The recent WitcherCon and the release of CD: Projekt Red’s The Witcher: Monster Slayer has amassed quite a bit of hype for the upcoming second season of the live-action The Witcher on Netflix.
If it even lands this year that is. Because of the pandemic, the wait for the new season will take quite a while, which is why the pending arrival of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (NotW) will be a treat for fans of the franchise, as the standalone anime will explore the history and lore of the popular TV series even further.
Yes, NotW might be an animated series and standalone one, but it isn’t exactly independent, as it takes place in the same universe as the live-action series.
And that’s not like Marvel Studios stating early on that the movies and TV shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were linked, when they currently lack any links. According to The Witcher creator and showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, in an interview with Geek Culture, the anime and TV series are linked.
“It’s something that becomes an enormous part of the story that we’re telling”.
The curious thing about The Witcher is that it has three related but separate distinctions – the one from the original books, the popular video games that adapt the books, and the new TV show starring Henry Cavill as the titular character that adapts the books as well.
NotW revolves around a familiar figure of the franchise but in an entirely different fashion and era: Vesemir when he was a young and handsome swashbuckling Witcher. Yes, that grumpy old “fatherly” figure for Geralt who has appeared in the books and video games, but the character will only make its live-action debut in the second season of the Netflix series. Vesemir’s origins have never been fully established in the overall lore, and this anime will be the first time fans get to dive deep down into his past alongside the Witcher universe.
So while the anime is told as a standalone story that can be enjoyed as a thrilling and emotional adventure of one of the oldest Witcher out there, there will be plenty of connections fans might recognize between the anime and the live-action series that will expand on the Witcher’s universe of monsters and magic.
“Audiences will see a lot of connective tissue between the two, and a lot of things that are set up in the anime will be brought up again in the show so that the history of Kaer Morhen and the Witchers are really present in the show now”, said Hissrich, who also serves as The Witcher’s creator and executive producer.
Writer Beau DeMayo, who worked with Hissrich on The Witcher and now NotW, described how this anime opens up a lot of opportunities for them to visit the unexplored lore of the universe, which should appeal to long-time fans of the franchise.
“There are mysteries in the Witcher world that we’ve always wanted answers to and I think the anime gives us some of that”, says DeMayo.
As the story progresses through Vesemir’s childhood, there will also be new characters and monsters that show up along the way. While it was daunting to him, DeMayo explained that it was also liberating to be able to introduce a character that is nothing like the adult audiences are about to meet in the live-action series.
Hissrich explained that the upcoming season of The Witcher will very much be a generation story of Vesemir, Geralt, and Siri, which has allowed her team to go in the direction of exploring the foundations of passing down the lessons of the Witchers in the new anime.
Hissrich chuckled as she explains, “It’s like hearing stories about your dad and how he partied in college.”
It felt natural to them to take up this venture of discovering the generation before Geralt, and to find out who the father figure of Vesemir was before he took on that role himself years later.
“NotW informs so much of what we’re about to see in season two, and there are just so many things that you’ll be able to see in the anime that are part of the vast and amazing lore of the Witcher, such as the medallion tree for instance,” she explained.
According to DeMayo, he completed the script for the anime right at the end of the first season of The Witcher season one, and it had helped them cast Vesemir in the live-action, who will be played by Kim Bodnia (Frank, Killing Eve).
Hissrich added that our favourite celebrity geek, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and the team even read the NotW script early on, as preparation material for the next season. That shows how much both anime and the series ties up with one another.
“To me, it’s all about expanding the Witcher family, it’s to take all these fans and to unite them in one place.”
Ultimately, Nightmare of the Wolf would serve as a bridge between the past and the future of the Witcher, as it essentially expands on the lore and builds up a good amount of history for Vesemir, the Witchers and, the upcoming season two of the live-action series.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf will be available on 23 August exclusively on Netflix.