Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A+
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 4 - Australia / South America
- Released By: Madman Entertainment
- MSRP: 69.95
- Running time: 453
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Bubblegum Crisis
Bubblegum Crisis 2032 Collection
By John Eriani
February 20, 2007
Release Date: November 10, 2006
Bubblegum Crisis 2032 Collection
What They Say
© Madman Entertainment
It is the year 2032 A.D. Like a Phoenix, the city of Mega Tokyo is rising from the ashes of a devastating earthquake. In the twisted canyons of the megalopolis, the Knight Sabers, a small band of high tech mercenaries, fight a lonely battle against the evil GENOM Corporation and its sinister androids, the BoomersThe Review!
Madman's first VHS release is finally available on DVD to celebrate their 10 year anniversary.Audio:
I watched the show in its original language of Japanese and everything sounded just fine, there were no dropouts or hiss in the soundtrack and the music which is a big part of the show came through really well. Action scenes sounded good with some nice 2.0 directionality. I spot checked the dub and it's pretty much the same. The dub itself is passable and for those that enjoy English dubs all of the songs have also been dubbed into English. Video:
Presented in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 the video isn't without problems. Due to the age of the show I wasn't expecting very much in terms of video quality. It seems to be very much on par with the region 1 version and all the issues associated with that release are present here as well, interlacing throughout especially on panning sequences. I did spot check my region 1 copy and this transfer seems to be slightly cleaner but there is also a fair amount of edge enhancement and compression artefacts as well although to be fair this is a show from the late 80's and its probably the best its going to look on DVD.Packaging:
This release comes in a clear brick like case (or madpack if you will) similar to Madman's other collection releases. We get the same artwork that was used on the region 1 remastered edition which is the Knight Sabers in full hard suits sans their helmets on a dark blue background with the English logo in pink over the original Japanese. The standard Madman technical grid can be found at the bottom with various credits of the people that made the show. The back cover has shots from the show as well as a brief synopsis with some art work of Priss posing while her suit breaks away. Although the blue of the OFLC logo doesn't look to out of place, Madman has also given us a reversible cover which you don't normally see in a madpack. There is also an insert booklet of program notes similar to the ones on the region one release. I prefer having this as a booklet as it can be read while watching the show instead of before or after in the extra's menu. While the packaging is good I couldn't help but hope that Madman would inject their own style into this release with some nicer artwork instead of sticking what had been done before.Menu:
The main menu for each disc opens up with the same artwork from the front cover of the Knight Sabers sans helmets and a cityscape at night behind them while the song "Hurricane Tonight" plays in the background. All the rest of the menus are without music and are simply static images from either promotional artwork or the show itself. Everything is easy to access without any issues whatsoever. It's not the most amazing menu I have ever seen but it does the job.Extras:
The extras on this release are pretty much on par with its region 1 cousin, spread out over the four discs we get the 13 music videos for all the songs in their cheesy late 80's mid 90's glory (some live action and some animated) as well as the holiday in Bali special which is basically some of the Japanese female cast from the show going to Bali for a holiday and sing a few songs along the way. It's rather dated now but its good to have an extra like this that you wouldn't normally see. There is also the program notes booklet mentioned above and line art galleries. There is also an interview with Tim Anderson that runs about 25 minutes long where he talks about Bubblegum Crisis and Madman Entertainment and how it came to be as well as some of the milestones that have come and gone for the company. All these extras make this collection a very attractive package for fans. Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bubblegum Crisis is one of the classic late 80's OVA, with killer cyborgs, girls in hard suits and cheesy rock music it was one of the staples of anime fans back in the VHS days. Madman's first ever release is also partly the reason we have such a choice of anime on DVD in Australia now.
The world of Bubblegum Crisis is that of the future in the year 2032, Tokyo has suffered from a huge earthquake and has been rebuilt now known as Mega Tokyo. While there are lots of technological advancements there are still oppression and poverty to be found in this new city which appears to be largely controlled by the Genom Corporation. Genom is a very lage organisation that appears to have its hands in everything technological but its main business seen in the anime is to do with Boomer and Boomer related technology.
Boomers are synthetic cyborgs that come in many different types, the main one we see throughout the series is that of your standard weapon Boomer, designed for fighting and destruction. Genom appears to manufacturer the majority of these and is always looking at new ways to improve the destructive capabilities. The standard Boomer that we see is blue in colour with red eyes and normally possesses some sort of weapon inside the mouth. Boomers can look human but when they run amok or go into battle they tend to shed there humanoid appearance. They are basically service robots that do things that humans just cant, because of this they are in high demand but they can also malfunction by accident (or on purpose) and when that happens there tends to be many casualties. To combat Boomer related crimes the AD Police have been formed to deal with this threat. They deal exclusively with Boomer threats but they also have competition in the fight against Boomers from the Knight Sabers.
The Knight Sabers are an all female group of mercenaries in robotic suits (known as hard suits) who fight Boomers and Genom for various reasons. Sometimes they are paid to, sometimes it is for the good of the city and sometimes it's for revenge. They are lead by Sylia Stingray a young billionaire and creator of the hard suits thanks to her father; she also runs the lingerie shop that is a front for their base of operations. Other members of The Knight Sabers include Linna Yamazaki a friendly young woman who enjoys aerobics and boyfriends, Nene Romanova a cute pink haired girl that's an expert hacker and who also moonlights as an employee of the AD Police.
Rounding out the team is Priscilla S. Asagiri (or Priss) the lead singer of a rock band known as the Replicants, she is a rather angry and short tempered woman who enjoys battle and causing trouble for Genom. They are supported by Mackie Stingray, Sylia's little brother who seems to maintain their equipment and help them out on occasion , Fargo who gives them the jobs to complete and while not strictly helping them AD Police officers Leon McNichol and Daley Wong.
The opening episode does a good job of introducing us to the world and its characters, there are lots of city scape shots and it's definitely reminiscent of Blade Runner. The Knight Sabers are hired to rescue a young girl that appears to have been kidnapped by Boomers but there is more going on behind the scenes. Other episodes deal with some of the victims of Genom's greed and lust for power and some are just a typical day in the life of The Knight Sabers. Most of the stories are connected to each other in some way but there isn't a large story arc being told here so they can also be viewed as stand alone stories for the most part.
Some of the episodes are better then others, a few suffer from a rushed feeling with less then adequate character establishment. It isn't the most intelligent entertainment in the world but it still works as cyberpunk action with some plot thrown in. It's a shame that the last episode while rather cute and fun is not a conclusion to the series, the reason for this is because originally Bubblegum Crisis was planned to be a thirteen episode series but after a falling out between production companies it was stopped at eight. There was a sequel produced but from all accounts it isn't as good and we probably wont see it anytime soon in Australia.
The music in the series is one of the main draws or problems depending on your view. There is about three or four notable songs per episode and it's rather hard not to find at least one song that you can enjoy, that is if you like late 80's early 90's j-rock. It's a double edge sword as the music could be considered rather dated and may turn some people away. Personally I enjoyed most of the musical soundtrack with my favourite track being Mad Machine from Episode two; I even enjoyed the English language version of that song.
Animation throughout has some really good looking action sequences that stand up even today. The OVA's were released over the span of four or so years and as time went by the animation improved and although all the episodes were character designed by Kenichi Sonoda you can see several other influences as they progress, Masami Obari the director of episodes 5 and 6 seems to have had some input in his episodes character wise. The mechanical design is also very impressive and the hard suits of The Knight Sabers are just so easily recognisable and interesting with the lack of any form of face being viewable and most of the limbs being obscured by some weapon or being rounded off completely.
There is a lot of history with this show and what it has done for anime. The creative team behind the OVA have all gone on to bigger and better things with, Masami Obari(Fatal Fury), Shinji Aramaki (The new Appleseed movie), Kenichi Sonoda (Gunsmith Cats), Katsuhito Akiyama (Guyver TV, Sol Bianca) and Hiroki Hayashi (Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard) just to name a few. The show has also spawned a number of sequels and a remake as well as many spin offs involving the AD Police which shows the premise for the series is still popular and relevant even today. In Summary:
Bubblegum Crisis 2032 is a classic anime from a time when a lot of stuff was hard to come by in the west (and definitely in Australia) although its appeal may be lost on newer generations of fans its good to see classic anime that has influenced many still being released alongside newer shows. Madman's collection is a great package for anyone wanting to check out the original Knight Sabers in all their 80's glory.
English 2.0 Language,Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Reversible Cover,13 Music Videos,Line Art Gallery,Text Comments/Interviews with the Original Japanese Staff,Program Notes,Holiday in Bali Video,Original Japanese Promos,Madman 10th Anniversary interview with Madman founder Tim Anderson
LG 32LX2D 32" HD LCD TV, Sony DVP-NS50P Progressive scan region free DVD player, Monster component cable, Yamaha TSS-15 Home Theatre Sound System