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Web Animation / Meta Runner

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"Video games are everything! Jobs, entertainment, lifestyle, it’s the engine that powers society itself and to make it in this society, you need to win, a lot. Be it in FPS games, platformers, Battle Royales, you name it. There are gamers who train every waking moment of their life in hopes of becoming the best. And at the top of the food chain, you have Meta Runners. People who are willing to replace their limbs just for a boost in accuracy, dexterity and performance. With legions of fans who adore them, Meta Runners are the best of the best."
Dr. Sheridan, "Wrong Warp"

Meta Runner is an animated web series created by Luke and Kevin Lerdwichagul (better known as SMG4) and their studio, Glitch Productions. The series follows the amnesiac cyborg Tari in a world centered around video gaming, where "Meta Runners" - individuals who replaced their limbs with machines to boost their gaming performance - dominate the competitive scene. Tari discovers she has the odd ability to "enter" the games she plays, allowing her the ability to master them unparalleled by other Meta Runners and the fame of the public. However, Lucks, the head of local megacorporation TASCorp, has his own plans for Tari and her abilities...

Tari is notable for making an Early-Bird Cameo in SMG4's main videos as a member of the main cast, albeit a more cartoonish version who is bad at everything except video games. The first season premiered on July 25, 2019, with the season finale set to premiere on October 10, 2019.


Season 2 was announced to be in development upon the Season 1 finale's release.

Tropes describing Meta Runner:

  • Alternate Universe: Confirmed to take place in a different universe from the Mario bloopers.
  • Amnesiac Hero: The very first episode begins with Tari leaving some lab with no recollection to where she is, or why.
    Tari: This place is incredible... but, why does it seem so familiar?
  • Artificial Limbs Are Stronger: A variant. The reason Meta Runners replaces one of their arms with a cybernetic arm is so they can perform faster and more precise movements, as well as getting additional options and information for the games they play, directly from their arm's holographic display.
  • Art Shift: Happens when Sofia discusses MD-5's plan to infiltrate TASCorp. To go with her explanation, she plays a holographic animation that takes place in a medieval-esque era, while the characters adopt a minimalist chibi design.
  • Advertisement:
  • Big Bad: Lucks, the CEO of TASCorp, is this, with Belle Fontiere as his Dragon.
  • Cliffhanger: Every episode ends with one, including the Season 1 finale.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lucks appears to be one in the Season 1 trailer, wanting to acquire Tari to further strengthen TASCorp.
  • Crapsack World: The reason why Belle sides with TASCorp is because the rest of Silica City is even worse (at least from her perspective).
    Belle: Let me put it this way: an arm is the LEAST painful thing for a Meta Runner to give up!
  • Crossover: "Fast Food Fight" is a special that features Egoraptor and TheOdd1sOut. Since it doesn't fit within the series chronology, you can place it out of canoncity.
  • Cyber Punk: The world at large carries an aesthetic that can be considered as such, with culture being centered around a technological medium, transhumanism being a well-established practice, and a large corporation with minimal adherence to ethics running the show.
  • Cyborg: The titular Meta Runners are these, being professional gamers who augmented themselves so they could be even better at gaming.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The members of MD-5; when asked by Tari: “What did they (TASCorp) do to you?”, the mood in the room drops like a brick:
    Sofia (rueful): We... We each have our own reasons.
    Lamar (equally depressed): Let’s just say.. they destroyed many lives. Including ours.
  • Death Is Cheap: At least, when Tari and Theo are in a video game, as they usually respawn if they kick the bucket, or get kicked out of the game if respawning isn't possible.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The "Tari's Live Stream" short sets up most of the supporting cast in short order: Sofia as the excitable tech girl, Lamar as an Otaku and Masa as the no-nonsense commander.
    • Lucks and Belle's first conversation sets them up. We get a full display of Belle's arrogance and discrimination against non-pro gamers, as well as Lucks's controlled yet cruel nature.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Some video game logos/designs shown in Silica City are stand-ins for their real life counterpart such as Borderworlds and Mr. Mero.
    • Wondy's has posters pop up from time to time.
  • Fictional Video Game: Pops up all over the place. Particularly relevant ones include:
    • Ultra Jump Mania!: Exclamation mark included, a 3D platformer, and Theo's home of sorts.
    • Battle Blaze: A first person shooter. Masa uses it to help gauge Tari's abilities.
    • Tempest: A battle royale game based around battle mages. A TASCorp run tournament is the main focus of the latter half of season 1.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Thanks to the Project Blue vision Tari has, both she and we get to see brief descriptions of certain things, such as a player's inventory, a spell description out of Tempest, NPC information, and even sign board information.
  • Freudian Trio: If we don’t count Tari and Theo, all three members of MD-5 forms one, with Sofia being the excited and quirky Id, Masa as the no-nonsense, tough-minded Superego, and Lamar as the usually easygoing but capable to be serious Ego.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The In-Universe game Tempest crashes if a player uses WindBurst to smash into the ground at a specific angle at a specific speed. One plot point has MD-5 deliberately trying to trigger it.
  • Gamer Chick: Tari, as she was in her origins.
  • Intrepid Fictioneer: Tari does this (with varying degrees of intent) with games she plays to learn how to master them.
  • Meaningful Name: The TAS in TASCorp stands for "tool-assisted speedrun", which is a common type of speedrun that uses set input files and emulators to find the absolute shortest amount of time a speedrun can be completed in, usually to find out if said time is achievable by an "unassisted" speedrun.
  • Mega-Corp: TASCorp appears to be your standard cyberpunk megacorporation, though there are a few others, such as Cloud7 and AlphaMax.
  • Mood Whiplash: Theo's rather an expert at defusing a downer situation out of nowhere.
  • Motif: Birds for some characters.
    • Tari is based on a blue jay, with the blue hair and a jacket that looks like one.
    • Belle is based on the Phoenix.
  • Neon City: Silica City, with its dark blue color aesthetic and gobs of billboards and signs.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: A variant in Episode 6. MD5's Ultra Jump Mania cartridge doesn't react well to having two Theos in it.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch:
    • This happens in Episode 2 where Lucks showed up in the game as a Palette Swap of Theo and during the process of Lucks's scientists attempting to tamper with Tari's cybernetic arm.
    • This also happens in Episode 6 when an Ultra Jump Mania cartridge reacts poorly to having two Theos, as well as the cartridge with the missing Theo whenever it tries to boot up.
    • In Episode 8, this unusually occurs during Tari's transition into the Tempest game for the tournament, leading to her temporarily ending up in a bizarre void place.
  • Palmtree Panic: The level from Ultra Jump Mania that Tari and Theo are on in Episode 2 is this, filled with plenty of tropical trees, sand shores and wooden platforms and structures.
    • Interestingly, the map that Tari plays in Battle Blaze also has palm trees, despite being the opposite of Ultra Jump Mania in basically every other way.
  • Product Placement: Crunchyroll ads are seen around at the city.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: Season 1 borders on Downer Ending, but not enough to keep the heroes down. MD-5's plan has backfired, Sofia has surrendered all of their information on TasCorp, and Tari's involvement in Lucinia's death—a major uniting factor for the group—has been exposed to them. Tari then willingly enters TasCorp's service in exchange for her friends' safety, and Theo's been captured and used as collateral to ensure her cooperation. However, Tari's friends (Masa pending) still refuse to abandon Tari and promise to come back for her, Belle finds a backup copy of the data Sophia gave them and keeps it to herself, and Lucinia is implied to be kept alive by Lucks.
  • Serious Business: Video games are what the world of Meta Runner revolves around.
    Belle (to nearby guard): Hey Frank! I fell off my bike last week. Almost broke three bones.
    Guards give no reaction
    Belle: I got a new personal best of 33:18 in Dragon Kart.
    Guards give a thumbs-up
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the first episode, a man is shown playing in front of a Kinect-like screen, and his avatar is Axol. Tari does the same, and sees her counterpart from the bloopers.
      • "War of the Fat Italians 2019" later reveals that SMG 4!Tari was in an arcade at the time, and saw Meta Runner!Tari on a glitching television. It convinced her to stop playing video games for the day because she thought she was hallucinating.
    • Episode 4 has a fast food billboard featuring TheOdd1sOut and Arin.
    • In Episode 6, Sofia's tablet has the SMG4 logo on it, as well as Saiko's emblem.
    • Episode 7 sees Theo shooting beams of light out of his fingers in a manner very similar to Cuphead.
    • In Episode 8, Lamar has lawyer-friendly versions of Sayori, Natsuki, and Yuri as wallpaper on the screen of his Meta Runner arm.
    • Again in episode 8, most characters wear masks to obscure their faces. Theo, instead, has his Face Framed in Shadow with yellow, glowing eyes. Paired with his comical wizard cap, he bears a great resemblance to Black Mage
  • Tournament Arc: The second half of Season 1 is focused on Tari participating in a TASCorp ran tournament for Tempest, particularly to activate a server crashing glitch to allow MD5 to search through Lucks' servers for incriminating information to take down TASCorp.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In Episode 2, when Tari is forcibly pulled out of the game world, we then see Theo, a game character, in the real world.
    • In episode 5, Belle finds an SD card. After inserting it into her arm, Tari's wing insignia shows up on her screen with a name: Project Blue.


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