A Series That Almost Made Me Speechless, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Spoilers

One of the most underrated things in television media is titles. Almost every episode of a show has one, and often it goes unpublished in the public eye, something brushed under the rug and missed as one binges a series. To the credit of the viewer, it isn’t something that is often paraded, Always Sunny In Philadelphia uses episode titles with effectiveness as well as Watanabe’s Carol And Tuesday, artfully naming each episode after an album but alas most production don’t really bother. Then you have Trigger’s and CD Project Red’s Netflix special CYBERPUNK: EDGERUNNERS, a gut punch of a series based on the game that titled its last episode masterfully, My Moon My Man, and it ended me.

Read more: A Series That Almost Made Me Speechless, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Now my love affair with Trigger is no secret, Kill La Kill, Kiznaiver, that mess that is Darling in The FranXX I love all of it but when they partnered with CD Project Red to create Edgerunners they played on a somber note that can only end in pain, something that I haven’t experienced since Devil Man Crybaby, a hopelessness exhausting struggle of someone that finds the slightest bit of happiness only to have it stripped away.

Taking place in Night City we are introduced to street kid David Martinez. A product of a poor upbringing he is enrolled in an academy he doesn’t belong soley due to his single mother’s actions of wanting him to have a better life. While David sees the whole thing as pointless, even with him scoring at the top of his class he knows the corporate elites will never accept him he finds himself in no place to go against his mother.

Then she dies.

With nowhere to go and no way to make any money, David gives up spending days alone in his apartment staring at his mother’s ashes as what little she had saved vanishes. Not is all quite lost however as he finds himself in the position of military-grade Sandevistan. A piece of cyber tech that can slow down time allowing the user to move with extreme speed and lethality. Now originally David tried to sell the tech, but not having a real way to move wanted illegal tech he quickly gives up deciding to have it installed instead. This single move starts a wave of events that would put David center stage as one of the greatest mercenaries to ever live and a legend of Night City itself.

Shortly after installing his new “sandy”, he decides to have some choice actions with a bully classmate ending in his expulsion. With new hardware, no way to make money, and now kicked out of school, David curses himself a dumb ass for burning his last bridge but on the train ride home, he notices an alluring young woman stealing neuro processors. He decides to ignore her until he becomes her next target forcing him to activate sandy to stop her. Knowing instantly what this kid has she quickly flips the script deciding to recruit him to help her out, introducing herself as Lucy, and promising a payout. He quickly agrees as they spend the day stealing. This scene is closed out by her bringing him to her apartment before showing him her dream, to go to the moon.

However, during this endearing scene, David’s VERY rose-tinted glasses for Lucy are ripped off as he is confronted by three mercenaries led by Maine, a group of Cyberpunks if you will. David discovers that Lucy is a Netrunner for Maine’s crew and knew David’s Sandy was the one that was meant for Maine, setting him up. But in a twist of fate David learns that his mom, Gloria had actually been selling tech to these guys, using the money to put her son through school. Using that opening David pounces, begging Maine to give him a shot, to let him join their crew and show the city what he is truly capable of.

This sets up the remaining of the show as David goes around on odd jobs, becoming close friends with the crew and eventually forgiving Lucy opening up to her in a romantic relationship. All while this banger of a soundtrack plays through violent and gore-filled fight scenes, psychedelic sexual imagery, and the general debauchery any group of rugged mercs would find themselves neck deep in, that is of course expect for Lucy.

To me that is one of the most charming things about this show, initially, she is set up as unhinged as the rest of the crew. Most famously the scene of her riding on top of a gurney David is strapped to but after that, she quickly becomes the most sensible, caring person. She deeply cares for David and is constantly anxious about his safety, an anxiety that compounds as the show goes on making her warier and eventually leaving the crew. Her motives for this, of course, are her own but the strain and pain it causes both of them is clear, the show, no matter the blood and the crazy is about them, it is about Lucy and David.

Meaning there was no way it was going to have a happy ending.

I knew this show was a bit of a gut punch but it was around episode 5 it really started to sink in. When it became clear that David’s role was to suffer and Lucy’s was to protect him, it’s a tension that is both written and animated beautifully as scenes play out where you can see the distress and the admiration.

I started this post referring to Devilman for that reason, it is clear very early on that the winners of this show are few if any at all. Devilman ended with no winners, every bit of reality we as humans understand was destroyed. Edgerunners, painting no winners but at least some people live, granted it is up for debate if that is actually what that character wanted in the end.

All and all there is no denying that this show checked most of the boxes, the animation, the soundtrack, the character development, and the overarching story all felt right, somber, but right. I cannot applaud Trigger enough for the production of this series, it did a massive justice to Cyberpunk the brand and showed that Netflix can still hold its ground in a Sony ran anime space. I look forward as always to any new projects Trigger decides to take on and I will sit here eagerly to write about them but for now, thanks for the read.

Published by Johnathan

Freelance weeb and ranter.

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