Edgerunners, an exercise in style supported by big names in anime


Hiroyuki Imaishi It is not a minor name. His work has been in the Japanese animation industry for almost three decades, with series to his credit such as Tegen Toppa Gurren Lagann or Kill la Kill, in which he has served as director, and works such as FLCL and Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time in which he has been in charge of directing and/or coordinating the animation. From Gainax to Trigger, he has signed with several of the most prestigious production companies of the Japanese factory. Next to it are names like Hiromi Wakabayashi (screenwriter and creative director on Kill la Kill) or character designer Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia, FLCL and a long etcetera).

After the resounding launch of the latest CD Projekt RED video game, its credibility was questioned. Their brand, their seal, is no longer a guarantee, and to reverse this situation many things must change for their next iterations. Maybe that’s why I faced Cyberpunk: Edgerunners with so much skepticism. However, after watching the first episode and viewing the credits during the second, everything changed. CD Projekt RED may have lost credibility, but the people behind this anime not only retain their prestige, but also find themselves in great shape.

A direct and dynamic Cyberpunk

CD Projekt RED’s reinterpretation of Cyberpunk works wonderfully as a breeding ground for a work that aims to explicitly, directly and agilely explore the tropes of the genre. The series starts glued to the video game, taking advantage of part of the HUB to play with the way of transmitting communications and linking media; cheap transmedia glue It does not bother, but it is not that it contributes much, and it does not even matter. Because beyond the superficial exploration of topics such as neo-capitalism and transhumanism, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is, above all else, an exercise in style.

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Do not expect the contemplative and introspective transcendence of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, 1995), neither will you run into the substance or complexity of Katsuhiro Ōtomo (Akira, 1988). Edgerunners works with their own codes, and they opt for a more direct approach and less profound than all that it poses. Starting from the fiction reinterpreted by the video game based on the role-playing game, it makes use of an explicit appeal to the classic themes that usually accompany this type of fiction. However, it is not something that detracts from it. On the contrary, the script manages to quickly introduce David Mertínez (the protagonist) in that context, making it clear to any type of viewer (whether or not they have had previous contact with the franchise or the genre) the rules socioeconomic that mark the rhythm of the proposed society.

From that starting point, Hiroyuki Imaishi, Rafał Jaki (executive producer) and their team release ten chapters to the public that are, in most cases, pure energy. The animation takes advantage of the hand extended by the visual iconography of Night City to let loose as far as designs are concerned, delivering charismatic characters and stretching the elasticity of their form when the action or humor require it. Those who, as a server, burned FLCL at the time, will recognize here some tics of its fast-paced montage, and even some shots and animations that will remind them of that energetic exercise in psychedelia. Of course, all this adhered to a plot that, obviously, is more conventional (you will not find a Haruko Haruhara). What you will find is a functional relationship, some attractive dynamics between the main characters, a very well planned action in most cases and a dynamism that makes it extremely difficult not to want to see the next episode.

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This is something that, furthermore, is not only attached to the action itself. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has the occasional episode in which the energy I am talking about does not need brutal and spectacular action sequences (which also exist), but rests on interesting montages that, based on the visual and sound rhythm, , advance archetypal relationships in atypical ways. all of it rightly resorting to humor and, when appropriate, to cruelty of a world that doesn’t need to get too melodramatic to shock the viewer.

It could even be said that the series manages to extract so much juice from the visual identity of the Cyberpunk universe, that it ends up making it its own. With what, as the episodes progress, the distance with the video game, that glue that I was talking about (which is so evident in the first bars) ends up fading, giving all the prominence to David, Lucy, Dorio and the rest of cyberpunks that star in the adventure. This, how could it be otherwise, will revolve around the class difference, powerful implants, corrupted corps, and the dangerous underworld of Night City.

A series worthy of the Cyberpunk universe

They put the icing a powerful score and soundtrackwhich start with This Fffire by Franz Ferdinand, and which present a heterogeneity that ranges from hard rock to electronica, judiciously accompanying each of the sequences that make up the different chapters of the series.

In spite of everything, and despite the fact that many of us looked askance and mistrust at the project, at the time of its announcement, since the transmedia maneuver led by CD Projekt REd did not start well at all, the assault on Japanese animation has ended up presenting a product much rounder than what once kicked off the current Cyberpunk universe. Regardless of how thorough or not it may be as an adaptation, Edgerunners is a series worthy of proudly walking the universe created by Mike Pondsmith. An animation work with a overwhelming personalitythat will not leave you indifferent, that shuns narrative complexities despite the depth of its themes, and that embraces the colorful baroque of the Cyberpunk universe, to weave a catalog of designs and animations that will delight anime fans.

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For this reason, if you were scalded by the title released by CD Projekt RED and the brand left on you (as in my case) that patina of mistrust, I advise you to put aside your prejudices when approaching this new (complementary) reinterpretation of its universe . The work done by Hiroyuki Imaishi and company is a more than remarkable work that becomes, in its own right, one of the best animes in which Netflix has been involved to date.

Therefore, I can only advise you the following: let this neuro penetrate your heads, it’s worth it.