Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2000

What They Say
Genom unleashes a new wave of rogue Boomers, and the AD Police declare open war on the Knight Sabers! A bloody street battle is the only way out as, trapped in a maze of intrigue carefully laid by conspiring foes, the vigilante heroines fight to survive.

The Review!
For the longest time, I've been a die-hard fan of the classic Bubblegum Crisis series. With this second installment of the 2040 series, it has quickly surpassed the classic and has moved fast up the list of great shows I've seen this year. These episodes simply rocked my socks off.

The three audio tracks contained on the disc, Japanese, English and Spanish, all sounded pretty solid. The Spanish track sounds a bit more muffled than the other two, which feel pretty even in terms of volume and directionality. We listened to the Japanese track for the main review and things simply sounded wonderful. Between the ambient music and the vocal segments, the audio sounded really solid here and great on the ears. Dialogue was clean and undistorted on this track and from the spot checks on the other two tracks, we heard no real issues.

AIC has knocked another one out of the ballpark in my opinion. With such gorgeous animation combined with such a solid transfer, this is one gorgeous looking disc. The dark sky and interior battle sequences are solid with hardly any noticeable artifacting. The gorgeous character designs, with their wonderfully varied flesh tones, look positively stunning. Vibrant surroundings, stylish hair designs and just general set decorations look perfect. Only a few particular areas showed minor artifacting, such as a soft solid brown jacket or some of the blue vests on the AD Police. But when taken in whole, this is just great to look at.

Thankfully, we didn't get two Priss covers in a row. Linna takes center stage this time around on the cover, striking a pose and showing off some of her assets while a hard to see image of her hardsuit is off to her right. The back gives a very brief summary of things in general and has plenty of small pieces of animation scattered over it. Features are listed prominently as are the episodes (though no episode numbers. This is the only real downside to the package in that unless you read the spine and get the internal ADV numbering down, you can't tell that this is the second volume.

The menu system is pretty simply laid out. The top center plays the opening sequence (sans credits, much like the trailer on previous releases). Below it you can select each of the episodes, check out the nicely down character profiles and choose your language selections. The disc nicely picked up my language presets of Japanese with subtitles, so there was nothing to change.

The only extras included in this volume are three character profiles, for Leon, Nigel and Mackey. They're well done, and I like how they're setup and the animation that plays with it, but that's all there is. Having paid more close attention to the end credit sequence, I really want to get a creditless version of that sometime soon. Hopefully by the end of the series if not sooner.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes for better or for worse, really good shows go by really fast. They're over before you really realize how much you've watched and it leaves you wanting more. Sometimes enough so that you'll watch it again right away.

Bubblegum Crisis 2040 has this effect on me and had it strong with this volume. When we reached the final episode, it was a sort of blank stare and then, "That's it? No more?" One of the things that really helps propel this show is that while in one sense it is episodic in style with an overall arc being told, the episodes meld together quite well. A battle isn't resolved in one episode and another starts in the next. Some carry through two episodes and interpersonal issues begin halfway through and carry into the next. It follows the conventional storytelling rules and then bends them slightly here and there.

There's quite a lot to digest in these episodes as well. The show picks up fast with the Knight Sabers being lured out by a boomer set to madness by Mason of Genom. The chairman of Genom is quite interested in the hardsuits of the Sabers though for reasons unknown. His scenes are fairly brief, but they do build a bit more of the mystery and mystique about him. Mason also begins to get more fleshed out through this intervention and it becomes quickly apparent that he's pursuing his agenda at full force.

I must sidetrack to comment on his redheaded secretary. She's a hottie!

Er, anyway... a new character is introduced as well here. Sylia's younger brother Mackey makes his entrance, which seems to have a variety of consequences to it. Sylia is immediately taken with him again, trying to make things like they were in the past. Through this we get to see several extended flashbacks with Sylia, her mother and her father. Her mothers face is obscured the whole time though. These scenes really start to begin building the foundation of the backstory for Sylia and it's really interesting to see what variations are being taken this time around. Mackey also happens to make one really solid and true friend here with Nigel. This new bond between the two brings a really interesting synergy to the cast.

Mackey also walks in on the girls when they're changing. Poor Nene. Who would have guessed she wore pink underwear?

The sections that focused lightly on Priss' background and her relationship with the other women was probably the highlight though. One of the main reasons for that is the music. Having picked up the As Seikira CD earlier this year before seeing this series, we fell in love with all of the vocal tracks to this show. The whole CD simply flows incredibly well and this does indeed translate into the show. Priss' stage scenes are solid, sound wonderful and look great. The vibrancy to it, the sheer energy and emotion that's really boiling down below it all is expressed perfectly.

While I don't think Bubblegum Crisis 2040 is being underrated by fans, it's not being as hyped as it should be. With all the talk of the anime industry in Japan going downhill, this is definite proof that there's still plenty of gems to be found out there.

Japanese Language,English Language,Spanish Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040