Though it didn't quite live up to any hype, Bright was still a hot topic when it was first debuted on Netflix, if only for how lackluster it turned out to be. The film was a staunchly literal take on the urban fantasy genre, sharing a glimpse into how fantasy races like orcs and elves would operate in a world like our own. This, if nothing else, was an interesting approach, with the potential for a fresh perspective on the fantasy-as-reality concept. This potential was unfortunately squandered by Bright's own plot, of all things, but the hope that a sequel or spinoff could make good on it endured.
Sadly, Bright's new anime follow-up seems to be completely missing the point of what should have made the movie work. Spinoff series Bright: Samurai Soul follows an orc warrior's travels with a human samurai and an elf in feudal Japan, a setting that essentially dooms the anime to being just another generic fantasy story. Here's a look at the upcoming anime and why it's not quite taking advantage of the property's premise.
Why Bright (Should Have) Worked
The strength of Bright's premise was showcased in the film's poster alone. The image of an orc, a member of a fantasy race popularized by the works of Tolkien, as a police officer in an LA much like today's was a signal that the film was making an effort to be different. Instead of drawing from the well that Tolkien dug so many years ago and putting the same races and species in the same old places and positions, it seemed like Bright wanted to write a new canon.
Seeing an orc and other fantasy concepts in an outright modern setting, especially one that took modern issues and current events into account, was an inversion of what fans had come to expect. Of course, the movie itself didn't exactly capitalize on this, and is generally seen as a fairly tepid flick. Nevertheless, it on paper brought fantasy into the modern world more than almost any other property has, in doing so bringing in viewers who might not usually enjoy fantasy. Sadly, the anime spinoff series seems to be going in a totally opposite direction.
Why Bright: Samurai Soul Doesn't Seem Exciting
If the modern setting of Bright attracted those who usually forgo fantasy, the upcoming Netflix anime Bright: Samurai Soul certainly won't. The story features an orc named Raiden who helps a ronin escort an elf girl to the northern elven lands. The premise does away with the hook of the film, which involved modern society and issues regarding the police and prejudice, instead leaning hard into the film's actual plot, which is markedly identical to the anime's premise.
Bright's original concepts are immediately rendered moot by virtue of Samurai Soul taking place in 1800s Japan. Likewise, this setting is incredibly common in anime, with tales of sword-wielding samurai fighting fantasy creatures around every corner. Likewise, even the issues of the time don't seem to be of any importance to the series, with no mention of any of the political intrigue or daily strife that often make stories set in feudal Japan interesting.
A better way to expand the Bright universe would have been to capitalize on the modern, urban setting that initially drew so many to it. If the setting is Japan, the 1940s or 1980s, for instance, would have been perfect, iconic eras to turn on their head with fantasy aspects while avoiding repeating the first movie. Even setting the series at the same time as the film could have worked, with modern Japan perhaps being even more unconventional for a fantasy of this nature than Los Angeles. Sadly, the whole affair seems to be a missed opportunity, and it will depend on how the series is handled as to whether or not it will truly expound on upon the Bright world or cement the franchise as a failure.