Earlier this week in Seattle we were treated to an advance screening of Netflix’s new series, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, created by CD Projekt Red as a canon piece of their Cyberpunk: 2077 universe. Netflix has ordered 10 episodes to premiere on September 13, and have already released Edgerunners-themed DLC for 2077. We got to check out the first 2 episodes while we were at PAX West.
Those of you that have played Cyberpunk: 2077 are already familiar with the feels it brings. To those that haven’t yet set foot in Night City, picture a gritty tech-driven dystopian future where humans augment themselves with mods just for day to day living in a huge class divide – and the abject depression that brings (and let’s be honest, deep down the abject depression you want from this genre). Whichever group you belong to, the show does a good job immersing you into the shiny and gross Cyberpunk world, with the very first scene featuring a behemoth of a man with heavy military mods taking and dodging gunfire while effortlessly dispatching an entire Police squad.
Had I known coming in that Studio Trigger was part of the project, I guess I would have had a better idea of what to expect. Stylized and violent action with a heavy mix of sex and explicit scenes stirred in made me feel like this was Cyberpunk directed by Quentin Tarantino. But it did remind me of old school anime from my youth with a brutality that fans familiar with Akira and Neon Genesis: Evangelion know well. This makes sense since Studio Trigger has its roots in Gainax, whose most well known work was in fact Evangelion.
The Story So Far
Edgerunners focuses on David, a student attending the city’s most elite high school that his mother can barely afford to send him to working night and day as an emergency responder. His social standing makes him the the school pariah and target of bullying and assault from students that can easily afford the biomechanical mods and equipment needed to attend class. David is au naturel, unable to defend himself from modded bullies and unable to buy the new equipment he needs, hacking illegal and unsupported updates to try and keep up. After losing her, mired in debts to his school and medical bills, he decides it’s time to “tech the f*** up” and get chipped with some of that very same military tech from the opening scene.
Meeting a netrunner named Lucy (while she was trying to rob him), he decides to use his new augmented body to join her exploits, becoming an edgerunner and delving into the underworld of Night City as a mercenary. He finds in her not only a business partner but confidant, but can she be trusted? The military tech in his body is being tracked by an unknown group, and she might have just sold him out.
Here’s the official trailer – there is an NSFW one that I’ll link to underneath so you can watch that one at your leisure as well.
You can check out the NSFW trailer here – it gives you a bit more of the feel Edgerunners is serving.
As we said, the two episodes we saw were full of violence, sex, and blood – and it appropriately made me feel kinda gross and sad. Those are precisely the feelings the series tries to evoke though, putting you in David’s shoes in what seems like an entirely hopeless situation (and in a weird way mirrors some aspects of current society). The series has extended scenes on what may otherwise may be considered mundane though, like following David’s long route to school. That’s not by accident- in addition to him being bullied for not being wealthy, following his trip from his apartment down the alley to multiple train transfers to walk some more lets us experience without words that he suffers from being born in the wrong part of town, which adds to the immersion into the universe.
Ok, look. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is not going to be for everyone. If you like anime that’s over the top with gratuity and dark themes then this may be for you. If you’re already a fan of the Cyberpunk universe, it’s definitely for you. I myself liked it enough to want to watch the remaining eight episodes to see how David’s story plays out. You can check it out yourself on Netflix on September 13.
Oh, and by the way – it should be both subbed and dubbed for your viewing preference.