For a while now I have been collecting all the episodes of Bubblegum Crisis. It’s a Japanese science fiction anime series, telling of the exploits of the Knight Sabres, a mysterious team of valiant femmes fatales in powered armor engaging berserk robots and protecting the citizens of Tokyo from harm.
A little background is in order, though. There are actually two series – Bubblegum Crisis 2032 and Bubblegum Crisis Mega Tokyo 2040. It looks like that after Bubblegum Crisis went into production, the two companies who produced the show went their seperate ways and/or out of business. Only eight episodes of Bubblegum Crisis had been made. Each were of the longer 45 minutes format.
A few years later, the IP was revived. Bubblegum Crisis Mega Tokyo 2040 was a complete rewrite, keeping the basic premise and some basics of the characters. The show was produced in the more up-to-date 20 minutes per episode format. The result was, of course, that the stories told in each episode were “simpler” than in the 45 minutes episodes. However, BGC2040 moves to a continuing story arc relatively quickly, so it doesn’t really matter.
Where the boomers – the robots so common in the futuristic Japan of the future – were pretty normal – if powerful – androids in BGC 2032, they have a more organic feel in BGC 2040. Overall, the drawings of the newer series are much better than the old one. I guess the times change, and BGC 2032 was probably drawn by hand; today, the shows are produced using computers.
Besides the design of the background and the drawing style, the most striking difference is the character design. In BGC 2032, all the protagonists basically are best buddies; in BGC 2040, we do not get this impression. There is a lot more conflict between the chaacters. I think I actually like the characters of BGC 2032 better. They’re more… professional. Of course the conflict does spice the story up, so, who minds.
Also note that the original show never got around to any sort of coherent story arc. In the 8th episode, things start to become interesting, if maybe a little…. radical all of a sudden. Let’s just say a lot of stuff gets blown up. But how can you judge a show of which only eight episodes were made?
It’s far easier to judge BGC 2040. A warning, I have only watched the first 19 episodes (out of 26) as I write this The action of BGC 2040 is good. I like the story so far. A good amount of comic relief (especially through Nene. Ah, Nene. I really, really like Nene’s voice.) The story is well-paced; I find myself wanting to watch more immediately after I am done with one episode.
If you come across this show – last time I checked the DVDs were totally sold out – and you like the genre, then get this show. Hey, it’s about chicks in powered armor, so how can you go wrong? 🙂
As an aside: I am watching the japanese version with english subtitles. Getting used to it – much better than the english dub.
_Update, March 21st 2003:_ I have seen up to episode 25 now, which only leaves the finale. What can I say, unfortunately BGC 2040 does slide a little into annoying silliness especially in episodes 24 and 25. The show tries to be too dramatic, too big, and it doesn’t work. They set up a big stage and try to live up to it, yet somehow, they’re not believable. I’ll wait for episode 26 before passing a final judgement. Too bad, though, for episodes 23-25. They’re not too fun.
_Update, the next day:_ Watched the finale. Didn’t like it. Final judgment on the series: Watch it for free, don’t spend your money on it. For fans of the genre. Buy Trigun instead, or something.