Let’s get the biggest part out in the open. Yes, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is coming back. Trigger officially announced the sequel, although we don’t know what form it will take, as their close out mic drop to a packed room in the Main Events hall. More Panty & Stocking has been a long-coveted fan request that seemed nigh out of reach. The series was the brainchild of Trigger‘s current creative line-up during their time at Gainaxso while US fans continued to hold a torch for the series, the logistics of creating another entry with this IP weren’t clear.
Trigger didn’t offer any explanation at their 10th anniversary panel, instead opting for a high-energy exit as fans reconciled that the sequel was really, truly happening. The closeout announcement made the most waves, but overall this panel was less a reflection on Trigger‘s legacy as a look towards its future endeavors, namely Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Trigger‘s Hiromi Wakabayashi and Yoh Yoshinari were joined by CD PROJEKT RED‘s Saya Elder and Bartosz Sztybor to discuss the Netflix anime’s development and share an edited version of the first episode. The series’ content, Elder promised, will contain so many “boobs and butts” for both gender preferences. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is equal opportunity when it comes to nudity, but if there was any in the first episode, it was cut due to AX’s restrictions. The gore, though? There’s plenty of that.
The series opens with a spectacular bloodbath as an apparent fugitive mauls down a police force using everything from electro-bullets loaded into a shotgun to a large blade weapon that springs from his knee sockets. Men explode, are decapitated, or vivisectioned in graphic detail. It’s the sort of over-the-top ultra violence that immediately grabs viewers’ attention before its revealed it was a “bootleg,” a reenactment of a possibly real event that a teenage boy is viewing via advanced technology.
The audience was presented with the English dub version with Zach Aguilar leading the series as disaffected youth David Martinez. David sports a fluffy mohawk with zig-zag shaved sides. He lives with his single mother, Gloria, who works as part of an accident response crew. They’re poor and in the dystopian cybertropolis of Night City, that means they don’t have the right benefits package to be rescued from a near-fatal car wreck or receive necessary medical care. Most of the city’s inhabitants are augmented via chips and other body mods that turn school yard brawls into devastating Bruce Lee homages. David is targeted by his more affluent classmates and it’s obvious the school admin would rather he drop out than continue to lash out via elaborate hacking methods that disrupt the class. However, when a personal tragedy befalls him, David finds himself saddled with massive debt and a huge chip on his shoulder.
Visually, the Trigger polish is heavy here even if Cyberpunk: Edgerunners lacks the studio’s usual humor. The staff repeatedly referred to the series as a “refresh” for the studio and while I personally welcome the staff’s take on something gritty, the lack of levity meant more attention on the first episode’s pitfalls, especially in the dialogue. Frankly, it fluctuates between overwrought attempts at sentimentality and strange speech patterns where David just leaves out the primary subject of his sentences. Aguilar’s performance is fine, although I wouldn’t call every line read a success. David sometimes lacks the correct intonation for the situation and can feel one-note, emotionally. The delivery by the voice actor that plays his mother (who wasn’t outright named during the panel) was a complete misfire.
Sztybor mentioned two times during the panel that the first episode was “great” but the next episodes are even better. Perhaps with the set-up out of the way, the show’s dialogue could continue to improve. There’s certainly enough here outside of that to warrant a second or third look. Wakabayashi, whose primary role involved music timing, utilized multiple insert songs in the first episode and every one is a hit. The inclusion of Franz Ferdinand‘s song “This Fffire” for the opening was an inspired choice that Sztybor mentioned fit the series especially because it’s “depressing.”
“The opening sequence is amazing, it’s what we wanted to achieve. It gives you energy but on the other hand it’s depressing, so, that’s what we wanted to achieve with the song and the opening.” Sztybor initially began searching for a track in 1960s music.
“But I was too depressed [listening to those tracks] so I chose Franz Ferdinand,” Sztybor said.
Koyama served as art director and “helper boy” of the opening while the animation itself was done entirely by Imaishi.
“Since the actual episodes are so detailed like the game so I wanted to go with something more simplistic for the OP,” Koyama said. [anime and OP] is a little different. What usually happens in a normal OP production is that you usually have the footage ready and then fit in the credits but for Edgerunners We treated the names as logos instead so we designed the credits first prior to the sequence.”
“Since everything is made in motion graphics, it requires a lot of revision if we screw up the names. We did screw up a few times,” Wakabayashi added. Sztybor interjected that he liked how his name looked and Elder shared that the staff social channel went crazy when they first saw how their names looked.
One name in the credits particularly stands out. Director Imaishi’s name shakes rapidly when it appears on screen. Koyama explained that this was an intentional choice because, like his name suggests, the director was a mess and Koyama wanted to represent his emotional state at the time.
Yoshinari piped in that Imaishi was actually supposed to attend AX instead of him, but “he’s completely burnt out from Edgerunners, prompting Sztybor to apologize. “I’d also like to add that the opening sequence was done by the director so he really put his heart and soul into it,” Yoshinari said. The Trigger team plans to bring back the panel’s enthusiasm to Imaishi.
It is evident from the get-go that a lot of time and consideration went into recreating the world of Night City in the anime, and that can be credited in no small part because of Trigger‘s thoroughness. Elder explained that due to the game’s unplanned release delays, further logistics issues began to arise when pre-production started for Edgerunners. The staff wanted to play through the game at least once, after initially asking for screenshots of specific areas. This culminated in Elder becoming a “ninja spy,” and meeting Trigger in a hotel room with a laptop enclosed in a locked brief case so the animation team could play an early build.
“When we first approached Trigger We weren’t expecting high replicability of an open world game,” Elder said. “When you see David walking around the city you can almost replicate that frame by frame in the game. I think that’s the coolest thing that could have happened.”
Imaishi completed an entire of play through of the game. His weapon of choice? A hammer.
“He used the hammer on the last boss and absolutely obliterated it with a melee weapon. I was very proud of him,” Elder said.