Cyberpunk 2021: A Year in Review for Cyberpunk

A Time to Look Back Again

Another year, another two weeks of vacation to pause, breathe, and reflect on what 2021 has brought us. My last Year in Review, for 2020, described many things that we got to enjoy in the year, along with looking ahead to the future of what 2021 might bring. Weary as we were with COVID-fatigue, we thought we had glimpsed a light at the end of the tunnel until Delta and then Omicron dashed those dreams. Still, while restrictions and cases are ramping up again, it still feels much better than what we exprienced in 2020, so at least there’s that. While different from 2020 in many ways, 2021 has been another great year for the genre of Cyberpunk in general. On the first few days of 2021 I wrote the following:

But with all these vaccines rolling out for 2021, the year looks very promising. And with the vaccines will hopefully come a new stability, a new normal that will allow travel and production on all our favorite media to resume again…Obviously what I am most excited for here at Cyberpunk Matrix, and indeed a lot of the inspiration why I created this website in the first place, is the return to the world of The Matrix with Matrix 4.

In the end of 2020 I wrote the following looking to the horizon of 2021:

Cyberpunk Media to Look Out For in 2021

  1. Dune
  2. The Matrix 4 
    • Obviously what I am most excited for here at Cyberpunk Matrix, and indeed a lot of the inspiration why I created this website in the first place, is the return to the world of The Matrix with Matrix 4. Now that Lana Wachowski and the production team was able to wrap in Germany, it seems like the biggest work in producing Matrix 4 is done. Now comes the step of adding the music, edits, and all the other post production work, before marketing and getting Matrix 4 ready for their release date of December 22nd, 2021. Hopefully that release date won’t be pushed back yet again.
  3. Edgerunners (2022)
    • While all we know about this standalone series from Netflix set in Night City is that it will come out in 2022, hopefully there may be some news about its production to come out in 2021. Similarly, I am looking forward to any and all Cyberpunk 2077 DLC that comes out in 2021 that adds to the already very rich world that CD Projekt Red has created.

Well, Dune ended up being released September 15th. It was only part 1, but impressed enough people that it got greenlit for a part 2, which is amazing news. It also got great reviews and I personally loved the film. Since it’s not technically Cyberpunk, I probably won’t be reviewing it here on Cyberpunk Matrix, unless if I someone requests me personally to do a review. It could also qualify under an “Is This Cyberpunk?” segment.

As for Matrix 4, the name turned out to be The Matrix Resurrections, leaked online via Instagram. Among a slow drip of casting news, interviews and sneak peeks, we also got a teaser trailer, an actual trailer, and then I got to see the premiere of the film itself in London, which was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. I’ve also already posted my spoiler-free review for that, with a more in-depth spoiler review forthcoming.

Meanwhile, we got a lot of other Cyberpunk media in 2021, as well as a new personal project here at Cyberpunk Matrix. So come join me, won’t you, as we take a walk down memory lane again and look at all the Cyberpunk media that came out in 2021.

Outside the Wire (Netflix, January 15th)

Cyberpunk in 2021 started the year off bright and early with the release of Outside the Wire, a Netflix original starring Anthony Mackie, whom we had previously seen as the third incarnation of Takeshi Kovacs in Altered Carbon Season 2. While initially marketed as a war action flick, I noted in an “Is This Cyberpunk?” segment that it wasn’t actually Cyberpunk, but it had elements that made it come close. While it had decent ideas and acting, I concluded it was a missed opportunity, a film that failed to hit its mark but was still worth a Sunday afternoon to watch. You can read my full analysis of the Cyberpunk elements of the film here.

Space Sweepers (Netflix, February 5th)

Space Sweepers was a surprise Cyberpunk film to come out on Netflix. While most of the film was in Korean, since it’s a Korean film, there were moments in other languages too, making it a properly diverse and cyberpunk film. Sadly, I never got around to making a review for the film, as other things like life intervened, but I hope to get around to writing a review for it someday soon. It was more space than Cyberpunk, although it had a lot of Cyberpunk elements. While interesting and serious, there were almost too many moments of humor and silliness, almost as if the film itself were an anime. Still, I highly recommend seeing the film, in particular for the impressive visual effects.

The End of Daft Punk (February 22nd)

This came as a sad shock to Daft Punk fans around the world, and to Cyberpunk fans in general, as this decidedly Cyberpunk electro duo decided to call it quits on February 22nd with an 8-minute epilogue. Having formed in Paris in 1993 by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, they would soon thrill the world with their fresh electro albums like “Homework”, “Discovery”, “Human after All” and “Random Access Memories”. They also created the original soundtrack to Disney’s Tron Legacy, as well as live-recorded albums and a visual companion to their Discovery album, an anime film called “Interstella 5555.” Always showing up to concerts in their Robot Android costumes (or were they truly androids?) they rarely gave in person interviews, preferring to remain anonymous and mysterious. In a requiem homage post I made in March detailing their breakup, I noted:

With an emphasis on anonymity to keep mega-corporations at bay and stay truly rebellious to the traditional trends of the churning, remorseless music industry, Daft Punk will stand the test of time and will forever remain in our minds visually and auditorily as the Cyberpunk sounds of the past, present, and future.

Love, Death & Robots Vol. 2 (Netflix, May 14th)

This came as a happy surprise, it was released without any proper announcement. After loving certain episodes of the first volume, I was eager to see the second, but many were disappointed in the decidedly shorter number of episodes for Volume 2 (8 episodes in total compared to 18 episodes in volume 1).

The Beginning of the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast (May 25th)

May 25th saw the introductory episode of the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast. Since that date there are 5 episodes available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Anchor, not including the introductory episode. This has been a major growth for Cyberpunk Matrix, as I’ve had the opportunity to interview content creators, Cyberpunk writers, and fans of the Cyberpunk genre to get a more broad, outside perspective on the Cyberpunk Genre. It’s been a lot of fun and very interesting for me to share my love of Cyberpunk in a different medium. You can check out all the Podcast episodes on the official Cyberpunk Matrix YouTube channel here, or on Spotify here.

Cyberpunk Day (October 10th)

Started in October 2020 by a coalition of Cyberpunk authors and enthusiasts like Matthew Goodwin (Into Neon) and Elias J Hurst (Europa), Cyberpunk Day was created to help others discover new cyberpunk content like books, comics, shows, movies, and art that weren’t as well-known as the more mainstream classics. While last year’s Cyberpunk Day featured more readings, this year featured more interviews and presentations, including guest star Mike Pondsmith, creator of the Cyberpunk Red tabletop RPG and Cyberpunk universe that Cyberpunk 2077 was based off of. I particularly enjoyed their round table with authors and enthusiasts who discussed what they considered Cyberpunk and not (much to my surprise, their definition was a lot more open than mine is) as well as their favorite works. You can check out the replays on their YouTube here.

Cowboy Bebop (Netflix, November 19th)

A divisive, yet major title to come out to be sure, the live action Cowboy Bebop both wowed and underwhelmed viewers upon its release. With a fun, quirky teaser and then promising trailer, the show started strong but ended with a weaker finish, as I reviewed here on Cyberpunk Matrix, but also most importantly, Netflix never gave the series a chance as its season 2 was cancelled before even a month had passed that it was available to stream on the platform. High drop-off rates (such as people stopping to watch after the second episode or so) were too blame. I noted this was a damn shame because the acting, special effects, and cinematography were all top-notch. See you, space cowboy.

The Matrix Resurrections (December 22nd)

Last but not least, the movie that we had all been waiting for for so long, and a major inspiration for the moniker of this Cyberpunk blog, The Matrix Resurrections was finally released this year after being announced so long ago in August of 2019. After that as I mentioned above, among a slow drip of casting news, interviews and sneak peeks, we got a teaser trailer, an actual trailer, and then I got to see the premiere of the film itself in London, which was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. I’ve also already posted my spoiler-free review for that, with a more in-depth spoiler review forthcoming. While ironically a staple Cyberpunk media, I think many people will kind of forget that the Matrix Resurrections is cyberpunk, focusing instead on the Meta aspects and its subtle-yet-not-so-subtle commentary on society, social media, sequels, and corporate culture. Instead, I’m sensing that anything considered “cyberpunk” in laymen’s terms will be quickly relegated to “related to that Cyberpunk game that had all those bugs and Keanu Reeves”. Hopefully this will not be the case, and we’ll continue seeing the genre grow. But this leads me to the Cyberpunk media we have to look forward to next year.

Cyberpunk Media to Look out for in 2022

I’m not gonna lie, after a quick perusal of things coming up…there’s really not much to look forward to. There are only two things that are exciting to look forward to Cyberpunk-wise. After a flood of Cyberpunk content with things like Cyberpunk 2077, The Matrix Resurrections, and the live action Cowboy Bebop, we are arriving at a drought of Cyberpunk content. Next year’s Science-Fiction content seems to be primarily the megacorporation of Disney doing Star Wars sagas, whether it be on the big screen or mainly just on their streaming platform, Disney+.

So we have to wait and hope that we’ll be surprised with great new sci-fi content. Netflix surely is feeling like betting on Cyberpunk Sci-fi content like Altered Carbon or Cowboy Bebop simply isn’t worth the investment, and with Disney flooding the market with Star Wars content, we miserly punks are left in the gutter with little content, where we can only wait.

My hope is that we see a Ready Player Two adaptation come soon, or a continuation of Alita: Battle Angel, or a new Cyberpunk title be adapted soon. But for now, here are the two Cyberpunk things I am looking forward to in 2022:

Magic the Gathering: Kamigawa Neon Dynasty

Release Date: February 18th, 2022.

This may fly under the radar for many, but I think it’s telling that one of the longest-lasting trading card games, Magic the Gathering, is finally doing their take on Cyberpunk with the upcoming edition of Neon Dynasty. This is a revisit to their original Kamigawa set, which had focused on Feudal Japan and ninjas. Well now they’re cyber-ninjas and neon samurais set in a distant future. Full disclosure: I was a huge MTG fan growing up in High School, and although I don’t buy or play with the cards anymore, I’ve made it easier for myself by downloading and playing the free MTG Arena game that allows you to get the newest decks and play with others online. All that money saved! Young me would’ve been so envious.

Edgerunners (Netflix)

Release Date: Unknown.

In case you forgot, Edgerunners is the anime series coming to Netflix based on the Cyberpunk 2077 videogame. This was announced during one of CD Projekt Red’s “Night City Wire” announcements during the months before the game’s release. Unfortunately, we know little more now than we did back then. It’s still set to be released in 2022, but they haven’t announced what date yet (it’ll probably just drop eventually as a surprise on Netflix with no announcement).

So there you have it! If you think I missed any other Cyberpunk releases, or if there’s something else you’re looking forward to in 2022, please let me know in the comments below.

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