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Top 10 Cyberpunk TV Shows You Should Watch in 2022

Top 10 Cyberpunk TV Shows You Should Watch in 2022

There’s nothing the corporations would like more than for you to mindlessly watch TV, consume media and believe in their propaganda. While they shouldn’t get what they want, there’s no denying the world’s “Netflix and Chill” culture of watching shows online after work, for fun or to relax. Well, if you’re going to binge watch anyways, we here at Cyberpunk Matrix have 10 series you can try to binge that will hopefully help you wake up to the reality that these evil corporations are trying to hide from you. So let’s get into our top 10 Cyberpunk series to watch in 2022! (Try as we might, we couldn’t rank them, so they are presented in no particular order).

Psycho Pass (2012)

Ever wonder what it would be like if you could take the technology in Minority Report and put it in a bad-ass gun? Then you’d get something similar to what Psycho Pass has to offer. Set in a dystopian future in Japan, a complex  network of psychometric scanners called the Sibyl System measures the minds of the populace using a “cymatic scan” to give every citizen a “Psycho-Pass.” If their Psycho Pass is higher than an acceptable threshold, the person can pursued, captured, and eliminated if need be. Police detectives then use “Enforcers” to hunt down these individuals. Enforcers are humans  with higher-than-acceptable crime coefficients who are used as hunting dogs to find the latent criminals. Both Enforcers and Detectives use these large handguns called “Dominators” that change their lethality based on the crime coefficients of the targets they are aimed upon, in real time. The series follows Akane Tsunemori, a new recruit, as the team fight crime and then later learn more about the darker side of their crime-fighting system.

With inspirations from such other notable Cyberpunk works like Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Gattaca, another big inspiration was the film-noir L.A. Confidential. The series garnered critical acclaim from both the west and the east, as the series explored psychological themes in society and morality. It’s a classic Cyber-Noir psychological thriller which shouldn’t be missed. You can check out our full review of the series here.

Batman Beyond (1999)

While not 100% Cyberpunk, you will often find Batman Beyond on any proper Cyberpunk fan’s top 10 list. Set in a future filled with all the best kinds of futuristic tech, this sci-fi classic had several Cyberpunk episodes, which we at Cyberpunk Matrix went over in detail here. The future Gotham features an old and wizened Bruce Wayne who has passed on the Batman mantle to young Terry McGuiness when he stumbles into Bruce’s mansion one day. Bruce now mans the Batcave and helps Terry on his missions to keep a new Gotham clean from criminals, while Terry tries to continue navigating High School. With Kevin Conroy coming back to voice Bruce Wayne once again, he’s joined by Will Friedle to voice Terry McGuiness, and both do an excellent job. The series ran for two years, until 2001, spanning 52 episodes and leading to The Justice League right after it ended. With its dark and very Cyberpunk artwork, the series featured many dark issues, particularly in reference to teenage issues such as substance abuse, subcultures, child abuse and neglect, school violence, peer pressure and more while still staying a kid-friendly cartoon.

Blade Runner: Black Lotus (2021)

Having just come out last year, Blade Runner: Black Lotus follows the story of female replicant Elle as she attempts to regain her memory to figure out who she is, with the only clue being the mysterious tattoo of a lotus on her shoulder and an encrypted data cube. Set after the original Blade Runner but before Blade Runner 2049, the series is a fun, true-to-form modern return to the Blade Runner universe. Both in story and in visuals, it feels better than Ghost in the Shell_SAC_2045. This series may fly under the radar for many, but is well worth the viewing. It’s also one of the most recent modern good Cyberpunk series, having just come out last year.

The Animatrix (2003)

The Animatrix is comprised of 9 short films which explain the origins of the Matrix, including how the machines rose to power and why the Earth turned into the dystopian nightmare that it did, but also provides side-stories set in the Matrix universe. Released in June 2003, it does an amazing job of showing different parts of the Matrix universe, questioning reality, and telling the intimate stories of humans, machines, programs, and everything in between. It’s as cyberpunk as you’ll ever get. The artwork for each short story also varies widely. There are some classic anime styles, some digital animation, a black and white anime, and lots of different artists with different styles as well. For a quick and concise explanation of the world before the Matrix, watch the second and third episodes called The Second Renaissance (parts 1 and 2). Fora  prelude to Matrix Reloaded, with an incredible artistic digital animation, watch episode one: The Final Flight of the Osiris. The episode also has a great musical track by Juno Reactor, called Conga Fury. And for a true Film Noir style episode, check out A Detective Story, episode 8.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is probably the golden standard for Cyberpunk TV Shows, and should always be in any proper top 10 Cyberpunk shows list. Ghost in the Shell originally started as a Manga that ran from 1989 to 1997, with the first book running from 1989 to 1991. In 1995 an anime film with the same name came out, which also became an instant Cyberpunk classic. Stand Alone Complex would later come out in 2002 and run for two years with two seasons. The story follows Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team with Public Security Section 9 in the future year of 2030 in Japan as she investigates issues of cyberterrorism from a mysterious hacker only known as the Laughing Man. It’s a thrilling detective story set in the future with hacking and cybernetics, delivered in true stylistic Cyberpunk fashion in downtown Tokyo.

Black Mirror (2011)

Black Mirror is a live action series of 5 seasons, with each season having between 3 and 6 episodes only. Most episodes are psychological thrillers, some more dark than others, but for the most dark and thrilling of episodes, I will definitely say that Black Mirror is not for the faint of heart. Generally critically acclaimed, the series shows the absolute worst that could happen from specific technologies if they were taken too far. First released in December 2011, the last season aired in 2019. Black Mirror also had one episode, called Bandersnatch, that featured one of the first and perhaps only episodes on Netflix to be interactive, meaning that viewers can choose how characters respond to certain situations, resulting in 5 distinct different endings to the episode. One of the episodes, Metalhead, featured a technology that has an uncanny resemblance to some tech that is developing today. We reviewed the episode and its implications a few years ago here. Other noteworthy episodes that feature technology that we may soon see someday include:

  • Fifteen Million Merits (social media, online currency, and TV game shows, from season 1)
  • Nose Dive (Social Currency, Season 3)
  • San Junipero (Virtual Reality, Season 3)
  • Men Against Fire (Augmented Reality, Season 3)
  • Hated in the Nation (Social Media and Cancel Culture, Season 3)
  • Black Museum (Digital Consciousness, Season 4)

Love, Death, & Robots (2019)

Love, Death, & Robots is now a 2-season animated adult anthology on Netflix. The animated shorts vary just like the Animatrix in anime style, animated style, and digitally animated style, and each episode is standalone and not at all connected with any other episode. The stories themselves vary as being sci-fi, fantasy, a mix of both, or simply absurdism. Most episodes are serious, some are tongue-in-cheek, others facetious, but they are all great. Not all are Cyberpunk–in fact, most of them aren’t. But the ones that are Cyberpunk, are actually really good, and thus merit putting the series in this top ten list. We here at Cyberpunk Matrix already reviewed the Cyberpunk episodes here and here.

3. Cowboy Bebop Live Action (2021) and Anime (1998)

Although Genre-bending and not 100% cyberpunk, it’s close enough that many Cyberpunk fans consider it Cyberpunk. Plus the original anime is a legend, considered by many to be the best anime of all time. Thus it merits a spot in our top 10, especially considering it was very recently adapted to a live action series on Netflix. Although the anime is almost 2 decades old, it definitely stands the test of time, and although the live action adaptation had mixed reviews (I personally really liked it), its modernity qualifies it to also have a spot on this list.

Cowboy Bebop is about a team of Bounty Hunters who live on board the space vessel Bebop, and their antics as they all try to earn a living while observing their own versions of moral values. There’s also a loose plot centered on Spike’s departure from the mob as his past comes back to haunt him. Both the anime and live action feature episodes that can mostly stand on their own, a bit like the Mandalorian in the sense that each episode they go somewhere with their ship, things happen, and then they get back on their ship and go to the next place for the next episode. Due to its music, visuals, hilarious irreverence from its characters in their interactions with others and themselves, and very punk nature of the series, you should definitely watch both of these series. The live action follows some episodes and events of the anime but then also deviates a bit, in particular with the ending.

2. Upload (2020)

Upload is now 2 seasons long, the first one coming out in 2020 and the second coming out in March 2022. It’s the most recent cyberpunk media to come out as of this writing, and it’s very good. It’s also a comedy, with a sprinkling of mystery and drama, which is rare to find in the Cyberpunk genre. It’s quite a genre outlier, more unusual even than Cowboy Bebop’s genre-bending. But it definitely qualifies as Cyberpunk as it has all the high-tech, low-life elements that you can come to expect.

Set in the year 2033, humans are able to upload their consciousness to a virtual afterlife, with the better afterlife constructs being ones their users pay more for. When computer programmer Nathan dies prematurely due to an accident on the highway with his self-driving car, his girlfriend convinces him to upload to “Lakeview”, an expensive digital afterlife, only to find himself under her oppressive thumb as she holds total control of his funds and thus, his afterlife. He later develops feelings for his “angel handler”, Nora (a real-life customer service rep), which becomes somewhat awkward for all involved, in a very humorous way.

1. Altered Carbon (2018)

Ever wonder what it would be like if we had a future where our consciousness could be stored in a little “black box” of sorts called a stack implanted below our brain in our spine? Well, if you did, then you’d get the world of Altered Carbon. The series was released on Netflix in 2018, an adaptation from Richard Morgan’s 2002 novel of the same name, and then renewed for a second season before the series was cancelled.

Both the novel and Altered Carbon season 1 really did a great job in getting the Cyberpunk aesthetic right. The novel is a true detective noir which the series adapted very well, although there’s a considerable amount of differences between both, especially for the endings.

Altered Carbon is about Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-elite soldier called an envoy, the last of his squad. He wakes up 250 years after his death when his digital consciousness, or stack, is inserted into a new organic body, or sleeve, so that Kovacs can help an ultra-rich man, Laurens Bancroft, solve his own murder. Kovacs’ investigation will lead him down dangerous paths with mistrustful cops, lethal Russian mobs, and more. With a dark thrilling mystery, gore, and a charming AI companion, you get everything you need with Altered Carbon.

Top 10 Cyberpunk TV Shows you need to watch in 2022

So that’s our top 10 roundup! What did you think of our list? Are there any shows we didn’t include that you think should be included? Let us know in the comments below!

And as always, if you liked what you read and want to help the Cyberpunk Matrix going, you can show your support over on Ko-Fi. Help contribute to the costs of website upkeep, or simply buy me a simulatte. https://ko-fi.com/cyberpunkmatrix

Cyberpunk Review: Upload Season 2

upload season 2 review

Upload Season 2 Review

Well folks, one of the few Cyberpunk content that we had to look forward to coming into this new year of 2022 is finally out. Upload Season 2 was released on March 11th, 2022, and I’ve already binge watched the entire season. So here are my thoughts and comments on Upload’s second season.

Upload Season 2’s Shorter Run Time

The first thing I noticed right off the bat is Upload Season 2’s shorter total run time. Season 2 is only 7 episodes long, compared to season 1’s 10 episodes and at 30 minutes per episode, this definitely left me wanting more. However, Robbie Amell (who plays Nathan Brown, the main character) explained the creator Greg Daniel’s new approach going into this second season was that it took them longer to shoot. ”

“It took the same amount of time to shoot seven as it would have to take to shoot 10. So just with COVID restrictions, testing, having to group people into different bubbles, it was just more than anything, it just took longer,”–Robbie Amell

If they were filming this during the height of one of the many COVID-19 pandemic waves, I really couldn’t notice–the quality definitely didn’t suffer because of it. So I guess that makes sense that it would have taken longer to shoot and create. Amell also mentioned “Story should dictate episode count, episode count shouldn’t dictate story” (referencing show creator Greg Daniels). If that’s true, then it made sense for them to finish Season 2 where they left it, since the story they tell does in a certain sense end nicely during the finale. Except…it’s also very much a cliffhanger, making me already clamor for season 3.

Where Upload Season 1 Left Off

The end of Upload Season 1 found us with Nora leaving the city to go live off the grid, free of technology, while Nathan is trapped in the poor section of Lake View (a 2 gig room) for a month after Ingrid tells him she just uploaded (meaning, killed her body in order to upload her consciousness into the digital world of Lake View.)

Upload Season 2 Review: Characters

One of this show’s strengths is definitely the likeability of the characters, and how interesting they are as well as how many there are, too. I liked how this season still had us pining for Nora and Nathan to get together, their chemistry is palpable as ever on screen and while they spend a lot of the season apart, the scenes they do have together are very cute. Ingrid plays the role of annoying, obsessive, quasi-villain well here (she’s even less likeable than in season 1, but also is given a lot of depth and dimensions this time around) while Nathan continues in his quest to find out exactly how and why he died. We spend some time with the Luddites, a somewhat Amish-style anti-technology society as the true opposition to Horizen, the corporate company that runs Lake View. A new character to join the roster is Matteo, a young fellow Luddite who becomes interested in Nora, and Tinsley, a new temp at Horizen who works under Aleesha and develops an interest for Nathan. Luke is still hilarious as ever as Nathan’s Lake View best friend. AI guy actually is given more of a role here, not only consoling and showing some human moments (which is surprising considering he’s a program) but also we get to see the human who sold his physical likeness to Lake View in order for them to create AI Guy in the first place.

Upload Season 2 Review: Plot

In Upload Season 2, we begin with Nora and her father joining the anti-technology collective of the Luddites while Nathan tries desperately to reach Nora and tell her that he loves her back. But after Nora goes tech-free for long enough, Nathan starts to think the he will never see her again. As Nora starts to develop feelings for the new Luddite she’s working with, Matteo, Nathan will have to fend off being in Lake View 24/7 with Ingrid, as she just uploaded for him, which causes him to feel immense guilt for not being able to reciprocate her feelings after she made the ultimate sacrifice. It turns out Nora’s connections and knowledge of the inner workings of Horizen were just what the Luddites needed to strike back against the corporation, something that Nora struggles to internalize. While Matteo sees most tech and the corporate company of Lake View as terrible, Nora still feels connections to that old world and sees it in a more nuanced light. Nonetheless, she decides to use her previous experience with Horizen to infiltrate the company for the Luddites, while at the same time assisting Nathan with his investigation on discovering the circumstances surrounding his death. A lot of the questions this season begins to ask remain unanswered, however, so get ready for a pretty big cliffhanger at the end of the season.

Upload Season 2 Review: Cyberpunk Elements

Upload Season 2 undeniably goes darker than Upload Season 1. The series introduces a new technology that can record the thoughts and dreams of the residents at Lake View, which they then make hilarious, but the privacy concerns are still very relevant and valid, especially in our modern day society. The season addresses income inequality again, as it did last season, but it also adds a fun “Robin Hood” element to a couple of the episodes, which felt very Cyberpunk indeed in the way that it was executed. Also the anti-corporate Luddites were fun to watch, seeing how they went about their anarchist agenda.

Final Verdict for Upload Season 2: 9/10

The only reason why I’m giving this season a 9/10 instead of a 10/10 is that we simply couldn’t get deep enough into the story and the characters with only 7 episodes. The ideas of new tech presented are fun and refreshing, as always, and the wide variety of characters, who are very well-acted, have a lot of heart in them and are very likeable (well, most of them anyways). The humor and ingenuity is excellent, which allows you not to mind as the plot slowly gets around to figuring out Nathan’s “murder”–at least you’re laughing along the way. If you liked this season, make sure to catch the end-credit scene of the last episode for more fun digital antics with Luke.

And as always, if you liked what you read and want to help the Cyberpunk Matrix going, you can show your support over on Ko-Fi. Help contribute to the costs of website upkeep, or simply buy me a simulatte. https://ko-fi.com/cyberpunkmatrix

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.

Cowboy Bebop Live Action Review

Cyberpunk Origins? And a Strong Fan Base

Cowboy Bebop is a very popular anime that came out in the late 1990s in Japan and in the US on channels like Adult Swim’s Toonami. In 2017 it was announced that a live action remake of it would be made with Christopher Yost as the series writer, and lead roles being John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black, and Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine. This is a review of the live action remake, that finally came out on Netflix on November 19th, 2021

A Netflix Adaptation

Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop did an impressive job adapting its original anime source material, and while taking many elements and honoring its source material, it does at times also deviate and create its own identity, especially at the end.

Just like the original anime, we begin by seeing Spike Spiegel and Jet Black together on the Bebop. Eventually they are joined by Faye Valentine, while Ed only shows up at the end of the final episode. Ed was supposed to play an active part in season 2, but due to low viewership, Netflix very quickly cancelled the 2nd season.

This is a damn shame, because I really enjoyed this live action take. The series was divisive–and as soon as the cancellation for the second season was announced, fans formed change.org petitions to call for its revival, and then counter-petitions formed in response for those who hated the remake.

Regardless of which camp you fall under, I think it’s fair to say that two things hit you when you first watch this series. The first is how beautiful the cinematography is, and the second is how quirky things are shot and edited at the same time. We were given a taste of this with the trailer, but the fact that they were able to keep this fun quirky style throughout the series is really commendable.

A Strong Beginning

The beginning of the series is almost a stroke for stroke remake of the first episode of the anime version. Here we’re introduced to Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, and they did an excellent job with the whole bounty hunters stopping a heist spiel. Some critics may not have liked how close the series stuck to the original, but since I wasn’t a die-hard fan of the original, I enjoyed it well enough.

The series takes its time to get to Faye Valentine, but after the first episode, the series has enough different episodes to come into its own. Some of them are done better than the anime, most of them are done worse than the anime, but the key here is not to compare the two. It’s infinitely more difficult to film live action and use special effects than to simply use an anime. As a result, the action is also a little different, as live action fight scenes need to adhere to silly things like the laws of physics. For the most part.

An incredible Soundtrack

Yoko Kanno, the composer to the original anime and also the one who wrote the brilliant theme song “Tank!”, was brought back for the live action. And my god, it’s brilliant. It’s just as quirky and fun as the original soundtrack for the series, if not better, with trumpets and electronic riffs and fun little vocals. You can listen to the entire soundtrack here.

And a Weaker Ending

Unfortunately, as seems to be the case with a lot of different live action (looking at you, Altered Carbon!) the strong beginning finishes with a weak ending. The focus for this series on Spiegel’s nemesis, Vicious, was a lot stronger in this series than in the original anime. Julia, Spiegel’s old flame, also plays a very important role. I wish instead of building Vicious’ character, his backstory and rise to power, they would have just shown the aftereffects of what he did and let us figure it out on our own. I also didn’t like how Julia’s ending was changed in this live action compared to the original anime. Nonetheless, it left the series with a promising new direction for her character, one that we sadly won’t be able to see now that the series has been cancelled.

Final Verdict: 9/10

Overall I actually really enjoyed this series, mostly for its music, quirkiness, and cinematography. John Cho and Mustafa Shakir did excellent jobs adapting both of their characters, Daniella Pineda was great too, and Vicious and Julia’s characters, while bogging down the ending, didn’t ruin the series for me overall. There was also a particularly Cyberpunk episode worth noting, where Spike gets caught in a Virtual Reality fighting his own personal demons as an artificial intelligence tries to corrode his brain. It was very Philip K Dick-esque. This on top of the countless punk-like moments and high-tech scenes with spaceships in poor repair.

But what did you think of the series? What Cyberpunk elements did you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.

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Upload: Is This Cyberpunk?

Upload: Is this Cyberpunk?

Upload is a relatively new series on Amazon Prime that came out in May 2020 and is a science-fiction comedy-drama set in the future where humans are able to upload their digital consciousness into a virtual afterlife, a bit like the episode from Black Mirror San Junipero. It’s rare that we see a science fiction comedy-drama series, as most are either action, drama, or thrillers, and especially one carrying such philosophical ramifications while making light of the whole notion at the same time. Themes include digital consciousness, the question of what makes us human, virtual life, and cutting edge-technology set in a non-too-distant future of 2033.

But is it Cyberpunk? Today, I’m going to take a look at Upload and answer that exact question.

A Familiar Cyberpunk Premise

First, a little bit about the premise of Upload.

Set in the not too distant future of 2033, humans are able to upload their virtual consciousness to a virtual afterlife of their choosing, with some afterlives being better than others depending on how much the user is willing to pay.  When computer programmer Nathan dies prematurely, his girlfriend convinces him to upload to “Lakeview”, an expensive digital afterlife, only to find himself under her oppressive thumb as she holds total control of his funds and thus, his afterlife.

UPLOAD

With a Familiar Cyberpunk Plot

As Nathan gets used to living in a digital afterlife, he finds himself growing closer to Nora, his living customer service rep. As Nora deals with her dying father and his wish not to be uploaded with the pressures of the job and her growing interest in Nathan, the two of them slowly discover that the circumstances of Nathan’s death aren’t all as they would appear to be.

Where’s all the Rainy Neon Megacities?

Is this Cyberpunk though? Well, it depends on your definition, because if you’re looking for a dark, gritty, and rain-soaked neon world, then Upload definitely isn’t it.

However, it certainly has a lot of the typical Cyberpunk tropes.

Recognizing the Cyberpunk Elements

Not only is the premise of a digital afterlife very Cyberpunk (we need only look to Black Mirror, Altered Carbon, or Ready Player One for similar themes) along with its latent existential and moral questions, but there’s a good amount of futuristic technology present in this series too, used in various interesting ways.

Cyberpunk 101: Attending your own wake after you die

In exploring what it would be like for a physical person to die with their consciousness uploaded, for example, we get to see almost an entire episode dedicated to Nathan attending his own wake, with some real people calling in virtually, other real people attending in person, and him attending across a mirror TV screen as his digital self from Lakeview.

We’ve seen these hand-phones before…

The real world itself is also very futuristic, with self-driving cars that feel similar to Total Recall or I Robot in style, which also play an important role in the series at the beginning. Getting groceries also involves interacting with a robotic arm much like you would find in an automated car factory, and when people call each other it’s done using their hands, which we’ve seen before in Total Recall as well.

Dark and Seedy Hacking Den? Check.

Later on in season one we even see a hacker’s den selling hacks for the avatars at Lakeview, and later a secret level in the hotel for adult-level debauchery.

The actual focus: a comedic romantic cyber-drama

All this, however, is the backdrop for what invariably is a cute romance between Nathan and Nora. The focus is on whimsical and comedic drama, which isn’t’ an easy thing to do with a series based on a premise this deep.

Final Verdict: Yes, this is Cyberpunk

So is this Cyberpunk? I definitely think so. It was also quite an enjoyable, relaxing, and fun experience watching, so I definitely recommend it. The acting for almost all characters are great, especially the principal leads, the character’s choices based on the premise is very believable, and the cinematography and music are both great.