Released Year : February 25, 1987 to January 30, 1991
No of Episodes : 8
Genre : Adventure,Mecha,Sci-Fi,Shounen
Plot : In the near future, Tokyo was left flattened as a result from a great earthquake. A new city, MegaTokyo, was then recreated due in no small part from the aid of a multi-million dollar company, Genom Corp. Genom created and mass-produced biomechanical creatures called Boomers to aid in the restoration of MegaTokyo. When the Boomers began to run out of control, the ADPolice at first tried to stop them, but they proved to be far more difficult to deal with than was first imagined. Under the ever looming Boomer threat, a group of four girls from varying degrees of society banded together. Calling themselves The Knight Sabers, they were the only ones with enough firepower and resourcefullness to defend the fledgling MegaTokyo from Genom and it's berserk Boomers. (Source: ANN)
Our Review : Containing what might be one of the best opening 7 minutes of an anime ever, this OVA opens with a montage of the future, a dark sprawling Mega-Tokyo.
Immediately Ghost in the Shell comes to mind, some scenes look almost identical, the Oshii vibe so thick, the possible influence on the man (and even Shirow himself) is made more and more questionable throughout the OVA with many stylistic choices bringing the GitS franchise to mind.
After the introduction of the various comings and goings of the city, a concert suddenly begins, introducing a blonde wigged character Priss, and is intercut with the appearance of a boomer wrecking havoc. The direction and editing, and hell even the music are all excellent and ensure the OVA gets off to a cracking start. 80's cyberpunk at its best!
The story follows four plucky young women with nothing better to do in their spare time than to don cyber-outfits and blow crap up, preferably those pesky rogue boomers who keep appearing all over the city. The combined IQ of these four women finally figures out that Genom corporation, which apparently ”accounts for 68% of the world's cars”, might have something to do with these incidents and so Bubblegum Crisis delivers 8 episodes of pure unadulterated fun in a way only 80's anime can.
Mega-Tokyo, 2032. This is the future, but seen from the eyes of the 80's. Each decade's vision of the future is idiosyncratic, and so each decade produces strange and brilliant works of genius or garbage, with Bubblegum Crisis firmly in the strange and brilliant camp, albeit lacking both genius and garbage, though still retaining quality production and vision. Plenty of great directorial choices, POV shots, pans, zooms, it's all dynamic and makes up for the dated, yet still decent, animation.
No matter the humour or clunky dialogue or 80's sprinkled aesthetics in hair styles and clothing, this is cyberpunk at its peak. Everything associated with the genre is present, the connective nature of society, the paranoia of having satellites hovering above your head with the capability of blowing you up, biotech suits, corporate power run amok. In a sense Bubblegum Crisis is more cyberpunk than a lot of cyberpunk anime out there which sometimes jettison a lot of the genre's traits and settle for dystopic hijinks with the occasional robot AI thrown in. Bubblegum Crisis revels in the genre and doesn’t leave anything out.
The anime came out at what might be seen as cyberpunk's peak of influence and exposure in the mainstream, and as such is worth a watch for its historical significance, in terms of impacting the genre of cyberpunk in anime and also being a window to the time. It's so classy it even has time to throw a shout out to The Third Man!
It’s flawed, but packed with so much creative ideas and flair, you can’t help but bop along to the 80's tunes. Each episode starts with a cinematic musical montage of 80's soft rock/pop and narrative-advancing imagery. This isn’t on-par with cyberpunk like GitS, you have to accept the humour and gaping plot-holes as part of the charm, or you'll just not be involved and will tune out. The AD Police are written as what a 12 year old imagines the NYPD are like, complete with the gruff black police captain arguing with the rookie cop.
There's lots of subtle visual flair in this OVA, the directors knew what they were doing. (Except for episode 5 and 6. That director probably went to the school of Koichi Mashimo, though he wasn’t helped by the screenwriter for those episodes either) Too often in post-millennium anime there are tons of 'arty' shots that are meaningless and the camera either flies around the place like a steadicam-operator on crack, or pans laboriously across the screen as if directed by an old age pensioner, but back in the 80's/90's they knew how to pace episodes just fine while choosing narrative-coherent viewpoints to the action. I guess I’m harping that old cliché of modern day anime being too shallow with emphasis on looks rather than content, but considering that this anime is packed with very clichéd jokes that were old even back when this was released, the argument is kind of moot.
If you want to go extra deep you could propose that Bubblegum Crisis is yet another exploration of the relationship between man and machine and clearly veers on the side of external mechanics and views bio-implementation, or to be simple about it: cyborgs, as a threat to the world. Even though boomers are technically robots, though the distinction is rarely made clear especially when they all have such charming personalities, their humanoid form isn’t a random creative decision. Boomers, anyone associated to them, and augmentation in general are clearly bad for your health and the only way to make the world a better place is to jump into exoskeleton mecha-suits and be a master of cybernetics, not a slave to them. It's possibly an archaic almost Luddite philosophy, especially in the 21st century where bio and nano-technology is getting more and more traction. Yep, I just analysed an anime with 'bubblegum' in the title.
But you get the gist, Bubblegum Crisis is consistently entertaining and has very good direction to boot, and its shortcomings can be seen as part of the package; a conscious decision and not a by-product. You're meant to laugh at the ridiculousness of the entire premise, especially the glorious last episode’s tribute to the character of Nene, and you're meant to lap up the universe presented because you're a cyberpunk fan. The damn anime's called Bubblegum Crisis!
If you're not grinning while watching this, you're in a crisis of your own and I suggest you chew some gum to get over it.