Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has dropped at the end of a packed Summer 2022 season. It's a collaborative effort between anime studio Trigger, known for big title adaptations like Kill la Kill and Star Wars Visions; and game studio CD Projekt Red, the developers of The Witcher game series and Cyberpunk 2077 (the world in which this anime is set).
Edgrunners follows young David Martinez as he struggles to make his way in Night City after the death of his mum, navigating between paying rent, going to school, and being alone. In steps Lucy, a netrunner for a gang of edgerunners who takes a liking to David after seeing his Sandevistan implant at work during a heist on a train. The two quickly learn from each other, and Lucy takes David to meet Maine, the leader of her crew, and we follow their adventures from then on as the crew is pulled between the megacorporations of Arasaka and Militech. An emotional tale of how struggling against the odds can often lead to heartache, we have compiled six recommendations we feel can scratch the same itch as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.
Similar to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
1. Darling in the FranXX
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2018 - July 2018
Darling in the FranXX is a complicated story of child soldiers struggling to fight for humanity’s survival in a giant mecha called FranXX against the Klaxosaurs that have almost wiped out all humans. The story follows Hiro, an aspiring FranXX pilot, as he meets the mysterious two-horned girl Zero Two, also known as the “Partner Killer”, for her reckless mecha piloting skills. Zero Two and Hiro team up despite his friend’s rejections as the two take on the Klaxosaurs.
Much like Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, in Darling in the FranXX, our main character is an outcast at the start of their journey with little chance to get far in the world that’s been stacked against them. However, by learning from an overpowered charming female lead, David and Hiro exhibit exceptional natural skills in their field, with one tolerating cybernetic enhancements beyond the norm and the other being able to pilot a mecha with the notorious “Partner Killer”, both end up way in over their heads with a tragic fate inevitable.
Darling in the FranXX Official Trailer
2. Akudama Drive
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2020 - December 2020
The massive metropolis of Kansai is a technological utopia from top to bottom, lit by the back glow of neon signs for miles, but not all is as peaceful as it seems. Infamous criminals still roam the streets despite the city's strict laws, with the most horrible, known as Akudama, such as “Cutthroat”, known for killing 999 people and about to face an extravagant public execution. With a message for all Akudama to save Cutthroat, we follow an Ordinary Person as they become the Akudama Swindler after being dragged into everything alongside the Courier.
Seeing the main character in a dystopian world being brought into crime and learning the ropes is always a sound basis for an anime, and we feel Akudama Drive and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners do this excellently. David and Swindler both have to adapt quickly to their new lives of crime, surrounded by extreme violence and battling their city’s authorities as they try to navigate their new relationships.
Akudama Drive Official Trailer:
3. Akame ga Kill!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2014 - December 2014
A group of assassins working for a revolutionary army in an attempt to overthrow the city’s prime minister is a very dystopian setting for an anime. Akame ga Kill! follows Tatsumi as he joins the Night Raid assassins to help his impoverished home village against the Empire. Still, everything heads south as the Empire crackdown on his comrades, each a skilled killer facing retribution from a society that has cast them aside.
Sadly, the most significant similarity between Akame ga Kill! and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is the amount of death and tragedy experienced by Tatsumi and David. Both fight against a society that brutally represses their population through nefarious means, and the two get caught in the middle with loved ones dying left, right, and centre. Two stories of misfortune that end with heartaches for our main characters, Akame ga Kill! is sure to give the same feeling of struggle against higher powers as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.
Akame ga Kill! Official Trailer:
Any Anime Like Cyberpunk: Edgerunners ?
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2012 - March 2013
The future of the world’s criminal justice system is an interesting topic to speculate about and the concept put forward by Psycho-Pass is a fascinating one. Under the guise of the Sibyl system, a rating of a person’s likelihood to commit a crime, Inspectors and Enforcers deal out justice preemptively, meaning they enforce the law before it has been broken. Akane Tsunemori is a new Inspector working in the system, teamed up with the latent criminal Enforcer Shinya Kougami. The two navigate the dystopian future questioning the morality of the system they live under, battling corruption, and being constantly watched.
Futuristic dystopian societies provide interesting dynamics for anime stories, especially when exploring morality. Psycho-Pass and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners look into the theme of morality when faced with a world system that actively works against people from disadvantaged backgrounds. David is an example of how being born outside of the elite of Night City leads to a life of crime, and Kougami’s life as an Enforcer under the Sibyl system illustrates how being a part of the system does not guarantee a smooth run in life as he goes from Inspector to guard dog for Tsunemori. Battling against an unfair system raises interesting questions of morality, especially around the use of violence.
Psycho-Pass Official Trailer:
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2020 - March 2020
A man with a crocodile head, unsure of how he got such a head, and a head inside his mouth. Kaiman lives in a world called the Hole, a lawless expanse with no ethics and the testing ground for Magicians that transform people into experimental beings or creatures, much like Kaiman’s crocodile head. Spending a lot of time at a gyoza shop run by Nikaidou, Kaiman begins the journey to discover who or what has changed his life so drastically.
Pure violence and an unequal society are what bring Dorohedoro in line with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Kaiman goes through immense amounts of violence to get answers for his deformed head. But, much like David, with his cybernetically enhanced gang, he enlists some help when trying to question magicians.
Dorohedoro Official Trailer:
6. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song (Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song-)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2021 - June 2021
An entertainment robot trying to prevent an all-out war between humans and AI through extreme violence and time travel brings images of Hatsune Miku meets the Terminator to mind. Vivy is an idol AI singing at an unpopular theme park and is tasked by the AI Matsumoto to go back in time to specific pinpoints to prevent the AI war.
Vivy is very similar to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners in pure vibes, excellent soundtracks, and animated violence beyond even the most thrilling action film. Cyberpunk has a gritty, grungy feel populated with neon lights and an electro-rock soundtrack that brings the city to life, meanwhile, Vivy holds a very similar feeling with crashing guitar riffs to the background of AI marching to war against humanity. Both have smoothly animated and choreographed fight scenes, with the likes of Maine’s last stand against the MaxTac forces using cybernetic enhancements being very similar to Vivy’s full android clashes in the creative freedom used by the animation studios.
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song Official Trailer:
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has made a massive impact with the anime’s release resulting in a spike in concurrent players of the Cyberpunk 2077 game, proving just how successful of an advertising campaign this story has been for CD Projekt Red. With fan favourite characters like Lucy and Rebecca bringing a lot of attention to the Cyberpunk universe, the emotional story and its ending are what we have tried to capture with our recommendations. So what have you thought of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners? Are there any other recommendations you would make for fans of the series? Let us know in the comments!