Cyberpunk 2077 Anime Looks Better Than The Game

CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 had a very troubled launch. Will Studio Trigger's upcoming anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners live up to its potential?

June 20, 2022

It goes without saying that the debut of one of the most hyped games in recent history was controversial. Upon its (rather premature) release into the gaming world in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077’s laundry list of glitches, bugs and incompatibility issues rendered the game underwhelming, frustrating and costly.

Why? Because to say that the game failed entirely wouldn’t be accurate. It raked in a handful of awards, managed to implement the iconic Keanu Reeves’s avatar (and voice) into the majority of scenes, and generated a buzz rarely rivaled in the gaming world. It’s just too bad that wasn’t the point, and that the associated anime looks even more promising than the game did.


Futile Efforts

CD Projekt Red has been sleeplessly attempting to win back fans’ affections with several initiatives, including addressing and cutting out flagged issues with every update and issuing apologies left and right. Remember the overpriced T-2077 blockchain watch released in honor of Cyberpunk 2077’s anniversary? Not many fans really do. The hit to Projekt Red’s reputation, and the amount of money lost, was substantial indeed, so maybe it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie to lick their wounds. Or is it?

Saved By A Spin-Off

These days, it seems that fans can’t—and won’t—accept the word “goodbye”. A slew of retired and beloved TV shows have either resurrected a side character’s story arch or completely rebooted the franchise, in order to satiate starving audiences who obsessively wait for a bone thrown down from the studio executives that be. If you find yourself lumped into that group (as I unabashedly do), Lady Luck has shown us mercy. Cyberpunk 2077 gets a second chance in the form of an anime adaptation.

From what we know so far, Studio Trigger will gift us with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, a ten-episode series that will debut in early 2023. According to Netflix, the premise is seemingly straightforward: “In a dystopia riddled with corruption and cybernetic implants, a talented but reckless street kid strives to become an edgerunner: a mercenary outlaw.”

The response to the trailer has been ecstatic, similar to the adulation of praise that its source material garnered prior to its release. Even the writers/executive producers of Cyberpunk 2077 admit that the anime takes viewers to places that were previously impossible in the video game. Showrunner and Executive Producer Rafal Jaki states, via Cyberpunk 2077 on YouTube, “in the video game it’s all about the immersion and the power fantasy of being in Night City … for the show, we explore things and topics that were not possible in that specific experience of a video game.”

Made With Love

A successful spin-off is a balancing act: the content must be lovingly adapted to the medium of choice, while simultaneously appeasing the source material’s sensitive fan base. In Studio Trigger’s case, it’s obvious that they are fans of the game. They have spared no expense in capturing the dystopian essence of Night City, but have also dug deeper in portraying the emotions of the characters through the (often very graphic) action that will be seen throughout the series.

It is not clear at this stage why Studio Trigger was tapped, or what the backstory of collaboration involves. We can only speculate as to what the end result will be based on the studio’s previous work and their accolades. Judging by the team in charge, it can’t lose.

Director Hiroyuki Imaishi (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Kill La Kill), and character designer/drawing director Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia and more) are both on board to ensure the anime’s success, per RPG Site, as well as Japanese composer Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series OST). From the precious few seconds shown in the action-packed trailer, it is clear to see that Studio Trigger has injected new and timely lifeblood into the weary bones of Cyberpunk 2077.

Breaking Down The Bits

Not only were fans given a teaser trailer to meticulously unpack, but an exclusive 54-second clip featuring the Maelstrom gang. Players will immediately recognize the gang’s threatening face-plates and various body modifications that seem even more intimidating, thanks to Yoshinari’s art direction. The other tough-looking group in the clip are revealed to be the eponymous Edgerunners.

A thrashing metal soundtrack opens the scene and enhances the tension between the Maelstrom gang and the Edgerunners eyeing each other in an intense standoff. A Maelstrom gang member opens a refrigerator to reveal a terrified person stuffed inside. The camera then cuts to crackling neon electricity shooting up a character’s spine. The next second, the captive person vanishes, much to the dismay of the Maelstrom. A smirking young person in a yellow jacket materializes, holding the prisoner in his arms. It’s same to assume that this is the aforementioned “street kid”; the protagonist of the series, whose use of speedy modifications seem to be for good (at least in this scene).

A bloodbath ensues, resulting in the death of all Maelstrom members by way of nanowire and heavy guns. After the melee, the “street kid” and his fellow Edgerunners grin widely, giving each other a round of thumbs up. The juxtaposition of gore and goofy bonhomie is a classic anime trope, one that fits like a glove here without seeming too over the top.

It’s worth mentioning that anime is an ideal vehicle to fully showcase the power of the sandevistan. It’s something akin to “bullet-time”, where a player can outmaneuver other characters through the use of slow-motion. In the Cyberpunk 2077 game, V can equip the cyberwear modification to enhance his speed, strength, vision, etc. It also really comes in handy in getting those critical head shots.

The Waiting Game

The anime is slated to be released this September, but now that we’ve had a taste, it seems like forever. Hopefully, Studio Trigger, CD Project Red and Netflix will provide a smattering of clips, interviews and goodies to us in the interim.

Thanks to the upcoming series, many fans’ interest in Cyberpunk 2077 seems to have officially been renewed. Though only snippets have been revealed at the time of writing, the anime looks to deliver on all the non-stop flashy action and intrigue that the game couldn’t quite hit to its potential. Regardless of its losses in the past, I think a lot of fans will agree that Cyberpunk 2077’s future hasn’t looked this bright in some time.


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