This September saw the return of renowned filmmaker Shinichiro Watanabe with an animated short under his direction: Blade Runner: Black Out 2022. Produced in tandem with the American feature film Blade Runner 2049, the animation bridges the sequence of events between the original Blade Runner film and its 2017 sequel.
Watanabe is a distinguished name in the anime industry, known for universally acclaimed series Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
While Black Out 2022 has received general praise from both the anime community and critics alike, one individual finds herself in a state of self-contradiction regarding the reviews.
“Looking back, I did not find Watanabe’s work very enjoyable. At least, that’s what I want to tell myself,” explains Monica Brown, a freelance media journalist and critic.
Brown criticized the dialogue and narration as “painfully monotonous” and the plot as “a generic fairy tale involving infidels rebelling against society”. She continues by commenting on the animation work itself, describing it as “sloppy, disorienting, choppy — a college student’s side project at best.”
Despite harboring such criticism, however, Brown cannot seem to bring herself to truly dislike Black Out 2022.
“This is Shinichiro Watanabe we are talking about,” she explains. “Depreciating his work would be a significant disservice to the anime industry — why bite the hand that feeds? You can’t denounce someone like him and expect to live a normal life afterwards.”