Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Review

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Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is an anime series based on CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, created by studio Trigger. And it is good, like incredibly good. So let’s review it.

Spoiler-free overview

This is the part where I’ll give you my spoiler-free impressions of the show. Feel free to read it before watching the anime.

Edgerunners takes place in Night City, the most criminal and dire place on Earth, but with its own charm. Contrary to the game, the anime makes you understand what Night City life looks like. Streets filled with junkies and other lowlifes of every sort, people are getting robbed and killed in broad daylight. Meanwhile, the authorities only protect their corrupt higher-ups. Anime’s rendition of Night City is truly the dystopia it was always meant to be.”

The main protagonist of the story is David Martinez, a seventeen-year-old high schooler from the slums, who is somehow attending the most prestigious Arasaka Academy. He’s a loner that doesn’t get along with his rich classmates, gets constantly bullied, and only has his mom by his side. At the start of the show David just “goes with the flow.” He doesn’t know what he wants to be and if he even fits with the lifestyle his mom wishes for him. As the show goes, on we witness first-hand how David grows as a person, finds his way, and ultimately realizes what his dream is. This is, however, the most I can say without going into spoiler territory, so I’ll go over all that later, in the “full spoiler” part of the article.

Visually Cyberpunk: Edgerunners looks great, and nothing less was expected from talented people at Trigger. Character designs are interesting, diverse, and memorable. Trigger took the idea of people pumping themselves full of chrome to the next level when compared to the Cyberpunk 2077 game. It is also worth noting that the anime is quite graphic, it depicts gore, ultra-violence, nudity, and sex. It is most definitely not a family-friendly show you should watch on Saturday evening.

Audio design is also top-notch. Even if you haven’t seen the anime yet, I bet you’ve already heard its OST several times. It is simply playing from every outlet you can think about — Youtube videos, Twitch streams, TikTok and even some radio stations got in on the hype.

Speaking of audio, the English dub is way above average. Not perfect, but quite decent and features many famous VAs such as Zach Aguilar, William C. Stephens, Matthew Mercer, and Giancarlo Esposito.

In conclusion of this spoiler-free overview, I just want to say that I can’t recommend it enough. Solid 9/10 overall, where 10/10 is Riot’s Arcane.

Full-on spoilers ahead

And now I’m going to untie my hands and talk about this anime in detail with spoilers. If you haven’t seen the show yet stop reading right now and go watch the anime, as this segment is mostly dedicated to people who have already seen it. Seriously, it is worth it.

You are special, David

The theme of David being “the chosen one” is seen throughout the whole show, and there is a plethora of ways to write that archetype wrong, however, Cyberpunk: ER handles it quite well. David has this one-in-a-million high tolerance for implants, allowing him to use his military-grade Sandevistan way more effectively than most people. Instead of denying his status as a “special one” as it is commonly seen within this trope, David embraces it, and by episode 7 he is already more machine than man. David’s ripperdoc rightfully calls him the “second Adam Smasher“, which is ironic when you know how the show ends. Unfortunately, David’s implant tolerance is not as high as Adam’s, and it heavily backfires in the end. However, what is great about David is that he never used his “special” status for selfish needs, he didn’t even have his own dream. He dedicated his life to his friends, his mother, and his love — Lucy. In the end, his dream was to fulfill the dreams of those who mattered to him.

Love, death, and cyberpsychosis

The other line going throughout the entire runtime is cyberpsychosis. The very first scene in the anime is David watching a braindance of a cyberpsycho on a killing spree. And both Trigger and CD PR really fleshed out the theme of this disease in the anime. In the game, this problem was represented by a few mini-boss fights with bloated HP and damage values, but in the show, the cyberpsychosis is an actual threat to everyone. If you think about it, everyone from the Crew died in an accident involving this illness in one way or another. Maine succumbed to it straight away, killing Dorio in the process. Pilar got the worst fate dying at the hands of some lowlife cyberpsycho in the streets. Rebecca, Kiwi, and David himself died during the Arasaka Cyberskeleton test run. What I’m getting at, is that in the show which shows the real Night City, the cyberpsychosis plays a much more prominent role. No one is safe from it — neither the one running implants, nor their friends, nor just any other person that happened to be in the general vicinity of a cyberpsycho.

Adam Smasher

I want to dedicate a separate paragraph to the man, due to my mixed feelings about him. Adam Smasher is a legend of Night City; an unstoppable force of nature; a man with such high implant tolerance, that it puts David’s “special” status to shame three times over. A literal cyborg, with but a brain and upper face part left of his human side. He is truly intimidating in the show. Even if you haven’t played the game before watching the anime you’d know this guy is a problem as soon as you see him for the first time. And this is where my biggest gripe with him comes from — the difference between anime and the game Smashers. It is so hard for me to believe that the characters I cared so much about for 10 episodes were killed by a guy, who in the end, goes down like this:

Final thoughts:

In the end, if you were dissatisfied with the game as I was, but liked the setting, the world, and the cyberpunk aesthetic — this anime is for you. As I already said multiple times — the anime shows the Night City the way it was supposed to be represented.

Worth noting that the anime also brought back many new and old players to the game, and quite possibly gave Cyberpunk 2077 a second chance. Don’t screw it over again in the DLC, CD PR, I beg of you.

P.S: I didn’t know where to put it in the article, so I guess I’ll do it here: Was it just me, or did Trigger actually troll in-game physics and overall bugginess of the game with the sequence where David drove a car using sandevistan during his first real gig? I was half-expecting the car to get stuck inside of terrain at that moment.

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