Cyberpunk Edgerunners is one of the best anime of 2022 as well as one of the best anime you can watch on Netflix. It's a colorful visual cornucopia with stunning animation and graphics, which comes as no surprise given that it was animated by Trigger.
Trigger is an animation studio that never ceases to amaze me. Their work extends into series like Darling in the Franxx, Kill la Kill, Gurren Lagann, Promare and more, but Cyberpunk Edgerunners is their best work yet. Initially, I wanted to take some time to think about the series and let my adrenaline and emotions cool down before I made a bold statement like this, because they have killed it time and time again and have brought some of my favorite series to life on screen.
But Cyberpunk Edgerunners showcases their crisp animation, bold color design, and exciting and well-animated fight scenes so incredibly well and the setting and story were made for them, so I later felt confident in making this claim.
With strong direction from Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Promare) and assistant director Masahiko Otsuka (Gurren Lagann, Promare) as well as creative director Hiromi Wakabayashi (Kill la Kill), who have worked on some of Trigger's most notable anime in the past, the series was setup for success from jump, but I didn't know just how successful it would later become. The series even captured the attention of Hideo Kojima, the creator of Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid, who tweeted about how much he enjoyed the series. A quick sidenote—He also tweeted about another cyberpunk series I love called Colorless by KENT that I highly recommend checking out as well.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners story is an impactful one, because it tells the story of David Martinez, a smart kid who due to certain events, gets thrown into the cutthroat world of edgerunners. The chance meeting with a girl named Lucy sets him in a new direction and his life changes forever. For those of you who may be wondering if you have to play the game Cyberpunk 2077 before watching the anime, you don't. Cyberpunk Edgerunners is a stand-alone series with a completely different storyline from the game, so you can jump right into the series. Fans of the game may notice a few familiar names and nods to the original game, but this is where its connection ends.
Cyberpunk Edgerunners is set in the beautiful neon landscape of Night City, but don't let its beauty fool you. Night City is a dystopian city that's full of struggle, corruption, and violence, where people indulge in their vices freely and have to scrap and fight for everything they own. But there's a heart to the series and a camaraderie between the characters that pull you every so often out of this bleak and cruel world. I really appreciate the fact that they kept this series as mature and as gory as it needed to be. Any choice not to do so would have been a shame, because its graphic nature is part of appeal.
The characters in Cyberpunk Edgerunners, which were designed by Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia, BNA: Brand New Animal) and Yuto Kaneko (Little Witch Academia), are some of the best of 2022. You learn about these people, and their lives over the course of the series, so you are pulled into their stories. Of course, our main character David is the one we follow most, but a lot of focus is placed on Lucy and Maine as well. The group dynamic reminded me of series like Dorohedoro, which is a huge compliment, given that it's one of my top series of all time.
These three characters in particular were the stand outs for me, but I loved Rebecca too. She's a spitfire that likes to go into situations guns-blazing, but she has a soft side as well that I really connected with. In this sci-fi world, where people outfit themselves with cybernetic enhancements, it can be easy to forget who you are, and this is showcased too. You get a glimpse into their pasts, what lead them to become an edgerunner, which adds depth to the story. All of their individual stories are heart-wrenching, so I became increasingly more and more emotional over the course of the series. And man, did this series take my emotions on a roller coaster ride...
It got my adrenaline pumping with the high-octane, over-the-top action scenes, it made me laugh with its wacky vibe and quirky humor, it made me smile as I watched the characters develop and grow close with one another, and it made me cry, not just because I was sad, but because I was—as cheesy as this may sound—touched as well. There were a few scenes that were so visually-striking they elicited a strong emotional response within me; Not only giving me goosebumps, but bringing tears to my eyes too.
After I finished watching its 10 episodes on Netflix, I was left with a strong impression. And days after, I still couldn't stop talking or thinking about the series. Cyberpunk Edgerunners made me feel something, and I think this is one of the most important things that an anime can make us do. It struck up emotions within me that I didn't even know I had. It gave me this unexplainable feeling, a feeling that few series have given me before. Cyberpunk Edgerunners is everything I could ever want in an anime and more and it's a master class in how an anime, in this day and age, should be done.
If you have yet to check out Cyberpunk Edgerunners, you can stream it now on Netflix! In other anime news, check out all of the anime you have to look forward to in 2023.