Anime Review: Bubblegum Crisis

Originally airing in 1987 Bubblegum Crisis by today’s standards isn’t all that great looking.  This doesn’t mean this series should be scoffed at by newer anime fans though.  If you love sci-fi, girls in armored suits beating the snot out of robots, car/motorcycle chases, and Japanese rock you’ll love this show.  I’d also recommend any fan of Blade Runner give Bubblegum Crisis a shot as it has several references and homages to the classic 1982 movie.  All in all there’s a lot to like about this series if you can get over the older animation.

One thing that that sets Bubblegum Crisis (BC) apart from other anime is that it’s directed by several different people.  Whereas other series might fall apart due to this, BC shines because of it.  Each director brings their own unique flare to their particular episode or as the case may be episodes.  This also means that while you may have disliked an episode because of the directors style, you might enjoy another episode due of the different director.  As for the director’s themselves there are five in all: Katsuhito Akiyama (episodes 1-3), Hiroki Hayashi (episode 4), Masami Oobari(episodes 5 & 6), Fumihiko Takayama (episode 7), and Hiroaki Good(episode 8).

As far as the plot goes, there’s an evil organization by the name of Genom bent on world domination.  Besides the world domination bit the thing that makes these guys so bad is that they create androids, known as Boomers, and use them for all sorts of evil things.  Yeah, the plot isn’t going to blow you away or anything but it serves its purpose.  That purpose is to spur the Knight Sabers into action to kick some Boomer ass.  Except for in episode 4, the Genom corporation and its Boomers are the primary villains throughout the series.

While I’d like to say the Knight Sabers are less cookie cutter than the villains, they really aren’t.  Sylia is the leader and as such she has enough money to support the group.  Priss is the brash take-no-shit rock star who also serves as themain character.  Linna is the relatively normal one of the group.  That only leaves Nene, the bubbly hacker who couldn’t fight her way out of a plastic bag.  While it may sound like I don’t like any of them, I actually do.  It’s just once you’ve seen these archetypes before you get use to them.  I would like to point out each of them are likable characters and they’re ALL women with jobs, something you don’t really see in today’s anime.

There are a few minor characters as well but the only two worth mentioning are Leon and Daley, AD Police officers.  Leon is your usual take charge guy who almost get’s himself killed at every corner.  He also has a thing for Priss and hits on her every chance he gets.  Daley is Leon’s partner on most cases and also a homosexual.  I point that last bit out because there weren’t many in anime back then, let alone such open ones like Daley.  It would have been nice had they touched more on Daley’s character since we see so little of him and what we know of him makes him out to be pretty cool.

It’s also worth mentioning that the character designer for BC is Kenichi Sonoda.  Mr. Sonoda is also the creator of Gunsmith Cats (GC).  So if you like the design of the characters in Bubblegum Crisis give Gunsmith Cats a look.  The story for both BC and Gunsmith Cats is somewhat similar as well in that they both deal with female characters kicking major ass.

Now I’d like to talk about one of my favorite things in Bubblegum Crisis: the music.  Each fight scene is usually accompanied by a rock song that really gets your blood bumping.  As soon as the music starts you know something is about to explode.  Even if you don’t really care for the fight scenes you can still enjoy the music.  Of course if you don’t like rock or Japanese vocals, you’re kinda out of luck here. The lyrics are all cheesy of course but hey, this show WAS made in the 80s.

Due to some of the mature content in Bubblegum Crisis this isn’t a show you’d want younger children to watch.  There’s a lot of violence, blood, and limbs (albeit robot ones) torn off.  There’s also a few instances of nudity when the Knight Sabers are changing into their suits.  The language isn’t too bad but I do think the f-bomb was dropped once or twice.  I’d recommend  the show to a teenager as you can find worse things than animated breasts and pubic hair on the internet.

I’d like to point out that I own the Bubblegum Crisis Remastered Edition from AnimEigo. It was originally released in 2004 but can still be found at RightStuf and Amazon, MSRP is $69.98. The remastered edition comes with several extras like music videos (both animated and live) as well as interviews with some of the Japanese staff. The DVDs also offer an English dub which I did listen to but didn’t care for. The great thing about the dub though is that the songs are also done in English. While $69.98 is a lot to ask for an 8 episode series, it’s less expensive on both RightStuf ($52.49) and Amazon ($32.99).

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