'Blade Runner – Black Lotus,' Anime Prequel to '2049,' Coming to Adult Swim and Crunchyroll: Here's How It Fits in the Timeline

On Wednesday, Netflix announced a live-action Cowboy Bebop series, with anime creator Shinichiro Watanabe consulting on the project. On Thursday, we learned the pipeline works both ways: Watanabe will serve as creative producer on an anime prequel to Blade Runner 2049.

Blade Runner Black Lotus will premiere thirteen 30-minute episodes. Netflix has revealed nothing about the plot of Black Lotus, except the year it's set: 2032. This puts it squarely in the middle of Blade Runner 2049 and the original film, set in 2019. This could indicate how Black Lotus will tie into historical events described in 2049, particularly the dark days that followed the 2022 electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that deleted the register of Replicants and crashed the global economy. In Blade Runner 2049, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) struggles to uncover records from this period.

Watanabe previously directed an anime prequel short to 2049, Blade Runner Black Out 2022, which might well tie into the plot of Black Lotus.

Another prequel short to 2049 , 2036: Nexus Dawn, hits even closer to the timeframe of Black Lotus and focuses on the rise of roboticist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), whose mega-corporate supplanted the Tyrell Corporation as the major manufacturer of replicants.

The Netflix announcement also revealed Black Lotus will include familiar characters, tying the events of the series directly to plot points from 2049 , and maybe even the original Blade Runner. Wallace, who's working on the model Nexus-9 replicants (Roy Batty and the other fugitive replicants in Blade Runner are Nexus-6) in the 2030s, seems a likely candidate to appear in Black Lotus.

In addition to Watanabe, Black Lotus assembles a dream team of anime talent, including animation studio Sola Digital Arts (Ultraman, Starship Troopers) and directors Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex).

"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 and creative director of Adult Swim on-air, in the press release. "To be able to explore more of this universe, with the incredible talent we have on board, is a dream come true."

Blade Runner Black Lotus will be produced by a partnership between Alcon Television Group, Adult Swim and anime streaming giant Crunchyroll. English-dubbed episodes will premiere on Adult Swim's anime programming block Toonami and stream on Crunchyroll.