I’ve always maintained a feeling of ‘eh’ when it comes to super popular anime shows. You know, the ones that come out and have everyone and their mother talking about it. It’s all over social media, and everyone feels like they need to talk about it, or loudly proclaim it is the next greatest thing. Shows like that turn me off and make me not want to watch them, at least until that rapid fever breaks. It’s why when I watched shows like Sword Art Online and Neon Genesis Evangelion, it was well and beyond the time when the general public stop caring.
Yet, sometimes I break that rule and a show slips through regardless of those guardrails. A show that I just can’t help but want to check out. That’s what we are talking about today ,so let’s check out Cyberpunk: Edgerunners after the cut.
Before this anime, my experience with the Cyberpunk genre was next to nothing. I had heard about that game, but most of that was the same as everyone else. CD Projeck RED had promised the world, and instead delivered a broken, buggy and frankly just rubbish of a mess. It was one of the great disappointments of last year and left a sour taste in many people’s mouth. So when I saw that it was getting an anime related to the story, I wondered if it would be able to be better than the game that spawned it. And we all know how that ended up.
Set in the technologically advanced Night City, we follow David Martinez, a young teenager trying to make his way through a school he has no place in. A rebel without a cause, David struggles to live up to his mom’s expectations and when tragedy strikes them both. The brutal realities of Night City begin to send David down a path of blood, violence and tragedy that will change not only his life, but also of a girl called Lucy, with whom he forms a deep bond with.
Right off the bat, Edgerunners finds it success through the world it creates and the animation it uses. The world of Night City is deeply fleshed out, showing you a world of technology that isn’t the utopia people believe, but instead a crime invested cesspit where people have almost surrendered to the technology they’ve created. Everything from hospital visits, to funeral arrangements has a price tag or a payment plan, and any chance of real freedom has been snuffed away. People instead give themselves to their screens or cybernetic upgrades, which hold their own poison. In terms of animation, Edgerunners makes itself stand out with a style that feels perfect for the world it has created. I’ve never been a huge TRIGGER fan, but I won’t deny that their unique style gives Edgerunners a unique and over-the-top vibe it needs. Whether it is the slow motion, the titties, or the oodles upon oodles of blood, TRIGGER throws everything on the table and it remains another great feather in their cap.
Beyond this however, the strength of the show comes unsurprising, from the characters. While the supporting cast is great, the foul-mouthed Rebecca being a stand out, it is the two leads who really pull you in. David is a young man who tried to do good, but was brutally screwed over the system. And thankfully Edgerunners doesn’t make him a ball of suppressed rage and anger the whole time. Even as he joins the underworld and starts shooting and upgrading his way to fame, there is always a bit of that young kid still left, and you feel for him as his journey ends up consuming him. Lucy meanwhile is a suave, sexy but also vulnerable woman who dreams of reaching the stars, but doesn’t let it blind her from what is in front of her. The romance that blossoms between her and David feels both very real, and extremely adorable: two teenagers who discover the most important person in their lives and would give anything up for other.
And while Edgerunners pretty much scores high marks for most of its run, I cannot deny that the ending felt very abrupt. Whether that was the intention of the writers, or somehow only getting 10 episodes instead of the usual 12. The entire ending of the series feels too sudden, and upon reflection, rushed. It’s a bloody and ruthless spectacle for sure, but the way it just starts and stops feels like the show slammed down on the emergency break at the last minute. Everything feels tied up in a neat little bow, but without the second breath shows like this often needs. Just when you think things are going to keep escalating it all just ends. Which is a shame because until that point, Edgerunners had stellar pacing and felt like a 3 and a half hour movie presented in episode format. It’s a good ending don’t get me wrong, but one that I felt needed a bit more time to breathe. And if my biggest critique of the show is that I wanted more of it, then you gotta be doing something right.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners will no doubt end up on people’s ‘best of’ lists for the end of this year, and it really deserves it. Believe the hype guys, this is a well written, well directed, well animated, absolutely bat-shit insane ride that takes you by the collar and doesn’t let go. Action packed, sexy, bloody, and at times even thoughtful, this is that rare example of all the ingredients in an anime just clicking into place perfectly. This is easily one of the best shows I’ve seen in the last few years, and will hopefully be something that stands the test of time. Give it a look if you are so inclined, because I think you’ll have a damn good time doing it.