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Everyone needs a start into anime and sometimes leaping in at the deep end with classic epics such as Ghost In The Shell or Akira or Neon Genesis Evangeleon can be daunting, when I was starting to take an active intrest in anime I was suggested this show (or one of its variants) so I went for "Bubblegum Crash" (a spin off from the now dated 1980s original), several years later I got the 80s original and this show, and on my first viewing of this, was very confused.
The original is set in 2034, the Knight Sabers are fully formed and all was good for the show, in this Tokyo 2040 Linna isn't a Knight Saber at the start, Nene appears to have aged backward and nothing added in to the original. That was until I looked at the back of the box and realised it was a series reboot. With that in mind I sat back and enjoyed the show for what it is.
Set in 2040 "Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040" follows the vigilante group the Knight Sabers, a 4 piece all girl fighting unit, taking down rogue Voomers/Boomers (bio-mechanical robots), that the specialist police in the city are ill equiped or prepared to handle (try as they might). The team is made of 4 women: Priss, lead singer of a semi-successful rock band in Tokyo and the oldest serving combat active member; Nene, an IT and communications officer in the AD Police (the specialist police force) and tactically speaking the weakest member, also the youngest; Linna, the newest member determined to overtake Priss as top dog and Sylia, the founding member who rarely goes into combat unless its totally necessary and acts like a mother figure to the girls. Theres also Nigel, a mechanic who builds and maintains the equiptment, and Maki (voiced by Spike Spencer who also voiced Shinji Ikari in NGE) Sylias "younger brother". The Knight Sabers fight in "hardsuits", amazing combat armour that means they can stay anonmous and effectivly take down the enemies with ease, their technology is light years ahead of the AD Polices "K-Suits". The hardsuits are smaller, lighter, faster, better equipped (think comparing a modern all singing all dancing laptop to some of the first major computers that took up whole rooms and your on the right idea).
The main enemy is Voomers/Boomers (they seem to pronounce it both ways), bio-mechnical robots, responsible for rebuilding Tokyo after a massive series of earthquakes 6 years previous. A mysterious company by the name of "Genom" produces these robots and plays the shadowy hate figure for the show. Providing the evil schemes for the girls to stomp out.
The animation is standard for the time, characters are crisp and animation is smooth and detailed, overall the standard "comedy" anime effects and facial expressions are rarely seen, giving the show a more serious feel. This works overall compared to other anime which can sometimes drown a compelling serious storyline in comedy moments.
The sound is one area with this show really stands out, in particular the times with Priss and her band performing, the music here is tightly performed and the songs are well written both as stand alone pieces of music and insights into Priss's thoughts at the time, often tying into (in a cryptic way) something the Knight Sabers have done during that episode or the last one. All the voice acting in the dub version is very well done, with none of it feeling hammy or cheesy, the only voice that does grate me is Nenes, being a bit high frequency at times.
The supporting cast as well provide enough sub plots and exposition as needed, such as a potential romance between 2 unlikely people. The plot overall does appear deeper than in the 80s classic, and running at 26 episodes its timed well and explored deep enough for most fans tastes.
As with the original, this spawned a couple of spin offs as well, "Parasite Dolls" and "AD Police: Protect and Serve" to be exact, as well as the little but rumoured about "Tokyo 2041". For those already in the know about anime theres few surprises but this series is still good and engaging, for those looking to get into anime this is a more accessable way to get into the medium than some of the epic classics. Although it can be a bit cliched at times ("attractive" women in robotic suits of armour).
The Knight Sabers are back, but their not. Well, kind of. After the dreadful-ness of Bubblegum Crash the Saber's have been wollowing in nothingness for a number of year, but AIC recently decided that it was a good idea to revive the characters for a new series - and here it is!!! Linna, a simple country girl, winds up in Tokyo when looking for a job. You see, shes just got a secretrial job at Genom, the largest corperation in all of the world. Now, Linna is somewhat obsessed with the Knight Sabers, an underground team of mercenaries in powered armour who battle those Boomers (type of android manufactured by Genom) which run amok, mainly becasue the AD Poliuce (set up to handle Boomers) is cack. Due to a chance meeting with Priss, a rock-wannabe who provides the Sabers with an effective front-line fighter, Linna gets the chance to join the KS's, which she does. And perhaps starts to regret... The Sabers also includes Sylia, the wealthy founder of the group, and Nene, a cute AD Police officer and computer wizard. However, Leon, a senoir AD Police investigator, is on the tail of the Sabers beleiving them to be more deadly then even the Boomers. And whats going on with Genom anyhow? Those who have seen the original OAVs may find this a shock. Out go the Kenichi Sonada character designs and the rock music, in comes identikit AIC designs and techno. It's not quite as bad as it first sounds, it's quite good techno and the new Nene is really cute (but then so was the original). Also striking are the changes in personality, Nene seems a bit more malicious, Priss is way more dark and brooding, Sylia trys to chat you everything in a short skirt or tight trousers whilst Linna isn't as, well, Linna-ish. I haven't really seen enough to comment on the series as a whole, but the feel of the series is good, and they seem to have direction in the plot, something perhaps missing in the original. The charactr
isation, whilst different, is good. The direction, by Tenchi veteran and original BGC director Hiroki Hayashi,is tight. The dubbing of the UK version is largely passable as well. Bad points? Well, I'm kinda dispointed with what they did to Leon, changing him from a likeable, if sexist, character into a muscle-bound cop. The alterations in his uber-camp gay sidekick Daley are disapointing as well. Overall a good show, not exactly worse than the original, but not better either.
The year is 2033, and Mega-Tokyo is just beginning to finish recovering from a HUGE earthquake that completely rearranged the face of Tokyo. Part of the recovery is due to the recent advancement of Boomer technology. Boomers (or Bumas, if you're watching the subbed version) are androids that look, think, and act just like human beings. They can be put to work, perform in the military, or, um, go berserk and terrorize the population. The corporation responsible for all the major Boomer advancements is a monolithic company called GENOM, whose power seems to grow with every passing moment. GENOM seems to have a rather underhanded secret agenda (to take over the world, of course). With the world dependant on Boomer technology, there doesn't seem to be much that can resist its power. Enter the Knight Sabers. This mercenary team of four young women equipped with hardsuits has the firepower and the courage to stand up to rampaging Boomers and the company behind them. Knight Sabers, sanjo! Bubblegum Crisis is one of the most popular anime series there is. One of the main reasons for this is that Bubblegum Crisis features many of the most popular elements in anime. You've got your cool mecha, you've got big ol' ulgy androids to slay, you've got cute females in hardsuits...what else could you ask for? A plot? What're you, spoiled? Well, the plot isn't quite THAT nonexistent. In fact, a lot of the episodes are really solid in their plots. Unfortunately, there are a few episodes that seem to leave out details that would have been really nice to know about. You have to do quite a bit of guesswork and extrapolation on your own at times, which can become a bit tiresome after a while.. As for the characters, well... they'd be really interesting if I could know more about them. Details as to how the four women met each other and became Knight Sabers are far and few in between, as well as serious chara
cter development. (except for Nene, that is...<dreamy sigh>) Apparently, there is a separate music video that explains the origin of each Knight Saber, but it's not part of the actual series. It would have been nice, though. Animation is generally pretty good, especially in the action scenes, but the soundtrack is what most fans of this series love most about Bubblegum. If you like Japanese pop at all, you'll love the soundtrack and themes to this series. One warning, though: the dubbed version of Crisis is not quite up to par. Voices are usually quite mismatched, and the voice acting falls flat precisely in the scenes where convincing acting is most important for credibility. If you can, get the subtitled version, but the store I rent from only carries the dubs. :-( The feel is heavily reminiscent of Blade Runner, and the creators of Crisis cleverly intersperse references to Blade Runner throughout the series (one of the less subtle references is how Priss's rock band is named The Replicants). It's not all gritty, though, and the occasional humorous touch adds a nice light feel to the series. Overall, not a bad watch. In fact, at times, Bubblegum Crisis can be really good. Unfortunately, oversights and carelessness here and there keep this series from being all it can be.