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Bright: Samurai Soul - What We Know So Far

Love it or hate it, the big-budget Netflix original "Bright" continues to surprise us. The nascent franchise's first film, which stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, is set in a modern-day fantasy world where humans live alongside elves and orcs. "Bright" was unable to impress critics with its flashy premise. Per Rotten Tomatoes, the David Ayer-directed movie has a mere 27% rating. Additionally, critics generally agree the Netflix movie failed to blend its odd mixture of genres and relied too heavily on social commentary throughout its runtime.

Despite what critics felt, audiences responded extremely well to "Bright." It earned an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes' audience score and was even one of Netflix's most-streamed films at the time of its release. The disparity between critical and audience consensus was so wide that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even commented on it, saying critics were "disconnected from the mass appeal" (via Variety).

Given this polarizing debut, it's no surprise that Netflix opted to continue the franchise by greenlighting a sequel to the controversial film. However, "Bright 2" has been delayed for a number of reasons — and may be delayed indefinitely (via CinemaBlend). Thus, Netflix has recently announced something new to fill the gap in the action-fantasy franchise: an anime movie set in a medieval Japanese version of this fantasy world called "Bright: Samurai Soul." Here is what we know so far about the surprising new franchise entry.

What is the release date of Bright: Samurai Soul?

It should be very clear by this point that, despite what critics had to say about the film, Netflix is ready to plow on with its plans to expand the world of "Bright." In fact, Netflix is so keen that they didn't shy away from sharing a release date once they announced the project. The official trailer for "Bright: Samurai Soul" was posted on September 13 (via YouTube). The end of the trailer reveals that the 3D-animated movie will debut on Netflix on October 12.

This is good news for "Bright" fans as this apparent franchise continues to surprise. Not many expected Netflix to come out with a fantasy-inspired cop drama laden with social commentary in 2016, and it's doubtful that anyone expected the company to take that same feature and use it as the starting point of a quasi-historical anime epic. The company choosing to spring "Samurai Soul" on its viewers so suddenly is just compounding that sense of unexpectedness, hopefully piquing in the interest of audience members new and old.

Who is in the cast of Bright: Samurai Soul?

You gotta give it to Netflix when it comes to casting for "Bright: Samurai Soul." Granted, it's a pretty easy bet that any actor with a recurring role in the MCU is going to be recognizable, but it's almost as if the company has precognition in this case. Just weeks after he became a household name through "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," actor Simu Liu is back in the spotlight as Izou, a withdrawn ronin and the protagonist of "Bright: Samurai Soul" (via Deadline).

Liu's Izou isn't the only character of note in "Samurai Soul." Like many good stories, this Netflix anime movie focuses on a trio of characters. The other figures contrast to the human Izou, both in their race and role in the story. Izou's partner is Raiden (Fred Mancuso), an orc who joins the wandering samurai on a journey to escort an elf, Sonya (Yuzu Harada), and her wand to the northern elven territory. As you might expect, these three very different travelers often struggle to get along, but they are united by a common cause: bringing Sonya and her scarily powerful magical artifact back to where it belongs.

What is the plot of Bright: Samurai Soul?

Netflix released details about the plot of "Bright: Samurai Soul" on the movie's official press site. Per the streaming outlet (and via Nerdist), the "Bright" anime movie will follow Izou, Raiden, and Sonya, a trio who "go on a journey along the Tokaido road to bring her and the wand she holds safely to the land of the elves in the north. Standing in their path is the mysterious organization Inferni, which aims to obtain the wand and revive the Dark Lord, who intends to rule all of creation."

Speaking of the wand, it lies at the heart of the "Samurai Soul" narrative. Within the "Bright" universe, wands aren't just fancy sticks that magicians use to cast spells. They're an extremely potent magical item kept under lock and key by governments (via The Verge). Only a chosen few people, who are called "brights," can wield one without dying. As it turns out, the elf who Izou and Raiden escort is a bright, and her wand is sought after by some incredibly powerful political figures in Japan. In fact, it seems the antagonists of "Samurai Soul" have a similar goal to those in 2016's "Bright": to resurrect the Dark Lord who had been defeated millennia prior. Whatever the wand can do, it's a dangerous object that few are capable of using responsibly. Hopefully, Izou, Raiden, and Sonya can succeed in their quest.

"Bright: Samurai Soul" begins streaming this October.