Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Vol. #6 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Release Date: Friday, June 15, 2001
Overall Rating: 3.9
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 4
The new saga of the Knightsabres concludes in this volume. If you've been reading my reviews for this show up till this point you'll know that I don't know how to feel about this series. And I was left with the same feeling at the end. I had hoped for more than what I got. Oh well, you can't have it all, right?
This series looked and sounded great from the beginning. And this disc does not disappoint in that department. The menu is pretty standard, but I do like the techno music playing the background. The keepcase shows all four girls floating above the earth (more on that in a minute) and the back contains most of the info but leaves out volume number, the extras, and the channels of sound. The extra is pretty cool, it contains the character name, a picture of the voice actress and their previous credits. You get Japanese cast for all four girls but you are missing Sylia for the English cast. All in all not a bad way to close out the series, at least on the technical front.
I'll cover the final disc in the first part of my review (spoiler free) and then review the entire series (spoiler filled). So if you don't want to know the secrets of Bubblegum Crisis - Tokyo 2040 don't read past the asterisks!
We've got five episodes on this disc and it felt to me like I had to sit through 12. And eight of those episodes were contained in the first two... I know that made no sense but it reflects how I feel about this series and the ending. Anyway let's do the recap thing, shall we?
The first episode resolves the little dilemma our heroes got themselves into last time: you know the boomers are in the pool and no one invited them. Well, in true Knightsabre fashion the girls manage to escape from the crashed party and make their way to a park where Galatea's plague hadn't invaded. This episode felt to be about 4 episodes long. The next one fares a bit better (kinda). The girls decide to make a stand against Galatea but it's too late for one of their companions to escape intact! Oh no, a beloved character goes brain dead! So it's the final battle against Galatea, right? Not really, there's a noble sacrifice and a few explosions and then Galatea gets away (another episode that felt like four). The middle episode Light My Fire is better executed, but still goes on a bit long. With chaos surrounding them three of the Knightsabres go into battle while the last stays behind. But following Galatea into SPACE will not be easy. Yes that's right, it's Knightsabres in space for the last three episodes. The final two episodes do a fairly good job of keeping a steady pace. Our girls try their darndest to defeat that mean ole boomer goddess. But things keep going wrong. In the end it comes down to one Knightsabre versus the Boomer Goddess. Will man kind be saved and how come I get the feeling that the final episode was a good way to get our three heroines to end up nude?
The animation stays the same in this installment. There isn't anything really spectacular about it but it is consistent and manages to look clean and fluid the whole time. As I mentioned above you get some fan service for all the characters (I guess you even get some for Sylia since Galatea is running around nude and she has the same body as Sylia). The sound also remains consistent and fits the series very well. I will comment again about the new suits. They just don't look as good as the originals, especially Nene's. They lack the streamlining, and more practical nature of the originals. I know that someone wanted a more form-fitting look, but the helmets look really awkward and unwieldy.
The plot area is pretty standard. I wasn't crazy about the Knightsabres in SPACE development. It just smacked of cheesy. It was kinda like putting James Bond into SPACE. But hey, some people like Moonraker. I also had a problem with the pacing for these episodes. It was very poorly executed. Those first two episodes went on way too long. They could have been put together and the last three could have been combined. You essentially had a two or three episode climax stretched out beyond its limit. And instead of using the added length constructively, lots of pointless shots and moments were added. There is a long exposition scene delivered by Galatea (in a way it's similar to the one delivered by Leon on the pervious disc). It just seems like a way to explain all that has happened. I appreciate the fact that they were trying to make Galatea more than a standard anime villain, but it was just not handled very well. The last episode did work surprisingly well, though. That's what really elevated the score in the plot area. I did like how Galatea gave a gift to the Earth at the end and the way it was presented. It would have made a nice poignant ending if the rest of the series had been able to keep up with it.
The English acting stayed the same. You've got good performances all the way here. I actually can't think of a single bad acting job on this disc, but there was nothing stand-out either. I must say that I thought the actress doing Sylia/Galatea did a very good job during the long exposition scene delivered by Galatea. It's tough to make scenes like that interesting using your voice alone. She did it very well. It's a good ending to a good dub. They should all give themselves a pat on the back (if they can get around the hardsuit helmets ;-)
There were more moments of pure score, and as such it popped out much more than previously. I really liked most of it. It captured the feeling of the moodier moments very well. I already mentioned that I enjoy the techno piece on the menu, but there was more of it during the action scenes and it worked well there. There is some more singing from Priss on this disc, and the English actress does a pretty good job, but once again I have to say the Japanese version was better. I might be picking up a CD or two after all.
As for being entertained, well it almost happened. The long draggy nature of the first two episodes really made it hard to want to see more. But the ending is well done and I'm surprised the director chose to end it the way they did. It was a slight twist that made it all a little better. In short the conclusion of the series was good, but the execution needed work. Actually it just needed less screen time. Not a bad ending, just a flawed one.
*** Series Review***
I really wanted to like this series. I really did, and that might be why it disappointed me so much in the end. I think we have another example of how I got my hopes a bit too high for a series and ended up kinda sad about the whole thing. I'm still a fan of the original series and I think it will always be kinda special (it was the first big anime DVD box set I got). This series will seem like a shadowy reflection that had big shoes to fill and ended up missing the mark.
But there were some good things in there. Most importantly the added scope and development of the plot and character were a big step in the right direction. We have a fun idea and some fun characters to play around with. BGC2040 did a good job of creating situations that were fun to watch. It added some surprising twists that made this plot more involving, mostly by adding the character of Galatea to the mix. The way Mackey was handled was both a interesting twist and a expected one. The major change that I really enjoyed was the personality shift in Sylia. Gone was the cool, calm, deadly leader from the original series. Now we had a driven, slightly off base woman who could go completely mental on a moments notice. The added dimension to Linna was also welcomed, she was my favorite original Knightsabre (I'm still not sure why... the headband?). And she is my current favorite as well.
But with all these good elements what it came down to was lost potential to really make it all work. It lacked a fluidity and good use of dramatic pacing. Some characters had interesting development and ended up being tossed aside once they had served their dramatic purpose (Mason, Daley, and Nigel). Then there were plot developments that made little sense or just didn't fit. Sylia loses all sense of purpose once Mackey is struck down. I would think that Sylia's resolve would have been hardened or even more dangerous she would have broken down completely and gone off like a cannon. I also found it strange that Linna appeared to be the main Knightsabre of the series. It starts with you following her into the world of boomers and boomer-slayers. But the series ends with Priss being the big hero. It would have been much more satisfying if Linna had been the big hero at the end. Priss would have made an excellent tragic hero (maybe instead of Mackey), coming to grips with the integration of boomers just a little too late. Of course Priss was the "darling" of the original version as well, so maybe that is where the writers were coming from here. Of all the Knightsabres, I think Nene was the only character handled just right. She was likeable and her character grew a bit in the time allowed.
It feels that more attention should have been placed on the script and getting the flow to work better than it did. So much potential and so much time to work with it, and much of it seemed wasted or misused. In the end this series becomes one of those ones you watch and eventually forget about. It's not bad in any way; it's average. What will bother me is that there was so much that could have been done, that should have been done, and was just not done.
Roman J. Martel
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General Electric Performance Plus (25 Inch), Sony Playstation 2
Mania Grade: NA
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: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040