Cyberpunk 2077 anime is better than the game

Needless to say, the debut of one of the most high-profile games in recent history was controversial. Upon its (rather premature) release to the gaming world in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077’s long list of glitches, bugs, and incompatibility issues made the game disappointing, frustrating, and expensive.

Why? Because to say the game completely failed would not be accurate. It’s won a handful of awards, managed to implement Keanu Reeves’ iconic avatar (and voice) in the majority of scenes, and generated a buzz rarely matched in the gaming world. It’s just a shame it didn’t. That wasn’t the goal, and that the associated anime looks even more promising than the game.

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Futile efforts

CD Projekt Red has been trying sleeplessly to win back the affections of fans with several initiatives, including addressing and removing reported issues with each update and issuing apologies left and right. Remember the overpriced T-2077 blockchain watch released in honor of Cyberpunk 2077’s anniversary? Few fans really do. The damage to Projekt Red’s reputation and the amount of money lost was indeed considerable, so maybe it’s best to let the sleeping dogs lie to lick their wounds. Where is it?

Saved by a spin-off

These days, it seems fans can’t — and won’t — accept the word “goodbye.” A slew of retired and beloved TV shows have either resurrected a supporting character’s story or completely rebooted the franchise, in order to satiate a hungry audience obsessively waiting for a bone thrown by the leaders of the studio. If you find yourself in this group (as I shamelessly do), Lady Luck has given us mercy. Cyberpunk 2077 is getting a second chance in the form of an anime adaptation.

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

The response to the trailer has been ecstatic, akin to the adulation of praise its source material garnered prior to its release. Even the writers/executive producers of Cyberpunk 2077 admit that the anime takes viewers to places previously impossible in video gaming. Showrunner and executive producer Rafal Jaki says, via Cyberpunk 2077 on YouTube“In gaming, it’s all about immersion and the powerful fantasy of being in Night City…for the show, we’re exploring things and topics that weren’t 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 its medium of choice, while also placating the source material’s sensitive fan base. In Studio Trigger’s case, it’s obvious they’re a fan of the game. They’ve spared no expense in capturing the dystopian essence of Night City, but have also dug deeper into portraying the emotions of the characters through the (often very graphic) action that will be seen throughout the series.

It’s unclear at this point why Studio Trigger was tapped, or what the backstory of the collaboration entails. We can only speculate what the end result will be based on the studio’s previous work and accolades. Judging by the team in charge, she can’t lose.

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

Break down the bits

Not only did fans receive a meticulously unboxing trailer, but an exclusive 54-second clip featuring the Maelstrom gang. Players will immediately recognize the gang’s menacing faceplates and various body modifications that look even more intimidating, thanks to Yoshinari’s art direction. The other tough-looking group in the clip is revealed to be the eponymous Edgerunners.

A thrash metal soundtrack opens the stage and heightens the tension between the Maelstrom gang and the Edgerunners as they watch each other in an intense standoff. A member of the Maelstrom gang opens a refrigerator to reveal a terrified person stuffed inside. The camera then cuts to the crackling electricity of neon moving up a character’s spine. The next second, the captive person disappears, much to the dismay of the Maelstrom. A smiling youth in a yellow jacket materializes, holding the prisoner in his arms. It’s the same to assume it’s the aforementioned “street kid”; the series’ protagonist, whose use of quick edits seems to be for good (at least in this scene).

A bloodbath ensues, resulting in the death of all members of the Maelstrom by means of nanowires and heavy weapons. After the scrum, the “street kid” and his fellow Edgerunners smile broadly, giving each other a thumbs up. The juxtaposition of gore and goofy bonhomie is a classic anime trope, which fits like a glove here without seeming too over the top.

It should be mentioned that the anime is a perfect vehicle to fully showcase the power of sandevistan. It’s something akin to “bullet-time”, where a player can outwit other characters through the use of slow-motion. In Cyberpunk 2077 game, V can equip cyberwear modification to enhance his speed, strength, vision, etc. This is also very useful for getting those critical headshots.

The waiting game

The anime is slated for release in September, but now that we’ve had a taste of it, it feels like an eternity. Hopefully Studio Trigger, CD Project Red and Netflix will provide us with a handful of clips, interviews and goodies in the meantime.

Thanks to the upcoming series, many fans’ interest in Cyberpunk 2077 seems to have officially been renewed. Although only snippets have been revealed at the time of writing, the anime seeks to deliver all the nonstop flashy action and intrigue that the game couldn’t quite live up to its potential. Regardless of its losses in the past, I think a lot of fans would agree that Cyberpunk 2077’s future hasn’t looked so bright in some time.

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