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"Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040": Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun in Vol. 2

The Knight Sabers are the future’s only defense against androids gone amok. With the power of their Hard Suits, four women do the job the entire AD Police cannot. But with the Hard Suits rendered inoperable, and one of the most powerful beings from the past on the rise, can a rocker, a communications officer, an office lady, and a lingerie shop owner save the city from the “Ghosts and Demons” that threaten it?

Episodes included in this set:
-Disc One-
Episode 10: “Woke Up With a Monster”
Episode 11: “Sheer Heart Attack”
Episode 12: “Made in Japan”
Episode 13: “Atom Heart Mother”
Episode 14: “Shock Treatment”
-Disc Two-
Episode 15: “Minute by Minute”
Episode 16: “I Surrender”
Episode 17: “Moving Waves”
Episode 18: “We Built This Series”

If you haven’t been to Best Buy in a while you may have missed ADV’s latest line of DVDs: The Essential Animé Collection. They’re usually combinations of two previously released volumes into one set at a really low price with upgraded extras and digitally remastered audio. One of the series getting this treatment is Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, the ’90s cyberpunk remake of the classic big-haired Bubblegum Crisis series from the ’80s. The first volume, like Priss, rocked, but how does the second volume hold up under all the plot twists?

At the start of the set, Linna is heading home for a little soul searching. Meanwhile, Sylia sends Priss, Nene, and Linna out on a retrieval mission. It turns out, however, that the forces of evil (who work at a large corporation, what a surprise) are looking for the same thing Sylia is, so the Knight Sabers are in a race to find the item in question before GENOM can use it for their own personal gain. This chase culminates in a battle that changes the course of the volume, and the women are left to fight the good fight, but this time without their Hard Suits.

At least the AD Police is still active, right? Well…

At the worst possible time, the union of AD Police decides to go on strike, fearing a merger with the regular police department. Everyone leaves AD Police HQ except for a few people in management and Nene, who just didn’t seem to get the memo to call in sick. She’s regretting it, but she can’t leave the building as the security system’s kicked into overdrive: all the deactivated Boomers in storage have awakened, and like a George Romero flick, they stumble throughout the building like zombies, apparently ready to kill the few remaining employees. These last three episodes take a major horror film turn, with regular people running from monsters in a dark, claustrophobic setting: a nice change of pace from the mech battles on the street that also allows for some good gunplay.

I love this series. This Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 set has pulled me into this franchise even more than Parasite Dolls did. I’ve just picked up the AD Police collection, I’m considering buying the Bubblegum Crisis OVA box, and I’ll probably go back and watch Parasite Dolls again to try to “get” it. The creators of Tokyo managed to find the perfect balance of humanity and action, much like the better Gundam series. One minute, the Knight Sabers are taking on the Boomers in the darkness, the next, Sylia’s drowning her memories in liquor (she and Tony Stark would get along very well).

The two discs feature a total of four commentaries, and Matt Greenfield continues to go into spoiler territory. He’s getting better about warning the viewers, but sitting there like an idiot with my ears plugged and no idea when to start listening again I have to say I wished he didn’t mention them in the first place. “Character Sketches” are actually designs of the hard suits, accompanied by vehicle technology pictures. The discs feature voice actors profiles for both casts (English and Japanese) and the traditional clean opening, closing, and trailers.

I’ve been enjoying the first two volumes of this series and can’t wait for the third. Considering the price there’s no reason for you not to have Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 on your shelf. And that’s good, as Nene’s the cover gal (sue me, I like Nene the best). The voice acting works, the animation is great for it’s age, and the plot brings everything together wonderfully. It’s no surprise Pierre Bernard, Conan O’Brian’s post-modern culture critic and television entertainment connoisseur, suggested Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 as the show to replace Cowboy Bebop on Adult Swim.

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