Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 3 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Vol. #1
By Roman Martel
February 06, 2002
Release Date: September 26, 2000
Overall Rating: 4.1
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 3
Sometimes admitting that you like the original Bubblegum Crisis is like saying you enjoy 80's glam bands (since the music from the original series is very 80's, it's not far off). Most people give you a weird look, especially when you go off on anime with weak plot and shallow characters. To paraphrase a famous movie line, "But Bubblegum Crisis has personality. Personality goes a long way." Well now the new version of this 80's classic (or favorite if you prefer) is out on DVD. Can you even compare the two? Is it worth getting if you love the old one? Let's find out.
This release from ADV is probably one of the best looking and sounding discs from them yet. The sound on my set up was very clear and crisp. The picture is sharp and I didn't see any distortion or pixellation. Could this have something to do with the new mastering house that is being used by ADV? Could be. This disc looks and sounds great. The menu is similar in style to the EVA menu. You've got creditless openings playing in the background, a whole slew of background sounds, and music. And to top it off the menu works nice and smooth. Couldn't ask for much more than that. The keepcase is eye-catching. One look at Priss waving you close and her hard suit in the background is enough to get any anime fan to look twice. It has most of the information on it, with the exception of region coding and how many speakers are utilized by the sound. The goodies are similar to the EVA ones, character profiles for the four Nightsabres with background music for each of them. It's pretty standard, but still an extra nonetheless.
I noticed that the web link was missing from this disc. Also noticed the Playstation 2 compatible sticker on the shrink-wrap. We heard about that happening a couple of months back and it makes sense to target gamers with this type of show (we even have a quote from Gamer's Republic on the back of the case).
I also noticed the trailers that occur before you get a chance to hit the menu. I'm not crazy about that. I preferred ADV's original system of putting the trailers on the menu for you to pick. Some of the trailers we've all seen a million times and some we do want to see a couple of times. The menu let you pick and chose and put more power in your hands. Luckily you can skip past the trailers if you don't want to see them, but I still feel that placing them on the menu was a much better way to handle them. I do like how they tell you on the insert that you can skip the trailers if you feel like it.
I've heard some people say you can't compare the two versions of Bubblegum Crisis. Some say it's not fair to the new one, and others say it's not fair to the old one. While I do agree that both must be looked at in on their own merit, it is hard to not think of the old 80's version while watching the new one. I'll try to keep my nostalgia to a minimum, and focus on this, the present, as much as possible. (This coming from the guy who's collection of 80's music far outweighs his collection of 90's music).
2040's main strong point is the fact that it is developing characters, and carefully pulling the story along. It is not restricted by the OAV format, and the chance that they might not be able to complete the series. So we get to see where a couple of the characters are coming from especially in these first four episodes.
The first episode introduces us to the world or Bubblegum Crisis 2040. We meet boomers, AD Police and of course the NightSabres. At this point the famous vigilante group consists of only 3 women. So of course we have to meet the fourth... and it's Linna. This country girl comes to the big city (Tokyo) to work at the huge corporation (Genom) and of course to join the Nightsabres and kick boomer butt.
What follows in the next three episodes is Linna trying to catch the Nightsabres in action and join them. But once she finds them, is she good enough to join their ranks? And if so... can she take the heat? Priss may make it look easy to blow up a boomer's heart, but doing it yourself is something else all together. Of course many other questions are brought up: why is Priss a Nightsabre, why is Sylia a borderline nutcase, is Nene as stupid as she acts, what is Genom really planning to do, is Vison gonna be in this show, and are Leon and Daley really more than partners?
The animation is a mixed bag in my mind. It's very fluid and it has a great look to it. You've got creative designs on the boomers and its fun to see some the original designs still remain in this show. The hardsuits retain their design by Kenichi Sonada (Gunsmith Cats, Riding Bean). But there are plenty of changes as well, mostly in the character design. Now this is where I get picky. I know that in updating the overall look of the show the 80's looking character design had to be tossed. No problem. But instead of creating new looking chracters we get the stock company from AIC. In other words, Ifurita/Sylia, and Maki-oto Misaki (I know Maki isn't in it yet, but you see him in the opening credits and if he isn't Tenchi and Makoto's stunt double, I don't know who is). If Nene put on a Qwaoor wig you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I still can't place Linna or Priss' clone yet but I'm sure I've seen them in El Hazard (Priss could be a Ryoko clone now that I think about it...). This has been a problem with AIC stuff before, and it still annoys the heck out of me. Would it be so hard to create some new looking characters? Other than that the animation rates pretty high.
The sound is at the same level as the animation. Again, much of the original sound work from the OAVs has been kept. Heck, half the soundwork in Bubblegum Crisis was used in lots of other anime. But there is plenty of new sound design as well. It was nothing really earth shattering but it was well done.
So far, the show is doing a good job of drawing me in. It's set up so that you are following Linna around Neo-Tokyo and experiencing things with her. We do get to see some other moments that are needed to move the plot forward, or give some character bits, but mostly you stay with Linna. The result is that you get to know her pretty well and as of this moment she's the most interesting character in the show. We can see hints of other plot strands beginning here, especially with Genom and Brian Mason. But the other Nightsabres seem to be a bit shallow at this point (at least compared to Linna). You do get some hints that not all is right with Sylia. I thought that was a great twist to put in this new version. Especiallly since Sylia always was the steady, cool leader from the original. Here she is presented as more of a fanatic. Nene's character has stayed the same, with the exception that she loves to torment Leon on a more regular basis. Priss is pretty much the same but less outspoken. As a result we really don't know anything about her. She's so super-cool that she doesn't speak, but I'm sure she has a heart of gold. If she doesn't... than I think this show could get much more interesting. All in all it's a good start to the show, but it could still swing towards being very good or start heading into the land of bland mediocrity. I hope it keeps it current pace going!
Overall the English dub had its good points and its bad points. There was some overacting going around here and there. It wasn't painfully bad but it did seem a bit out of character for some of the parts. I also think that some of the actors weren't sure how to play the part and it comes off forced (Sylia comes to mind). Linna does a pretty good job, she has to; at this point she's carrying the show. Her scream begins to grate on you once you hit episode 4, but all in all she does a good job. Nene's actress has hit the mark, though and I thought she did a good job. What about Priss? Well she hasn't talked enough for me to judge her yet. But I will say that in keeping true with the original OAV dub... they should not have dubbed the songs. They are not done very well, not nearly as bad as "Tonight a hurricane... feel the hurricane...I'm so bored I can barely stand it, Hurricane" but I've heard better dub jobs with songs.
The music is pretty good overall. I'll be honest and say that the songs aren't my cup of tea (yes even in Japanese). I loved the original music, it was so 80's and hairspray filled that I couldn't help but love it. This new stuff . . . it's good but lacks something that made the original so damn catchy and fun. (looks around...O.K. I admit it I have a Bon Jovi CD! O.K. Are you happy!!!!) cough... Well the rest of the score is done very well and fits the show. All in all I think that this music track will grow on me, just like the main theme from Lain did, I just have to step out of my 80's mind set and get into the 1990's. (LadyCat: It's already 2000 you pathetic wacko). Don't rush me... I need to take babysteps.
So what's the verdict on Bubblegum Crisis 2040? Simple, if you are a fan of the old OAV with an open mind, you'll enjoy it. It's got enough of the old and improvements on the weak points of the old to make this a good update. If you didn't like the original, chances are you'll like this one. The look has been updated and the story has been spread out to delve into the characters more. Now if you don't like girls in hardsuits kicking butt, than you just won't like this show, period. But if you do enjoy this genre it seems to be a great buy at this time. I'm hoping the following episodes can keep up with the high standards.
Roman J. Martel
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Hitachi GD-2000 DVD ROM, Cinemaster QI DVD Player (application), Dell Model UltraScan D1025HTX Color Monitor, ACS295 Atltec Lansing Speakers (right, left, Subwoofer)