After a mysterious eathquake levels Tokyo, Genom becomes a powerful influence providing their artificial organic lifeforms called Boomers to rebuild and act as a labor class to humanity. However, some of them ocasionally run amok, and even the specially created AD Police are at a loss to stop them. Lina Yamazaki travels to Tokyo for employment but also hopes to join a vigilante force called the Knight Sabers, who pilot powered suits to destroy these rogue Boomers.
Bubblegum Crisis 2040 is quite an oddball series, it was something I really enjoyed watching simply for the fact that it's rather unique and there's just not a lot out there quite like it. Simply put it was a nice break from your everyday typical anime, harem, mecha, comedy, fantasy, whatever.
2040 is an indirect sequel to the original Bubblegum Crisis (sometimes with the additional "2032" or just "OVA" thrown at the end there). They're alternate versions of each other therefore nothing is really connected, other than the fact that they're different stories with some of the same characters in the same setting and whatnot.
Because of this I'll make a few comparisons here and there between the two. The biggest difference between them is that the OVA was mainly episodic based and 2040 is not, containing more of a single overarching plot.
STORY: The year is obviously 2040 where Tokyo has been reborn after a devastating earthquake that took out the majority of the city, to rebuild such a complex place once again humans needed something to help them. A powerful company by the name of Genom comes into play here and introduces the "Boomers", humanoid mech's built with the sole ideal to help rebuild and restore the most technological advanced city in the world, in which they ended up calling Mega Tokyo. These Boomers came in many packages, some would look like giant trackers of sorts that handled construction, while others would look totally identical to human beings, handling jobs such as a receptionist and whatnot. However being built in such haste the Boomers were not without their fault and at times, went berserk causing chaos and destruction throughout the city, but Genom had such a strong hold on Mega Tokyo that nobody could bring about the end of the Boomers construction. In an attempt to stop these outbreaks the Advance Police Forces, or AD Police for short, was born. Genom ends up taking things even further by diving into illegal trade and develops combat Boomers and various other things, eventually becoming quite an issue. Can the AD Police alone stop this crisis?
In comes Sylia Stingray, daughter of the infamous Dr. Stingray who helped build the foundation of the Boomers in the first place. However, she wants nothing more than to see the end of their production and very existence for unknown reasons. She is an incredibly wealthy billionaire with a close friend Nigel whom is an incredibly skilled engineer and mechanic. She gives birth to the powerful mobile armor dubbed "Knight Sabers" that can only be worn by a very select few women. Fate eventually brings all these girls together in an effort to fight against the Boomers. Originally it was nothing but a friendly competition between the AD Police and the Knight Sabers, but eventually things start to go deeper. What really caused the earthquake that happened many years ago? Is their a source to all the Boomer outbreaks? Where exactly do the Knight Saber suits come from? What is Sylia's true motive? All these questions eventually come into play as the story becomes more than just straight up action against Boomers.
But that's also where the series slightly derails, about a 3rd or 4th of the way in they throw the philosophical card at you and the show ends up trying to be "deep". Luckily, it doesn't seem to go too over the top with this and doesn't try to shove tons of silly ideas or anything down your neck. The ideals and questions presented are nothing that'll really make you scratch your head over, but at the same time they shouldn't completely bore you out of your mind either. Regardless I clearly believe they could've taken a different route and thrown out the last arc of the story here for something much better. The main thing I got out of these last parts was the emphasis on self discovery.
CHARACTER: The character development is definitely a huge improvement compared to the OVA and overall done very nicely. However (I'll blame the last story arc), you are kind of left wanting to see them develop a little more towards the end, like they were just a little unfinished or something. But anyways, each main character here definitely has their own traits: Priss is the rogue whom does as she pleases and doesn't like people holding her back, Lina comes off as the strong willed girl who will do anything to get to the top, Nene is the odd and spunky younger one that should never be underestimated when it comes to the technical stuff, and Sylia is the cheerful yet oh so mysterious leader whom might leave you in the dark at times, but you'll get your answers eventually. Okay, so they all don't sound incredibly interesting on paper here but they certainly do change throughout the series mainly for the better and the odd bunch does manage to eventually cope together very well, they make an excellent team. At first the series focuses entirely on the rookie Lina and I actually liked this direction, however the focus later shifts back to Priss and is handled pretty smoothly, but it's almost annoying that in the end Lina is the one character that you're kind of left wanting to know more about, not to mention she ends up being "alone" unlike the rest of the crew. Also I have to stress the fact that while Priss may seem like the typical ignorant "I don't speak to you because I don't care" kind of character done way too much in anime, she does soften up a bit and let out emotions, she does develop and change. Also, every character got a makeover and in all honesty I prefer them all over the originals, just simply put I guess. Though yeah, Lina's headband was awesome.
Aside from this a handful of other characters return like the mysterious villain Mason, Sylia's younger brother with a lost past, and most noticeably the head of AD Police, big shot Leon whom loves to hate the Knight Sabers. Just like the rest of the main chicks here, Leon's character gets fleshed out a lot more here than it did in the OVA and even in the spinoff AD Police Files. There's actually a lot of humor revolved around him and Nene's interactions (with her being a AD Police operator of sorts). Just don't call him "Leon-chan"! And overall, you can expect some great humorous moments throughout the show. Some might be really cheesy at times, but they never feel too tacky or pointlessly thrown in. Along with this you can also expect some romances though the scenes with these elements are a hit or miss, some worked, and some just felt really awkward.
ART/ANIMATION: In all honesty I was really impressed with the animation here and the character designs mainly for its time and for being a full length normal series. I really don't think there's a lot of late 90's early 00's releases that faired too well in the art/animation department. This was the time when some companies were trying new things, some were throwing in horrendous CG (at the time especially), a lot of the hand drawn detail was being lost, but none of that is really the case with 2040 here. They did an excellent job with the fight scenes, never throwing in some of those annoying panning images, or repeating scenes relentlessly, and this isn't an older show where you'll get the characters mixed up or anything like that, I'm sure we've all seen some of those?
Being a cyberpunk series one should definitely expect a darker, futuristic, more downbeat, gritty setting and they definitely nailed that aspect pretty well. The atmosphere is easily there. Overall though, it's not quite as inspired and incredibly detailed like the original OVA. I'm assuming it could be because of budget differences with this being a longer series or just the fact that, a lot of older cyberpunk shows are superior when it comes to the art and detail even compared to newer releases, a lot more hand drawn stuff when into them. If you're expecting some epic Blade Runner-esque influences here, well you'll see some here and there, but influences are not nearly as prominent as they were in the OVA and other older cyberpunk anime. All in all, the series manages to give off a great darker and even sometimes depressing vibe, which is good enough.
Boomers/Mech Design: Unfortunately this is another slight downfall when compared to the original. The Boomer designs in this one were really not that inspiring at all and rather generic, even when they got bigger and more powerful, they weren't that detailed or interesting as the stuff you'd see in the OVA. In the OVA there was typically a single super powerful Boomer per episode and they were always incredibly detailed and really creative, but here you could almost classify all the enemies as just "typical robots" or whatever. After watching the OVA and then this afterwards, this was probably one of my biggest disappointments actually. The same can be said about the Knight Sabers second suits that they end up getting here towards the end of the show... not to mention the way they had to put them on, was just downright weird.
MUSIC: Everyone who knows anything about the Bubblegum Crisis OVA series knows that it was pretty infamous for having a rockin' big hair styled metal soundtrack with tons of vocal tracks that, while aged and so "totally 80's", really gave the series a lot of its charm and character. Sadly, this is where 2040 suffers quite a bit. Fans of the original going in expecting anything to match up to "Hurricane Tonight" or whatnot will probably be very disappointed. Yes, Priss does have a few vocal tracks here and there and while they're certainly fun, they don't stand out very much on their own unlike a lot of the tracks from the original OVA.
The actual background OST here is mainly a mixed bag. I thought some of the darker and slower tracks typically played at more dramatic, mysterious, or emotional segments fit the mood pretty well, but there's really nothing offered here in this department that manages to be really memorable when it's all said and done. It's certainly not bad but, after something like Bubblegum Crisis' OVA you'd surely expect to find a top notch OST here and sadly that's not really the case.
MAIN ISSUE? At times the show probably could've taken itself a little more seriously and done well, instead I thought there was an issue with a few scenes that just ended up being anticlimatic. This happened a lot during difficult situations or when the Knight Sabers took on incredibly powerful Boomers, when you think all was lost, they sometimes end up doing something that seems so incredibly simple you'll wonder why they didn't do so in the first place. But hey, overall this is really just one of those fun laid back shows that's all about the action, the quirky characters and odd humor, and the cool setting. So I wouldn't say that's a huge deal if you go in with a cool head here.
OVERALL: Bubblegum Crisis 2040 was again, a really great break from the norm with some solid production value to back it up. If you're a sci-fi buff that likes a lot of action, especially when it's women kicking some ass, with a fairly straightforward plot that won't make you think too much, then you should definitely be in for a treat here. If you liked the original OVA any bit at all I highly recommend watching this series as well to compare the two. They both have their ups and down when you pit them together but if you liked one at all, chances are you'd get some enjoyment out of the other. Bubblegum Crisis and its sequel are excellent series that surely inspired other cyberpunk anime that followed them, not to mention several spinoffs including stories revolved around the AD Police and Parasite Dolls stemmed from here, while both aren't groundbreaking in anyway, it does go to show how successful the OVA and 2040 were. Good ol' sci-fi anime.
At a glance, Bubblegum Crisis seems to be just about girls with suits kicking butt, but in reality this is one amazing anime.
The story takes place in a post earthquake Tokyo where robots are used in mass amounts to assist with everything from being waiters to construction workers. Of course these robots dont always do what they're told, and its up to the knight sabers to step in.
The characters in this show are all amazingly created and very distinct from each other. The four main girls are have very different personalities which makes for great character interaction not only in battles but in
the story starts off as some "vigilantes" beating up some robots but the story stretches very far beyond that to tell what becomes a very epic sci fi/action tale that for the most part has a serious tone to it, the more the show goes on, the darker things get.
The battles are usually pretty cool to watch, especially with all the neat things that the knight sabers can do. The overall art work is done exceptionall well, it has a very clean look to it, and everything has details.
the sound experience is pretty good, everything from the mechanical noises to the rockin soundtrack helps enhance the show.
This show will keep you watching until the end, and its a great ride all the way there.
And for those wondering wtf the title has to do with anything, a bubblegum crisis is a problem that starts off small but gets bigger and bigger like a bubblegum bubble until it bursts and all hell breaks loose, which is a very fitting title for the show.
The original Bubblegum Crisis is an iconic and stylish OVA that everyone should watch. It seems logical that remaking something that is so stylish would be going in waaaay over your head. And yet here we are! A good remake! Instead of trying to copy everything that made the original good and surely failing. It found its own strengths by taking the core of the original and doing something different, like a good remake should.
The year is 1998. Bubblegum Crisis 2040 was made into a 26 episode show presumably after AIC won the whole legal rights debacle by slicing the head of their former
co-producers and absorbing their powers. Priss and the gang are back. Although obviously looking a bit different time around. They're still fighting boomers. And they still aren't exactly fans of the shady mega corporation Genom. That's the familiar core brought back.
A lot of the characters have changed though. With 26 episodes to work with there's no shortage of time to characterize them all. Unlike the original who only really bothered to characterize Priss and Nene properly. In this adaptation those two are more or less the same as the original. Priss being the cool and somewhat detached ace and Nene being the cutesy hacker working as their inside man in the AD Police. Linna actually gets to have a character this time around! Not only that but the show starts it's very first episode from her perspective as the idealistic small town girl going to Tokyo to get the most cyberpunk job of all. A shitty office job. High tech low life indeed. Still she wants to join the Knight Sabers that she heard about on the internet. As the devious Genom makes sure that the news don't report to them they're just a rumor. Sylia is given a new lease on life as a more mysterious ( with a mystery that's actually clearly explained this time around ) and tortured character with a seemingly personal vendetta towards boomers that plays a big part into the story. Yes! You heard me right. Story! This show actually tells a complete story from beginning to end unlike the original. Now I absolutely don't want to spoil any of it because it's quite a ride once it's set everything up. Although if you're at all familiar with the works of Chiaki Konaka who had a hand with the script of this series you can probably guess that it occasionally goes in some weird and dark directions. Not only that but they finally finished reading the "world building 101" book that they only briefly looked at in the original by actually showing the boomer working class that was so critical to the rebuilding efforts this time around ( although Crash did show some worker boomers as well ). Showing the general disdain that regular people seem to have towards boomers. Additionally Genom and Mason's motivations are a little more clear this time around too instead of just infinite resources to throw at anything and zero strategy other than being shady and shadowy for the sake of it. The story and characters is the one place where the remake clearly and unequivocally beats the original as it actually bothers to explain itself and expand on things rather than just bringing things up and then forgetting about it such as Priss' hatred for the AD Police for example.
Even though now AIC is way too busy coasting on it's former glories and IPs to make new and original shows. A fate that is tragically too common with old school studios. Back then at least it seems the studio had some smarts and probably knew they couldn't make this show as ultra stylish as the original, and instead playing to it's strength in the writing department. After all the OVA had months in between episodes to perfect its Blade Runner worshiping aesthetic instead of a TV schedule to deal with for one. If they tried I have no doubt it would've failed completely. Instead they settle for the tried and true classic 90's realism for their character designs. Although your mileage may vary when it comes to the redesign of the classic characters. I think the Priss redesign with the kind of spiky hair and sharper eyes captures the rebellious spirit of the original fairly well. The boomer designs are also more creative than the bootleg Terminators hidden in Genom secret service types that the original was so fond of. Everything from waitress boomers to Metal Gear style military boomers go mad. As they go mad they also grow monstrous and even eldritch looking at times. Liquid metal. I guess they updated from Terminator to Terminator 2 now that I think about it. Just because it's nowhere near as stylish as the original doesn't mean it looks bad. I prefer the 80's aesthetic of the old show and it's more detailed and alive looking take on the city. But it's certainly not without it's visually striking moments however. Though they mostly save those for around the end. The show is at it's most stylish when it's visually darker and shadowy in an almost horror-like manner. Perfectly complementing the monstrous boomers and making the Knight Sabers' opponents much more intimidating. Besides everyone knows sunlight and good lighting are the most un-cyberpunk thing in the world. It's animated well enough and fairly consistent. I only noticed one very odd slip up with Genom's chairman occasionally not moving his lips while talking for some strange reason. I guess Genom works in mysterious ways. Otherwise it's clear that care, polish and talent went into the series.
For the soundtrack you're getting served up some rock music. Just in case episode titles such as "Are You Experienced" "We Built This City" and "Shock Treatment" didn't clue you in. Although more alt rock and even sometimes industrial than the dad rock that the titles would suggest, some of them even being dad rock back in 98'. But atleast they didn't reference REO Speedwagon. I'm pretty sure it was mandated by international law to downtune your guitar in the 90's so you're getting a lot of that. For garnish you might get some acid bleeps and bloops that sounds like they came straight from a 303. Since Priss is still in a rock band she gets to play some songs too. But here I have to absolutely stress that you're not getting some sort of Konya Wa Hurricane showstoppers or even sequences where she gets to play a whole song while other stuff happens in some sort of montage. And even though I find the soundtrack to this show to have some good songs and it fits the tone of the show quite well ( I really like the OP song Y'know. The suspiciously sampled drums are delicious ) it comes up painfully and even embarrassingly short when compared to the lavish soundtrack of the original where the hits just kept on coming. AIC was probably aware of this and made the soundtrack more low key than the 80's excess original to avoid comparisons. Although I doubt it helped their case all that much. Priss' preformances are instead kept very short, presumably just as some sort of lipservice to the original. Or maybe to show that she has a hobby other than riding her officially mandated red cyberpunk motorcycle and being aloof.
I did love this show though. I was very fascinated by the mysteries that the series set up very early on. Such as Sylia's past and her volatile reaction and emotions towards boomers. And that even almost 10 years later Nene is still best girl. Of all things they even gave an explanations for why the Knight Sabers are all female, y'know besides the fact that they're more marketable that way. It's pacing is kind of deliberate in the beginning . And it keeps some of it's cards close to it's chest until the very end. But it all leads up to something special let's just put it that way.
As much as I love 80's anime aesthetic. And I know there's a lot of people out there that does too ( although they're not really to be found on great numbers on MAL ) keep in mind that not everything has to be made exactly like they did back then. There's joy to be had in exploring the different takes of different eras has on genres. It's a beauty that all mediums hold, not just anime. Ignorant nu schoolers that only watch seasonal stuff should definitely go back and watch the classics to actually get some sort of basic understanding of the medium they claim to love and it's rich history that might be lost if the community keeps going the way it is right now. And bitter old schoolers obviously needs to stop the Miyazaki style rambling and actually watch some good shows instead of just cherry picking the high school slice of shlock shows as examples. Unless they're mech-heads ofcourse then I'll pass them a 40' and bow my head with them in remembrance of when Sunrise used to be good studio.
Having had mixed perceptions of the original Bubblegum Crisis and hearing of the Tokyo 2040 spinoff expanding on what the 1988 OAV series didn't do, I decided to give BGC Tokyo 2040 a shot. While this take on Bubblegum Crisis didn't really wow me, there were aspects of it which made me enjoy it more over the OAV series. The series still features Sylia and the Knight Sabers dealing with mad boomers and corrupt activity within the Genom corporation with the girls still a likeable bunch.
The characterizations with many of the prominent characters have changed a bit from their 80s counterparts with how you enjoy
them depending on how you liked them ten years earlier. Here are some examples:
1. Sylia mostly works in a supporting role with the Knight Sabers for this series and isn't so stoic in this spinoff as she has angry mood swings whenever the subject of Genom is brought up.
2. Priss is more aloof in Tokyo 2040 as she keeps distant from the other Knight Sabers throughout much of the series, along side potential love interest and AD Police officer Leon who isn't as smooth-talking as he was in the OAV.
3. Sylia's brother, Mackie, is more polite, plays a bigger role in this series and isn't prone to perversion as his 80s counterpart.
The series does expand on its back story on Sylia so we come to know what connects her to the boomers, why she opposes Genom and how she formed the Knight Sabers, a major improvement over the OAV. The major characters that represent Genom aren't completely evil either as the chairman of the company aspires for humanity and boomers to coexist, Brian Mason having enough depth where he has justification for his actions against the chairman's orders and boomers being used for more mundane purposes besides military use. The series starts off at first as a "monster of the week" type plot where the Knight Sabers deal with a random mad boomer in each episode. However as Mason's goals slowly start to unravel, his plans kick in during the second half of Tokyo 2040 to start off an engaging ongoing plot as said plans jeopardize more than the people of Mega Tokyo. With the original Bubblegum Crisis being notable for its soundtrack, the music for Tokyo 2040 is given as much love here with its mix of rock and techno musical tracks that blend in quite well with the everyday and tense scenes seen throughout the series. And while shortcuts with the animation were apparent for me, character designs and scenery were well drawn with a good amount of detail.
The series isn't without its flaws however. Like the original series, I still found the other Knight Sabers to be quite underdeveloped compared to what we learn about Sylia. In addition, the quality of the plotting for the final episodes to the series left quite a bit to be desired for me as deus ex machina seemed to take place for the Knight Sabers to overcome a seemingly powerful foe and it becomes a bit too centered on making Priss into the heroine who saves everyone in the end. I was also left with some questions over what happened in the series finale with events and characters.
While not the major improvement I was hoping to get out of the Bubblegum Crisis franchise, Tokyo 2040 still offered enough with its plot and characters to give it a better quality feel for me than the more style-driven OAV series.
Welcome to the land of futuristic drama where humans have evolved to cyborgs, computer viruses are the norm of the day and war has completely destroyed the lands. The terminator franchise no longer seems funny, does it?