Are you having fun playing Cyberpunk 2077, the dystopian sci-fi video game adventure starring Keanu Reeves? Well… no. No one is. It’s not out, yet, and we keep hearing about more delays. But the buzz is still there, and still palpable. In fact, it’s only stoked by the release of a new trailer as part of developer CD Projekt Red’s big Twitch stream. And the developer is hoping this buzz — despite no one having played it — can ride them through a new development in the world of Cyberpunk 2077: An original Netflix anime series.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is coming to the streaming service in 2022. The 10-episode series will tell a standalone story unconnected to the main plot of the video game, while still existing in the video game’s world. Both the synopsis and poster of the show remind me an awful lot of Akira, perhaps the defining cyberpunk anime story. It’s about “a street kid trying to survive in a technology and body modification-obsessed city of the future. Having everything to lose, he chooses to stay alive by becoming an edgerunner—a mercenary outlaw also known as a cyberpunk.” To be blunt, this synopsis could also describe, like, 90% of all cyberpunk fiction — but we have good reason to believe the show will rise above (or simply meet, if you’re a fan of cyberpunk like me) its expectations.
For one: Castlevania and The Witcher are two other Netflix series based on video games that are both crushing it. For two: CD Projekt Red is working on the series as well, and has been since 2018, ensuring a level of authenticity, accuracy, and love. As Adam Badowski, Cyberpunk 2077 Game Director and CD Projekt Red Head of Studio says, “We’ve devoured just about all the cyberpunk fiction there is to watch, read, and play; it’s a genre that leaves so much room for creativity, and has had such a strong influence on us. CYBERPUNK: EDGERUNNERS is our love letter to cyberpunk as a whole, and to stories told in animated form.”
And for three: Studio Trigger, a phenomenal animation studio responsible for vibrant works like Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia, is developing the look of the series alongside director Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann), who said this about the genre he’s now playing in: “I’ve always loved cyberpunk as a genre, but always found it difficult to create as an original work. This is why I’m very excited to be working with CD PROJEKT RED on this project. It won’t be easy to please both game and anime fans, but I love a challenge, and I’m looking forward to the production. We’ll do our best to meet and exceed expectations.”
While we don’t know anything else about plot or cast specifics (I’d bet 20 cyber-coins Reeves makes just one uncredited cameo), it’s nice to hear that all the creative forces involved know the challenges that come with adapting the world of a work and playing into and with the tropes of a well-trod genre.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners comes to Netflix in 2022 (by then, we should have all played the actual video game is based on). For more in the world of cyberpunk, here are my favorite films of the genre.