Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Essential Anime Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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. #2

By Mike Dungan     May 25, 2005
Release Date: December 28, 2004

Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Essential Anime Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
Chaos reigns as the Knight Sabers war against GENOM moves out of the shadows and into the streets in a spectacular orgy of destruction! But the real horror is yet to come, for underneath the ruins of old Tokyo, a long buried secret begins to awake, setting the stage for the ultimate nightmare!

The Review!
Chiaki Konaka's retelling of the classic OVA series moves from character development into the heart of the story in this volume.

The English 5.1 mix is excellent, making full use of the soundstage. Especially noteworthy was the use of the mix front to back, giving excellent depth to the listening experience. One surprise was the omission of a line from the English dub in episode 13. In the midst of an explosive confrontation between the Knight Sabers, the camera focuses on Nene as she says "Sylia." Unfortunately, that didn't make it into the mix, leaving her lips moving but nothing coming out. I check my original DVD release to make sure it was in there, and it was. So it's just this new 5.1 mix that left it out. It's only a minor issue, but surprising none the less.

The video cleanup is just as obvious in this volume as it was in the first. So much of the story happens at night, the sharper colors are especially welcome. Even the darkest scenes are clear and well-defined. There are a couple of video dropouts in episode 17, however, which is very noticeable and distracting. It's a shame the authoring wasn't quite up to the level of the cleanup.

It's all about Nene in this volume. ADV used my all time favorite image of Nene on the cover, stretching her arms in front of her, palms outward, as she's exiting her hardsuit. It's set against an unadorned white background with light blue borders on the left and right. Pale purple bars across the top and bottom carry the Essential Anime logo. The back cover continues the theme with Nene crouching playfully against a white and pale blue background. Small images from the volume are spread across the middle of the cover, and all the technical info and credits are written across the left border. It's carried in a clear double DVD Scanavo case. The inside uses a very pale circuitry and gridwork background, against which are a couple images of Sylia, a headshot on the left and in her hardsuit on the right. Episode numbers and titles as well as extras info are listed on the left side. I like the way it's laid out, making accessing which extra or episode I want to see much easier.

The menus follow the Nene theme, using various images of her on both discs and each menu screen. There are no transition animations, making the various menus quick to load. The navigation is simple and straight forward, but still attractively laid out.

The extras from the original VHS and DVD releases are still here, which amounted to character sketches and some info about the vehicles used in the show. The big draw here, in addition to the excellent 5.1 mix, are the English Voice actor commentaries, all done with ADR director and writer Matt Greenfield. Episode 11 features Kelly Manison as Linna goes home to face her family. It's good to hear Manison's comments on her character, but Greenfield tends to ramble on, excessively monopolizing the commentary. Fortunately, it's an aberration, as he lets Laura Chapman, the voice of Sylia, talk quite a bit in the commentary to episode 13. Chapman has one of the most seductive voices in the industry, so letting her talk is a good thing. Episode 14's commentary features Manison and Christine Auten, the voice of Priss. The two of them give some very nice insights into their characters. Episode 16 is a Knight Saber's Family Reunion, as Matt Greenfield puts it. All four actresses, Manison, Chapman, Auten and the voice of Nene, Hilary Haag, talk about a rather pivotal episode. It's the most enjoyable commentary yet, especially when all the actresses stop talking when a hilarious scene with Sylia apparently coming on to Nene comes up. Their anticipation of the scene and uproarious laughter afterwards shows they're not just actors, but fans as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Before the main story can kick into high gear, some significant exploration of the characters is still necessary. A monster found underground the feeds on boomers leads to another mistake by Nene. Even Nene is beginning to worry. Linna is brand new to the team, but she's already out-performing Nene in the field. Priss makes an ultimatum to Sylia. Either Nene goes, or she does. Sylia makes a bet with Priss. On the next mission, if Nene screws up again, she's off the team, but if she performs better than Priss, then Priss will have to do one little thing for her. In the nest episode, Linna returns home to visit her family. There's some family business that's come up, and with an improving Nene and her day job demanding more of her time, it's a good time to take off and reflect on things a little. Once home, she discovers her parents have set her up with a marriage meeting, which Linna doesn't appreciate at all. Worse yet, he's a good guy, handsome and intelligent. Linna finds herself at a crossroads, unsure which way to go. Back in Tokyo, Priss is forced to go into battle against a rogue military boomer while Linna's still out of town and Nene's forced to work overtime at the AD Police.

Brian J. Mason, the deliciously evil president of Genom, is working hard in the shadows, trying to find something that was left behind in the great earthquake of seven years earlier, something that Sylia's father created. He changes tactics, deciding to use the Knight Sabers to find it for him. Meanwhile, Nene has discovered something extraordinary about Macky, Sylia's brother. Not only that, but she's discovered something even more horrifying about the great earthquake, and Sylia's father's connection to it. When confronted with her findings, Sylia still won't say what it is she's hiding or looking for, leaving Nene to storm out. Sylia meets with an old Chinese gentleman who was a colleague of her later father. With his help, she goes after something. What it is, she won't say. She simply gives a specially designed pulse gun to Linna and Priss to use to find it. Once found, Sylia attempts to destroy it herself, unaware she is falling right into Mason's trap. Nene discovers what's going on, and with Priss and Linna, the go to help Sylia. Unfortunately, everything goes wrong, and Mason makes off with the prize.
With their suits destroyed, and Mason in control of the item Sylia wanted to destroy, the Knight Sabers are finished. Sylia is a lifeless wreck, and the others return to their regular lives. But a psychic phenomenon that all four women suddenly share brings them back together. Sylia finally explains what it is that she was looking for, and why it's so dangerous. When Priss confronts Sylia about the secret behind the hardsuits, Sylia admits to what she's been hiding. Priss storms out in a fury.

Back at work, Nene is staffing an empty office. Genom is pulling the funding on the AD Police, which will mean the officers will likely be transferred back into the normal police, something they don't want. The AD Police strike, leaving Nene nearly alone in the AD Police Tower. Mason decides to play with his new acquisition, causing the shells of the rogue boomers housed in the basement of the tower to come alive and take over the building. This causes a total lockdown of the Tower, leaving Nene and three police officers to fight the boomers by themselves. With no way to contact the outside, they're in serious trouble. But Nene is able to put out a short distress call long enough for Leon and Daley to hear it, as well as Macky. Without hardsuits, Sylia, Linna and Priss, using her motoslave motorcycle, combine forces with the AD Police to rescue Nene and crew.

In Summary:
This volume marks the transition from developing the characters to kicking the main story into high gear. The revelations about Macky, Sylia's father, the earthquake, the history of the Knight Sabers, the hardsuits and finally, what it is that Sylia's been looking for all this time, come with all the anguish one would expect and more. The new 5.1 mix for the English dub is markedly better than the previous 2.0, and the improved video will be welcome by all, including those who prefer to watch their anime in Japanese. The audio commentaries are welcome by fans of English dubs, being both entertaining and informative. The video and audio glitches are a little frustrating, but honestly, they're very minor, and don't significantly affect my enjoyment of the show. For only $20 MSRP for 9 episodes, it's a real bargain and worth picking up, even if you already own the previous DVD release. And if you haven't picked it up yet, here's your chance.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor commentary,Character sketches,Vehicle technology,Voice actress profiles,Clean opening and closing animations

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


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