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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.

Meta Runner is a 3-season animated series that ran from 2019 to 2022 and is available for free on the GLITCH YouTube channel. The series follows Tari, a cyborg who finds herself in a world where gamers called “Meta Runners” are the world’s biggest celebrities. She is able to warp into any video game she plays, making her the ultimate competitor, but has no memory of how she acquired such an ability. While attempting to discover who she is, she must team up with a group of underground gamers to take down TAS-Corp, a large gaming company with a sinister connection to her past.

The series was created by Glitch Productions, an indie Australian animation studio whose goal is to “make animated shows…that tell fun and whimsical stories while also respecting our audience’s ability to appreciate mature plots and complex themes.” It’s this mixture of exciting yet emotionally complex storytelling that is exactly what makes Meta Runner so captivating. Balancing intricate action sequences with heartfelt interactions, every episode will leave you laughing, crying, and holding your breath as you navigate every twist and turn towards the bittersweet series finale.

Fascinating Characters

Curious, determined, and altruistic, Tari is a protagonist that you can’t help but root for. She’s got a good heart and is willing to do anything for her friends, even if it means paying the ultimate price. The writers, Kevin Lerdwichagul and Jasmine Yang, did an amazing job at introducing Tari’s powers gradually, allowing the audience to learn alongside her. Her steady growth in confidence is so satisfying to watch, even as she’s forced to face bigger and more treacherous enemies.

Although Tari is the main protagonist, she’s closely tied to overarching protagonist Lucinia Porter, a Meta Runner who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Closely related to everyone in the cast, the mystery of Lucinia’s whereabouts looms heavily over the first season and extends well into the later episodes. 

Tari’s group of friends, coined MD-5, have distinct personalities but are absolutely electrifying when all together. Theo is an enthusiastic computer character who is transported to the real world after one of Tari’s warps goes awry. Lamar Williams is cool, calm, collected, and an avid otaku. Sofia Porter is a cheerful hacker and Lucinia’s sister. And Masa Shimamoto is the serious leader with a serious grudge against TAS-Corp. The members of MD-5 blend together seamlessly while simultaneously carrying their own burdens and story arcs. Watching them work together is an absolute pleasure, especially when it involves giving a beating to the big baddies, who are just as much fun to root against.

Thoughtful World-Building

The story’s main setting, Silica City, is set in a world where gaming is everything. The most elite gamers are sponsored by corporations, while the poor are left to fight for parts in underground tournaments. There’s so much detail packed into every episode, from comic-relief helper robots and endless technological amenities in the center of the city to the sparse junkyard-like style of the poorer sections. There’s plenty of subtle messages about relying on a system that can be easily manipulated as opposed to a less tech-heavy society, but none of them overpower the story itself. 

Other than the main setting, there are plenty of video game worlds to explore. From colorful platformer Ultimate Jump Mania to fantasy battle-royale game Tempest, every virtual setting is just as fleshed-out and beautiful as Silica City. The show’s animation style changes with each game, paying homage to a host of franchises while giving each location its own unique flair.

Heart-Wrenching Storylines

Glitch Productions has an extraordinary talent for finding the perfect balance between high-paced action and gentle character-building moments. There’s plenty of twists and turns in the story, and a sloppier script would’ve resulted in whiplash, but the creative team carefully crafted each location and storyline with enough time to breathe. While bittersweet, the series finale ties up almost every loose end perfectly, leaving enough room in the narrative for viewers to speculate about the characters’ fates. 

Meta Runner boasts a gorgeous animation style, a thoroughly thought-out world, and a fun cast of characters. I binged the whole series in a span of two days and loathed any moment I had to step away from my laptop in order to do homework. Although there’s so much story packed into the series’ 19 episodes, it still feels like it ends too soon. I highly recommend you give it a watch. 

Sianna Swavely is a Cinema, Television, and Media Production major, with minors in Professional Writing and Communication Studies. In her free time, she can be found video editing, playing the piano, or watching Youtube videos while pretending to study.