Filed under:

7 anime to watch if you like Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Besides Ghost in the Shell and Akira, that is

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A group of seven cyberpunk mercenaries walking beside one another in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Image: Studio Trigger/Netflix

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has taken the Internet by storm. The latest anime by Studio Trigger and director Hiroyuki Imaishi is based on the universe of Cyberpunk 2077 and Mike Pondsmith’s TTRPG. The 10-episode limited series has not only won the hearts of critics and anime fans alike as one of the best series to premiere this year, but also managed to reinvigorate the game’s fan base in an impressive display of post-launch synergy.

The people have spoken: They want more cyberpunk. And while the anime itself may have reached its natural conclusion, and the first (and presumably last) DLC expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 is still quite a ways away, we’ve scoured our databanks to bring you a list of some of the best anime, both cyberpunk and not, to watch after Edgerunners. And yes — we know Ghost in the Shell (streaming on Roku) and Akira (streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll) are the regular go-tos when it comes to all things cyberpunk anime, but much like Cyberpunk: Edgerunners itself, we’re venturing off the beaten path and blazing our own with this list.


Redline

An anime character in a leather jacket clenching his teeth with a green-haired girl by his side as he clutches the steering wheel of a car with flames pouring over the windshield. Image: Madhouse/Redline Partners

Soon after Edgerunners premiered on Netflix, audiences immediately drew comparisons to the 2009 sci-fi action drama Redline. Directed by Takeshi Koike, known for his work on such anime as Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and the Animatrix short “World Record,” the film follows Sweet JP, a daredevil street racer with a corkscrew pompadour hellbent on taking home gold in the galaxy’s deadliest racing event: the Redline Grand Prix.

The likeness between Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Redline is especially uncanny during the highway chase scene between David and a pair of Tyger Claw biker assassin in the former’s third episode, “Smooth Criminal,” with many viewers noticing the similarity between David’s speed-induced grimace as he weaves precariously through oncoming traffic and JP’s clenched-jaw expression while racing to finish line at the beginning of Koike’s film.

Redline is available to stream on Plex and for free for Vudu, Tubi, and Freevee for ads.


Cyber City Oedo 808

An anime character in a red coat with spiky hair brandishes a metal handheld saber and stares menancingly. Image: Madhouse/Diskotek Media

Of all the anime featured on this list, Cyber City Oedo 808 is arguably the closest to Edgerunners’ premise. It also certainly doesn't hurt that the comparison has been endorsed by none other than Hideo Kojima, avowed cinephile and creator of Death Stranding and the Metal Gear series.

Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who made such classic anime as Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, this 1990 original video animation (OVA — trust me, you’re going to be hearing a lot about those on this list) follows a trio of criminal forced to fight superpowered monsters and hackers in exchange for time off their prison sentences. Think The Suicide Squad, only with more glam rock hairdos. A prominent influence on games like Ruiner and Huntdown, the three-episode limited series has an especially rich history in the U.K. anime scene and remains a beloved touchstone for fans of both the cyberpunk genre and Kawajiri’s work.

Cyber City Oedo 808 is available to stream on Retrocrush.


Promare

Promare’s mechs clashes swords and send pastel polygons flying everywhere Image: Studio Trigger/GKIDS

If you loved Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, there’s a good chance you’ll love (or already love) Promare, Hiroyuki Imaishi’s previous directorial work. Written by Kazuki Nakashima, with whom Imaishi has collaborated with on several major works, like Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann, the film follows Galo Thymos, a hotblooded member of the elite firefighting mecha group Burning Rescue who must save the city of Promepolis — and the entire world — from the threat of a cataclysmic event involving a new species of pyrokinetic humans known as the Burnish.

An unabashed love letter to Imaishi’s most cartoonish, maximalist sensibilities and his aforementioned collaborations with Nakashima, Promare is a crowd-pleasing anime spectacle packed to the seams with explosive action, colorful characters, and breathtaking set-pieces. Oh, and absurdly named mecha, like Deus X Machina— can’t forget about that!

Promare is available to stream on HBO Max.


Bubblegum Crisis

An illustration of four anime woman wearing armored combat suits and staring off into the distance. Image: Artmic, AIC/AnimEigo

The original eight-episode OVA Bubblegum Crisis follows the Knight Sabers, an all-female group of mercenaries clad in powered exoskeletons who defend a futuristic Tokyo from the machinations of the evil mega-corporation Genom and their mutant cyborg monstrosities known as Boomers. Oh, and did I mention that one of the Knight Sabers is a musician who sings in a band called Priss and the Replicants? Yes, that is precisely a reference to what you think it is.

Bubblegum Crisis is an essential work in the canon of ’80s cyberpunk anime and one of the most visible examples of the lasting influence of Walter Hill’s neo-noir rock musical Streets of Fire on the genre. If you loved Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, you owe it to yourself to set aside time to watch Bubblegum Crisis. You won’t regret it!

Bubblegum Crisis is available to stream on Retrocrush.


Megazone 23

A young anime youth rides a black, blue, and red-colored hoverbike while chased by a black and red mech down a futuristic highway with explosions in the background. Image: AIC, Artland, Tatsunoko/AnimEigo

Megazone 23 is not only an exquisite enduring example of ’80s cyberpunk anime, but it also stands the test of time as a breakout hit whose success galvanized the Japanese home video market’s embrace of the OVA format.

The three-episode series follows Shogo Yahagi, a young street kid who mistakenly comes into the ownership of a government prototype motorcycle. Ruthlessly pursued by government agents looking to procure the bike, Shogo plans to expose its existence on a live TV show starring a popular singing idol. While doing so, he uncovers a terrible secret— it’s the 24th century, his entire life is a lie, and what remains of humanity is imprisoned aboard several colossal spaceships called “Megazones” fleeing a now-dead Earth.

Co-directed by Noboru Ishiguro of Space Battleship Yamato and Super Dimension Fortress Macross fame, legendary effects animator Ichiro Itano, and future Appleseed and Blade Runner: Black Lotus director Shinji Aramaki, Megazone 23 is an epic in every sense of the word, spanning several centuries and several protagonists who fight across the expanse of space and cyberspace on behalf of humanity’s future.

As if all of that weren’t enough reasons to watch Megazone 23, it’s also a major influence on 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, one of Polygon’s favorite games of 2020.

Megazone 23 is available to stream on Retrocrush.


Armitage III

A blue-eyed anime woman with blond hair in a red jack aims a pink pistol forward. Image: AIC/Crunchyroll

Armitage III is a lot like Blade Runner, only instead of a story about a taciturn mercenary detective finding love in a hopeless place, it’s a female Martian android cop in red leather booty shorts with a killer right hook.

Directed by Hiroyuki Ochi and co-written by Chiaki J. Konaka (Serial Experiments Lain, Digimon Tamers, The Big O), the four-episode OVA follows Armitage and her new partner, detective Ross Sylibus, as they investigate the illegal manufacturing of a mysterious class of androids passing as humans. Their search lands them in the sights of René D’anclaude, a brutal android serial killer with a surprising, if convoluted, connection to Armitage’s own past.

The miniseries is peak ’90s cyberpunk, with sprawling neon-lit cities, ample gore and action, and tons of cheesy smooth jazz. If you’re able to track down a copy of Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, the feature-length reedited version of the series, you’ll be treated to a host of English dub performances by the likes of Elizabeth Berkley, Kiefer Sutherland, and even Bryan Cranston. Yes — that Bryan Cranston!

Armitage III is available to stream on Funimation.


Akudama Drive

A split-screen collage of six anime characters looking alternatively surprised and defiant. Image: Pierrot, Too Kyo Games/Crunchyroll

Created by Danganronpa creator Kazutaka Kodaka and produced by studio Pierrot and Too Kyo Games, Akudama Drive follows the story of a young woman in a dystopian future where the Japanese region of Kansai has become a vassal state of Kanto. After being arrested on a minor charge, she finds herself inadvertently pulled into an elaborate heist conspiracy orchestrated by a mysterious employer and a team of ruthless mercenary criminals known as Akudama. If you like over-the-top action, eccentric characters, and an unpredictably poignant story that’ll sneak up behind you before tugging at your heartstrings, then Akudama Drive is the perfect anime to chase the high of watching Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.

Akudama Drive is available to stream on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon