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"Bubblegum Crisis 2040 Volume 1": Punk-Rock Pops The Bubblegum Bubble

After a severe earthquake destroys most of Tokyo the city has to be rebuilt by mechanized machines and androids. These “boomers,” produced by a corporation called Genom, are programmed to obey humans but a little malfunction turns them deadly. The A.D. Police are no match for them, so the world must look for another bunch of heroes. Answering the call, an officer worker, a rock star and a member of the A.D. Police form a vigilante group and don suits of armor, calling themselves the “Knight Sabers.”

Disc One
Episode 1: “Can’t Buy a Thrill”
Episode 2: “Fragile”
Episode 3: “Keep Me Hanging On”
Episode 4: “Machine Head”
Episode 5: “Rough & Ready”

Disc Two
Episode 6: “Get It On”
Episode 7: “Look At Yourself”
Episode 8: “Fireball”
Episode 9: “My Nation Underground”

2040 is potentially the most prominent series in the Bubblegum Crisis franchise, which also includes the original Bubblegum Crisis, A.D. Police, and the recently released Parasite Dolls. This remake has just been re-released as part of ADV’s Essential Animé Collection, and initially I wondered if it deserved that title. Then again, Pierre Bernard on Conan O’Brien did suggest it as a replacement for Case Closed during a “Recliner of Rage” segment. Would a make-believe nerd on a show featuring a crackhead werewolf lie?

The Knight Sabers consist of lead vocalist Priss of the techno-grunge band “Sekiria” and intelligent A.D. Police Communications Officer employee Nene. One’s brawn, one’s brains. Their boss is Sylia, a woman with light blue hair (no, not grandma old, just blue hair, it’s animé) and more than a few skeletons in her closet. Or maybe she keeps them in the changing room at her Silky Doll Boutique & Lingerie Shop (no relation to the Pretty Beauty Nail Salon of Ms. Swan infamy). Thanks to Nigel, a mechanic and kindred spirit to Priss, these two teens have custom-made mechanical armors they use to fight rogue Boomers gone nutso.

Linna, a girl from out of town moves into the city, and on her first day on the job as a Hugh-Gient office worker, sees Priss fly past her on her motorcycle. Since she came to town to check out the Knight Sabers, she figures this daredevil of a biker babe might be her best chance to join up. Tracking her down, before the first disc is out Linna has suited up and joined the team as the heart of the Knight Sabers. Meanwhile blowhard Leon and competent Daley, some of the A.D. Police’s finest, are out to solve the mystery of the Knight Sabers’ identity. If they only realized they dealt with one on a daily basis.

The series boils down to two things: action and character interactions. While all of the Knight Sabers are supposedly loners, they manage to work together with varying results. At times, they’re even at odds, with Priss bringing Linna aboard, subsequently only to avoid and doubt her, and Sylia going so far as to question Nene’s loyalties.

The action is pretty good for small-scale mech battles. It’s not like Dai-Guard or Dekaranger with giant robots destroying the city, but does feature battles between roughly van-sized monsters and human-sized mech armor on the highway. The music fits the futuristic cyberpunk theme of the series well, especially the theme song and Priss’ music (don’t ask me why one episode has subtitles for a song sung in English). All in all, it conveys a futuristic/post-apocalyptic Tokyo very well, assuming that I can accurately guess how futuristic/post-apocalyptic Tokyo would look. The show even reminds us that there’s still going to be humor in the future, with the “Nene-grams” that must be seen to be believed.

As part of the Essential Animé Collection, ADV has gone back and upgraded the discs. There are four new commentaries spread out over the two discs, with Matt “Can’t Stop Spoiling” Greenfield hosting them all. All the female VAs except Sylia’s take part and all four main guys do as well. These are usually fun, outside of having to cover my ears repeatedly, thanks to Matt Greenfield feeling the need to drop spoilers left and right. The guys have fun, redubbing some lines. It’s always funny to hear “What’s up, home slice?” in a futuristic show like Bubblegum Crisis. Traditional extras include ADV previews, clean opening and closing, and character bios.

Three armored heroines, four commentaries, nine episodes, thirteen bucks. Bubblegum Crisis 2040 presents a punk-rock future that really turns out to be an essential part of any sci-fi animé collection.

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