PAX WEST 2022: ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ Is Studio Trigger at Its Most

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Cyberpunk Edgerunners - But Why Tho

When I signed up to cover PAX West 2022, I never thought I’d get to see one of my most hotly anticipated anime of the year, and well, here we are. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is the latest animation from studio TRIGGER, in collaboration with CD PROJEKT RED and Rafał Jaki. In development since 2018, this new Netflix Original Anime brings the world of Cyberpunk to life with its signature, hyper-stylized and vibrant style—this is where I implore you to watch Promare because of mechs and boyfriends. Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi—the man behind Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, and Promare—with creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi, character designer, and animation director Yoh Yoshinari, and an adapted screenplay by Yoshiki Usa and Masahiko Ôtsuka, this is an anime that sounds like lightning in a bottle. And it is.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a stunning visual experiment that pushes morality, the body, and violence to the edge. While the trailers prioritized the vibrant violence and high strobe explosions, Edgerunners is shaping up to be more than just its aesthetics. Centered on telling the story of David Martinez, a teen in Night City, Edgerunners is pulling out the deep class inequities that are the backbone of the cyberpunk genre.

The good news for those who didn’t play the video game that this story fits into is that you can jump into the series without that prior knowledge. The series tells a standalone, 10-episode tale about a street kid trying to survive in Night City—a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future. Having everything to lose, he stays alive by becoming an edgerunner—a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk.

Like the comic series coming out of Titan comics, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is widening the game’s world, and in some ways getting close to realizing the politics and class conflict that defines the genre it’s based in. Sure, studio Trigger is bringing their vibrant style with more breathtaking animation, but what excites me after watching the first two episodes is the trajectory of the story.

David is a street kid who was placed in the world of the wealthy by his mom so that he could have a future. Coming from a hardworking single mother, David is top of his class, even if everyone there hates him. The central story beat in the first two episodes is that the world is awful, and David won’t fit into it. Whether it’s coming from the rich kids in school or the fact that his mom wants to push him away from everything that comes with street life, David doesn’t really have a home. Tackling this head-on allows the series, at least so far, to showcase how technology can be a path out of poverty while also being the cause of inequality to begin with.

There are eight episodes left to see, but for right now, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners remains one of my most anticipated anime series of the year.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is available exclusively on Netflix on September 13, 2022.

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