Bubblegum Crisis

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Bubblegum Crisis is an anime OVA series that takes at least part of its inspiration from Philip K. Dick's and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

Bubblegum Crisis is a mecha style anime that takes place in the future in a post-disaster Tokyo, now known as Megatokyo. The series has a manga adaptation.

The original OVA series was eight episodes long. It was originally slated to run for thirteen episodes, but due to legal problems between the two studios who jointly held the rights to the series, Artmic and Youmex, the series was discontinued. The problems may have been brought on by the series' lackluster sales in Japan. In North America, however, the series did comparatively well, and has remained a fan favorite.

In Japan, a number of manga were produced that featured characters and storylines based in the BGC (a common abbreviation for the series name) universe. Some were very much thematically linked to the OVA series, others were "one shots" or comedy features. A number of artists participated in the creation of these comics, including Kenichi Sonoda, who had produced the original Knight Saber character designs. A North American comic based in the Bubblegum Crisis Universe was published in English by Dark Horse Comics.

The series involves the adventures of the Knight Sabers, an all woman group of superheroes/mercenaries, who don powered armor and fight various problems, most frequently rogue boomers. Boomers are humanoid robots designed to perform a variety of tasks, from construction and firefighting to combat; a particular model of Boomer, the BU-33S "Sexaroid", is designed for sexual purposes.

One of the central themes of the series, showing its Blade Runner influence strongly, is the exploration of what "human" really means. As in Blade Runner, this is often done by using the mechanical characters, especially focusing on BU-33S.

Bubblegum Crisis was notable also in that it was one of the few early anime series that were brought over from Japan unedited and subtitled with English captions that still have a great deal of popularity today. While anime has become much more popular in the intervening years, in 1991 it was still mostly unknown as a storytelling medium in North America.

In 1997, a new series was created, titled "Bubblegum Crisis 2040", but was not a sequel to the original OVA series. Headed by Chiaki J. Konaka, it was a standalone television series, and while it used similar themes to the original, it employed new designs for the characters and the mechanical devices. This series ran for twenty six episodes. Some discussion has taken place between the production companies for a second season, tentatively titled "Bubblegum Crisis 2041".

Despite the age of the original series, a non-Japanese fandom still exists for it (further research is necessary to determine the size of a possible Japanese one), and throughout the years there have been many debates on parts of the series that were unclear or deliberately arranged as to provoke discussion. The community of fans have produced large quantities of "fan fiction" and "fan art" based on both the OVA and television series, though there is a preponderance of works and discussion based on the original series. This is partly due to the longer period of time that it has been out, but it is also partly due to a large portion of the fandom expressing a preference for the original series. It is unclear as to how the proportions of preference will change as further time passes.

Bubblegum Crisis has many features that have proven attractive to many viewers of anime. The mecha designs, character designs and overall concepts are interesting and well-realized. The storylines are varied and complex, and are (sometimes deliberately, sometimes not) filled with parts that have multiple possible interpretations. The series was also one of the earliest anime to have a strong yuri fandom.

The music throughout the original OAV series is one of the most recognizable in anime fandom and generates a strong feeling of 1980's nostalgia. The opening song and sequence for the first OAV, as well as many of the other songs throughout the series, clearly draw inspiration from the 1984 movie Streets of Fire.

A roleplaying game based on the series was published by R. Talsorian in 1997 under the Fuzion system.

A digitally-remastered compilation of the original series' episodes, featuring bi-lingual tracks and production extras, was released on DVD in 2004 by AnimEigo Inc.

Sequels and Spin-Offs

Some images also were taken to be used in the CCG Ani-Mayhem.

Major Characters

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Note: all character information is for the original OVA series. There are some differences in character background for BGC 2040.

Sylia Stingray

An enigmatic billionaire, and the founder of the Knight Sabers. Sylia runs and operates the Silky Doll Lingerie shop, which is more of a front for the Knight Sabers. Sylia frequently engages in close combat with boomers. Sylia is the daughter of Dr. Katsuhito Stingray, the man who invented boomers. Several questions about Sylia and her origins are raised in the series, but never answered. Some fans believe that Sylia is a boomer herself, or at least enhanced with boomer technology. The comic by Adam Warren "Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal" revolves around Warren's idea that Sylia has an enhanced brain. Suzuki Toshio of Artmic has been quoted as saying that Sylia has an augmented brain, and is said to have approved of Warren's comic.


Original OVA voice actress: Yoshiko Sakakibara.

Nene Romanova

A perky hacker, employed as a dispatcher for the AD Police. She is also a member of the Knight Sabers. Nene does little fighting, focusing on sensor ops, battlefield communications, ECM and ECCM.

From the AIC 15th Anniversary artbook, which includes both artwork and descriptive text, the following information regarding Nene was translated (with conversions from metric to imperial added):

  • Height: 1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
  • Weight: 48 kg (105.84 lb)
  • Born: 2014-08-31
  • Age (Series Start): 18
  • Where she's from: Tokyo (the book described this as "conjecture")
  • Three Sizes: 80–60–85 cm (31–24–33 in) (these are also the measurements of the voice actress that voiced Nene)
  • Blood Type: O Type
  • Personality: (English approximation) A little naïve. A big space case and a follower of each new fad.
  • Interest/Taste/Hobby: Eating cake after showering
  • Special Skill: Computer hacking
  • Explanatory Notes: Nene oversees the gathering and analysis of the Knight Saber's Military Intelligence.

These are not the only stats regarding Nene. The ones derived from the BGC crash game, "Crime Wave", state the following:

  • DoB: August 31, 2014
  • Height: 1.56 m (5 ft 1 in)
  • Weight: 42 kg
  • Chest: 84 cm (33 in)
  • Waist: 58 cm (23 in)
  • Hips: 86 cm (34 in)

Nene was rated, in the 15th Anniversary book, as the second best in the top ten list of favorite AIC female characters. Catty from Gall Force took the top spot.

Original OVA voice actress: Hiramatsu Akiko

Linna Yamazaki

Works various jobs including aerobics instructor, Linna once hoped to pursue a career in professional dancing. She is a member of the Knight Sabers, focusing on combat. Compared to the other major characters, Linna got very little character development in the original series. However in BGC 2040 Linna was perhaps the most developed character.

Original OVA voice actress: Tomizawa Michie

Priscilla S. Asagiri

Priss, as she is most often called, is a rather angry, violent person. She is a member of the Knight Sabers, specializing in close combat. She is the lead singer in the rock band "Priss and the Replicants", a reference to the movie Blade Runner.

Priss' voice actress in the original OVA is, in real life, a singer in the rock band which did the music for Bubblegum Crisis.

Original OVA voice actress: Oomori Kinuko

Leon McNichol

AD Police officer. Leon is a dedicated cop, with a tendency to rush in without thinking. He is a skilled powered armor pilot, one of the AD Police force's aces in its K-11 and K-12S powered suits. He has a crush on Priss, which she does not like since she has reasons to despise the AD Police. As the series progresses he discovers that she is a Knight Saber, but does nothing with that knowledge. Priss and Leon's relationship grows closer during the series, and in a side story audio drama, she confesses that she loves him.

Original OVA voice actor: Toshio Furukawa

Daley Wong

AD Police officer. Daley is Leon's partner, and a highly skilled investigator. Daley is also openly homosexual, which is worth noting because at the time the original OVA was produced male homosexual characters were quite rare in anime. Also notable is the ease and comfort of Daley and Leon's working relationship: Daley flirts openly with the heterosexual Leon, and Leon often reciprocates with good humor. Daley is not developed much in the series.

Original OVA voice actor: Kenyuu Horiuchi

Brian J Mason/Largo

Executive in Genom. The primary villain of the first three episodes, Mason is the man who killed Dr. Stingray and stole his boomer technology. As with Sylia, certain mysteries are created around Mason which are never resolved in the series. It is generally accepted that Mason somehow transferred his personality into a boomer body some time prior to his death. Most likely he succeeded in transferring his memories in the ultimate boomer, thus creating a God-like being (as you'd call one person able to blast down 8 Genom major branch in a single instant) with the mind and the dreams of a man. Largo resurfaces to become the primary villain of episodes 5 and 6.

See "The Mason/Largo Theory" at http://www.ravensgarage.com/garage/maslargo.htm for more details on how Mason may have transferred his consciousness to Largo.

Original OVA voice actor: Shuuichi Ikeda. Largo: Kazuyuki Sogabe

A Review of Powered Armor Present in the Series

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K-11 Combat Armor

The K-11 series of powered armor units was developed by the military, but has since been purchased and employed by policing organizations in order to combat the growing Boomer problems. The ADP utilized the K-11 for operations against more powerful and dangerous boomers, such as the Bu-12b, which is a full combat model.

Noted by the USSD as inferior to the Knight Saber's hard suits, the K-11 was introduced to the viewers in the first episode, though only via a line-art diagram displayed on a monitor.

The K-11 makes its return in episode 3 of the OAV series, where a pair are used to stop a rampaging Bu-12b heavy combat boomer. While both suits were destroyed [and presumably, both operators killed or incapacitated], the boomer rampage was halted through their operators' selfless actions. The difficulty of combatting a powerful boomer like the Bu-12b was compounded by the need to minimize collateral damage, as the battle took place in a built-up area.

The K-11 is used in the same way as the Knight Saber's hard suits; a soldier or police officer is inside the armor and the arms and legs of the person are placed in the respective armor parts. This means that the K-11 is directly controlled via the users body- if the user moves his arm, for example, the armor follows the movement.

K-11 Specifications

The K-11 is equipped with a large conventional rifle, capable of penetrating heavy armor at close range, though its efficacy at longer ranges appeared to be low. It could be considered an autocannon, as the series depicted it firing at a low rate of fire, but continuously.

The armor of the K-11 is not proof against the powerful cannon that equips the heavy Bu-12b, but had some resistance versus the associated machine gun, which suggests at least light armor protection.

Equipped with a pair of flight wings [in a back pack] and lift thrusters [mounted in the legs], the K-11 has a hover capability, though not high above the ground, and likely cannot leave ground effect flight. For deployment, it can be air-dropped via transport helicopter, and uses a parachute to slow its descent.

Crew

The original character designs were done by Kenichi Sonoda, a manga artist most known for his Gunsmith Cats series. He was selected after Amano Yoshitaka declined to participate in the development of the series.

Directors: Katsuhito Akiyama, and Hiroaki Goda.

(see also Knight Sabers, AD Police, Boomer, Genom, Megatokyo)

External links

de:Bubblegum Crisis ja:バブルガムクライシス pt:Bubblegum Crisis sv:Bubblegum Crisis