ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Blade Runner: Black Lotus,’ Episode 1

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Blade Runner Black Lotus Episode 1 - But Why Tho

Blade Runner: Black Lotus is a sci-fi/action joint Crunchyroll-Adult Swim exclusive from Sola Digital Arts. Waking up in the back of a self-piloting truck with no memories and a piece of tech she can’t access, Elle must begin her search for answers in the City of Angles. But the streets are mean, and trouble is never far away in Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1.

Mysteries can be some of the toughest stories to start. After all, the easiest way to grab an audience’s attention is with a strong plot hook. But when all your lead character knows is that they have no idea what’s going on, that can be hard to create a solid hook around. While Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 manages to create some momentum in its first entry, there is still a bit of exploration that needs to happen before we will know whether or not this story will do something memorable or devolve into just another forgettable mystery tale centered on an amnesiac protagonist.

With little of the larger plot to talk about, we have to shift our gaze to the central focus of this episode: Elle. While she awakens with no coherent memories whatsoever, Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 lets her begin to remember bits and pieces of who she is fairly quickly. This is an excellent choice as it allows the episode to fill the narrative void in the story with Elle’s evolving character. The biggest revelation for her is the discovery that she is a master of hand-to-hand combat. After dispatching several thugs she has an incidental run-in with, Elle begins to realize she is more than meets the eye.

Elle’s search for answers ultimately leads her to run into a friendly individual who goes by the name Doc Badger. As the two interact, it becomes clear that they may be in a situation to provide some mutual aid to each other’s current problems. And with few settings more firmly rooted in the law of “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” as cyberpunk, the exchange of aid feels like the perfect way to incorporate Doc’s character into Elle’s story.

Now let’s talk about the aspect of Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 that will probably be the most divisive: the visuals. In an age where every visual medium from movies to video games is constantly pushing the boundaries of what CGI can produce, it’s extremely easy to get spoiled. While the character models aren’t the most eye-catching works I’ve ever seen, these shortcomings are largely made up for by what Sola Digital Arts manages to create when the action starts.

Much like the studio’s work on Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 last year, the hand-to-hand combat sequences in this episode are the highlight of this visual delivery. It feels like the studio knew that it didn’t have the means to deliver every aspect of Blade Runner: Black Lotus to the level of quality they would like and instead opted to focus on the action moments of the show, creating highlights that would shine brighter than the less than top quality character models. This choice seems like the best way to go to me. These combat moments deliver smooth movements and hard hits that impress upon the viewer just how deadly Elle is. They will likely be the aspect of the show that many will carry with them after the credits roll.

So, when all is said and done, Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 delivers a solid introduction to its narrative. It allows the audience to quickly start to grasp the story’s main protagonist while also showcasing some slick combat moments. I walked away from this pilot interested to see what lies ahead for our amnesiac badass.

Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 will be premiering on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim on November 9th.


Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

Tl;DR

Blade Runner: Black Lotus Episode 1 delivers a solid introduction to its narrative. It allows the audience to quickly start to grasp the story’s main protagonist while also showcasing some slick combat moments. I walked away from this pilot interested to see what lies ahead for our amnesiac badass.