Bubblegum Crash (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2001



What They Say
The Knight Sabers are back in a three-episode adventure. An old enemy has returned to settle the score, and in order to survive and save the world, they'll have to kill him not once, but 3 1/2 times!

The Review!
Yet another title where this is my third purchase of it in just under ten years. It's old enough that I remember picking this up when it was brand new and seeing it before I saw the original Bubblegum Crisis; and liked it enough at the time to try more shows. While it was originally on three VHS tapes and then on a two laserdisc fold-out collection, it's now finally all on one shiny little disc.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Considering its age, the track feels a lot like a mono track masquerading as a stereo track. The audio is good and fills up the forward soundstage well enough, but there's just no directionality to it at all. Dialogue sounds nice and clear and without any distortions or dropouts.

Video:
The transfer itself overall looks pretty good, sometimes to the point where you can see some of the paint strokes. Some of the backgrounds look a bit soft with some of the solid colors but that tends to be about it. Some jitter from the original editing process makes itself noticeable as well particularly early on. We also had a video lockup around 10 minutes into the first episode, but a quick cleaning seems to have cleared that up.

Packaging:
With this being a third version of the shows release, they thankfully went and used some completely different artwork. Artwork, in fact, that doesn't suck. It does feel more like some of the painted comic book covers from the 90's, but it looks really nice and gives a different feel on the shelf when placed against other covers. The back cover gives a soft shot of Priss' hardsuit while giving a rundown on the three episodes and listing the various production credits and other technical information. The insert is a another "recipe card" piece that folds out and gives the lyrics to all the songs in all three episodes in both English and romaji.

Menus:
There's not a lot on the disc outside of the show, so the menu is somewhat simple and straightforward. From the main menu you can get to the various submenus of just about any episode, languages and extras. The color scheme makes it look a little hard on the eyes as its kind of harsh and some of the selections are hard to read with the choices. Access times are decent and getting around makes sense.

Extras:
The only on disc extras include two artwork galleries, one containing cel animation shots while the other contains various production sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Bubblegum Crash was originally released, there was something of an uproar over it. With it being a sequel series, there was already the usual trepidations about it. To make it worse, the fan-favorite voice actress for Priss wasn't interested in reprising the role, so they got someone new for it. While a new actress isn't an unheard of problem when you move between series and production crews, it caused more concern with this kind of show since the actress needed to be a singer, and the songs were a big part of the shows popularity.

And when people discovered that instead of the 80's style "rock" music that was employed in the original was going to be replaced by some ballad style "rock" music, it didn't get any better. With this factor and the retread plot used, many fans dismiss Bubblegum Crash pretty quickly as a bad show.

I think that the show is more western oriented than the original. Amusingly, you can see this in the first minute or so of the show. Once you get past the rather nice looking CG city view and into the animation side of the show, there's a flyover of a billboard that reads "American Popcorn". That's what this show feels like, an American popcorn movie sequel. Team comes back after hiatus, new villain that's tied to an old villain, formulaic plot ensues.

It's been several months since the events last seen in Bubblegum Crisis and things have changed. Linna has moved out of the aerobics life and into the stock market and is making big bucks really fast. Priss has changed her style of music somewhat and is close to making her pro debut and getting a contract while Nene still holds down a job at the AD Police. But Sylia seems to have gone missing and in general, the old team essentially seems to no exist, though the remaining girls do get together as friends.

It's at this time that the Illegal Army, a group that uses some high-grade military combat suits that are modified, begins to make various hits throughout MegaTokyo by robbing banks. On the surface, they don't look more than common criminals in gear that nobody, even the AD Police, can take down. But under the cover of the bank robberies they're stealing parts to an advanced new AI system that's being developed by several companies.

It's when this gets truly serious that one of the companies offers a contract to Sylia for the Knight Sabers and she ends up bringing them out of their "brief vacation" as she calls it. She had taken the downtime to revamp their suits and their operations to take on the new kinds of evil out there in the world. So it's with a fair amount of gusto, after some predictable scenes, that the girls are once again back in the saddle and taking on the enemy suits.

The shows do a nice job of getting around the various locals of MegaTokyo, probably a bit moreso than the some what bland same landscapes we saw with the original series. The addition of the talking and advanced boomer AI unit that ends up under Priss' attention is reminiscent of some stuff in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 as well. Unfortunately, that's what a lot of Bubblegum Crash is; a series of scenes and mini stories that feel like they've already been done in the series already.

Being a completist, I'm glad to have Bubblegum Crash on DVD at last so I can say I finally have everything I once had, since I sold my LD's a few years back. I think with the amount of time that's past since the show was first released and the larger number of fans out there, the show will find itself a new audience on DVD that will appreciate it more than the old-timers who have issues with it. And with it running over two hours and being a nice low 24.95$ before any discounting, it's an easy one to snag for completists.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery,Production Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 135
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bubblegum Crisis