When you’re adapting a property from a source that’s an adaptation from another property, there’s a lot of expectations put upon you. Well, good thing Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is chromed the fuck out with the latest and greatest anime aesthetics to deliver the best Cyberpunk story on screen since Bladerunner. With a mix of story, visuals, and top notch voice acting this show is the perfect thing to scratch that neon itch you’ve got in your brain.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners follows the story of David, a street kid forced to go to a fancy prep school full of corpos. The world around him is obsessed by perfection through technological breakthroughs and body modifications. No one truly is who they seem and you can trust no one as many characters tell him. After tragedy strikes, everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner—a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk.
I was so excited for Cyberpunk: 2077 and picked it up at launch which was not a great choice since the game was barely playable despite how hard I tried. Even with the gameplay and the bugs, that wasn’t the biggest disappointment. It felt like the people working on the story and world didn’t care about the type of stories that Cyberpunk has become known for. It’s often an exploration of identity and real hardships people feel now. But the show seems to be way more in tune with that with stories exploring medical debt, body modification, and other staples of the genre. They’re told in a much more concise way without the blunt boring nature of a AAA game. Even though I’ve enjoyed playing the game, it was a let down on so much of a world I was excited to explore. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners makes up for that a lot with it’s story that I don’t want to get too deep in to so you can see it yourself.
Zach Aguilar plays the main character in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and I have to say, he is one of the best voice actors in the business. After his role in the new Dragon Ball Super film and hearing him in various projects, his range seems almost limitless. His performance in the show is fantastic especially in the scenes where it’s so clear he’s smitten by Lucy (Emi Lo) who plays the biggest cyberpunk badass in the show. The rest of their gang is full of lovable characters who grow on you quickly because of wonderful performances.
With the support of the looks and sound of the game, the show elevates everything the game laid at their feet. The look of the city and the people works so much better in an anime where they can be expressed much further than in a static video game. There are two major things that stick out about the looks of the show versus the game. The first is the clothes and gang aesthetics that are allowed to be much more expressive because they don’t need to fit any sort of grounding like a game does. They don’t have to play by any rules of reality and can be so much bigger with their looks. It’s such a great use of the source material. The other thing the looks of the show does so much better is the weapons. I really wanted the weapons in the game to be much more than they were but in the anime they soar to new heights. There is a weapon called a MONOWIRE which is essentially a heated thing rope whip that embeds in your arm. In the game it has one animation series of attacks and made me sigh. But in the show? It twirls and swirls like a ribbon around someone before slicing them into chunks. It’s such a glorious example of how things work better in animation sometimes.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is the best Netflix anime adaptation so far. It’s worth the watch even if you have no interest in the game. It’s a wild ride with all the neon lights you could ever want.