World-building in the “Blade Runner” universe is still exciting and ripe with potential and the latest animated entry is “Black Runner: Black Lotus.” During a panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, a new trailer for the forthcoming series aired along with confirmation of the premiere date.
First announced way back in November 2018, “Black Runner: Black Lotus” is the result of a partnership between Alcon Television Group, Adult Swim and Crunchyroll and it will consist of 13, half-hour episodes that will premiere with two back-to-back episodes at 12 a.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.
There are already three short films to fill the gap between “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049.” “Black Out 2022” is the first and is made by anime director Shin’ichirô Watanabe, who is known for his work on “The Animatrix” and “Cowboy Bebop.” This is followed by “2036: Nexus Dawn” and “2048: Nowhere to Run,” both of which are made by Luke Scott (son of Ridley Scott), who is known for his short films connected to “Alien: Covenant” and “Prometheus.”
“Black Lotus” is set in Los Angeles in 2032 — 10 years after “Black Out 2022.” A young woman wakes up with no memories and no recollection of how she got to where she is. The only clues to her mystery are a locked data device and a tattoo of a black lotus flower. Putting together the pieces, she must hunt down the people responsible for her brutal and bloody past to find the truth of her lost identity.
The series features a new protagonist, a replicant named Elle (voiced by Jessica Henwick in the English dub and Arisa Shida for Japanese), who will have a big role in how the world changes in time for “Blade Runner 2049.” Henwick’s vocal talents will be joined by the likes of Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips,” “Blade Runner 2049”), Josh Duhamel (“Transformers”) and the legendary Brian Cox (“Succession,” “Manhunter,” “Braveheart,” “Supertroopers”).
Joining the pre-recorded virtual panel at New York Comic Con were co-directors Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama, executive producer Joseph Chou — who talked about, among other things, the huge influence that the “Blade Runner” visual aesthetic created by Ridley Scott had on young Japanese filmmakers — and futurist Maurice Conti, who shared some interesting insight into how likely we are to end up with an Earth resembling the one seen in the “Blade Runner” universe. That full panel can be found here.
In addition to “Black Lotus” and the aforementioned shorts, a number of limited series comic books also exist in the “Blade Runner” universe. There’s a three-volume set called “Blade Runner 2019” made up of “Vol. 1: Los Angeles,” “Vol. 2: Off-world” and “Vol. 3: Home Again, Home Again.” This will be released on Dec. 7 and is available for pre-order here. Then there’s “Blade Runner 2029” that’s available as either a seven-volume print edition or a 28-chapter Kindle edition. Finally, there’s “Blade Runner: Origins” that is also a seven-volume print edition. All three of these are published by Titan Comics.
And if you’re still hungry after all that, there’s an eight-issue series entitled “Dust to Dust” published by BOOM! Studios in 2010 that serves as a prequel to the original “Blade Runner” movie set in the days after World War Terminus, an event briefly mentioned in the original source material “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. There’s also some great fan-made material online, which is fun to look through.