So far so good. That’s exactly how we’d describe Netflix’s stellar track record when it comes to their live-action and animated adaptations of popular video game franchises. Sure, you get the occasional misfire, like with “Resident Evil”, but for the most part, the good far outweighs the bad. This sentiment rings particuarly through when it comes to amazing gritty fantasy series.
You’ve got shows like “The Witcher”, “Arcane”, “Dragon’s Dogma”, “Dota: Dragon’s Blood” and the peerless “Castlevania”! With that in mind, we were incredibly excited when we heard that Trigger Studio, responsible for the “Kill la Kill” anime series, and CD Projekt Red, the studio who created “The Witcher” games” were teaming up to bring us an anime. Not just anime though, one set in the seedy world of netrunners, corpos, mercenaries and legends. The glorious neon bright (and sinister) Night City as seen in “Cyberpunk: 2077”!
Yes, yes some of you are probably still sore about the whole launch debacle and rightfully so. That being said, you can’t deny that the entire premise and setting of the game’s universe is beaming with potential. A world where punk rock terrorists, cyborg ninjas and corrupt corporations run rampant. Now comes the main question: Is this one worth chipping in? Or will this be another black mark on CD Projekt Red’s record? Let’s find out!
The series follows the story of David Martinez, a student from the prestigious Arasaka Academy struggling to support his single mother in Night City. His life forever changes though when he makes the fateful decision to augment his body with a military-grade implant that turns him into a living weapon. With the bills pilling up and the honest life not cutting it, he decides that it’s time to make a change: he’s becoming an edgerunner, a mercenary of the streets. Alongside an enigmatic netrunner named Lucy, David plans to make the city pay for everything they took from him. Whether they be Arasaka corpos or gang members, nothing will stand in his way.
The plot of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” follows the tried and true anime trope of a young high-schooler being thrown into a world of violence and conflict. One in which he needs to get strong to take down his enemies and be at the top. Which is appropriate seeing that the game’s protagonist, V too deals with their dreams of glory and becoming a legend in Night City. Similar to the game, the series has a ticking-time bomb scenario with David doing everything in his power to be with his lady love, Lucy. David’s story isn’t particularly original in its execution but it does do enough to get viewers invested into his journey through the augmented heart of darkness.
One thing we do think writers Yoshiki Usa and Masahiko Otsuka have absolutely nailed is the world-building and the dialogue. Without so much as a lengthy opener, newcomeers will immediately get a sense of what the world of Night City is all about. It’s one that is dominated by corporate greed and unfethered capitalism. The kind of world where CEOs are more gods than men and the difference between life and death can be the cyberware upgrade under your skin.
Unfortunately, a lot of the interesting idiosyncratic slang and terms of the Cyberpunk universe don’t exactly translate well into the original Japanese dialogue. So for those coming in fresh, you’ll be doing a lot of pausing of reading. So to get the full experience, we recommend he dub. Yes, yes we know that to go for the English Dub is a heresy of the highest order but honestly, the voicework on either side are both solid. Furthermore, some of the unique accents and personalities of characters are lost within the original audio.
In terms of aesthetics, Trigger Studios have truly outdone themselves. For those acquainted with anime series like “Kill la Kill” or “My Hero Academia”, you’ll know how Trigger has an amazing eye when it comes to flashy carnage and scale in battles. When married with the gaudy, punk models of chrome, gold and steel within the world of Cyberpunk, you have a match made in bloody Heaven! The battle sequences are more than the occasionally inspired bullet-time sequence, they are carefully choreographed dances of shredding Mantis blades, gushing crimson fountains and roaring firearms.
This level of care and detail isn’t just extended to combat though. There’s a sort of transcendental beauty and manic ecstasy in the way Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and company capture the trippier parts of the world of Cyberpunk. Whether it’s the luscious braindance sequences or David walking a twisted parody of a carnival called a city, “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is a visual feast for the eyes. The character designs here are gorgeous as well, a wonderful compromise between Imaishi’s more, cleaner cartoonish pencil thin style as seen in “Gurren Lagaan” and the hyper-detailed augmentations found within the game itself. The studio has managed to build on the distinct artstlye of the original property to create a series that feels right at home with the raw, ruthless world of Night City!
Oh, and can we please talk about the soundtrack! When the action kicks into high-gear it’s often accompanied by killer tracks from different genres. Everything from dancey electronic beats to head-smashing bangers! Some of our personal favourites include “On My Way to Hell” by Połoz & Tinnitus and “Like a Miracle” by Earth Trax, which are also songs that can be found within the game’s radio stations. There’s also some new stuff in here that’ll prove unskippable like the opening theme by the band Franz Ferdinand, “The FFFire”.
The first season of CD Projekt Red and Trigger Studio’s “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is a fine addition to Netflix’s growing gallery of anime series and video-game adaptations! Through fantastic world-building and jaw-dropping visuals under Hiroyuki Imaishi’s vision, the story of David and his rogue team of Edgerunners is one that you do not want to miss. We do recommend going for the dub on this one for newcomers and the original audio for those familiar with the property. In any case, it’s all golden choom! We sincerely hope Netflix picks this up for a second season because this universe is bursting with potential.
You can now catch all 10-episodes of the first season of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” on Netflix today!
"Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" Season 1 Review
The first season of CD Projekt Red and Trigger Studio's "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" is a fine addition to Netflix's growing gallery of anime series and video-game adaptations! Through fantastic world-building and jaw-dropping visuals under Hiroyuki Imaishi's vision, the story of David and his rogue team of edgerunners is one that you do not want to miss. We do recommend going for the dub on this one for newcomers and the original audio for those familair with the property. In any case, it's all golden choom!
"Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" Season 1 Review