During the first of many planned live stream updates for the upcoming game ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ (dubbed as “Night City Wire Episodes”), CD Projekt Red announced a partnership between themselves, streaming juggernaut Netflix, and the Japanese animation studio, Trigger Inc.
Netflix has made itself fairly familiar with both companies before; having produced ‘The Witcher’ television show (originating as a series of novels that was later adapted and popularised into a highly successful trilogy of video games by CDPR), as well as curating Studio Trigger’s previous works, and subsequently licensing their latest anime series, ‘BNA: Brand New Animal’.
Based on the 1988 pen and paper role-playing game, Cyberpunk as a franchise has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, due to media outlets and fans alike contributing to the ever-growing hype-spiral since the teaser trailer in 2013. We may have hit peak hype seven years on, but even still, it’s no wonder that there is interest in the opportunities to expand the franchise (especially since, as of writing, the game won’t be released for another three months!).
Trigger’s Three-Volley Salute
Those of you who are well versed in the anime industry will be familiar with their productions, and perhaps even their staff. Comprised of notable Gainax alumni, ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ is to be helmed by those who’ve worked on a number of quintessential anime properties, such as ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, ‘Gurren Lagann’, and ‘FLCL’. Although the studio is relatively new, the team behind Trigger Inc. has already forged its own legacy as pioneers of action within the anime sphere from the get-go.
With an explosive debut like 2013’s ‘Kill la Kill’, Trigger left its mark on the anime world’s stage. Instantly establishing a unique art style by way of an overtly expressive, aggressive, diverse, and flamboyantly fluid movement – ‘Kill la Kill’ indulges in its extremes, constantly finding ways to push things further.
Even the premise is absolutely barmy: Transfer student vows to uncover her father’s murderer, leading her into stumbling upon a sentient sailor school uniform; which, together they pursue to dismantle her schools’ fashion-obsessed hyper-authoritarian regime, wielding only a longsword (that’s half of a pair of scissors), and a sheer determination for revenge…
This being said, the series is acutely aware of itself; a series where the layers of meta anime tropes can get so dense, that the show itself has its own character and personality.
Where ‘Kill la Kill’ allows itself to be the crazy horse, high off sticky-toffee apples; the reigns are reeled in when it comes to their next hit – ‘Little Witch Academia’. A quirky, light-hearted tale of an idealistic and aspiring non-magic born witch, who attends a prestigious academy where it becomes painfully evident that she is severely inept. On the surface, LWA deals with confronting the cynicism and expectation from her peers to be professional; but our protagonist wears her influences on her sleeve, chiefly, her love of a magic performer. All she desires to be is a source of joy and light in the world, where the broader magical society looks down at entertainers as lowly.
Though it is still very much a Trigger production with its trademark chaotic energy and slapstick extremism, the franchise exercises some restraint on the excessive, as it focuses on the more whimsical and magical, as evident in its inspiration of western (namely, British) contemporary novels & mysticism as seen in the likes of the ‘Harry Potter’ series (and ‘The Worst Witch’ although that may be too much of a deep cut for those not from the UK!).
As for their latest release, ‘BNA: Brand New Animal’ demonstrates the best of both aforementioned worlds; developing a structured formula through its plot, characters, and thematic devices. Taking elements of fantasy and action from each show, you get the sense that Trigger as a studio has been honing its craft as a production company throughout the series.
The show deals with the differences and similarities of people who identify as separate from each other – in this case, humans and their disdain for anthropomorphic humanoids (known as “Beastmen” – and not to be confused with ‘Beastars’ – a different anthropomorphic Netflix anime series). ‘BNA’ centers around a teen runaway who inexplicably transforms from Human to Beastman, as she seeks solitude and a solution for her condition in the only city dedicated to Beastfolk.
High Tech, Low Life, and Everything in Between
The mold for ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ has been cast and ready to be set since Trigger Inc. released ‘BNA: Brand New Animal’. The premise of both these titles parallel neatly along with one another – young vagabond vies to survive in a city filled with problems outside their own. It’s not hard to imagine that the ultra-violence and creativity of ‘Kill la Kill’ would seep into the fabric of ‘Edgerunners’ either; nor would it be a stretch to envision how much of Night City (where the action of ‘Cyberpunk’ takes place) could come alive, like ‘BNA’s “Anima City”, or as fantastical as ‘Little Witch Academia’s “Luna Nova Academy”, and ‘Kill la Kill’s “Honnō City”.
We don’t know too much about the more nuanced aspects of ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’, other than what was told from a press release shortly after the formal announcement: A ten-episode series following a street kid making his way up the ranks in wetwork as an “Edgerunner” (an elusive, high ranking mercenary). Within the lore of the pen and paper series, Edgerunners serve as one of the archetypes available to the player. The Street-kid class is unique to the upcoming video-game, presenting the role as more of a rookie merc than an established hired gun.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, the Corpos at Netflix or the Rockerboys of CD Projekt Red & Trigger Inc. will release more details about the much-anticipated anime adaptation.
List of those who are confirmed to be working on ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners”:
Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Promare)
Assistant Director: Masahiko Ôtsuka (Gurren Lagann, Promare)
Creative Director: Hiromi Wakabayashi (Kill la Kill)
Character Designers: Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia, BNA: Brand New Animal)
Yuto Kaneko (Little Witch Academia)
Screenplay Writers: Yoshiki Usa (SSSS.GRIDMAN, Promare)
Masahiko Ôtsuka (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Promare).
Composer: Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series).