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How Cyberpunk: Edgerunners connects to Cyberpunk 2077

The crossover locations and characters from the video game to the anime

Art from Studio Trigger’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Two anime characters look at the camera. There is a red computer-like overlay over part of one character’s face. Image: Studio Trigger/Netflix
Toussaint Egan is a curation editor, out to highlight the best movies, TV, anime, comics, and games. He has been writing professionally for over 8 years.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, Studio Trigger’s (Kill la Kill, Promare) 10-episode anime series set in the same universe as CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, is finally here — and it totally whips.

Executive produced by Rafal Jaki (Gwent: The Witcher Card Game), co-written by Bartosz Sztybor (Cyberpunk 2077), and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Promare), the series follows the story of David Martinez, a street kid from the Night City borough of Santo Domingo who goes to an Arasaka Corporation charter school. Following a tragedy that leaves him orphaned, David submits himself to being implanted with an experimental cyberware augmentation and turns to the only life left for him: becoming an edgerunner, a cybernetic mercenary for hire who joins a gang of fellow “cyberpunks’’ in search of fame and fortune.

Fans of CD Projekt Red’s 2020 action-RPG may be curious as to how Edgerunners relates to the story of Cyberpunk 2077, if at all. The short answer is: It’s complicated. The long answer is… Well, let’s just get into it.

[Ed note: Spoilers for Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Cyberpunk 2077 follow.]

Welcome back to Night City

A top-down image of the downtown district of Night City in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Image: Studio Trigger/Netflix

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners takes place in Night City, the futuristic metropolis that serves as the primary setting of Cyberpunk 2077. While sharing the same location, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a stand-alone series featuring its own original cast of characters with their own storylines separate from that of either CD Projekt Red’s game or any storyline in Mike Pondsmith’s original tabletop RPG.

Several locations and supporting characters from Cyberpunk 2077 make noteworthy appearances throughout Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, either as allies to David and co. or as non-speaking blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em background cameos. While an exact year and date is never specified in the series, it’s possible to infer from both context clues and the appearance (and non-appearance) of certain characters that Cyberpunk: Edgerunners takes place before the events of Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 characters and locations in Edgerunners

The first appearance of a major supporting character from Cyberpunk 2077 in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is in episode 4, “Lucky You.” David and his fellow edgerunners visit the Afterlife, the iconic bar in the northern Watson district of Night City owned by Rogue, the biggest fixer in the city and the ex-lover of prominent 2077 NPC Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves). After rescuing his friend Rebecca from a tense standoff with some Afterlife bouncers, both David and Rebecca trade nods with Rogue, who seemingly gives them her approval. Claire Russell, a bartender at the Afterlife, can briefly be seen in the background.

David can later be seen visiting Lizzie’s Bar, the “braindance” club located in Watson and owned and operated by the Mox, one of the eight major gang factions in Night City. Three of the other factions, the Animals, the Tyger Claws, and Maelstrom, make prominent appearances in episode 1, “Let You Down, episode 3, “Smooth Criminal,” and episode 4, while other gangs, such as 6th Street, make background appearances in the form of graffiti tags and vehicle decals.

Episode 7, “Stronger,” features a brief vocal cameo by Wakako, the top fixer in the Westbrook district of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077. Two other supporting characters, Regina Jones and Sebastian “Padre” Ibarra, make brief cameos on a holographic display of prominent fixers in Night City.

But by far the most consequential appearance by a Cyberpunk 2077 character in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is Adam Smasher, Arasaka’s full-borg head of security and Johnny Silverhand’s nemesis, who is first mentioned in episode 7 before becoming a major antagonist in the series’ 10th and final episode, “My Moon My Man.”

The marauders gang in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Image: Studio Trigger/Netflix

Is V or Jackie in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners?

Neither V, the protagonist and player character of Cyberpunk 2077, nor Jackie Welles, V’s fellow merc and best friend, are seen in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, and the anime’s status as a stand-alone series means the events of the anime are never referenced in the main storyline of Cyberpunk 2077. But while Cyberpunk: Edgerunners may lack a firm chronological connection to CD Projekt Red’s original game, it makes up for it by telling a story through the character of David Martinez, which parallels with V’s own story in Cyberpunk 2077.

Both characters are thrust into extraordinary circumstances by a terrible tragedy, forced to become mercenaries in order to survive the harsh and inhospitable reality of Night City’s urban sprawl. By far the strongest aspect Cyberpunk: Edgerunners shares with its video game counterpart is a focus on centering their respective stories on the precipitous rise and inevitable fall of a flawed, well-meaning, and doomed protagonist. As David’s mentor Maine tells him early on in the series, cyberpunks don’t make a name for themselves by how they live; they make a name for themselves by how they die.