Blade Runner: Black Lotus Review

Blade Runner Black Lotus still of Elle looking up at advertisements

Blade Runner: Black Lotus gives a mix of action, noir-cyberpunk style animation with an absorbing mystery that leaves you ready for more. The series, directed by Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama, is not top-tier animation, but the story is what holds the audience. In this world, protagonist Elle (voiced by Arisa Shida), awakens in a vehicle with little memory of who she is, save for occasional flashes, and begins her journey to find answers. Her journey builds upon the world established by Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, taking place between the two in Los Angeles in 2032. Blade Runner: Black Lotus delivers a worthy inclusion with a gripping story, riveting action sequences and a lead that holds the attention.

Music Befitting Blade Runner

Blade Runner: Black Lotus still of Elle holding a sword.
Courtesy of Adult Swim/Crunchyroll

Let’s start with music. The opening song, “Feel You Now” by Cara, fits with the cyberpunk style and reminds me of “Inner Universe” by Yoko Kanno for the Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex series, so I bopped my head to the beat. One of the stellar parts of cyberpunk is the music—opening, ending, and music in the series matter. You can bop to an entire soundtrack, like the series mentioned above and Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040—the tracks “Time,” “Lean on You,” and “Very Normal Days” are essential listening experiences. The music in Blade Runner: Black Lotus does not have the bops, but they are beautiful, and I will look for this soundtrack. 

Blade Runner—Just Animated

Blade Runner: Black Lotus animation still of officer Alani Davis
Courtesy of Adult Swim/Crunchyroll

The lawlessness of the world is readily apparent when a gang attacks her for her high-tech camera. This world may have exciting technological advancements, but the world is gloomy and dangerous. When Elle fights the band of criminals and gets flashes of her past, all I heard was the saying, “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Elle’s skills in combat allow her to dispatches her opponents with ease. Technology here is not synonymous with beauty or a better world. We also connect to Blade Runner 2049 via Doc Badger (Takayuki Kinba), though he is much younger in Blade Runner: Black Lotus. I appreciate the connection, and perhaps we will learn more about Doc Badger through the series.  

The animation is not mind-blowing, but it does grow on you, thanks to the story. The opening animation is superb, and the episodes legit look like what would happen if they animated Blade Runner. Plus, I enjoy stories that ask what makes a person human. If a person is a robot but is sentient and can feel the range of human emotions, does that mean they are human? Plenty of animes explore that question, from action-packed sci-fi to the more rom-com style of Chobits—which explores the question from the standpoint of who we choose to love. 

A Welcome Addition

Blade Runner: Black Lotus animation still of
Courtesy of Adult Swim/Crunchyroll

The first two episodes of Blade Runner: Black Lotus are laying the groundwork for some fascinating explorations into humanity and this cyberpunk world. There are mysteries, action, and drama in a gritty, cyberpunk noir-style world. I hope they include the child Deckard and Rachel had because she would be around eleven years old. Either way, you will root for Elle and, though you will not desire to live in this world, you will enjoy it from the comforting confines of your home. So definitely turn this on when it is available. 

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