Dreams are doomed to die in Night City, a futuristic Californian metropolis. As a teenager living in the city’s slums, David Martinez is trying to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish for him to reach the top of Arasaka, the world’s leading security corporation. To this end, he attends the prestigious Arasaka Academy while his mother works tirelessly to keep their family afloat.
When an incident with a street gang leaves David’s life in tatters, he stumbles upon Sandevistan cyberware—a prosthetic that grants its wearer superhuman speed. Fueled by rage, David implants the device in his back, using it to exact revenge on one of his tormentors. This gets him expelled from the academy, shattering his hopes of ever making his mother proud.
After witnessing David’s newfound abilities, the beautiful data thief Lucyna “Lucy” Kushinada offers to team up with him, handing him a ticket to salvation. However, associating with Lucy introduces David to the world of Edgerunners—cyborg criminals who will break any law for money. Edgerunners often lose their lives, if the cyberware does not break their minds first; but in his fight for survival inside a corrupt system, David is ready to risk it all.
We all walk our own paths in life. A big part of life’s process is figuring out what that path is. When the weight of others’ expectations collides with the scary internal unknown of what you want to do, sometimes the only path that seems walkable may be someone else’s. This is the predicament that David Martinez finds himself spiraling down under the neon lights of Night City.
I already loved Cyberpunk 2077 and its narrative which has similar beats to this anime. I put slightly over 50 hours into the game when it first released. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite games ever, despite the glaring flaws it has and definitely had at launch when I played it. Narratively, setting-wise, somewhat gameplay-wise, and definitely character-wise, CP 2077 is special. So coming back to Night City with a new cast but still, an oh-so-familiar setting was a treat. I know this anime boosted the player count and reception of the game majorly upon its release and that’s for good reason. For someone like me, who’s played it and put many hours in, everything felt comfy and familiar and it constantly made me want to play the game. All the sound effects are ripped straight from the game. Every time somebody called someone else, I just got a flashback to winter 2020. Recurring characters, familiar settings. It all just made me want to play again. On the flip side, I can definitely see how someone who has never played CP 2077 would watch this and be enthralled by everything I just listed above. If nothing else, this anime is one of the best promotional pieces I’ve ever seen.
What makes it great in my eyes is that it stands on its own. It’s not an adaptation of the game that desperately tries to stuff 50 hours’ worth of content into 10 26-minute episodes. This is its own thing just set in the universe and I loved every second of it because, just like the game, the story of Edgerunners is that of a train on a collision course of tragedy. The tragedy in CP 2077 was that of a ghost trying to rectify old sins while becoming friends with a no-name trying to make a name in Night City. While I think Johnny and the main character’s story is tragic, ultimately they both get what they want.
Another reason Edgerunners is so great to me is that this is a story that I think a lot of people can relate to. David is somebody who doesn’t know what he wants. His mother wants the best for him, putting him in a school she can barely afford. So he does that. When he loses her, he finds a new family. A crew. At every step, David is following the path of someone else. He wants to make Lucy’s dream come true. He wants to do what’s best for the crew. There’s no point in these 10 episodes where David finds a goal for himself. And watching him slowly go off the rails following other people’s path was tragic. Especially so with the found family he finds himself in and his growing bond with them. On that note, I love the characters here (especially Lucy and her character arc and backstory). A fun and loveable cast, along with some people from the game. I hope in the future we get to see, or at least get a small cameo from them.
Studio Trigger has amazing animators, and the animation is preem throughout all 10 episodes. I specifically love the way the powers are visualized. This anime has given me some of my favorite shots of last year. Genuinely beautiful stuff. And this soundtrack? The tracks from the game were great, then you add on a really good intro and one of my favorite songs of the year as the ending. Seriously, Let you Down is amazing. And I watched the dub and just like the video game, the voice acting is supreme.
So yeah, I didn’t watch much anime last year, but I’m glad I got around to this one. Cyberpunk Edgerunners is a wonderful tragedy. A story about a boy who chased everyone else’s dream and never his own. A relatable story set in an amazing world.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners – 9/10
Notes: I’m pretty sure I started this anime in October, finished it in early December and this isn’t coming out until mid-February lol. Happens sometimes.