If the two live-action shorts released in preparation for the big October 6 arrival of Blade Runner 2049 hadn’t already whetted your appetite enough, this news should definitely leave you salivating like crazy. It has just been announced that Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) will be directing a short anime video for the feature film, expected to be unveiled around September 26 on YouTube.
Sony Pictures Japan has let out the sneakiest of peeks for this short film, titled Blade Runner Black Out 2022. Like the earlier two shorts, both directed by Luke Scott, the Watanabe video will feature a key incident that links the events of the year 2019 of the original Blade Runner to those of year 2049 of the new film by Denis Villeneuve. This third short is expected to provide more information on the major blackout event hinted at in the first short 2036: Nexus Dawn.
Watanabe, of course, knows no introduction to anime fans across the world. This sounds like a particularly great collaboration given some of the recurring themes in the Japanese filmmaker’s creations. In fact, according to the translation provided by the website Kotaku for the short Watanabe commentary in the teaser clip, he says, “The work that has influenced me the most in my anime profession would be, of course, Blade Runner.” He adds that he intends to pay maximum respect to the original film and try not to create an imitation. The clip also includes the briefest of glimpses of some test animation and concept art by Watanabe.
This will not be the first such collaboration between Hollywood and Japanese animators, and definitely not a new thing for Watanabe. Most notably, he was involved with the acclaimed 2003 anthology The Animatrix produced by the Wachowskis, writing and directing two of the anime film’s nine stories.
Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista and Robin Wright, is scheduled for release on October 6, 2017 in the US and UK, and will release over the October 4 – 6 period in most other major territories too.