Shinichirō Watanabe’s Lazarus Fiddles With a Fearful Future

A hunt for the vaccine to save humanity.
Published On July 25, 2023

Lazarus is an elite task force created for a single purpose: hunting down the doctor that has pushed a ticking bomb down humanity’s throats. Video by Adult Swim

Shinichirō Watanabe, creator and director of Cowboy Bebop (the anime, not the Netflix debacle), is teaming up with Adult Swim to bring forth his next anime called Lazarus, and it already holds the promise of some of the best action sequences for the genre — courtesy of a John Wick treatment infused with jazz soundtracks.

What’s it about: Lazarus is set in the year 2052, described as an era of “unprecedented peace and prosperity,” with humanity having completely eradicated sickness — thanks to the miracle drug “Hapuna” created by neuroscientist Dr. Skinner.

  • The peace is short-lived, however, as Skinner makes a dreadful announcement three years later — stating that the drug is like a slow, silent killer, with everyone who has taken it set to die in approximately three years.
  • Humanity’s retaliation takes the form of a five-person task force called “Lazarus,” meant to hunt down Skinner and develop a vaccine in time to stop the mass fatalities.

More details: Watanabe is most well-known for the space-age classic that was Cowboy Bebob, but his resume contains other critical and commercial successes like Kids on the Slope (2007-12) and Samurai Champloo (2004).

It is John Wick director and action choreographer Chad Stahelski’s addition to the production team, however, that generates even greater hype. Stahelski will be directing the action sequences for Lazarus.

  • Stahelski has previously exhibited his expertise in capturing gritty and intense action, and the apparent creative freedom that comes with animations might make Lazarus’ fight sequences a sight to behold.
  • And who knows, we may even get a cameo from Keanu Reeves himself, given the actor’s fondness of anime (Reeves is working on the anime adaptation of the comic, BRZRKR).

Lazarus is being animated by MAPPA, currently busy with two of the biggest anime of the season (Jujutsu Kaisen and the Attack on Titan finale).

  • The first preview doesn’t reveal much beyond the animation style and some key faces, but we do know that the events would (at least largely) take place on Earth, unlike the spacefaring odyssey that was Cowboy Bebop.
  • The one-and-a-half-minute trailer has a prison break, acrobatic action sequences, and jumping off stupefying heights thrown into the mix, but not a single word is spoken throughout.
  • The no word regarding the series’ release date.

Looking back, one of the greatest achievements of Cowboy Bebop was the seamless integration of its action sequences into the larger narrative, not to forget the high-octane final fight between Spike and Vicious. This combined with Chad Stahelski being on board means that the action sequences throughout the series would largely resonate on a visceral level.