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Bubblegum Crisis

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese Original Video Animation (1987-1991; vt Bubblegum Crisis 2033). Artmic and AIC. Directed by Katsuhito Akiyama. Written by Toshimichi Suzuki. Voice cast includes Toshio Furukawa, Akiko Hiramatsu, Kinuko Ômori, Yoshiko Sakakibara and Michie Tomizawa. Eight episodes of 26-52 minutes. Colour.

Sylia Stingray's (Sakakibara) Scientist father is murdered and his work stolen by the evil megacorporation GENOM, who use his designs to manufacture robots called Boomers, which are as likely to be used for evil as good. Sylia, a genius like her father, forms the Knight Sabers: four women in hi-tech armoured suits, mercenaries who fight rogue Boomers and oppose GENOM.

The other Knight Sabers are the athletic Linna Yamazaki (Tomizawa); Computer expert/hacker Nene Romanova (Hiramatsu); and the shows main protagonist, Priscilla Asagiri (Ômori). Known as Pris, she is a biker, rock star (her band is called The Replicants, one of several Bladerunner (1982) references) and the emotional centre of the show. Pris is unlucky in love: GENOM were responsible for her boyfriend's death; whilst later she develops a relationship with an Android Boomer that survives on human blood (see Parasitism and Symbiosis) – but circumstances (she controls a Mecha that has a nuclear self-destruct) lead to Pris having to kill her. Another prominent character is Leon McNichol (Furukawa), whose courting of Pris is as charmless as it is doomed: he is an officer in the A.D. Police, whose remit covers Boomer-related crime.

The series is set in the Near Future in an early 2030s Mega Tokyo, which has been rebuilt following an earthquake: its splitting of the original City in two reflects the economic divisions in its society, which (as the writer has explained) is "like a chewing-gum bubble that's about to burst".

This Anime was one of the most popular of the early wave of animated video-only releases in the west; still enjoyable, it has nevertheless dated somewhat, with the dialogue (in the english dub at least) being uninspired, undermining many emotional and dramatic moments. The soundtrack's songs – sung by Pris – have not aged well. Though occasionally impressive, particularly in episode one, the animation is hindered by budgetary limitations.

Bubblegum Crisis had been planned to run for thirteen episodes, but only eight were made due to disagreements between the production studios. There were a number of sequels and spinoffs: a sequel, Bubblegum Crash (1991), was curtailed after three episodes owing to legal problems; later there was a reboot of the original series, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (1998-1999), which ran for 26 episodes. The first spinoff, A.D. Police Files (1990), covering Leon McNichol's early days, ran for only three episodes before the legal issues hit: nevertheless, it too had a sequel, A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve (1999), which had a new cast and ran for twelve episodes. Another spinoff based on the exploits of the A.D. Police was Parasite Dolls (2003), which ran for three episodes. A live-action film, announced in 2009 and planned for release in 2012, never materialized. [SP]


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