The Blade Runner franchise will continue its story on the small screen.
Adult Swim and Crunchyroll announced Thursday that they have partnered with Alcon Entertainment (which owns the Blade Runner rights) for Blade Runner: Black Lotus, a new anime series produced by the animation studio Sola Digital Arts (Ultraman). The series will be directed by Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama, the directors of the upcoming Ghost in the Shell reboot series, and Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe is set to be a creative producer.
As for the plot of the series, we don't know much yet, but we do know the 13 half-hour episodes will take us back to 2032, a time between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, after the blackout of 2022 but before Niander Wallace sought to lift the ban on replicants in 2036. It's an interesting time in the franchise, and the series promises to deliver some "familiar characters" to fans.
“I first saw Blade Runner in 1982, at age 11. It has remained one of the defining films of my life,” said Jason DeMarco, senior vice-president /creative director of Adult Swim on-air, in a statement. “To be able to explore more of this universe, with the incredible talent we have on board, is a dream come true.”
Adult Swim will distribute the English-dubbed episodes of Black Lotus, and air it in the U.S. during its popular Toonami anime block. Crunchyroll will handle worldwide streaming.
At the moment, Blade Runner: Black Lotus does not have a clear premiere date, but this announcement marks another big step in Alcon's plan to keep the franchise going in the wake of Blade Runner 2049's release last year. Just a few months ago we learned that the company had partnered with Titan Publishing for new in-canon comic-book stories from the franchise, and now a small-screen continuation is in the works. We may not see any new movies anytime soon, but the Blade Runner franchise is alive and well.