This past week, Netflix premiered a brand new anime series on their streaming service titled Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. The show is set in the world created by Mike Pondsmith based on the popular RPG Cyberpunk 2077, however, the series acts as a spinoff story, detached from the original game’s events. The 10-episode series was a collaboration between CD Projekt RED & Studio Trigger.
[Warning: Spoilers from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners are below!]
Connecting to the original Cyberpunk: 2077 video game
Let’s get this straight off the bat. While the series is set in the majestic landscape of Night City, don’t expect the main characters of Cyberpunk 2077 to make any special cameo or appearance. So no V, Jackie, or Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand. However, several characters from the original video game make a brief cameo appearance, such as Rogue, Wakako, & Delemain.
Of course, what would be Night City if there weren’t any gangs terrorizing the streets? The Tyger Claws, Maelstrom, & the Animals of Pacifica appear throughout the series. Additionally, the MegaCorps like Arasaka, Militech, & Trauma Team play critical parts in this story.
By far, the best character tie-in in the show would have to be the incorporation of Adam Smasher. While I only thought they would show him as a quick, brief cameo to explain the dangers of implants and cyborgs, Smasher shows up at the end of the series as one of the secondary antagonists with a massive part to play, but more on that later on.
A new chapter in the world of Night City
The story starts with David Martinez, a bright Arasaka Academy student living with his paramedic mother, Gloria. While David’s classmates come from sophisticated, high-class backgrounds, David and his mom struggle to make ends meet in Night City. Tragedy strikes David as he and his mother become victims of a gang attack and his mother passes away when Trauma Team refuses to save her life.
Following his mother’s death, David comes across an implant she took from a crime scene the day before her death. The artifact belonged to a Cyberpsychotic soldier we see in the opening moments of the series, a Sandevistan. He gets this Sandevistan implanted by a ripper doc and obtains the powers of the implant, which grants him superspeed abilities. He uses the implant to get revenge on his bullies in the middle of class, subsequently getting expelled from Arasaka Academy.
Following his expulsion from the school, he comes across a netrunner, Lucy, who takes David under her wing. When they start doing missions together, Lucy’s gang starts to take notice of David and take him in for questioning regarding his Sandevistan, before being accepted as part of the Edgerunners crew.
The story grants us a beautiful band of misfits known as Edgerunners, each of which manages to make a remarkable impact on the viewer, regardless of the short timeframe. The crew consists of David, Lucy, Maine, Dorio, Kiwi, Pilar, and Rebecca. Each character had their own purpose in the crew and complimented each other in the best way.
As each episode passes, you learn more about each one of these members as they remind you about how important life is and how you should make the most of it with the little time you have on this planet. The show makes it feel as though you are a part of this crew and attaches you even more to them, invoking stronger emotions and reactions when things happen as the story progresses.
The Beautiful Tragedy of Night City
What makes Cyberpunk: Edgerunners brilliant is that it doesn’t just drop you in the middle of the action without offering context or backstory to these characters as the original game did. This show makes you connect with David and understand how he feels and what he goes through.
From the get-go, the story draws you in and invokes a sense of dread and discomfort across all levels. You get to experience the dangerous vibe from Night City on nearly all of your senses. From the incredibly designed and vibrant colors of Night City to the ever-thrilling score that draws chills from your body, the show successfully sets you into the shoes of David Martinez and Night City.
The overall plot is a great story that takes you on a ride through the many pleasures and dangers of being an Edgerunner in Night City. It truly invoked emotions of happiness, sadness, frustration, and shock. The bold part of the plot is how implants and enhancements in this show act as a parallel to the sad reality of drugs and addiction.
Having played the game and seen the series, I found it the anime more enjoyable than the game itself. What makes Edgerunners better than 2077, is that you can actually understand the main character’s motivations. The show succeeds in pulling you into the world of Night City better than the game could.
It stands out in the category of series based on popular video game franchises. It’s not to say that the anime is better than Arcane, for example, but rather stands on its own as a separate thing which would make it unfair for me to compare both in terms of animation, storytelling, and more.
This show is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it for younger audiences. So, even if your young ones love anime, don’t let them watch this until their old enough.
As to whether I would want a second season of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, I would like to see one, but not necessarily of David and the crew. Night City has so much lore that it can explore, and I would definitely love to see more of Cyberpunk being explored in this format.
But what do you think? Have you seen Cyberpunk: Edgerunners or played Cyberpunk 2077 yet? Let us know on social media!