Early in the 21st century, an earthquake destroyed the city of Tokyo. Now the year is 2032, and with the help of a company called GENOM Corporation that produces life-size robot laborers called “boomers”, Tokyo has been rebuilt into MegaTokyo. There is a problem with the boomers, though; several of them are going berserk and killing innocent people. The AD Police are assembled to combat these boomers, but when the boomers prove to be too strong for them to handle, four girls known as the Knight Sabers have to step in and help. Can the AD Police and the Knight Sabers stop the rampaging boomers together and get to the bottom of this?
summary by Keitaro
Highs: Fantastic music and voice acting; plot twists keep the story interesting; first-rate action scenes
Lows: Big characters don’t get their share of screen time; the first few episodes drag on at points
Bubblegum Crisis is a classic in every sense. It has had a huge impact on the anime world over the last decade, and many credit it with defining the cyber punk genre. This was also one of the first anime to use the OVA format. With all the hype surrounding it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bubblegum Crisis lives up to its reputation.
The animation feels painfully outdated and was a real turnoff. You can’t blame the anime for this, though. When compared to similar shows of the same time, Bubblegum Crisis actually looks quite good, and even if the art didn’t age well, the music and voice acting certainly did. I love the ’80s J-Pop tunes and Oomori Kinuko does an astounding job as Priss. Great action scenes are icing on the cake.
Priss is truly the standout character and gets tons of screen time, but what about the other cast? I felt that the rest of the Knight Sabers did not get a chance to impress because Priss always overshadowed them. Sylia, Linna and Nene are big characters, but they ended up having too small of parts in the story.
The story, however, is great, and the action scenes blend in well. The overall pacing could have used some work, however. The first three episodes dragged on a bit at some points, and I found several moments to be very confusing. The fifth episode and onward are a real turnaround, and there are tons of plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, I found this to be a great anime that actually lived up to the hype surrounding it. All fans of science fiction and action anime should try to see this at some point.
Highs: Toe-tapping music; art and animation gets better and better; fun-loving characters
Lows: Lack of needed background; episodic
Though it may not be the first anime to showcase a group of strong women in roles usually reserved for men, Bubblegum Crisis certainly played a large role in establishing the genre and paved the way for the likes of Sailor Moon and others cut from the same cloth. What’s even more remarkable is that this was done without having to resort to copious amounts of fan service, instead relying on a once-upon-a-time utilized component of good storytelling: characters with depth.
Watching the first few episodes in this OVA series might turn off eye candy fans, and perhaps rightfully so: for an action OVA, the animation is sloppy early on. The good news is that the visuals improve as the anime progresses, marked by Sonoda Kenichi’s signature character designs (fans of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats will relish his artwork in the last few episodes). The tunes, however, are excellent throughout and have come to be recognized as the signature ’80s anime rock music; every episode has its own opening and ending theme, so none of the music has a chance to become repetitious.
Even eight OVAs don’t seem enough to contain such a large, complicated story while doing the likable characters justice. The Knight Sabers spend a lot of the time fighting the Boomer of the Week, but it’s really the moments when they are going about their everyday lives that I found the most enjoyable. It’s a shame these moments are infrequent, because big players like Sylia and Linna aren’t adequately supported by background stories.
And yet this anime as a whole is a fun romp through cyber punk anime of yesteryear. If girl power set to the tone of inspired rock music is your cup o’ tea, then sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Bubblegum Crisis can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.