Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Essential Anime Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 225
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040

Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Essential Anime Vol. #1

By Mike Dungan     March 15, 2005
Release Date: October 26, 2004

Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Essential Anime Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
In the aftermath of the great earthquake, one ruthless corporation stands ready to take over the devastated city of Tokyo with an army of synthetic monsters. Only a single band of female mercenaries oppose the monolithic power of Genom. With these four women, however, that’s all it takes! Armed with the most incredible combat suits ever designed, the Knight Sabers wage a desperate war in the shadows, combating the monstrous by-products of technology with courage, sweat and blood! Get ready for the ultimate assault on the senses with one of the wildest action series to ever roll out of Japan.

The Review!
The classic but incomplete OVA series gets reborn as a television series, now in a new release with more features for less money.

The big news is the all new 5.1 remix of ADV's classic English dub. It's used to excellent effect here. The new mix is most effective in Priss's songs, sung by Christine Auten. Her vocals fairly thunder out of the speakers with amazing clarity and power. Spoken audio isn't overlooked. Crowd scenes have more depth to them, with conversations showing excellent separation, both left to right and front to back. The Japanese audio sounds as good as ever, and I didn't notice any problems with the Spanish audio. One thing I've never understood, though, is why there isn't a Spanish subtitle track for Spanish-speaking fans who may want to watch it in Japanese or English.

As soon as the opening theme begins to play, the cleaned up video transfer is obvious. Colors are sharper and cleaner. Scenes at night (and that's just about all of them) look better, with more subtle definition to dark colors. Everything just looks better. Another bonus in this new Essential Anime release is the removal of ADV's title cards which are replaced with softsubs.

The cover features Priss in her blue hardsuit standing in a stark white spotlight, holding a mic on a stand. The Essential Anime purple bars run across the top and the bottom. The back cover is mostly black, with a close up of Priss singing into a mic. A review blurb (from AoD) is just above her. Alongside is the usual plot summary, with three images from the show above it all. The volume number is on the front cover and the spine. The back cover has the titles of all 9 episodes. Inside are two DVDs. One has a gorgeous image of Priss's hardsuit against a white background with a small grid pattern printed on it. The other is similar except that it's Linna's green hardsuit. Take the DVDs out and the back of the cover can be seen through the clear Scanavo case. A grid patter runs across the bottom. On the right are the episode titles for each disc and a guide for the English Voice Actor commentaries, with images of Priss, Sylia, Nene and Linna at the bottom. On the right is Linna in her hardsuit in full flight. The look is effective and I quite liked it.

The menus from the original release are retained. Images of the 4 Knight Sabers rotate through an animation. The episodes are listed at the bottom of the screen. Transition from main menu to extras and language setup menus is quick and easily navigable with no transition animation. The extras menu screen looks the same as always, except that the commentaries are also listed with the other previous extras.

The usual clean opening and closing are present on the second disc as well as the character biographies. The big extra this time around is the inclusion of no less than 4 commentary tracks from the English voice actors. One the first disc, episode 4 features Christine Auten (Priss) and Kelly Manison (Linna). The second disc has commentaries from Spike Spencer (Mackie) and John Gremillion (Nigel) on episode 6, Jason Douglas (Leon) and Chris Patton (Daley) on episode 7, and Hilary Haag (Nene) on episode 9. ADR director and scriptwriter Matt Greenfield is present on all 4 commentaries. All the interviews were fun and informative. I found myself laughing at John Gremillion's efforts to liven up Nigel by having him talk "street." The only real surprise was the lack of a commentary by Laura Chapman in this set, the voice of Sylia Stingray.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Welcome to a reborn Tokyo in the year 2040. In the wake of a devastating earthquake 7 years earlier, the city is rising again. Their efforts are helped by "boomers" from the megalithic Genom Corporation, robots that assist with the endless labor. Into this brave new world walks Linna Yamazaki. She's straight off the farm and looking forward to her first day as an office lady in the big city. A confrontation with a motorcyclist leads her to seek out a mysterious group of vigilantes called the "Knight Sabers." While the Genom controlled media has suppressed any acknowledgement of them, rumors persist on the internet, and their efforts to fight rogue boomers is what has drawn Linna to Tokyo. A particularly bad date turns into a worse nightmare when a boomer goes mad, or "rogue", and attacks the restaurant she's in. She's rescued by the Knight Sabers, which only increases her determination to join them. What she finds isn't what she expected. They're all women, for one thing. Sylia Stingray, the leader of the group is a beautiful young woman who operates a small women's fashion boutique. Priss Asagiri is a rock singer with little time for fools or newbies. Nene Romanova is a police officer with the AD Police, a short young woman with an outgoing personality and an ego all out of proportion to her actual fighting abilities. With Sylia becoming too old to effectively use her suit any more, and Nene's minimal fighting skills, Priss has been doing most of the work, and it's been decided to bring someone else on. After seeing what kind of a person Linna is, Sylia offers to let her join.
Making Linna the central character early on lets the viewer ease into the world of BGC 2040. Linna sees the good the Knight Sabers are doing, but she also get a good look at the madness that lies barely suppressed under Sylia's calm exterior, and the anger that Priss doesn't even bother to hide. We also meet other characters, such as Sylia's younger brother Mackie, who has been gone for quite a while; Nigel, the taciturn mechanic who builds the hardsuits; Leon, the tough-talking but emotionally awkward cop who develops an interest in a decidedly unimpressed Priss; Leon's highly intelligent partner Daley who has a knack for seeing through the political machinations to see the heart of the problem; Brian J. Mason, president of Genom Corp, who has a secret agenda that involves Sylia's late father; and Quincy Rosencroitz, the Chairman of Genom, who has grand ambitions for the world, and his beloved boomers will bring those plans to fruition for him.

In Summary:
While there was grumbling from fans of the classic OVA series, Chiaki Konoka's excellent story and scripts for the TV series gave the series a great new lease on life. The story is sharp and clever, and the reinvention of the four main characters works very well. The soundtrack remains one of the best rock soundtracks in anime. With this new Essential Anime release, this marks the third time I've bought the series: once on subtitled VHS, once on DVD, and now again on DVD. Having become a fan of the English dub in the last couple of years, the new 5.1 mix is very welcome, as are all the commentaries. When you consider that all this goodness comes in a package that's one-third what it used to retail for, this is one of the best bargains in anime.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,Spanish 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation, Commentaries by Christine Auten (Priss); Kelly Manison (Linna); Jason Douglas (Leon); Chris Patton (Daley); Hilary Haag (Nene); Spike Spenser (Mackey); John Gremillion (Nigel);Character biographies

Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player


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