Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Review

Netflix continues to build off some incredible anime series based on video games with its latest show Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Based on the 2020 video game Cyberpunk 2077, the anime series is created by Studio Trigger, known for its various shows like Kill La Kill and Gurrenn Lagann as it utilizes the same animation from them. Taking place nearly a year before Cyberpunk 2077, the anime brings on some new characters in the same setting. Cyberpunk is a genre that anime is all too familiar with in properties like Akira and Ghost in the Shell as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners brings in the best out of all of them and puts forth a world that is full of violence with some beauty behind it.

In Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the series follows David Martinez, a street-smart teenager living with his single mother to make ends meet in Night City. Attending a highly prestigious school off his mother’s salary during a pandemic isn’t nearly enough to go by in this technologically advanced city. Once we find David learning to survive on his own, the show will take viewers on quite a trip that shows just how horrific it is to live in a world ruled by corporations where cybernetic enhancements can take quite a toll on one’s body physically as well as mentally. Once David is ousted out of school and drowned in debt, he finds himself aligned with a bunch of mercenaries who are known as Edgerunners. Within the group, he meets the mysterious Lucy and the strong and armed Maine. As the show progresses, viewers will get a chance to see David grow as a mercenary with this new group who become somewhat of a family to him.

What Cyberpunk: Edgerunners bring to the table apart from the video game is the criminal element of the franchise. We find this crew of mercenaries stuck in a war between two mega companies out to destroy one another to become the top of the world in cybernetic warfare. Through this conflict, we see it all unfold through the eyes of David as he matures himself from being a simple teenager into a powerful mercenary looking to get the job done and looking out for his new criminal family. It is a unique approach to take to give our main character a world that fans are already familiar with. It also appeals to those who haven’t played the games, giving viewers a fresh story that is accessible to newcomers as well.

The animation in this spin-off is nothing short of breathtaking thanks to the team at Studio Trigger. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners offers beautiful visuals of Night City that stand apart from other futuristic anime shows we’ve seen. There is enough to love about the incredible animation style that this show brings, which gets mixed into the nudity and gore that is displayed a lot in this series. What the show lacks in some character development more than makes up for the astounding visuals of Night City that we get to see. With the wonderful view of the skyline to the dirty streets of poverty in this city, there’s great detail in every corner of this lavish yet gritty landscape.

Even though viewers will connect well with the characters, sometimes it’s not enough when much of the investment goes into creating the world of Night City. It seems like we don’t get the time needed to invest in these characters when they get killed off so quickly or they aren’t given enough background information once they are introduced into the story. However, we do get a fully developed story between David and Lucy as they become the center of the series. Viewers will be rooting for them as their relationship grows to the end. We see how much they’ve changed throughout the series, from their first encounter to them being a powerful yet vulnerable couple. We see their lives unfold as they face the dangers of their profession and the consequences of their actions to survive the dangers that get thrown at them. We get some fun thrills with these two as the show goes very dark and gritty towards the second half of the anime. Being that this is taking place in a cyberpunk setting, it lends itself to put a visual style that matches the tone that the show is going for.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners functions as a great companion piece to Cyberpunk 2077 as it shows off more of Night City in a way that was never wholly shown in the game. It further expands on the world and gives viewers a better look at Night City that fans will thoroughly enjoy. Thanks to Studio Trigger’s visuals and overall vision of this classic RPG series, it is worthy of being perhaps one of the most exciting anime shows we’ve had in a while. It’s a beautiful piece of work that stands on its own and is worthy of anyone’s time to check out in Netflix’s growing library of original anime series.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is now streaming on Netflix.

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