Follow TV Tropes


Anime / Blade Runner: Black Lotus

Go To

Los Angeles, 2032. A young woman named Elle (Jessica Henwick) suddenly wakes up in the back of a moving truck. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. All she has is a device which requires a key code to open it and a strange tattoo of a black lotus on her shoulder. While searching for information, the girl runs into trouble, and her memories as well as inhuman combat prowess begin to awaken during the fight. Determined to find out what's in the device, Elle sets out to recover her past.

Along the way, Elle befriends a mysterious junkyard owner and hacker named Joseph (Will Yun Lee) and a pawnshop owner named Doc Badger (Barkhad Abdi). After a couple of violent encounters, a powerful politician is dead and she is now on the run from the LAPD as well as their Blade Runners. She also gains a powerful new purpose: revenge.


A joint collaboration between Crunchyroll and Adult Swim/Toonami, Blade Runner: Black Lotus takes place between the original Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. The series was directed by Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045) and Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and written by Kamiyama. Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) served as the creative producer (he previously directed the Blade Runner short Black Out 2022).

It aired on Toonami from November 14, 2021 to February 6, 2022.


Blade Runner: Black Tropus:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Niander Wallace Jr. assigns Water Lily to assassinate Elle. She uses a longsword capable of cleanly slicing a memory manipulation chamber in half.
  • Accidental Murder: Josephine Grant seems to have convinced Elle to spare her when she's killed in the crossfire of her fight with Chief Grant.
  • Action Girl: Elle is a very capable fighter, often to her surprise.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Even though Water Lily has spent most of her existence trying to kill Elle, Elle is infuriated by Niander Wallace Jr.'s callousness when he decides that Water Lily has Outlived Her Usefulness and executes her.
  • The Alcoholic: Joseph is a fairly functional one that, nevertheless, prefers to spend most of his days heavily liquored up. This is due to his anger when Marlowe killed a replicant that he fell in love with right in front of him.
  • All There in the Script: Selene's name is only given in the credits.
  • Alternate History: A billboard for Atari confirms that in the Blade Runner timeline, The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 either never happened or didn't cripple Atari as a corporation.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Elle wakes up with no memories, but is experiencing flashbacks of her life that seem to awaken during stressful moments of combat. She's not sure how she has such superhuman physical reflexes either.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the series, Elle takes off into the desert on a flying bike, heading for parts unknown.
  • And Then What?: Chief Grant brings this up in episode 6 when he points out that Elle's quest for revenge is not going to help her find peace. It's sadly a trick but still is relevant since she's almost completed her revenge by the end of the episode with only one survivor, Doctor M, left that she kills off in the next episode.
  • Apathetic Citizens: People don't react in the slightest to a police chase, even when a suspect is apprehended brutally right next to them.
  • Artificial Human: Elle is initially told that she is a replicant, barely even a week old. Whenever her combat skills activate, her eyes flash black. Joseph later examines her and confirms that she isn't one because she doesn't have a serial number imprinted on her eyeballs like the Nexus-8 models do. This is subverted when she finds out she is one, except she's a replicant who overrode her submissive programming through sheer will.
  • Badass Normal: Marlowe. Even as a Blade Runner, he's more than capable of retiring most replicants easily and managed to fight Elle to a standstill the first time they fought. He may have ended up retiring her in the second encounter if it wasn't for Joseph covering her with a Sniper Rifle.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Joseph rescues Elle from falling off Niander Wallace Sr.'s tower on a flying motorcycle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Elle managed to kill all of those responsible for the Doll Hunt, but Niander Wallace Jr. just used her to usurp his father and take over the family corporation so he can play God. Joseph ends up critically wounded in his final battle with Marlowe, and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy Niander Wallace Jr.'s research, while Elle manages to blind him, but Davis meanwhile ended up wheelchair-bound after Water Lily ran her through with a sword while having no means to ever report her findings to the world, and ultimately Niander Wallace Jr. will continue his plans regardless of these setbacks. The only positive beat is that Elle ends up alive and kicking at the end, and gets to ride off into the sunset to find her own path in life now. But a hovercycle flies in adjacent to hers in the middle of nowhere in the final shot with eerily precise timing, with it left ambiguous if it was hostile or not.
  • Broken Pedestal: Elle runs away from Joseph's home when she overhears that he used to be a Blade Runner who killed over a hundred, if not two hundred, replicants.
  • Call-Forward: One of Niander Jr.'s monologues briefly mentions his creations reproducing; finding Rachael's offspring so he can figure out how to make that possible is his goal in Blade Runner 2049.
  • The Cavalry: Joseph serves as this to Elle when she makes her assault on Wallace Tower in "Free Will", serving as her sniper support and saving her multiple times.
  • The Chanteuse: We discover in Episode 10, "Clair de Lune", that Joseph fell in love with a replicant named Selene who was one of these. Emphasized with Selene being voiced by Alessia Cara.
  • Clip Show: "The Davis Report" has Davis being interrogated over her investigation of Black Lotus, which is used as a Framing Device for clips of her scenes from the earlier episodes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In episode 13, the duel between Elle and Water Lily sees both of them shattering pottery in the room and using the shards as a makeshift weapon.
  • Cool Car: Marlowe's personal Spinner, customized to look like something from a gangster movie.
  • Corrupt Politician: Several of the people who hunted Elle and other replicants for game turn out to be this. Elle manages to kill Senator Bannister at an unlawful MMA tournament and later on decides to kill the other three.
  • Cyberpunk: The series features the dark, dingy, rainy streets of Los Angeles, omnipresent corporations and technologies, and the common citizens just trying to get by.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Elle certainly has this despite the shortness of her lifespan. She woke up to being the prey in a Hunting the Most Dangerous Game scenario.
    • Joseph suffers one of them, driving him to be The Alcoholic. Due to his possession of a Voight Kampff test, ESPER, and the gun—he's a former Blade Runner. Furthermore, it's revealed that he saw the replicant he loved get murdered in front of him by his former friend.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Chief Grant, the head of the LAPD, is this, as being one of the four hunters - alongside his wife - who tried to kill Elle and other replicants. He makes sure that his subordinate Davis doesn't find out about his involvement with that incident and then deploys all police officers to find and kill Elle before word gets out.
    • The higher ups in the LAPD put Davis on leave for three months because they choose not to believe the evidence that replicants are being made and they can't have her around.
  • The Dragon: Marlowe is the most capable and dangerous adversary that Elle faces. He's also directly employed by Niander Wallace Sr. rather than the police department.
  • Enhance Button: Joseph uses a voice-activated enhance feature on his computer, just like in the original movie. He also has a way to move the camera of pre-recorded footage to see things blocked by other things.
  • Evil Brit: Water Lily sounds exactly like Elle, except British.
  • Evil Counterpart: Niander Wallace Jr. created Water Lily to replace Elle when the latter completes her mission. Both are voiced by Jessica Henwick and motion captured by Rie Ueda, with Water Lily looking exactly like Elle except albino.
  • Evil Former Friend: Marlowe and Joseph are this to one another, though the "former" part is debatable, given neither wants to kill the other. This changes in "Artificial Souls", where Joseph lures Marlowe into a duel to try and protect Elle from him as well as avenge Selene's death.
  • Exact Words: Once Davis is able to provide evidence to back up her theory, the IA investigator tells her that she's uncovered something big and it will change her career. She is labeled delusional and given a three-month suspension.
  • Fanservice: Many of the episodes take time to focus on Elle from behind and her rather well-animated posterior.
  • Fantastic Racism: Goes without saying in a Blade Runner work, but replicants are considered to be soulless automatons that are used or killed without remorse by the majority of the population. This despite the fact they are thinking emotional beings all but indistinguishable from humans.
  • Foregone Conclusion: A few for the supporting cast:
    • Doc Badger will still be alive and working in his shop by 2049.
    • Niander Wallace Jr. will become blind, and will eventually take over the Wallace Corporation and have the prohibition on replicants lifted in 2036.
  • Gambit Roulette: Niander Wallace Jr. guided Elle's Roaring Rampage of Revenge to lead towards killing his father through implanted memories, manipulating Joseph, and giving her his handprint. However, it required her to survive the Doll Hunt and overcome her programming that prevented her from hurting humans, both of which just barely happened and only because one hunter stayed behind to play with her and another replicant while the others left.
  • A God Am I: Niander Wallace Jr. makes it even more explicit here than in Blade Runner 2049 that this is his driving motivation. He believes humanity is doomed and wants his creations to replace them, spread among the stars, and "spread his glory".
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Elle is a non-lethal replicant, the same as the rest of her batch, but seeing them slaughtered before her eyes and then being put at near-execution gunpoint has her hit a Rage-Breaking Point and kill her attacker in self-defense. Nice Job Fixing It, Villain. Initially, she is unable to turn against Niander Wallace Jr. but does manage to blind him with her sword.
  • Hero Antagonist: Davis seems motivated primarily by a desire to solve a series of murders the LAPD seem uninterested in dealing with. She just misses all the nuances that Elle is motivated by extreme injustice as well as the obvious cover-up going on around her.
  • Heroic BSoD: Elle goes through one after she sees the tape recording of when she was hunted for being a replicant. She makes peace with the fact she's not human, but she plans to go through a Roaring Rampage of Revenge by killing the people who tried to kill her.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In episode 13, Joseph, already on his last legs from his fight with Marlowe, pushes Elle out of the archive room and seals the door as he detonates the C4 charges to blow it up. He accepted his fate.
  • Heroic Willpower: What appears to be the reason that Elle is able to resist her submissive programming.
  • Hope Spot: Davis has one of these when she seems to finally convince the higher-ups of her theory. They instead shut her down.
  • Hover Bike: Joseph has a motorcycle that integrates the same hover technology as Spinners. Naturally, that makes it a Cool Bike.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Elle and other replicants were hunted for sport by the wealthy, including a sitting U.S. senator. It turns out to have been a high-stress test of replicant obedience.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Marlowe is badass enough to give Elle a run for her money with his giant shotgun, but he fires all over the place when it comes to a showdown with Joseph in episode 12.
  • In the Back: Water Lily stabs Davis through her midsection with a longsword before Davis has a chance to reveal Niander Wallace Jr. is the mastermind of the Black Lotus project to her superiors. Davis is able to drag herself away while Water Lily is preoccupied before she can finish her off.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Marlowe very much resembles Josh Duhamel.
  • Inspector Javert: Davis is determined to track down and eliminate "Black Lotus" (Elle) despite the fact she's not a Blade Runner and is repeatedly being stonewalled by her superiors at every turn. Mind you, multiple homicides have been committed, including a U.S. senator, and she has no idea about the mitigating circumstances of Elle's actions. When she does find out, Water Lily takes her out of the action for the rest of the series.
  • Interquel: The series takes place between the original Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. More precisely, it takes place between Black Out 2022 and 2036: Nexus Dawn.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Davis's preferred method to get information out of people trying to play coy with her.
  • Loophole Abuse: Niander Wallace Jr. points out that Elle can't knowingly hurt him because of her programming, which comes up twice in the final episode. And unlike her previous case that he instigated off of insane odds, she can't overcome this one. Her response? Lower his guard by sheathing her katana — and then performing a swift draw and slash with her eyes closed, blinding him with his eyes cut. The programming required her to consciously know whom she was targeting, so by doing a blind attack, she circumvents it easily.
  • Made of Iron: Noticing a gas pipe leaking in the kitchen while hunting the police chief and his wife, Elle decides to use her sword to light it up and cause a huge explosion. Marlowe is mere feet away, while Davis is in the hallway just outside. The explosion causes Elle to fall out of the penthouse window, eventually getting caught on a clothesline. None of the three suffer any burns or even damaged clothing, and both Elle and Marlowe are able to walk away with nothing more damaging than some sore muscles and soot on their faces. Davis gets knocked unconscious by the explosion and Marlowe moves her to safety.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Niander Wallace Sr. is the person responsible for the Doll Hunt.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The people after Elle don't know her name, but she's referred as "Black Lotus" due to her back tattoo.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Elle is never seen emoting other than frowning or having a blank expression. Though she was seen with a small smile on her face in the flashback where she got her tattoo.
  • Product Placement: Keeping with the settings of the Blade Runner franchise, products like Coca-Cola are seen on giant advertisements around the city.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: When Elle asks a food stand owner for some information, the shopkeeper speaks back to her in an Eastern European language. Elle understands it, but the viewing audience has no clue what is transpiring in the conversation.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Niander Wallace Sr. gives one to Elle in "Free Will" where he says that not only do replicants not have free will, but neither do the teaming masses. It's all just an illusion and they just have to learn to obey.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Though not as drastic, Davis is put on leave for three months for her report on the replicants, with her being called delusional despite the overwhelming evidence. However, she still continues her investigation while on leave, only to be forced to stay on leave after Water Lily stabs her and leaves her wheelchair-bound.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 8, "The Davis Report", has Davis testifying the findings of her investigation into Elle and the trail of bodies she has left behind.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Elle's Evil Counterpart Water Lily has red eyes due to her albinism.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Elle decides to embark on one of these after she discovers that she was created to be the prey in a brutal blood sport, and the rest of the replicants who were with her were all murdered.
  • Robot Girl: The series's protagonist is the adorable Elle, who is a replicant.
  • Saved by Canon: Due to this being set between the events of the first and second movie, Niander Wallace Jr. was going to walk out of this alive. How he got blinded is revealed, however.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The rich and powerful are able to enjoy sadistic games with replicants despite their ban due to the fact they are the ones who enforce the law. This includes boxing matches and hunting them for sport.
  • Secret Test of Character: The Doll Hunt turns out to have been a particularly warped example of such as Niander Wallace Sr. was attempting to make sure his son's replicants were totally obedient and sell them to the kind of people who were most skeptical.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Niander Wallace Jr. created Elle and set up her Roaring Rampage of Revenge primarily so that Niander Sr. would be killed and he could take over the company.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Marlowe's weapon. It doubles as a BFG.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: After the bungling fantastic racists and Smug Snake types of the first few episodes, Marlowe proves to be a hundred times more dangerous and more than a match for Elle when they finally meet in Episode 6. This makes sense as he's a Blade Runner trained to kill her kind.
  • Spy Catsuit: Elle inexplicably acquires one for her assault on Wallace Tower in "Free Will."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The setting of Blade Runner treats the replicants as subservient androids you can inflict whatever you want upon, in pure disregard of the human-like emotions they're built with, which is a recurring problem in both movies. Elle's rebellion is seemingly impossible from a scientific perspective, but entirely predictable from a human perspective, which baffles her targets in a world where the human element isn't what it used to be.
  • This Cannot Be!: Hooper's reaction when Elle overpowers him and slowly stabs him to death with the knife he gave her. This example is justified, given as a non-violent replicant, what Elle was doing should be impossible, but no longer was:
    Hooper: Unbelievable… but you can't...
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Elle kills the last of the Doll Hunt participants in Episode 7, but the experience doesn't leave her feeling any better about herself and also even more confused about her purpose.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "The Persistence of Memory", Episode 6, introduces the first Blade Runner hunting Elle and shows she's far more outclassed than she thought.
    • "Clair de Lune", Episode 10, ends with the revelation of Niander Wallace Jr. being the tattoo artist who gave Elle the Black Lotus, and that he hired Joseph to help her.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A central theme of the franchise that is replicated here. Society does not consider replicants to be human and any who are found are killed. That doesn't stop the rich and powerful from illegally making them, though.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Davis keeps repeating her story to her superiors under the assumption her evidence will win them over, never quite grocking onto the possibility that they're not interested in the truth or even complicit in events.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Niander Wallace Jr. kills Water Lily when he notices that Elle is actually the superior fighter despite Water Lily being the later model.