Blade Runner: Black Lotus is the heavily advertised upcoming 3D original anime produced by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim with some big names behind it. As such, it includes some notably refined elements but still staggers in some of parts of its execution.
Wake Up Samurai
The anime takes place before Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 movie and follows Elle, an amnesic adolescent who one day wakes up confused and finds herself with a tattoo of a black lotus on her back and a strange device in her palms. She eventually realizes that this device could be the answer to all her questions, so she heads out to find a way to reveal its content. Through some random criminal encounters, she eventually gains bits and pieces of her memory, which reveals she is, in fact, a badass with significant combat prowess (because, of course). Having regained a significant portion of her memories, she quickly switches focus from the device to instead take down those who put her in this situation.
Your Average Amnesiac
If you’re anything like me, you probably think there isn’t anything special about the story also far, and you’d be kind of right. While Black Lotus hits the ground running with its story, it comprises of elements that have already been done to death, such as the typical amnesiac, who’s a master of all known martial arts (because most amnesiacs usually are in media) and the high tech Magoffin that’s completely abandoned in the next episode. However, I will give credit where it’s due and highlight the big reveal in the middle of episode 2 that explains Elle is actually a Replicant. Though this “reveal” is somewhat expected due to hints dropped in the first episode. Despite it, its inclusion to the plot still doesn’t offer anything mind breaking to viewers. However, it does succeed in spicing things up by highlighting Elle’s incredibly human-like characteristics as a Replicant and will serve as a solid reason for viewers such as myself to stick it out to see what happens next.
Cyberpunk Beats to Study and Relax to
One of two significant elements of the anime that appeals to me personally is its dark Cyberpunk neon aesthetic, which is surprisingly presented well in Black Lotus. The large cityscapes, neon lights, and foreign technology successfully contributes to its futuristic otherworldly vibe that I love the genre for.
The second element is its soundtrack and sound design. This feature succeeded in pleasing me from the get-go as it greatly supports the aforementioned Cyberpunk aesthetic. Each song selection sufficiently matched the events seen in each scene, from large picturesque camera pans to high octane fight scenes. As such, I highly advise viewers to watch this anime using headphones to better appreciate the staff’s impeccable work.
The western songs in the soundtrack, especially those chosen for the opening and ending, particularly the well-performed original song “Feel You Now” by Alessia Cara, are quite frankly amazing, and is yet another reason to give the anime a chance, especially because it is probably a part of the anime most Bade Runner fans will appreciate.
Yes, It’s CG
Now I understand that the 3D animation is the most polarizing aspect of Black Lotus and is far from what fans expected or wanted to see in an anime based on the Blade Runner series, especially one that’s a continuation of the famous short Blade Runner Black Out 2022. However, I will play devil’s advocate by saying that the animation isn’t nearly as ugly, jarring, and of-putting as I low-key expected it to be, and if it was, you certainly wouldn’t hear the end of it from me.
Moreover, the 3D animation most likely helped ease the pain of animating the many fight scenes of which I’m sure they’ll be a lot more of. The motion capture actors surprisingly nailed the fight choreography, stunt experts or not, as while often brief, the fight scenes were sufficiently fluid and had some impact behind them. However, I’ll also note that the speed of some of these fight scenes suffered greatly due to it relying on humans and not traditional, chaotic drawings.
The last element I’d like to highlight is the anime’s voice acting. While the cast put up an excellent performance, Arisa Shida’s performance stood above the rest in portraying the emotionally turbulent Replicant so far. However, while I’m unsure of the English dub’s quality as I was provided an English sub screener, I noticed that the footage I watched seemed to be Japanese dubbed. I say this because I noticed the lip-syncing didn’t match the voice lines, which was a bit jarring but makes sense seeing as it’s an original animated series by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim.
Overall, while Blade Runner: Black Lotus may not exactly be what fans wanted, it is well executed in many aspects such as its impressive production quality. As such, I believe it’s at least worth a try for series fans and Cyberpunk fanatics alike, and l look forward to seeing how the story hopefully evolves.
Screeners of Blade Runner: Black Lotus was provided by Crunchyroll for this review
Are you a Blade Runner fan? What do you think of Blade Runner: Black Lotus? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus
While Blade Runner: Black Lotus may not exactly be what fans wanted, it is well executed in many aspects such as its impressive production quality.
- Great soundtrack & sound design
- Nice fight choreography
- Interesting lead
- Story is a bit basic