Along with its moody lighting and cyberpunk atmosphere, what defines the Blade Runner franchise are its Replicants. These androids have been the inciting incidents of both Ridley Scott’s 1982 original and Denis Villeneuve’s 2017 follow up, Blade Runner 2049. While the two movies are about Replicants, the beings are viewed primarily through the eyes of the Blade Runners who have to hunt down and kill them. Enter the upcoming Adult Swim and Crunchyroll anime Black Lotus, which wants to flesh out the beings and explore their side of Scott’s universe.
In a behind the scenes video that digs into the show’s creation, co-directors Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki discuss their aim in fleshing out the Replicants. Since the original film has such a strong world, the duo initially struggled with how their show would fit within it. Eventually, they decided to explore something that didn’t really get much attention in the two movies.
“We figured that there was another world that extended beyond the camera lens,” Kamiyama explained. “I wondered what it would be like if we took the approach of exploring the Replicant world, or the time in which they lived.” Both men knew this world would be significantly different through non-Runner eyes, a viewpoint the two movies’ protagonists Deckard and K couldn’t fully have to their jobs as Runners. Kamimiya also explained how as much as he loved the original, he didn’t want it to affect the way he handled the androids. “I tried as best as I could to find a world that wasn’t depicted in the two original movies…if I had let myself get too engrossed in that, I may have had a world view that trivialized it.”
The other way they wanted to differentiate themselves from earlier material is with their protagonist Elle. Voiced by Arisa Shida in Japanese and Matrix Resurrections star Jessica Henwick in the dub, Elle is described by Aramaki as a “unique” type of Replicant for her focus on revenge as opposed to simply survival. But Aramaki also emphasised the idea of self discovery: not just Elle finding out what she’s capable of, but of the larger mysteries surrounding the world that’ll come to be solved during the first season.
Later in the video, executive producer Joseph Chou talks about the process of bringing the show to life with its CG art style. Important as it was that the show feel like Blade Runner, Chou also knew the show needed to stand on its own, particularly in terms of visuals. “We needed to define what Blade Runner anime should look like,” he said. With CG and motion capture, he felt like the portrayal of the action and direction of the camera is what gave it an advantage over hand drawn animation. He wanted the show to stand on its own instead of fitting the show into an anime style that’s already been seen before. “We need to arrive at a place where people say, ‘oh yeah, you guys did justice to the Blade Runner universe…we want to make sure we get it right.’”
Blade Runner: Black Lotus will hit Adult Swim and Crunchyroll on November 13.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.