In the year 2022, human-like androids known as Replicants have had it up to here with mankind and they’re ready to stake their claim to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But first, they’ll have to make a whole lot of other people very unhappy. Thus begins Blade Runner: Black Out 2022, Watanabe Shinichiro’s striking animated prequel to Arrival director Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming film, Blade Runner 2049.
The third and final short in a trilogy of prequels to the film, if Black Out 2022 doesn’t prepare us for what Denis Villeneuve has in store with his Ryan Gosling/Harrison Ford actioner, I don’t know what will. Each short being its own piece can be viewed independently of each other, the last of which set (as the title suggests) over two decades prior to the new movie’s events.
Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 can be viewed now, courtesy of Crunchyroll.
Watanabe is no stranger to stylish, noir-tinted futures, as the orchestrator of awesome for anime classic Cowboy Bebop. Making waves stateside on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim television block, he introduced a generation of newcomers to the wonders of adult-targeted animation with a story of bounty hunters in space. Black Out 2022 follows in those gargantuan footsteps with a tense, surreal, and downright hypnotic short film packed with action and vivid characters who need only moments to make a vivid impression.
The fluidity of movement in thrilling sequences as well as the potency of stillness are on lavish display here as Watanabe seeks to make us feel something as well as get the blood pumping. Above all, it’s just plain cool. From the manic, near-incoherent chaos of a warzone where a startling epiphany is made to the smoldering aftermath of the fateful terror attack it leads to, this is what anime was made for. A medium capable of delivering the goods in a way no other could.
Blade Runner 2049 is in theaters October 6, 2017.