Thursday, September 8, 2022

Blade Runner Black Lotus

Okay look, I'm gonna try to articulate myself as best as possible.

Black Lotus is not a bad show, it's a very niche fandom that sprung forth a very niche show. I think yet again we are touching new grounds, as I've never watched or reviewed a 3D anime series before, it's traditionally 2D and that's what I know best. And indeed Black Lotus has been on my radar for a good few months but I didn't know it was 3D from the get go, yet I knew I wanted to watch it. Here's the thing. As a standalone show, it's decent, I liked it, end of story. As an installment of the Blade Runner series, it can't help but fall a bit flat if only due to the fact that it is quite literally sandwiched between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, two excellent pieces of fiction that are beautiful and insightful to us as human beings. It's going to be the black sheep by default. Now does that necessarily mean no one should watch it? Not at all, I kept in mind the target audience as I was watching, it premiered on Toonami and Crunchyroll so teenagers and early adults specifically who love anime. And this could very well be their gateway to watching the movies and perhaps reading Philip K. Dick's novel, though at the same time that breeds apprehension in me. Cause the show is action orientated, which could lead people to believe that's what the movies are like which is exactly what happened in 1982 and it could alienate audiences. But let's actually talk about the show now. So our story takes place still in Los Angeles in the year 2032, as we follow a young woman named Elle who has a strong case of amnesia but is incredibly skilled at kicking ass and is out on a revenge mission against a group of high ranking illustrious figures in society. Any cyberpunk story has a strong anti-corporation, down with the rich sentiment, it's a staple of the subculture. So we pretty much get a piecemeal story over 13 episodes of Elle trekking out to assassinate these figureheads as she regains memories and makes a few allies along the way, a lot of inspiration from revenge movies and introspective dramas were taken and it works adequately. I can see people thinking the show is a slog to get through, it is more slow paced akin to the movies and though it is only about 4 hours in total, it may not seem like much is actually accomplished over time. I can tell you right here right now, skip episode 8, you will miss nothing and learn nothing, it is the epitome of a filler episode. So technically it's even shorter. Elle is a neat protagonist, I was pretty onboard with her in her bomb ass jacket and samurai sword cutting bitches, so I was invested enough. Joseph as her partner in crime makes for a good dynamic, and I'm proud of the creators for not having to force a romance, he has his own history and problems that we get but I feel the show could have utilized all the character's backstories far more effectively. We pal around a bit with LAPD officer Davis, I wasn't feeling much for this character and there is some sextuple amounts of bullshit with her at the tail end of this series, you'll know it when you see it trust me. We actually do get a blade runner who at first I thought was K but no Ryan Gosling for us today, and I find that super interesting how we actually see a blade runner as an antagonist for once it's a cool touch. I mean I know the main focus is on Elle, and the other characters aren't (entirely) wasted, and the voice cast isn't bad one bit, but it begs for more fleshing out. And I'm not entirely sure if this has a negative aspect per se, but the 3D animation lends an odd effect on the voice acting and I'm not sure if I can articulate it well. The animation is good, it obviously doesn't have the budget for totally realistic 3D models, but it does have moments of late 90s/early 2000s TV 3D animation. The motion capture utililized works super well during the fight sequences, and the actual backgrounds and environments look damn good in my opinion. But! The animation doesn't have a great range of facial acting, so it can deaden the impact of line reads which is through no fault of the actors, it's just a side effect of a slight uncanny valley minefield the show has to traverse. I can applaud the creators for wanting to go this direction instead of traditional 2D animation but it's a slippery tightrope to balance. Music kinda sucks though I won't lie, not the actual episode score that fits beautifully in with the soundscape of Vangelis and Hans Zimmer, but they use modern vocal songs for the intro, which while the visuals are great I would not in any universe say the theme is Blade Runner in any capacity, and also the outros during the credits and my God is it just not my scene man. I'm not big on modern music in terms of rap/hip hop/R&B or poppy stuff, it just ain't for me but I can appreciate other people liking it. So all in all, it's a mixed bag for sure but I feel it has enough to be a mostly good mixed bag. I give it 2.5 stars, 7/10. More TV next week, I already talked about it a bit ago but screw that we're going in depth season by season so see you then.

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