Cyberpunk Edgerunners News: V’s rise through the criminal ranks was detailed in a five-minute cutscene in Cyberpunk 2077. It takes around five episodes for David Martinez to completely go evil in Cyberpunk Edgerunners. That length of time allows Studio Trigger and author Rafa Jaki to delve deeply into the world of Night City and the shattered ambitions of its citizens over a thrilling 10-episode series that argues convincingly that CDPR may have a foundation upon which to construct future Cyberpunk tales.
The CDPR game Cyberpunk 2077 is widely regarded as the inspiration for Mike Pondsmith’s offshoot, Cyberpunk Edgerunners. Everything looks and feels the same as it does in the game, but a fresh cast of people is at the center of the plot. To sum up, the anime will not include V or Johnny Silverhand.
Instead, the story of Cyberpunk Edgerunners centers on David Martinez, a gifted student whose mother’s income as a paramedic isn’t enough to support him and his needs in Night City.
When David is left on his own, Edgerunners explores the many ways in which Night City, with its capitalist underpinnings and cybernetically augmented gangs, may be scary. Night City’s hyper-capitalism becomes the early antagonist in Edgerunners as David finds himself steadily sinking in debt, being expelled from the renowned institution he can no longer afford, and being harassed by debt collectors.
David’s fortunes improve when he befriends Lucy, a mystery netrunner, and joins a lovable band of mercenaries commanded by the determined and armed Maine. It is at this point in his life that he decides to become a mercenary in Night City.
Edgerunners is at its best when the various elements of Night City’s hostile life cycle are explored
David’s plot is almost entirely concerned with the criminal aspects of Night City, in contrast to V’s, whose mercenary escapades are physically hijacked when their body and mind become a living place for Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Silverhand. Eventually, Maine’s gang will get embroiled in a conflict between two of the city’s most powerful Megacorps and the plans of a Fixer called Faraday (played by Giancarlo Esposito with his usual exemplary menace).
At its finest, Edgerunners examines the vicious circle of criminality that permeates Night City, from the street gangs and mercenaries who work for them to the Fixers who are in turn indebted to the Megacorps that dominate the city. In Cyberpunk Edgerunners, these connections are emphasized heavily, and David’s ascent up the social hierarchy provides an interesting perspective from which to observe the world.
Studio Trigger, pioneers of the expressionistic anime excess, has done an excellent job of visually augmenting the tale being told. Studio Trigger takes a more exaggerated approach to the topic than other notable cyberpunk anime, such as Ghost in the Shell and Akira, which feature highly realistic, future cityscapes. Forget the blood and bare flesh (there’s enough of both), Studio Trigger’s Night City looks more vibrant than any cyberpunk anime before it thanks to the same filters used to produce Kill la Kill and Space Patrol Luluco.
All this suggests that, despite very little anticipation, Cyberpunk Edgerunners has a shot of being a surprise smash this year. Untethered from the core plot of CDPR’s video game, Jaki, who acted as business development on Cyberpunk 2077 and writer of The Witcher Ronin manga, opted to investigate the larger features of Night City, yielding considerably stronger narrative outcomes.
However, this has a cost: although Edgerunners’ central characters are interesting enough to root for, they often get overlooked in favor of the show’s primary objective of revealing new facets of Night City. Some of the characters are eliminated or introduced too quickly. David and Lucy, the story’s main characters, receive their due with a thorough narrative that follows their blossoming romance all the way to a tragic denouement.
Edgerunners is able to focus on the day-to-day existence of a Night City mercenary via a few crucial individuals who are all ultimately simply trying to live and survive, despite the fact that Night City has always been the focus of cyberpunk more than its people. They have little say over their destinies, which are mostly determined by the vicious dog-eat-dog nature of the Night City food chain.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners makes a case that there’s still plenty left to mine in CDPR’s vision of Night City
Studio Trigger’s more carefree and ostentatious animation style creates a dynamic tension within the narrative. When the tale becomes too depressing, the visual style saves the day by keeping the hyper-realism typical of the cyberpunk genre, and the story’s maturity prevents Studio Trigger from going too far with the tone. It works well together as opposed to competing.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners is not a replacement for Cyberpunk 2077, but rather a companion piece. Although I haven’t played Cyberpunk 2077 since its release, the anime has piqued my interest in returning to Night City for myself in the video game.
Before seeing Cyberpunk Edgerunners, I had no idea whether the year 2022 really need another cyberpunk anime. Because of the frequency with which this combination of genre and medium occurs, it might be difficult to conceive of there being any other tales to tell in this setting. Cyberpunk Edgerunners, however, argues that CDPR’s vision of Night City has rich veins still to be explored and may even provide a road map for where CDPR should take the series in the future.