Video Sundays: "Cowboy Bebop" Director Reinvents "Blade Runner"

Recommended viewing: "Cowboy Bebop" director Shinichiro Watanabe's prequel to Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049."
Kelley Dong
Last November, it was announced that Denis Villeneuve's 2017 Blade Runner 2049 will be continued with an anime series entitled Blade Runner — Black Lotus, and Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the anime series Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, will serve as the creative producer. The first work to spring forth from the artistic collaboration between Villeneuve and Watanabe is Blade Runner Black Out 2022, an animated short directed by Watanabe and featuring music by Flying Lotus.
The event at the center of the gap between Villeneuve's sequel and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is the "Black Out," a mass erasure of data across the city caused by an unidentified rebel force. Black Out 2022 centers around the execution of this operation, following a pair of replicants who plan to destroy the replicant database, which has become weaponized by humans to locate and kill the androids.
Though Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 may illustrate traces of Ridley Scott and Villeneuve's auteurist touch, Black Out 2022 (set three years after Scott's film) overlaps with its predecessor and successor—harsh light and shadows, existentialist questions—but contains a number of Watanabe signatures, particularly the theme of diversity as it is intertwined with resistance to nationalism, and the struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic world-turned battlefield. And as Twitter user Raeed notes, like most anime films, the gorgeous Black Out 22 is a team effort, made complete with the contributions of Hiroyuki Okura (the director of Jin-Roh, whose work you may also recognize from the famous opening sequence of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie) and Shūkō Murase (who has worked on Samurai Champloo and Final Fantasy IX).

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