#TBT Anime: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

When we were young, I think we all had visions of what the future would be like. Maybe it was from watching Star Wars, Star Trek, or Back to the Future, but it hasn’t quite panned out the way movies suggested it would. Whatever happened to the flying cars, teleporting to different places, and ships taking us to different planets? Instead, we have blankets with sleeves. So not how we envisioned. But that doesn’t stop creators from making shows and films about the future. Cue ADV Films and their title Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, a retelling of the 1987 Bubblegum Crisis, which features a future where robots (Boomers) do much of the work for humans.

After a major earthquake that left Tokyo almost completely destroyed, a corporation named Genom begins producing robots called Boomers, which are charged with various tasks to help rebuild the city and make the lives of humans easier. Many humans see Boomers as inferior and treat them as such, but they allow society to move carefree. However, from time to time, a Boomer will go “rogue,” meaning something in the Boomers’ composition mutates and the Boomer gains great strength and will of its own, usually bent on destruction and mayhem. Enter the Knight Sabers.

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The Knight Sabers are a group of vigilantes who, adorned in form fitting body armor, take out these rogue boomers. The “pilots” of these suits have enhanced agility and strength, along with individualized fighting techniques based on their skill set. As more and more boomers start going rogue, the question arises as to the cause. Is it random coincidence or does it have to deal with a far more sinister plan for humanity?

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 arrived in stores back in 1999, so, when watching it now, it isn’t nearly as clean as much of the anime out today. Many of the fighting sequences, outside of the Knight Sabers, are still pictures, with people running and screaming, but no characters actually moving around. The designs of the Boomers are fairly generic, and even those Boomers that do go rogue aren’t very impressive. But again, take this with a grain of salt as I compare this series now to other, more recently released series.

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The characters are the strong point of the series. There are four main female leads who each contribute to one of the Knight Sabers. Sylia is the leader, who created the Knight Saber technology and makes sure everything is running efficiently and takes care of problems that arise. Priss is a singer who appears emotionally detached and doesn’t seem to want close relationships, but is arguably the best fighter on the team. Linna is new to the team, but is the most determined of the group. Then there’s Nene, who worked for the local AD Police and is the brains of the team. She’s not the best when it comes to combat but she supplies the Knight Sabers with information from the AD Police and is able to get into systems with her hacking abilities that others wouldn’t. Together, they form a cohesive group who all experience some form of growth, though some more than others.

Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is typical in length, running 26 episodes long. Some of the episodes can feel like they drag on, while others provide needed exposition and character growth, along with some decent fight sequences for a series released in 1999. When compared to anime of today, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 isn’t quite up to the level we expect. The characters are generally fun and there are some light-hearted moments to go along with the constant threat of a rogue Boomer amidst a city still rebuilding from a horrible tragedy. Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 also incorporates the Knight Saber suits, which was something new (and still is) with regards to “mech” types of anime. It definitely makes you wish you had your own hard suit so you could get out there and be a vigilante as well.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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