Blade Runner 2049 may not have been the box office smash it should have been, but the film already has been felt to be worthy to be placed next to the original 1982 classic. It was an achievement no one expected but the sequel managed to remain consistent with the original’s tone and visuals while progressing the narrative forward with a strong thematic purpose.
An unexpected effect though of Blade Runner 2049 was the three short films released before the film to build interest. They became very popular as well, particular Blade Runner Black Out 2022. While the other two shorts were live-action, this short was done in the style of anime and had writer/director Shinichirō Watanabe at the helm. Most people recognize Watanabe as the director of the now legendary anime series Cowboy Bebop along with Samurai Champloo and Space Dandy. Guided by his hand, Black Out 2022 was released on the streaming service Crunchyroll to critical acclaim. This now has resulted in a new avenue that has been opened up for the popular science fiction franchise.
Despite the fact the Blade Runner films are in stasis (For now), the popularity of the anime short has led to the announcement of a new prequel anime series in the franchise that Watanabe will return to as the creative producer on the series, titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus which is set to have thirteen half-hour episodes. It will be set between Black Out 2022 and Blade Runner 2049 in the year 2032. Characters previously seen in the Blade Runner universe will appear although nothing else has been revealed yet.
While Crunchyroll will return to stream the series worldwide as they did the short film. Adult Swim will stream the English dubbed episodes anime programming block Toonami, maintaining worldwide distribution rights for the English dubbed version of the series, excluding Asia. Both will work with Alcon Television Group to produce the series. Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Laura Lancaster, Al-Francis Cuenca, and Joseph Chou will executive produce.
Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama will direct all of the thirteen half-hour episodes while Sola Digtal Arts will handle animation. Stay tuned!