Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Review – Netflix’s Best Anime Series Yet

Let’s take a walk through memory: The 1980s were a wild time within the anime medium, with movies like Akira, Demon City Shinjuku, MD Geist, Vampire Hunter D, and bad city are just a few examples of movies that delved into animated worlds bursting with violence and nudity. Cyberpunk: Edge Runners feels like the spiritual successor to these properties, presenting a world of technological advancement that is also in decline, and by embracing this landscape, it takes the top spot for Netflix original anime properties.

For starters, this series is based on CD Projekt’s controversial video game, Cyberpunk 2077. Luckily, you don’t need to know anything about the game’s universe to dive right in edge runners. The anime follows a young man named David, who has some pretty powerful technology, but pays a high price to acquire it. David may not break the mold when it comes to your typical anime protagonist, but he works well as an avatar for the viewers, who can easily see themselves in his shoes, even though those shoes usually move at a slight speed thanks to the new spine in had his back implanted.

The series isn’t afraid to explore some obscure territory, but what works so well about David’s story is the light-hearted family he eventually finds in a gang of “Cyberpunks,” aka mercenaries who use their advanced technologies as mercenary weapons, with the series gives us short segments exploring each member of the crew character and how the main character fits into their worlds. edge runners manages to balance humor and nihilistic story beats alarmingly well, while also rooting for David along the way.

Another key takeaway from David’s story is that he also happens to be a high school dropout who finds himself in a criminal world where he messes up… a lot. The learning curve for the powerhouse teen works well to show that David may be in a different league thanks to his technology, but is still a fish in water in more ways than one. David’s father/son relationship with the gang’s leader, Maine, is relaxed and enhances the fun and chemistry of this underworld gang.

Studio TRIGGER, who are perhaps best known for their work on ao Promare, Kill la Kill, and Little Witch Academyshoot all the engines here and edge runners feels like their best work yet. There are some truly stunning images along the way and TRIGGER can capture them with ease. Series like Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star were able to surround their characters with great technology, while also making their protagonists recognizable and at the same time making their technology mundane. Edgerunners excels at this, making the extraordinary feel sober. The animation here is as energetic and exciting as it needs to be for a story about androids leaving light image versions of themselves while holding a gun bigger than their own arm, and reminded me of footage from the classic anime movie Red line when you witness some of the battles featured here.

As mentioned earlier, edge runners is a series that doesn’t shy away from its ultra-violence, and while some of the stars will reach horrific endings, TRIGGER was able to make those scenes hit that much harder when they inevitably happened to a member of the crew that we came to know over the ten episodes. TRIGGER uses an animation style that is fluid, energetic and crackling in power, allowing you to keep your eyes fixated on the screen for fear of missing an animation cell along the way.

I’d be bereft if I didn’t mention here the great soundtrack by Akira Tamaoka, which uses a combination of synth and contemporary tunes to edge runners a different feel to many other shows in the anime sphere. It feels risky, but works exceptionally well to boost the world of David and his unorthodox new family. It’s a rocking soundtrack that accompanies the visuals and story exceptionally well.

Cyberpunk: Edge Runners is without a doubt a Netflix anime original that screams for your attention and is easily one of the best productions the streaming service has presented. Fan of the games or not, edge runners is more than worth your time.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Cyberpunk: Edge Runners is now streaming on Netflix.


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