The death of Maine scene is the most stunning anime clip I’ve watched for the year. The following will focus on the context of this cut scene (Cyberpunk Edgerunners – Maine End (Spoilers)) to find out what makes it so powerful and impressive.
Fight scene after Maine has gone cyberpsycho
The anime TV series, which shares the same dystopian world setting as the game and novel of the same name, is set in a highly advanced capitalist city that is completely controlled by megacorporations. Nearly all of the citizens have partially or fully replaced their bodies with cybernetic enhancements, or “cyberwares”, to adapt to the high-tech, low-life society. The main character, David, is led and - to some extent - mentored by a man named Maine, who appears in the clip and ultimately died. Maine formed a team that takes on commissions from underground agents, known as “fixers,” and constantly installed more cyberware implants on himself in order to make his team more competitive and more likely to survive. However, these cyberwares overloaded his brain and eventually turned him into a dangerous “Cyberpsycho”, losing his mind and control of his body, falling into complete madness. He became a dangerous terrorist, and was eliminated by specialized police in the end.
What makes this clip outstanding from other typical “mentor dead, mentee grow up” style animes is the perfect combination of its incredible visuals and well-written script.
Visually, for example, in the dialogue part, the shadows are all thick and colored red, creating a sense of depression, urgency, and danger. In contrast, during the final explosion, the colors all shift to green, conveying a totally different mood of grief and pain. Another elaborate design from the production team is the way the scene switches between the real world and the world from Maine’s perspective after he goes mad. When David is speaking, the world is shown as a depressed, dark, and realistic scene with intense gunfights, while Maine’s perspective shows a bright, saturated vast desert. Such a depiction of Maine’s perspective helps the audience feel more connected to the character and understand his emotions.
World from Maine’s Perspective
In terms of script writing, a very fundamental context here is in this chaotic and cruel city, everyone assumed that people who do the kind of work Maine’s team did can die at any time and in any place. David, however, as a rookie hadn’t yet accepted that, fervently wanted to save Maine by fighting together and believed that they “can get through this together” (Hiroyuki Imaishi 01:12-01:16). In contrast, Maine candidly accepted his upcoming death, saying “This is the end of the line for me, but not for you” (Hiroyuki Imaishi 02:09-02:13). Such contrast helps to deepen the audience’s impression of the overall vibe of the story and enhances Maine’s character development.
Then about its medium. The cut scene comes from an anime TV series, so it’s technically video, but has more flexibility in terms of visual storytelling through the use of layouts, color schemes, motion, lighting, and shadowing effects that may even not be possible with live-action footage. This allows the creators to more effectively convey the emotions and story of the fictional world they have created. On the other hand, being TV series, it must also include dramatic conflict to drive the plot forward as well as to demonstrate the characters’ arc, just like any other fiction.
Maine’s death here serves as a tragic turning point for David and is crucial for the overall development of the story, since if not, David would always remain a follower and there would not be enough emotional impact to base his potential transformation. So audience may not be too surprised by Maine’s death, but by taking full advantage of the medium and creating an effective context, it successfully turned what could have been cliché into a stunning and memorable one.
Hiroyuki Imaishi. “Cyberpunk Edgerunners - Maine End (Spoilers).” YouTube, 14 Sept. 2022, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iXibfVIJHo.