After the Cyberpunk 2077 game flopped (at launch), Netflix is betting everything on its Cyberpunk Edgerunners animated series. Bet won?
When Netflix announced the production of an anime based on the universe of Cyberpunk 2077, the risk was great. CD Projekt Red’s game didn’t really catch on with gamers when it was released. It will also have been necessary to wait almost two years for it to gain its acclaim, by becoming a new reference in the adventure RPG. It is therefore with a heavy heritage on our shoulders that cyberpunk edge runners entered the scene.
It was in this rather tense climate that we discovered the series, with the eyes of any expectant player, but also with the heart of any lover of productions of the genre. Available on the platform since September 13, the series follows the adventures of David Martinez, a young man forced to change his life after a near-death experience.
In a city where the rich are getting richer and the poor are drowning in debt, technology has taken precedence over humans and it is sometimes difficult to combine your dreams with reality. David relies on his wits and perseverance to try and pull through as Edgerunner. Fans of the game are familiar with this term, since it designates criminal thieves or murderers, who have the particularity of using mechanical and technological tools to boost their performance, at the risk of having their brains fried in the process.
Street kid or corporate? This time no choice
You will have understood it, Netflix leaves on a totally original story for the frame of cyberpunk edge runners. V gives way to David and it’s not so bad after all. The gaming universe has so much to offer that choosing an original story is a risk-taking that pays off. The scenario remains rather basic, especially for an anime which takes as its epicenter a young adult in search of identity after the death of his mother. The series clearly does not invent hot water, and lays its foundations on themes that are always successful.
Despite everything at the level of the narration, Edgerunners has nothing to envy to 2077. We can even attest that its implementation is much better, especially in terms of rhythm and depth. The start is particularly interesting because we can’t really tell where the story takes us in the first half of the season. The stakes seem rather minimal, whether collective or individual, and the pace of the episodes does not allow to drag on certain subjects.
If everything changes, it is thanks to the characters of the story that we enjoy seeing evolve. The speed of the actions does not prevent the attachment that we feel for (almost) each of the protagonists. Because David will not lead his adventure alone: on his way, he will meet several eccentric personalities who will later become a real blended family for the young man. All play in the big leagues, and take on an important role, whether for the narration, or for our hero in search of recognition.
It is however not an anime to be put in all hands. Whether Cyberpunk 2077 was already a title recommended only to adults, the series is a real bloodbath. Whether it is violence or sexuality, nothing is unnecessarily obscene. The shocking scenes are always brilliantly integrated into the narration, which is not only daring but also conveys certain deeper messages, such as the class struggle, the hierarchy of power, the use of technology and the step it takes. takes on the human in particular.
Obviously these themes are treated without tact, like the series itself, and we sometimes fall into banal discourse without real risk-taking. It’s a shame, the story had potential. It probably would have sounded different had Netflix dabbled in subtlety a bit more. It remains to be seen what the next seasons will bring.
Good point for Cyberpunk: Edgrunners, the series is carried by a colossal work of animation and drawing, which had already made a strong impression on us when the trailers were released. Behind this production, we find the Trigger studio, directed by the famous Hiroyuki Imaishi. Fans of the genre will recognize this name thanks to the various iconic productions he has produced; Neon Genesis Evangelion , Gurren Lagann, Kill la Killi or Promare are all great titles associated with this animation genius.
Its electric style is appreciated in all circumstances and this is once again the case with Edgerunners which wins the prize for visual originality in our hearts. His raw cuts, his dynamism, his lively actions and above all the use of colors: everything in his style manages to seduce us after barely a few seconds. The pencil strokes in particular allow us to enjoy impressive panoramas that plunge us into an unparalleled cyberpunk atmosphere.
On the side of the animations, we will issue some reservations. After the productions of Mappa (Jujutsu Kaisen, SNK) and Ufotable (Demon Slayer) it is difficult to pass on the very retro aspect of certain sequences which plunge us 10 to 15 years back at certain times. The whole thing is also rather inconsistent, the Trigger studio neglecting certain aspects to favor others, which gives a rendering full of potential but ultimately quite uneven.
This is also part of the director’s style, so we understand the artistic interest behind this choice. Nevertheless, given the beauty of the universe and especially its visual richness, we regret the plans that are a little lazy, very static and which do not require a huge amount of animation work. A beautiful contrast with the beauty of the arrangements and the always harmonious use of colours.
Everything is obviously sublimated by the soundtrack, simply divine. Rhythms that are often energetic, with quite hard sounds, which remind us of the brutality and the coldness of a world made of metal and processors. The music chosen is in symbiosis with the general atmosphere of the scene, and sometimes makes it possible to mark certain sequences with a hot iron in our brain.
A bug-free adaptation for Netflix
The new Netflix series is a success, and inevitably, edgerunner does not escape some comparisons. However, from there to say that the series is better thanArcane – the undisputed gem of the platform – in terms of adaptation, let’s not exaggerate. First of all because the scenario deserves to be more in-depth, but also because the work on the graphics and the animation is in no way comparable. But the anime remains a good transposition of the universe of a game on an unpublished story, and just as engaging from a narrative point of view. In our view, an animation style a la Demon Slayer would have really allowed the series to stand out and really establish itself as a reference of the genre.
We also regret its duration, which through 10 episodes will have held us only four short hours. However, we point to the big potential, both narrative and visual, of the series, which we would see continue for a few more seasons.