It’s been four years of peace since Netflix cursed the world with the David Ayer/Max Landis orc cop nightmare Bright. The streamer has threatened since, in fits and starts, to bring us more, but in spite of the movie’s success on the platform, it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about a continuation of its story... until now.
Netflix confirmed that the next addition to what it distressingly describes as an “expanding” Bright universe is not a sequel to the film, but Bright: Samurai Soul. The movie is described as an animated prequel set hundreds of years earlier in the blended world of human society co-existing with fantastical civilizations like orcs and elves. Specifically taking place in a post-feudal Japan, Samurai Soul follows a sellsword named Izou (Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu), who finds himself crossing paths with an orc named Raiden (Fred Mancuso), as they both encounter a young elf with access to a powerful magical wand. When the girl, Sonya (Yuzu Harada), realizes a mysterious organization is after her, wishing to steal the wand to secure Japan’s future as the Meiji period of early Imperial Japan gets underway, Izou and Raiden are forced to put aside prejudice to work together and safeguard Sonya’s quest to bring the wand home to the Elven settlements in the country’s northern regions.
Neither Ayer nor Landis is attached to the project, the latter of whom was already rumored to not be returning in light of several allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Instead, the movie is the work of animation studio ARECT, directed by Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop and Your Lie in April’s Kyohei Ishiguro, and written by Michiko Yokote. Their many credits include writing on Cowboy Bebop and a plethora of other anime, as well as several Super Sentai series, leading the writing teams on Juken Sentai Gekiranger and Tensou Sentai Goseiger.
All jokes about Bright’s questionable quality aside—and whether or not people are really keen to see it become a franchise four years down the line—it’s interesting that Samurai Soul is, ultimately, so far removed from what Bright was (and really, the aspects of the film that didn’t work), that it feels like it could almost just drop the brand entirely and be its own pseudo-historical fantasy creation. We’ll see if the Bright association helps or hinders when Samurai Soul begins streaming on Netflix on October 12.
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