Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus’ anime review

Dissecting the first two episodes of the anime, “Blade Runner: Black Lotus”
Chelsey Powell / Daily Collegian

On Monday, I was scrolling through my feed and noticed an ad for a “Blade Runner” anime on Adult Swim and that it was premiering on Nov. 12 – that same night. As a huge cyberpunk and “Blade Runner” fan, I naturally elected to postpone my homework and clear my schedule for a binge-watch session.

At midnight, “Blade Runner: Black Lotus” premiered, opening with a shot of a woman in the back of a truck. I was immediately enthralled. “Who am I?” she muttered. My trance was immediately broken. I lifted my hands and sighed in defeat. An amnesia trope? Really? Unfortunately, that disappointment never left throughout the entire hour-long run time. “Blade Runner: Black Lotus” squanders its potential due to lazy writing, phoned in voice acting and cheap animation that would better be set in almost any other universe or franchise.

There are some amazing, cinematic moments in “Blade Runner: Black Lotus.” Its particle effects are captivating and the color grading is alluring . Yet, the characters themselves, who are taking up most of the shots in the series, do not live up to the same quality. They have no texture — like, actually none. In fact, almost nothing does. Practically everything is flat and most of the lighting throughout makes the environment look like it’s made of a sort of matte gel; It just looks cheap. This could be excusable if the rest of the show made up for it, but sadly, it does not.

Another downfall lies in the voice acting. Rarely does good voice acting jump out enough for me to notice it. Good acting is often invisible — seamlessly luring you into the world. But sometimes voice acting is so bad, it makes you fall completely out of immersion. Every character sounds completely disinterested, especially the protagonist. The lack of emotional engagement is compounded by the notably poor lip syncing, everyone’s lips look like they are dubbed although they’re not. The auditory elements for both “Blade Runner” movies were some of their best components, yet in this show all the characters’ voices are merely uninteresting and unengaged, which describes how I felt watching the show.

The plot was similarly flawed. It’s just a generic amnesia plot with a headstrong protagonist who also goes ~sicko mode~ whenever she’s in danger, making her effectively invincible. There are no stakes, there’s no emotion. Even the action scenes are boring. The show has a TV-14 rating, meaning gore is minimal. This leads to a consequential lack of weight and feedback to the exchanges within the show. The violence can be skipped entirely and seems as though it’s merely there to fill space.

I want to see what happens next yet outside of the very last seconds, I could not bring myself to be invested in the show. Given that the “Blade Runner” franchise may be my favorite of all time, this was an incredibly disappointing viewing experience for me.  Whatever this new show does or does not accomplish, however, will not impact the significance “Blade Runner” has had on me.

At the end of the day, I am not sure as to why this show is even associated with the original franchise. Both movies flopped, I understand that it has some brand power, but not much. This story could be told in any universe, there is nothing cyberpunk about it, it just so happens that most of the shots are dark and rainy with some neon colors. Maybe the show will get better, I hope it does. As I mentioned earlier, the last 30 seconds did intrigue me, but as for now ‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus” gets an ~eh~ from me.

Ben Connolly can be reached at [email protected].

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  • C

    ChrisJan 5, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    I’m not into episode 8 and find this review pretty much nails it. The only disagreement I would raise is that the vehicle animations (spinners, etc.) and some sets are very, very well done.

    What I noticed is a near-consistent lack of people on the streets. I suspect this was due to budgetary concerns, but when so many scenes take place in empty streets, it breaks the Blade Runner lore entirely. It’s supposed to be an overpopulated city, not downtown Poughkeepsie on a chilly winter night.

    Character animations are all over the place. Fight animations are well done, while someone walking down an alley looks like a bootleg version of Grand Theft Auto III.

    Plot is pretty poor, too, as the reviewer noted.

    At least it’s raining, which is more than can be said for Villenueve’s movie. (He stripped Blade Runner of nearly all its iconic elements, including the ever-present rain.)

    I do hope this does well, though, so maybe someone else can come along and do another series, but with the needed improvements.

  • A

    AaronNov 28, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    “Both movies flopped…” That’s wildly false. Blade Runner (1982) netted $11.5 million at the box office, which would be ~$33 million, today. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) netted more than $70 million. Not counting, of course, follow-on VHS/DVD/etc. earnings.

    60 seconds on DuckDuckGo would have discovered this.