We wrote a couple of weeks ago about how intrigued we were by a trilogy of Blade Runner 2049 prequel shorts set to be posted online in advance of the feature’s Oct 6th release date, and this morning the final piece has hit. Boy, it’s a doozy!

Black Out 2022 is a fully animated short film from anime legend Shinichirō Watanabe. Since breaking out as co-director of the seminal Macross Plus in 1994, Watanabe has been responsible for some of the medium’s most celebrated works, including Cowboy Bebop, and segments of The Animatrix. Flying Lotus provides original music for the film as well. 

The short is the most ambitious of the 3 prequels in both spectacle and story, dramatizing a major event in the gap between the 1982 original film and Blade Runner 2049. A group of oppressed replicants engage in an act of terror, causing a global blackout that has massive, destructive implications, and which leads to a key moment in the storyworld’s history—the resulting ban on replicants. 

From The Animatrix, we know well how perfectly anime sensibilities can apply to Western blockbusters, but whereas The Matrix owed a clear debt to anime style, the original Blade Runner was itself massively influential to a generation of anime artists and creators. To see an anime legend have a chance to pay homage to a property that cast such a large shadow over the medium is pretty neat. 

Anime-specific subscription service Crunchyroll has the film exclusive, so you’ll have to watch it over there. No subscription is necessary, but you won’t be able to watch it in HD if you don’t have one.