Meta Runner: A Hidden Gem

The obscure YouTube show is likely to surprise viewers with its unique storyline and diverse set of characters.


Glitch Productions

The poster for the final season of Meta Runner, features Tari, the show’s main character who stands not only for individual integrity but also for justice.

Sunny Li, Staff Writer

On December 5th, 2018, YouTube content creator, Luke Lerdwichagul–better known as SMG4–released a trailer for an animation series, Meta Runner. This was a major diversion from his usual content: Super Mario parody videos, known for their immature and edgy humor. However, many of his viewers were shocked by the quality of the new production and finished the opening episode wanting more.

Meta Runner is a web series founded by creators Luke and Kevin Lerdwichagul and produced by Glitch Productions. Based primarily on YouTube, the show has run for over three years, with its first season premiering on July 25, 2019, and its final season concluding on September 9th, 2022. 

The show follows Tari, a shy, blue-haired, cybernetic girl who wakes up in a futuristic-like society, where everything–entertainment, career, and business–is based on Esports and video games. With no memory of her origins, Tari is forced to quickly adapt and maneuver this unfamiliar world. 

Initially, the concept of gaming excites Tari, especially after watching a famous speedrunner–Belle Frontiere–play in front of a large audience. However, events take a turn when she curiously begins to play and discovers her natural gift for gaming, in spite of never playing before. But in the heat of the moment, her mechanical arm–or Meta Runner arm–starts to act strangely.

Tari’s eyes suddenly start glowing blue, and in an instant, viewers discover just what makes Tari so special; her Meta Runner arm transports her inside of the video game. 

These initial foundations and character traits help pave the way for the rest of the story. Tari is one of a kind and extremely gifted at what she does. Unfortunately, having that power leaves her vulnerable; everyone sees an opportunity to harness and/or steal her powers. Tari quickly realizes this when Derek Lucks–Belle’s boss and the CEO of TAS Corp–tries to force her into joining his organization.

Luckily for Tari, a team of allies arises to assist them throughout all of their adventures; MD-5. Sofia Porter, a bubbly, optimistic tech-genius; Lamar Williams, an anime-obsessed, yet loyal companion; Masa Shimamoto, the edgy, serious, but dedicated captain of the team; and Theo, the energetic coconut boy that Tari meets inside of a video game — all play major roles in the heroes’ opposition against TAS Corp–or any other source of villainy–throughout the storyline.

But with any group of allies comes antagonists to defeat. The aforementioned Lucks is a constant and ominous corporate threat, not only serving as a dangerous enemy for Tari but also a provocative parallel to the corruption that can infect powerful organizations.

Alongside Lucks is Belle–the loud, emotional, and arrogant rival to Tari. The stark contrast between their personalities makes every interaction between the two entertaining and helps elicit some of the more emotional and powerful moments of the series. 

The stark contrast between their personalities makes every interaction between the two entertaining, and helps elicit some of the more emotional and powerful moments of the series.

In addition to its diverse cast of characters and unique setting, Meta Runner does a great job of presenting themes relevant to issues of today’s world. Video games may be considered “everything” in Tari’s world, but she establishes a belief very early on that serves as an important lesson to viewers: there is more to life than the hottest trends. Tari never lets her drive for gaming divert her from the other aspects of life that matter–her friends and allies.

In today’s media-saturated world, many who experience fame sadly have to deal with a number of additional burdens. Meta Runner explores this phenomenon insightfully. Lucks’s Meta Runners all seem to live grand and lavish lives, but in the larger picture, they are merely pawns for him to profit from, something that the other characters, Belle in particular, struggle to deal with or even acknowledge.

But despite the series’ unique premise, world-building, characters, and intriguing themes — not to mention the enormous effort that Glitch Productions has put in –, Meta Runner has remained a surprisingly small success story. The series has raked in over 20 million views on YouTube–impressive, but still far fewer than a typical chain of SMG4 (which is now also owned by Glitch Productions) videos. 

Glitch Productions deserves more support on Meta Runner. A humorous Mario series may have its merits, but the extensive amount of work and insight put into a fully fleshed-out, top-quality animation series should not be ignored.