Adi Shankar Interview: From the Inception of the Bootleg Universe to the creation of Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix The Nerdy Basement

Adi Shankar Interview: From the Inception of the Bootleg Universe to the creation of Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is probably one of the biggest sleepers of 2023 and 2023 had plenty of them, especially when it came to the world of anime. But there was something truly unique about Captain Laserhawk. Was it the fact that the creative mastermind behind the series, Adi Shankar brought his twisted vision over from the Bootleg Universe into Ubisoft’s ever-expanding video game sandbox or was it the dark synth wave soundtrack that ignited all of the hype as each episode played?

Whatever the reasoning may be, one thing’s for sure and two things are for certain, Adi Shankar’s appreciation for animation and video games continues to shine through his creative work. We recently sat down with Adi Shankar to discuss the hit anime series, Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix, and to discuss the anime’s companion manga written by Ben Kahn, Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix: Crushing Love. A boys’ love manga exploring the complicated relationship of one Dolph Laserhawk and criminal mastermind, Alex Taylor.

In this interview with Adi Shankar, we learn more about Shankar’s Bootleg Universe and how it paved the way for him to create hit series like the aforementioned Captain Laserhawk and the critically acclaimed Castlevania anime series, both which are currently streaming on Netflix. Continue reading below for our full interview with Adi Shankar to learn more about his work, the creation of the Bootleg Universe, Captain Laserhawk, and what other IPs and areas Shankar would love to venture off to.

TNB: You got your start in live-action by producing live-action films of existing IPs creating essentially fan films, one that particularly sticks out to me is Power/Rangers. It is a film that generated a lot of buzz leading up to its release and even post-release. How did you find your footing in producing these films thus leading to your transition to animation/anime?

Adi Shankar: Prior to the fan films, I was producing large-budget auteur-driven feature films, which would seem to be the ideal end-goal position for someone in Hollywood. However, the unauthorized Bootleg shorts gave me the chance to express myself as a fan and present a unique vision of these beloved IPs I grew up with. It’s that enthusiastic authenticity that has enabled my move into legitimate adaptations of those same properties, more so than my credits as a “big” movie producer.

TNB: Focusing on Power Rangers a bit more. Is this a franchise you would like to revisit to any extent? Be it another live-action film, an anime, a comic book, etc.

Adi Shankar: I’m not sure, all I know is that Hasbro would be lucky to have me.

TNB: What are the chances of you returning to live-action projects? Seems like your schedule is pretty packed with animated projects.

Adi Shankar: I’m always open to returning to live action for the right project, but you have to pick the medium that serves the story best. Animation is such a flexible and dynamic medium to use for big, bold stories like Captain Laserhawk or Devil May Cry. It’s a great way to create a blockbuster-sized, visually striking world without an Avengers budget.

TNB: Are you open to expanding your reach into developing or producing actual video games outside of adapting them into mediums?

Adi Shankar: Of course! Video games and their capacity as a medium for storytelling are obviously a passion of mine. Games remain a new enough narrative form that the gaming industry is still innovating new ways to tell stories through gameplay. That’s an exciting frontier that would be amazing to be a part of.

TNB: Captain Laserhawk is part of your Bootleg Universe, based on past information that you have provided via interviews and such, one of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome was the guardrails as you called them surrounding IPs like these. How did you approach Ubisoft and pitch this idea to them and sell them on the idea that this series which will feature a lot of their characters is a story worth telling?

Adi Shankar: When the opportunity came about to work with Ubisoft, they initially wanted me to adapt a single IP. Instead, I came back to them with a pitch for this idea of a sprawling cyberpunk dystopia brimming with their entire catalog of franchise characters. It was not what they asked for, but against all odds, they were instantly on board with the idea. It was a case of them recognizing a cool, interesting swing with their IP and actually giving the go-ahead to try it, in contrast to the risk-averse nature of most IP holders.

TNB: Tell us about the idea behind the BL manga for Captain Laserhawk. Was this story always meant to be told in this medium or was it a story beat that was included initially in the anime but was later reworked for the manga instead?

Adi Shankar: This story was written fresh for the manga but it underlines an implied conflict in Dolph’s handling of Alex’s betrayal. Dolph secretly wonders about the extent to which Alex was manipulating him throughout their relationship and how real their love actually was, but he never gets a real answer to that. The manga lets us probe that question further in a way that the show didn’t have time for.

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TNB: How was it working with Ben Kahn on this story?

Adi Shankar: It was fantastic! I was very impressed with the depth of Ben’s understanding of the story and Dolph and Alex’s relationship with hardly any introduction, and how to develop it further in a way that slid neatly into the existing story.

TNB: One of the most notable things about the anime is its soundtrack by Oscillian. As I mentioned, I had it on repeat for over a week straight and immediately told my friend to do the same. This isn’t your first time working together (TGOJ). Did you have a hand in putting together the soundtrack for the series? What was the approach to the music that was incorporated and how was it working with Oscillian again?

Adi Shankar: I was fortunate to have previously worked on Guardians of Justice with the composer for Captain Laserhawk, the Swedish synthwave artist Oscillian. When Laserhawk started becoming a reality, I knew right away that he was the one I wanted to bring this world to life. It was a perfect match, and I had a good sense of his talent by this point so I simply trusted him to take it away. He did a phenomenal job with it, I couldn’t have asked for better.

There you have it folks! The world of Captain Laserhawk is out there for you to explore. Be it the anime series or the BL manga, as I mentioned in my review of Crushing Love, both serve as great launch pads to the story of Dolph Laserhawk. Netflix and Adi Shankar have not formally announced a second season of Captain Laserhawk, best believe we asked!!! The reality is that even if Adi or Netflix were to confirm a second season of the anime, it would be quite some time before it saw the light of day. Shankar is currently working with Studio Mir on the upcoming Devil May Cry anime series which is set to release on Netflix as well.

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