The genre of cyberpunk is something that I’ve always had a tangential interest in, mainly from watching anime like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Conceptually, the idea of cybernetic transhumanism is something I have particular interest in, being a tech person myself, but also from an often pure liberal sociopolitical standpoint. Most worlds of cyberpunk are depicted as humans having near total-authority over themselves. The natural caveat of such a condition though is that in the absence of any kind of morals or reservation, people just want to go fucking nuts on each other. Add to that corporatocracy and militarism, and you have a recipe for a bona fide disaster no god-fearing mortal would dare touch. So when 2020’s video game entry to the genre, Cyberpunk 2077 hit the scene, I was interested in exploring what might be a more tuned and focused concept of such a thing that the Borderlands franchise tried to remix a bit in their third game. Unfortunately, the game launched like shit, and the early reviews suggested the gameplay and story was not as well-developed as CDPR’s earlier The Witcher series games. So I waited to play that until their most recent big patch and DLC last year. I played about four hours, and while it was impressive, the UI seemed too busy to me, the gunplay a bit weak, and I was just kinda having trouble finding a groove with which to complete missions and traverse the story. I kinda ADHD’d out and haven’t come back to it since. That isn’t a minus against the game so much as it’s just difficult for me to go full ham into RPGs anymore unless it has something that just grabs me by the nuts and tugs. So when it came to the Edgerunners anime, it looked interesting, but not knowing any of the CP2077 plot beyond what I played, I wasn’t sure what I’d get from the series, and kind of forgot about it for a year and a half. With nothing on Twitch to watch on a Sunday night, I figured, what the hell, let’s give this show a shot.

California Love

The premise is fairly simple. Kid and his mother struggling to get by in a place that doesn’t favor the poors has a run of bad luck, and that bad luck drives him right into the arms of crime. Kid does a crime, gets lucky and gets the W, is convinced he is a LE EPIC MASTER CRIMINALS and begins his LE EPIC CRIM LYFE YO. There are a couple twists and turns, a couple gotcha moments, but if you’ve played the game or have watched/read any kind of cyberpunk franchise in the last fifty years, you know how this story is going to end. I won’t spoil it though, it is fairly compelling, and visually appealing as well. I’ve also heard many say that the story and characters of the anime are actually better than the story and characters of the game, which isn’t surprising. In order to offer than so-many-choices-so-many-endings shit people crave, they have to make everything and everyone somewhat bland so you can fit in. Here they can tell the story they want and they’re gold. Plus, they don’t need to connect back to the story or characters of the game, because as universes go, the goal is to tell a different story of similar characters in similar but different situations. Same netrunners, fixers, cyberpsychos, corpos, but different circumstances.

Boy meets girl

Studio TRIGGER was definitely a good choice for this series, as you could find a lot of past influences there from Kill la Kill in the character design and animations. A lot of flash and pomp in action scenes, and a lot of use of flashing lights and BWAAAAAMPS to frame shots. CP2077 having a fairly flashy palette of colors and kitted-out cyberpeople helped them come up with some weird and fun characters for “The Crew” that David rolls around with. While there was some brief sex scenes and some nudity, both male and female, when everyone’s body looks like Gundam arms and legs with detailed panel lines, nudity feels somewhat like a joke add-on by a few artists that were like “Yeah, but we can just make her areolas blue. You gotta have blue areolas!” I would expect nothing less from the studio being given a shot at reimagining Panty and Stocking.

Boy meets chibi kawaii gun princess.

Voice acting is worth considering here in a Netflix-funded endeavor. Like Blue-Eye Samurai and Scott Pilgrim, both employed stacked English and Japanese casts. As with both previous shows, I watched this in English first and then Japanese given their intended locales. Most of the English talent comes from English anime VA roles, such as Zach Aguilar (Aldnoah.Zero, Kimetsu no Yaiba) and Emi Lo (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, Higurashi no Naku Koro) as David and Lucy, but they also brought in some VAs who have done more American kids shows like Alex Cazares (The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib, The Loud House) as Rebecca and Stephanie Wong (Yoga Friends) as Kiwi, as well as some video game talent like William Christopher Stephens (Final Fantasy VII Remake, Saints Row) as Maine. But the heavy-hitter was most certainly Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian, Breaking Bad, The Boys) as the fixer Faraday, and I don’t know who keeps casting our man Giancarlo as villains in shows, but he does a damn good job of it for sure. On the Japanese side you have KENN (Uchuu Kyoudai, IDOLiSH7) and Aoi Yuuki (A-Channel, Saki, literally everything) as David and Lucy, Inoue Kazuhiko (Cyborg 009, Blue Seed) as Faraday, Touchi Hiroki (The Animatrix, Supernatural The Animation) as Maine, Kurosawa Tomoyo (Hibike! Euphonium, The iDOLM@STER) as Rebecca, and Honda Takako (Bleach, Jigoku Shoujo) as Kiwi. Perhaps not quite as stacked at the Japanese cast for Scott Pilgrim, but they kept it preem, as they would say in-character.

Spoilers, Choom
The B-Team

At the cyberheart of this show lies the whole CP2077 ethos. Corpos bad, eddies good, some amount of cybernetic bullshit in-between. At the start of the show you’re rooting for David, the scrappy underdog, the poor kid who loses his mother in the very first episode before finding out what she really did to put him through school. The first episode alone underscores what kind of dystopian hellhole Night City is in the CP2077 universe. Can’t afford premium insurance? No “Trauma Team” for you. Can’t afford to bury your loved ones? Instant cremation and right out the bin like a vending machine. Overdue rent by one second? Locked out. But both CP2077 and Edgerunners, while pausing numerous times to highlight these issues in such a technologically advanced society, immediately blurs right over them to CYBORGS FUCK YEAH GUNS FUCK YEAR SHOOT DUDES EXPLODE HEADS HAHA VIRTUAL SEX HAHA CUTE NETRUNNER TITS HAHA ISN’T BECCA SO WACKY? From roughly the dead of Maine and David taking over the crew, the show just accelerates much faster than it had before into what was certainly a logical conclusion only Ripperdoc could really articulate, and that was once you go over the edge, there is no coming back. David’s quest for… whatever… just led him to do bigger and dumber things, as if he learned absolutely nothing from Maine’s demise, and didn’t want to actually acknowledge Lucy’s pleas.

So so so no no no na nah long long not long can’t just gotta do do something gotta na

Speaking of Lucy, I did not really understand her motivations after learning of David’s involvement in Tanaka’s plans. Obviously her backstory as a Arasaka super-netrunner, trained to dive the Old Net and fight with daemons and AI probably leftover from Meta and X, as tragic as that is, didn’t really account for her actions or inactions in the backhalf of this show. She comes into this series all swole and confident, only to be swoon by Cheese McDorkStuff and his SUPER SPEED for no real reason. Even taking that at face value and assuming she just found someone to trust with both herself and her dream of escaping to the Moon, she does not do nearly enough to protect herself or her friends as Kiwi double-crosses the crew, she lets her ass get captured and taken for a ride by Faraday, and is unable to stop David from getting into the exoskeleton and fighting Adam Smasher.


The final fight with Adam Smasher and David though, I didn’t think David would outright win that fight, but I guess I was also not prepared to see him and the entire crew die minus Lucy and Falco, especially Rebecca. I kinda thought at minimum he might live somehow, maybe as a data fragment similar to the plot of the game that Lucy takes with her to the moon. With no expected second season and no real reason to continue this plot, I guess the natural conclusion was to end it for nearly everyone of value. Adam Smasher I’m aware if from the game as well, though I have not gotten that far, but I suppose in this universe, full-cyborg should probably be OP as fuck.

Lastly, I will say that while this was a decent one-cour one-shot series, it could have benefited from being a two-cour series, the first focusing on David being in Maine’s crew, and the second focusing on a newbie being in David’s crew after the demise of Maine. Having a few more episodes to really flesh out the group dynamic and maybe add more tension to the Tanaka/Arasaka arc would have made it more enjoyable, especially if they slowly worked in the Counterintelligence corpos, and did an episode on the background of Adam Smasher. The final couple episodes just felt a bit rushed, like get the kid in the suit, have Adam crush him, let Lucy live, and Moon ending. There just wasn’t enough impact to David’s death or Lucy’s grief because neither character really leaned into their fates. Maybe that was intended though. After all, everything in Night City is supposed to be disposable and transient. This is why I prefer Altered Carbon as a cyberpunk universe.

So long, cyber-cowboy.

Astute Observations and Cyberslang or Something

  • There are no direct mentions to V, Johnny Silverhand, or anything in the CP2077 storyline in this show. So while there aren’t really many references to the game in the show beyond the overall setting, the DLC does feature a number of easter eggs for the show, such as David’s jacket, and memorials to the crew in the city.
  • “Cyberpsychosis” or “Cyberpsycho” is mentioned frequently in both the game and series as being a condition one succumbs to if they take on too much cyberware implants and are unable to control them or the body rejects them. Throughout the show David is convincing Doc to supply him with immunosuppressants to temporarily counter these effects, but the seemingly more long-term solution mentioned is “scaling back your cyberware”. I guess medical science in the dystopian future still isn’t up to getting around that pesky human immune system.
  • After watching this I kind of wanted to watch Ghost in the Shell again, and then I heard they were developing a new GITS series. By Science SARU no less.
  • I know VR braindance porn is a big thing in the CP2077 universe, but did I really need to see a bunch of dudes with mechanical fleshlights getting their rocks off? We get it, it’s a degen liberal pleasure city.

Final Score: Eight bodies for the local meat wagon out of ten premium medical insurance plans.

Next Stop: Moon City.

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