Much doubt and scepticism filled the air leading up to the release of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. CD Projekt Red, once the darlings of the video game industry and now the anime’s developer, had a lot to make up for following the disappointing launch of Cyberpunk 2077. It was a terrible, glitch-filled nightmare from top to bottom that was an unplayable disaster. To put it bluntly, Cyberpunk 2077 sucked.
It was unfortunate and a massive let-down to the gaming community as a whole, as it was simply an unfinished game. After being on such thin ice, with its stock in the video game industry plummeting to record lows, CD Projekt Red has slowly been rebuilding its reputation with free fixes and in-game promotions.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has revitalised the series’ fanbase and attracted new players with faith and goodwill. It is a smashing success and a modern-day masterpiece.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, having a release date of September 13, 2022, was produced as an anime original on Netflix by cult favourite animation studio Studio Trigger. They were the brilliant minds behind stylistic, action-packed shows Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and Promare, to name a few.
Known for their generous use of colour in their presentations, Studio Trigger offers its fans literal visual eye-candy in all the hits they release. Viewers are treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, which warns viewers of its strong strobing effects from the get-go.
Whether watching dub or using subtitles, the Japanese voice actors and English cast pack a cybernetic punch capable of impressing anyone. The English cast boasts names such as Zach Aguilar and Matt Mercer, who have done Tanjiro Kamado from Demon Slayer and Levi Ackerman from Attack on Titan, respectively. To add to that is the insanely talented Giancarlo Esposito, who voices the imposing Gustavo Fring in the Breaking Bad universe.
Meanwhile, on the Japanese side, we have Kenn, a prominent voice actor on the Yu-Gi-Oh series, Aoi Yuki, who’s done work in My Hero Academia, and Kazuhiko Inoue, who voices Kakashi from Naruto leading the line.
Into the Afterlife and Onto the Moon
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners shows you what to expect from its first few moments. Here are some of the things that you’ll experience within the first episode of the show: Lustful sexual fantasies (that we hope won’t give the Metaverse any ideas), fountains of blood from exploding heads due to heavy artillery, shocking and dramatic character deaths, and melodramatic scenes accompanied by sombre music. Sets change quickly from one to the next, representing the quick pace of the anime throughout its brief 10-episode run. It does not give you any room to breathe.
In our story, characters live in the dystopian future of Night City, where money dictates existence, much as in the real world. Our protagonist, David Martinez, has his story rooted in his unfortunate situation. Coming from a poor family, David is pushed into the top school in the country by his mother, who works overtime to send him in with the city’s elites.
When he gets picked on at school because of his socioeconomic status, the plot moves forward because he decides to get even by getting military-grade implants in the form of the sandevistan. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners takes viewers through a wild and breathtaking ride through David’s descent into complete madness.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is lowkey an extraordinarily emotional and melancholic love story. Upon receiving the combat upgrade, David bumps into his future love interest, Lucy, on a train one day. The latter takes an interest in his capabilities and recruits him into a ragtag group of cyberpunks she works for. You can think of these cyberpunks as goons with multiple combat implants that are hired mercenaries for puppets controlled by megacorporations who pull the strings – essentially under the umbrella term, “Edgerunner”.
David becomes a valuable squad member when he successfully completes numerous missions, and he and Lucy eventually fall in love. When she initially entices him into her bedroom and shows him her moon-dwelling fantasy, she sets the mood for their future together. Upon David’s entire descent into cyber-psychosis, an uncontrollable mental state which happens when humans take on too many cyber-implants for their brains to handle, it is Lucy that brings him back into the present.
Unfortunately, the end of this story is incredibly tragic, with none of the characters having happy endings. David dies, all the cyberpunk team members die, and Lucy is left alone, rescued by the one she loved, stuck with only visions of David at her side on the moon’s surface.
Why, Rebecca, Why!
Cyberpunk: Edgerunner’s characters were one of the series’ best features. Their unique and edgy designs, coupled with the voice actors’ work, brought life to them. Seeing them all fall like flies was depressing up to the series finale. One character death we will never forget is Rebecca’s.
David never stood a chance against the cyber-super-soldier Adam Smasher, a robotically modified mythical being implanted with the most dangerous weapons. His death was always in vain, as he was already off the edge regarding his mental state, fighting off hoards of enemies for an entire day. Just when it looked like our extremely lovable yet mentally unstable little queen, Rebecca, would see the series through, disaster strikes. Extremely disrespectful, the show did not care what its viewers thought, as she dies uneventfully and unbelievably randomly with Adam Smasher landing on her, squishing her to a pulp. Disgusting.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a popcorn action picture that is more than worth a binge despite the atrocities and the hurried, forgettable narrative (which is not worth diving into). Everything Studio Trigger touches turn to gold; although it rushes through the story, there isn’t a minute’s notice where you are bored. The transitions from scene to scene keep the pace up, which is intentional, as the explosive set pieces don’t run dry. Its emotional moments also hit the right spots, leaving you as empty and feeling alone as Lucy did on the moon.
As of writing, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners will not have a season 2. It would be surprising if it didn’t, as it is easily one of the best shows in recent memory. Equal parts love story, melodrama, and gorefest, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a can’t-miss show this year that will surely secure plenty of awards on year-end awards shows. For now, feel free to jump right back into the shady streets of Night City with Cyberpunk 2077 and its new Edgerunners patch.