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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.


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.


Review: Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (Full)

Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 poster

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: A Complete review

For my review of the first episode, check out my previous preliminary review on Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 here. Since my first episode review, the English audio has finally been released for the series–I highly recommend watching it in that format, since the voice acting is pretty good. Also, when compared with the English subtitles, the English audio is significantly different and more natural.

A General Overview

Alright, after 12 episodes of about 20 minutes each, the new Cyberpunk series from Netflix called Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is a fun, fast-paced (for the most part) Cyberpunk action/mystery series, created in 3D CG and is a welcome addition to the Cyberpunk titles on Netflix. Unfortunately, the series is clearly not finished in telling its story.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 | Site officiel de Netflix

An Unfinished Series

Why is it not done? Because the first season of Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 feels like a lackadaisical combination of 2 different parts connected by a standalone episode, and ends abruptly without any closure whatsoever. Perhaps it was their intention to keep you hooked, but the structure was a little surprising storytelling-wise.

More great Cyberspace Visuals

We have a lot of great Cyberspace visuals here when the team confer in their online cyber-room. One example is when Togusa is trying to find a lead on the security outfit called Obsidian, and infiltrates a virtual group. The white hallway with countless identical doors feels very similar to the back doors Neo accessed in Matrix Reloaded.


There’s also a fascinating part 20 minutes into the same episode where Togusa is able to very easily access a merchant’s cyber-brain, because she never bothered to secure it. In it he’s able to access countless files, including the mortgage on her cyber-brain, the contents stored on it, and a video log of everything she’s seen before, including the members of Section 9 that he is looking for. It’s a brilliant new example of cyber-sleuthing presented in a very cool way.


A Japanese Take on American Culture

Throughout the series there are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle references to American culture, in what feels like how the Japanese see American culture since it’s a little overdone. The first episode, for instance, features the Major drinking a Budweiser. We later see an American operative called John Smith smoke Lucky Strikes. I was surprised his second in command wasn’t the Marlboro Cowboy eating a cheeseburger.

John SMITH | Anime-Planet

Highlight of the Series: Face-off with Patrick Huge

If you liked the action sequences from Episode 1, then you will love the climax of the series with Episode 5 when the team face off with Patrick Huge. Without any proper intel about who (or what) he is, Huge ends up being a creepy, mysterious, and very worthwhile opponent to the Major and her entire team–no small feat for Section 9.

Patrick HUGE | Anime-Planet

The First Bank Robbery: A Stand-Alone Episode

After the thrilling 5th and 6th episodes revealing the new real threat (post-humans), all of a sudden the series takes a hard turn with an episode that is completely standalone. Aptly named “PIE IN THE SKY The First Bank Robbery,” it is exactly that–just a bank robbery episode featuring only Batou. It’s a refreshing episode that gives the series a breather and takes a look at basic people living in this new world and how their lives were affected by the simultaneous global default in currency. However, for the main plot of beginning their investigation and battle against post-humans, it’s quite a halt in pacing and was quite surprising.

Ghost in the Shell - SAC_2045 - S01E07 - PIE IN THE SKY - First ...

A Return to Mystery-Solving Before the End

After Episode 7, the series slows down as it returns to its mystery-solving and cyber-sleuthing roots for the rest of the season until its conclusion. With episode 8 featuring more detective work with Togusa, episode 9 is an interesting new murder-mystery to stop another post-human who is going on a killing spree with an enhanced cyber-arm. Unfortunately, it starts and concludes in the same episode. The final 3 episodes involve the prevention and disarmament of a new cyber-weapon attacking people’s minds, with the post-human behind it out of sight.

togusa gone

An Unsatisfying Ending

The investigation leads the team, with Togusa and Batou in particular, to a shed in the woods as the team follow the post-human’s memories as a teenager. And then the series just…ends. It’s very odd, and was quite surprising. This must be to leave viewers on a cliffhanger to renew the series for a second season.

Netflix presenta nuevos detalles sobre Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Final Verdict: 7.5/10

With a strong beginning and great parts action and cyber-sleuthing, this was a fine first season if you can get past the 3D CG animation. However, this season has serious problems with pacing and maintaining a consistent engaging story throughout the entire season, in particular with the final three episodes, and the anti-climactic ending doesn’t help. With a couple welcome new ideas like the introduction of Post-humans, including their abilities and fighting style, this series is notably absent of social commentary and feels more like a CSI series set in a Cyberpunk world. The “post-currency sustainable warfare” environment the season is placed in also feels like a misstep, giving more questions than answers. Nonetheless, characters like the Major and Togusa are easy to like, the post-human villains are interesting, and Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 is overall a solid, engaging addition to Netflix’s Cyberpunk repertoire.

Review: Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (First Episode)

Ghost in the Shell Netflix Series Gets a Trailer and Art Ahead of ...

Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045: A new GitS Series on Netflix

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex SAC_2045 is the latest Cyberpunk addition to Netflix. Based on the 1980s classic manga series Ghost in the Shell (which has produced several movies, tv series, and a live action film), this series is a Netflix exclusive in 3D CG format. The series is slated to have 2 seasons of 12 episodes each, the first season of which just released Thursday.

Netflix dévoile le trailer final de Ghost in the Shell ...

Familiar Ghost in the Shell Characters

Major Motoko is back, of course, along with lens-eyed Batou, Chief Aramaki, and detective Togusa. We also have a new character, nicknamed “clown”. It’s good to see them again.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 | Netflix Official Site

A New Setting: A Dystopian Future

In order to quickly settle any questions about this new world, which is different enough from previous Ghost in the Shell entries but also for newcomers, Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 does what many shows seem to do to help its viewers: provide intro text to set the scene and answer questions preemptively. Which is a shame, because I really love figuring things like this out on my own, and have always felt that when shows or movies explain away things for the viewers right off the bat it detracts from the viewing experience. Anyways, here is what they say:

“2042: The Great 4 (American Empire, China, Russia, and EU) sought economic stability for its members. Using AI code 1A84, the American Empire initiated war as an industry. The world dubbed it “sustainable war”. However, each nation put its own economic interests first, and the world soon found itself in dire straits.”

It goes on:

“AD 2044: The Global Simultaneous Default cause financial firms to halt all transactions. Paper currency became worthless, and all virtual currency  and e-money vanished from the net. This triggered a rapid escalation in war as an industry. Even advanced nations suffered riots, terrorism, separatist movements, and civil war. Sustainable war slowly but surely began to spread, threatening the human race with extinction.” –Ghost in the Shell SAC 2045 Intro.

This explaining still leaves me with a lot of questions. How does sustainable war make any sense? War against whom? and why would transactions be halted universally and all forms of currency be wiped out? And what did the world replace it with, a barter economy?

You might be concerned this all takes place in the sand and desert but no worries, you’re taken to good ol’ downtown Tokyo 12 minutes into the episode.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (Anime) - TV Tropes


The first episode finds our favorite characters from Section 9 packing some Budweisers (no, I’m not kidding) as they begin an assignment to find and pacify a group of “Nomads” (read “bandits”) and find out what they’re up to. What was supposed to be a simple op becomes more complicated as the nomads are in possession of more advanced military weaponry than expected. Meanwhile, the one member not on the team, Detective Togusa, is solving a case of a currency hacker when he gets contacted by the Chief. Turns out the Chief wants Togusa to help get Section 9 back together, which had somewhat disbanded after the world turned to “Sustainable War”. The end of the episode introduces who might become a villain in the series called “The Good One-Percenter” which is a hilarious but interesting name for a mysterious character. I’m excited to see what comes next.

GitS SAC_2045

A New Intro Sequence…

For both the Live Action and Anime movies, the intro sequence is beloved by fans. The artistic process of the android body being coated in white and then skin, while suspended in the air to an ethereal music sequence, is iconic. The SAC series kept the ethereal while introducing an electronic fast and exciting rhythm to it, and once again was excellent.

As for the intro for Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045, the artistic android body coating is still there, but… die-hard fans may be shocked upon hearing the new sequence.

The song is called Fly With Me by Millenium Parade. On paper, Millenium Parade looks like they would be great to write the score for this series. Check out their bio below:

“Millennium parade is a group of energetic digital creators organized by Daiki Tsuneta, a producer and songwriter based in Tokyo, Japan. The group is composed of artists from various creative fields including musicians, a film director, visual effects artist, designer, illustrator and so on. Their sound is electronic-leaning, featuring synths and pop-inspired melodies, overlaying chaotic beats.

Millennium parade’s concept is inspired by ”Hyakki Yakō” – “The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons”, deriving from centuries old Japanese folklore and tales of mysterious supernatural creatures. The ‘night parade’ saw ghosts and monsters roam the streets causing utter pandemonium throughout Japan. This chaos and mystery underlies the group’s collective vision to present Tokyo’s new values to the rest of the world.

In May 2019, millennium parade held their project launch party show using 3D technology and tickets sold out immediately. Subsequent live shows in Tokyo and Osaka were also in high demand. They have already collaborated with DIOR and written the main theme song for the world famous Japanese animation ‘Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045’.” –Millenium Parade’s Bio on Spotify

Unfortunately, their single Fly with Me…

millennium parade – Fly with me 歌詞 | iLyricsBuzz

…Fails to Live up to Expectations

It’s like they got the wrong music downloaded for the intro sequence. 

It’s…hip hop? Or something. Maybe they wanted to try to be new and edgy? But dear god, something must have gone wrong. The song’s lyrics start with “money make the world go round.” In a world which supposedly has no money.


I can’t make this up. This is seriously what they chose was best. I try to give the media I consume a wide berth and a benefit of the doubt, I try to be generous, but this…honestly, the music is just terrible. Thank god Netflix has a skip intro feature.

New and Old Ghost in the Shell Tech

The series brings back communicating via Neuro-link, which I always greatly appreciated in both the Ghost in the Shell films and the Stand Alone Complex series. Also returning is active camouflage, and the Tachikomas are back too from the Stand Alone Complex series.

Revoltech Yamaguchi NO.126EX Tachikoma anime Ver. Ghost in the ...

Tachikomas are way too excited to kick ass. Don’t you love ’em?

Final Verdict: 8/10

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is a fun, exciting new series with your typical too-cool Japanese anime characters. The action, once it starts, is fast-paced, exciting and surprising. The characters are interesting and believable, the pacing is good, and there are even some comical Japanese-style moments of levity as well. It’s definitely worth your time if you can get past the 3D CG video-game style animation, which takes some getting used to at the beginning. The feeling of the first episode, despite the fast-paced action, is one of devil-may-care. Missing to give it a complete 10 is something truly mind-blowing or any deep concepts or ideas. None came up in this first episode, but the series still has time with 12 episodes, and perhaps is in no hurry as it kicks off.

Over here in France, Netflix has the audio as available only in its original Japanese, with subtitles available in multiple languages. If the voice actors are good I usually prefer dubs to subs so I don’t have to watch the bottom of the screen all the time, but it’s nice to watch it in its original language at the same time.

Controversial “Ghost in the Shell” Trailer – The State Times

What did you think of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045?

But these are just my impressions. What did you think about Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045? Did you notice something I didn’t? Do you agree or disagree with my first impressions? Let me know in the comments below!




Altered Carbon: Season 2 Complete Review

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Altered Carbon Season 2 Review

Phew! I just finished Altered Carbon Season 2 and let me tell you, it was quite a ride. There are pros and cons to this season, just like any season, and there’s a lot I want to get out of my brain because I have so many thoughts on the series. So without further ado, here we go: my review of Season 2 of Altered Carbon.

General feeling:

The general feeling of the series is very toned down compared to last season, for better or for worse. It’s warmer and more family-friendly. There is less torture, less nudity, and less shocking gore and violence.

Source Material Bias

My experience of the series was probably biased, and shaped from my familiarity with the source material. I found myself often lighting up upon hearing references to characters and concepts from the books. This led me to enjoy the series more, as I often took a very conscious note of their choices to veer from or stick to the original content. Also, as a result, my review will be very much contrasting the book to the series.

General differences between book and series

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Quell & Vidaura

One of the biggest differences from the books in this season is the choice of Kalogridis and Schapke to create the love story between Quell and Takeshi. In the books, Takeshi’s trainer and the leader of the rebellion were two different people: Quell was the legendary leader of the rebellion, who inspired people to follow her own life philosophy called Quellism. The leader and trainer of the envoys, meanwhile, was someone called Virginia Vidaura. Kovacs has flings with both Vidaura and Sylvie, but not Quell.

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Source: theaquasarah, YouTube

Sex vs. Love

Kovacs has sex with Sylvie (Trepp in the series), but when they do, she switches to the AI copy of Quell. This passion is what triggers the switches in the books. There is no love between Kovacs and Vidaura, or between Kovacs and Sylvie—it’s purely sexual lust, and obviously a certain connection that comes with it.

Many people were turned off by the random, very explicit sex scenes in the books—in particular with Woken Furies. I remember when I read the book it felt like a jarring switch and I was never ready for it, which led me to skim or often just pass over the explicit sex scenes, which often rarely added anything to the actual story.

The complete lack of sex scenes in the second season, except for one very PG-13 one, is perhaps a strong flip to the other side of the coin. And the lack of gratuitous sex mirrors the new emphasis on love in the story, which was virtually non-existent in the books.

Image result for trepp altered carbon

Family Ties

There’s also a stronger emphasis on family ties than on the previous season. Season 1 had the mother and family ties from Kristin Ortega, who then tragically died and gave the story more weight. Season 2 is about Trepp doing all she can to find her brother, and then to protect her wife and her son, who ultimately are saved in the end by her actions. Everything she does is to protect her family. And while one of her family members tragically dies to protect her, none of this carries the same weight as Ortega’s family dying in the first season. It almost feels like going through the motions when she discovers her dead family member. I knew I was supposed to feel something, but because of how stiff and set up it all was, I felt little.

Now let’s look at the characters from Season 2.


Image result for altered carbon poe post it


I really enjoyed Poe again in this season. Not only is his acting excellent, but he is very well written and is a fun, charming addition to add levity to the more somber moments of the season. His quests to help Takeshi, and to try to remember what he was forgetting, made him incredibly endearing. Even more than before. If that’s even possible.

'Altered Carbon' Season 2 Video Reveals New Cast and ...

Tanaseda Hideki

I really liked Tanaseda Hideki’s character. In the books he is simply a Yakuza leader with a shared past with Takeshi, but in this season he acts as a wise, respectful mentor figure for Takeshi. It was a refreshing take on the character.


I also liked the fact that they put in Cemetaire! His character really bothered Takeshi in the books, because of his profession making money off the lost stacks of the dead–and he was a good addition here (even if his part was very small). I recognized one of his lines as being taken straight from the book: “I am a simple ferryman plucking souls from my ocean wide.”

Image result for trepp altered carbon


I thought it was interesting that they chose to have the character of Trepp, who acts like a Sylvie with her head coils, yet chose Falconer’s mind as the one with the second personality in her stack instead of in Trepp’s mind. I thought having the second mind/personality downloaded through the coils really made sense in the books, and I would have preferred them doing the same thing with Trepp instead of with Falconer. Still, I really enjoyed the mystery of figuring out who was in Quell’s stack, since it obviously couldn’t be Quell as it was in the books. The way that we were introduced to Takeshi in a completely different sleeve than expected made us believe the second personality could really be anybody, and in my view was quite well done.

Joshua Kemp

I also liked that they included Kemp, but his role was so diminished here. I understand that Kemp had his uses in season 2,  but in the books Kemp was a legitimate rebellion leader and very brutal. When you know who he was in the books, his diminished role here really feels a bit like a waste. At least they put in the ascertainment trial, but if you didn’t read the books, know that in the books the trial took hours, but was obviously condensed for the sake of editing.

Image result for stronghold takeshi

Stronghold Takeshi

Another big difference was how they changed Takeshi Kovacs’ double-sleeved clone from an earlier period of his life.

In the books his clone slaughtered the entire team Takeshi was working with in the past. Takeshi was incredibly afraid of his brutal clone, because of the regrets he carried from his past choices in life. The books made it feel like his past mistakes were literally hunting him in the present day.

This version of Takeshi, however, is simply a new person. Almost like a long-time brother, one who wasn’t up to speed with what had happened in the world. It felt incredibly different, and while I loved Will Yun Lee’s performance, I think his character was a bit of a wasted opportunity here. There’s so much more they could have done with him. I will admit that Stronghold Takeshi is a little ruthless in the beginning, but by the end all that is quickly erased as his character does a complete 180.

Image result for ivan carrera altered carbon

Col. Ivan Carrera

Having Carrera as originally the dogged hunter-soldier made him a force to be reckoned with—especially in the scenes where he is brutally interrogating his prisoners. I wasn’t expecting it to then turn into something where Carrera was an old father figure to Takeshi, and go into their complicated history. It gave a more nuanced side to the character, which I actually liked. In the books he’s simply the leader of the Wedge, a military group instead of a small task force, and he does little more than fight one on one with Takeshi.

Additional mentions: Dig 301 and Danica Harlan

Both Dig 301 and Danica Harlan were technically in the books, but they had almost no part worth mentioning whatsoever. And regarding their roles, I thought they were…fine. Dig 301 simply doesn’t have the charm that Poe does, and I personally didn’t find her very interesting at all. I was happily surprised that Danica Harlan was plenty cunning, very much more than she leads on, and in that way I liked her character.

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Angel Fire

Although Sylvie/Quell was able to briefly summon Angel fire, in the books it was unexpected and not understood until afterwards. Similarly to this season, I was incredibly surprised when it happened, as there was no warning this time either. It was incredibly cool to watch Angel Fire on the screen.


I was also glad they put in a little bit about the archaeologues and deciphering the symbols, like in book 2, even though it was a very small part of the story. It was interesting to see how they changed the portal from the books into the new alien ruin that it is in the season.

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Final Thoughts

If I had to compare this season to the previous season, I would say that it’s not as good as the first half of season 1, but much better than the second half of season 1. The countless naked Reileens attacking an armed Ortega just seemed too over the top and unnecessary, and then the overly dramatic scenes with Lizzie and the confrontations in the end were all new and different from the novel. Reileen, in fact, was never even mentioned in the books—it was all for the TV series. The first season was pure, classic film noir cyberpunk.

Season 2 has none of the bloat or over-dramatic scenes from the first season. It’s all very tight, self-contained narrative with a decent plot and pacing. But barring a few exceptions, nothing really shocks the viewer in this season.

Overall Verdict: 7.5/10

Although a fun and interesting season, after the first couple episodes the season started losing a lot of the Cyberpunk visuals that help make it great. There were no flying cars, or mega-cities, and there were less neon lights as the series moved inside and then into the trees outside. Its excessive violence and gore is toned down, which is great, but so is everything else—less sexuality and greater focus on family, which feels like a more PG-13 kind of season. Nonetheless, the action’s pacing, exciting plot and solid acting performances create an all-around great second season that is well worth watching.


Altered Carbon: Season 2 Episode 1 Review (mostly spoiler-free)

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Altered Carbon Season 2 finally released, and knowing that I’m quite busy during the week, as much as I’d like to binge watch the entire season in one sitting, I’m not the young person with tons of free time that I used to be. As such, I’ll be writing my initial thoughts on the first episode of the season (some spoilers!) and provide my review, and then I’ll write another review for the entire season as a whole.

Season 2: Taking cues from books 2 and 3

After the first season I have already caught some similarities or inspirations taken from the novels, but there’s a lot that is different as well, which is fun and refreshing in its own right.

Music Credits

I’ve always been very attentive to the music in the show, so this time I took special notice of musical composer Jeff Russo. He wasn’t credited during the title credits at the beginning of each episode in season 1 (I went back and checked) so it’s nice to see him front and center in Season 2. The music is slightly different, but still mostly the same.

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Jumping right in: Quick exposition and setup

The episode jumps right in with Poe standing in the middle of a dive bar. Without explanation. He also wasted no time explaining to a random bounty hunter (who of course is none too random) that Kovacs’ new goal is to find his long-lost love Quellcrist Falconer.

This is already very different from the books, where the love aspect is almost non-existent. Sure there is some physical chemistry in book 3, but it never goes further than that. So it’s interesting to see this new direction Kalogridis has decided to take.

I really loved the set-up where we don’t know who Kovacs is, thinking it’s Mackie hiding in the shadows somewhere, before the shocking reveal. This was a lovely surprise and even when he revealed who he was, I was still dubious in believing it. This kind of playing-with-the-potential of the stacks universe is exactly what we need in the series.

Poe: Kovacs’ new constant companion

Poe’s survival is then explained away in an off-hand remark that he survived a “vicious attack on his personality” and that while he survived, he was left glitching as a result. This becomes quickly apparent that he will now be the comic relief for the series, which works surprisingly well in my opinion. There’s a reason why everyone loved Poe from the first season.

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Spinning up into a new sleeve, one more time

I really liked the premise that Kovacs was brought back to protect a meth again, in return for being delivered to Quell. Which was why I was really disappointed when the meth was killed anyways right off the bat. What a waste! There was a lot of potential there.

I also found it surprising how hard it was for Kovacs to adapt to his new military-grade sleeve, considering as an envoy he’s supposed to be good at that. The way he summoned his handguns to his hands was a lot of fun to see, however, and is promising for more badass action to come.

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Danica Harlan: Just not the same as the old meths

Unlike the books, the Quellcrist Rebellion is still active in this version of Harlan’s world. It was interesting to be introduced to Danica through her hologram and announcement about a cease-fire with the rebels. It paints quite a stark contrast to the wealthier-looking meths from Season 1 with their heads literally in the clouds. Danica seems a lot more active in governing the people of Harlan’s world, which makes sense. She just doesn’t have the gravitas as the Season 1 Meths.

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Introducing the Yakuza: Classic Grade-A Cyberpunk Material

I really enjoyed our introduction to the Yakuza and their code of respect and conduct. Tanaseda and his grandson Yukito feature in book 3 and although the manner in which we meet them is different, Kalogridis kept true to how their characters were written, and it pays off with a really cool action scene and subsequent meeting between Taneda and Takeshi as they talk about their mutual past.

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The Gore is back, too, if you’re into that

Just like Season 1, the end of the first episode hits you with body trauma in the form of Kovacs stabbing himself in the chest in order to make his sleeve remember where Quellcrist was and help him find a lead. “State-dependent memory,” his hallucination of Quellcrist tells him. This seems like a plot device to me and honestly an unnecessary way to continue the story, but then again, Morgan was pretty gory in his books too, so I guess this isn’t exactly new.

Final Verdict: 8/10

I’d give this first episode a solid 8/10. Because of its neon-rich visuals, solid characters, fun action and a few surprising twists, it’s a great first episode. There’s nothing too deep to dig into here, however, and at times things happen that feel more like plot devices to set up the story, rather than more plausible occurrences. Nonetheless, this doesn’t detract from an otherwise very enjoyable episode, and while Poe’s discussions with Kovacs provide unnecessary exposition for the viewer, he’s still the same charming Poe as the previous season, except even better as his glitches provide a fun comic relief to the series.