Shinichiro WatanabePhilip K. Dick
Blade Runner Black Out 2022
Medium: short film
Year: 2017
Writer/director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Original creator: Philip K. Dick
Keywords: SF, anime
Country: Japan
Language: English
Format: 15 minutes
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 30 March 2018
It's an anime prequel to the 2017 live-action Blade Runner sequel. In fact it's one of three animated interquels, with the other two not being anime. (Those were directed by Luke Scott, son of Ridley.) Here's the in-universe timeline:
2019 = Blade Runner (1982 original)
2022 = Blade Runner Black Out
2036 = Nexus Dawn
2048 = Nowhere to Run
2049 = Blade Runner 2049 (2017 live-action sequel)
It's very respectable for a fifteen minute piece. It's telling an important part of the Blade Runner universe's story. It's setting itself in a strong future history context and showing us how the Black Out happened, which I think is the reason why Blade Runner 2049 was sort of post-apocalyptic. (I haven't seen it, but that's what the internet tells me.) What's been happening more specifically in 2022 is a Human Supremacy movement, lynching replicants for... um, I guess for the crime of having a very short build-in lifespan. That's people for you. No one's ever said that bigots had to be intelligent.
We meet a replicant who's about to be gang-raped, but she's saved by a violent idealist. He has a mission. Soon he also has a truck.
The only downside is the English dub. I steeled myself and kept watching by telling myself that: (a) it's only fifteen minutes long and that (b) this is what it's meant to sound like. There's no Japanese option. However that doesn't change the quality control problems associated with English anime dubs. Most of the cast are okay, but I experienced pain with tanker-driving ex-soldier and later Mr "You, What Have You Done?"
UPDATE: no, I'm wrong. Apparently there's a Japanese dub. Guess what I'm recommending, then.
Is this a good story? Hmm. I'm not sure I'd go that far. They did pretty well, considering. It's hard enough to make a fifteen-minute piece feel as if it adds up to anything at all, instead of just being forgettable. At least this feels as if it's going somewhere. There's some dark commentary on human nature and our relationships with the replicants, including one guy who's overcompensating and putting them on a pedestal. Oh, and Shinichiro "Cowboy Bebop" Watanabe's animating the hell out of it, with a dirtier, wilder art style for the wartime flashbacks and the ability to make action scenes beautiful. You'd have to be mad to call this short a must-watch, but it's quite impressive.
"Is it real?"
"Of course not."
"Just like me."