains help from a hacker to crack the camera like device. Yet her impatience sees her run of. Instead, she attempts to confront senator Bannister after she recognizes him on the news. She remembers flashes of her being hunted by Bannister and his associates for sports. For the viewer it is another clue she is a replicant. Elle confronts the senator who remembers her, in the ensuing argument Elle kills the senator. This starts the involvement of LAPD detective Alani Davis who investigates the senator’s murder. Meanwhile Niander Wallace Sr. and Jr. are informed of the death of their ally senator Bannister. A story thread that will no doubt be explored in future episodes.
The remainder of the episode sees Elle fleeing form the police as her confrontation with the senator causes much of her amnesia to lift. However, in a surprise twist she is casually shot by the hacker, who may well be a Blade Runner assigned to hunt down replicants.
That is in nutshell the story of the first two episodes.
As I mentioned in introduction, my opinion divided. Let’s starts with the negative and get that out of the way. The animations are terrible. Specifically, the facial animation or the lack thereof. How the characters move and talk are decent, but the near lack of skin texture is a huge distraction especially with the female character is hugely distracting. It feels as if the producers had run out of budget. This is especially true in comparison with how the dystopian Los Angeles is animated which is just gorgeous. The animation of the Spinner vehicles is nothing short of impressive which makes the choice of character animation stylistically peculiar.
With the bad out of the way there are only good things to mention. Each episode starts with an impressively animated introduction that feels as though it soaked up most of the budget. The theme music is by Alessia Cara and sets the mood perfectly. The design of the Los Angeles draws mostly from the first movie, this makes it feel as though the creative staff was unfamiliar with the sequel movie. Finally, the music is very good with lots of inspiration yet again from the original movie.
All told, the story, world design and music ensure this is worthy of the Blade Runner name. That makes it a shame about the character animation. As mentioned, there are characters from the sequel movie in this series. But thus far none from the original movie or the comic books. Though as the comic books deals heavily with the replicant underground movement I think it is unavoidable some characters do show up. One, the Blade Runner named Marlowe is already confirmed.
Final words on Blade Runner Black Lotus
So far, I am very positive about Black Lotus. The story promises to be very tense and intriguing even if the animation is distractingly poor it won’t stop me from enjoying this series.
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