Bubblegum Crisis

OVA (8 eps)
1987 - 1991
3.462 out of 5 from 2,876 votes
Rank #6,097

The year is 2032. Tokyo has been destroyed by a great earthquake and a new city, MegaTokyo, has risen from the ashes. Humans now live side-by-side with androids known as Boomers who perform many of the menial and laborious tasks that humans despise, but these artificial servants come with a price: they have a tendency to go haywire and attack those they were built to serve. The A.D. Police force was created to try and stop this menace, but its weapons can do little more than annoy the Boomers. Hope lies with the Knight Sabers, four young women with high-tech, armored suits and enough firepower to stop an army - but will it be enough to stop MegaTokyo's greatest threat?

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StoryWith the threat of nuclear annihilation never far from their minds, people in the eighties speculated a lot about the future, and seemingly with despair. The 21st century would be darker and more lawless, and shady guys at the top would determine the fate of the hapless masses at the bottom. Movies like Akira and Wings of Honneamise project the pessimism of their age onto the future, and Bubblegum Crisis is very much a part of that club, albeit with less intellectualism or art and far more guns and pop. Its setting is a good old-fashioned gritty post-apocalyptic dystopia in which society loses its grip on ordinary things like law and order but still manages to develop technology too sophisticated for its own good. The opening montage takes us across a murky, littered Tokyo cityscape to a grungy night club where one of the main characters, Priss, slaps on her makeup and struts onto the stage to belt out a sultry rock ballad. Interspersed with this are violent scenes of the city’s AD Police (cyborg crime division) trying to apprehend a boomer (cyborg) gone rogue. These officers hop into their sleek sports cars, sunglasses and all, and they talk like they were living in Lethal Weapon. Meanwhile, the boomers look like Terminator rip-offs, with glowing LEDs for eyes and organic looking wires growing out of them like intestines. This no-nonsense introduction sets up the precarious and violent human-robot relationship with moody overtones and the rest is just more of the same. Moreover, life is tough. Many of the episodic plots revolve around the underhanded politics of a powerful cybernetics company, Genom, and the innocent lives that get caught in their manipulations. In one episode, a young lady accuses a team of power-suited female Genom robots of having killed her boyfriend. Later, those robots manage to corner her in an alley and the results make for heart-wrenching viewing. Among the relentlessly grim sequences of subterfuge, revenge stories, and frustrated heroism, only the crime-fighting heroes, the Knight Sabers, retain their morale and objective sense of justice. However, although the world is dark and complex, the people that inhabit it and the stories they develop are not. The bad guys are only that - bad for the sake of bad - and the stories formulaic. Whatever the problem, malfunctioning boomers are usually at the root of it all, and the only way to resolve it is for the Knight Sabers to crash someone’s scheme with heavy artillery. Few of the narratives attain any greater relevance than what happens in their particular episode, and certainly neither the political or social contexts of the world nor the characters get more than cursory development. For instance, no one ever pauses to explain how the girls came about their unique battle suits and are able to develop its technology, and the wider relationships between humans and boomers is left implied.AnimationIn the beginning, clunky choreography sucks any sense of dynamism out of what should be exciting action sequences. Luckily, this is a temporary flaw; the animation morphs over time, with the most striking change happening between episodes three and four. Suddenly, there are fewer details in the backgrounds and character designs but the motion is smoother, which creates a far more appealing look. By the last episode, the show delivers some pretty impressive stunts with cleaner imagery and fluid movements.SoundIf viewers will take anything away from Bubblegum Crisis, it’s the soundtrack. The numerous original pop songs (at least one new entry every episode) synchronise with the action sequences to form what are essentially music videos. Soundtrack aficionados will find the catchy tunes and sultry lyrics quite the harvest.CharactersMeet the Knight Sabers: Sylia the wealthy, elegant leader of the pack; Priss the wild, aggressive one; Nene the cute and ditzy one, and; Linna the harmless girl next door. The novelty of tight moulded metallic suits and tough girls doing tough things may be what makes these ladies attractive, but the script generally avoids treating them like cheap titillation (the one or two topless shots in the generally non-sexual events come across like afterthoughts). They convincingly combine sweet femininity with hard professionalism, and thanks to their diverse personalities, each viewer should easily be able to pick a favourite. On the other hand, their unique identifiers cover up a dearth of character development. Of course, the bad guys are the usual one-dimensional suspects of wacky scientists, mean politicians, and sinister CEOs, but I find the little attention paid to the Knight Sabers surprising and disappointing. Their lack of reasons for taking up this tough mercenary role is a glaring omission that leaves them hollow and ultimately unsatisfying. Sylia’s Bruce Wayne-like history feels especially underdeveloped considering it strongly relates to their fight against Genom. Only Priss, whose street-wise aggression and sharp language never fail to delight, comes close to being an exception. With her ballsy attitude and double act as crime fighter by night and rock princess by… night, she embodies all the vicarious desires of anyone who loves a tough gal. Some of her best moments include her interactions with Leon McNichol of the AD Police, who plays the Martin Riggs role (minus the self-destructive mania). He’s unabashedly besotted with her and she unabashedly never lets him have it, and together they cook up sexual tension the way it should be.OverallDespite the misleadingly quirky title and a main cast of cute females, Bubblegum Crisis is no squeaky clean shoujo about bubblegum. The only things that blow up are warehouses… and robots and cars and science labs and offices and building sites and anything else that needs to taste vigilante justice. Splattering orange robot ‘blood’ and full frontal topless shots come gratis. Above all, while the self-contained narratives disappoint with formulaic progression, this show has a bold and feisty atmosphere that puts to shame the bland, paint-by-numbers offerings of today. Besides, style over substance is not always bad when it’s this much fun.


Let me start by saying this; Bubblegum Crisis is so 80's it would make Jon Bon Jovi cringe. The animation, the Blade Runner style setting, the blatant fan service (in the first two episodes), the music... EVERYTHING about this screams 80's.And I think that's what makes it so badass. The story takes a while to really get going, but is basically about a group of four girls who don powered armour and fight various bad guys, mainly the company Genom and it's rogue robots, Boomers. It was actually quite interesting from episode 4 and on, but the first two episodes in particular were quite bad, and almost put me off, but I'd say it's worth sticking to. The setting of Mega Tokyo is a fairly well realised cyberpunk city, complete with lots of oppressive cement buildings covered in neon signs, and the animation is good for the most part, although it can be occasionally jumpy. The music was generally great. I loved the ridiculously 80's synthpop and rock vibe  it had, and I'm now strongly considering downloading alot of it :)However, I didn't like any of the songs with vocals, they were just kind of cringey in my opinion and I'd usually skip over the segments with non-instrumental songs if there wasn't anything intergral to the plot going on.The voice acting seemed fairly good to me too, in the Japanese version at least. I watched all of the series with subs apart from episode 3 which was the English dub, and I've got to say, in the English dub I couldn't stand Priss' voice! It really annoyed me for some reason, and so I switched back to the subs for episode 4 and I'd recommend anyone who watched it to just go for the subs. The characters themselves were fairly good; for only eight episodes they were fleshed out and likeable. The powered armour suits that the girls wear are very distinct and well designed, and the Boomers are well designed too (in particular I found how their skin rips off when they begin battling to be "awesome").Overall, I'd say that Bubblegum Crisis is worth a watch for anyone interested in sci-fi (or ridiculously cheesy 80's music).


This title had made a huge sensation when it originally aired. It was an interesting for its time take on a dystopia, along with fan catering to draw in even the less demanding audience. It was let’s say the NGE or Ghost in the Shell of the 80’s. With far less context though. It received two different versions, one in the 80’s and one in the 90’s, both of which will be reviewed here. ART SECTION: 80’s: 6/10, 90’s: 7/10 [Robocop grew tits.] The graphics in the first version are obviously aged. Since they are mostly hand-made, the colors are dark and the visual effects are cheesy. The way machines and robots are drawn is detailed, but otherwise not special in any way. The way the world is depicted is the average dystopian, claustrophobic megacity almost all sci-fi series seem to depict. In general, the artwork and backgrounds are quite good for their time but far from great. The heroines have the “80’s look” on them (dumb expressions, huge eyes, Barbie-like hairstyles), which is hard to accept if you are accustomed to the far more realistic and vamp looks of recent series. In some cases, the shadowing on them is almost absent, giving a silly cartoon feeling in an otherwise half-serious story. Plus, the Knight Saber suits, although quite practical in appearance and way of donning, they will feel very unrealistic during action scenes. The battles have no real choreography and body movements lack proper fluidity. Characters and motion will feel average at best. There is a rather high factor of fan service in it, as 80% of the cast is pretty girls undressing or moving around in underwear. This may make you forget about the glitches. The second version improves several glitches of the initial premise and offers a generally better feeling of the same story. The graphics are far better than before. Since computers were used in the production, the colors are lighter and the visual effects are more realistic; especially the computer statistic screens. They still miss the “magic touch” that would earn them a perfect score. The heroines had a face lift and now have the “90’s look” on them. Their more realistic looks make them far more likable to the average viewer, not accustomed to retro series. Plus, their seriousness during dramatic scenes is far more believable. Shadowing effects on them are now consistent all the time and the Knight Saber suits have slightly different colors for a more uniform palette feeling. Choreography still lacks and fan service is still there. SOUND SECTION: 6/10 [Singer by day, heroine by night.] Voice Acting is decent but not great. The way the characters talk is mixed. Half the time is gibberish; half the other is serious and philosophical. The music themes are quite good but not memorable. This series has the honor for being the first title to use voice actors both for voicing characters and singing the songs. Yes, I’m talking about Priss. Sound Effects are nothing great to write something about. STORY SECTION: 80’s: 4/10, 90’s: 6/10 [Chicks kicking cyborg butt and then ponder about the meaning of life.] The story is rather typical. There is crime, corruption and crazed androids running around in a futuristic city. The normal police have their hands full, until a group of vigilante super chicks, called the Knight Sabers, storm in and save the day. Their identities are hidden, their motives are unknown. So far, the story is like watching Batman. But under the surface, every girl has its reasons for being in the team and there are several secrets behind the origin of the berserked robots.Although not really multi-layered or original, the story is simple to follow and spicy enough as not to get tiresome. Megalomaniac corporation suits and a quest for perfection are nice ideas that are used to give you something to think about, other than chicks fighting robots.There is an ongoing-story but in the 80’s version the ties amongst most episodes are quite loose. You can view most of them as stand-alones or in not arithmetical order without much trouble. In the 90’s version, there is more on-going plot but escalates in slow motion. You can skip every other episode without much trouble. Half the time, it will feel like wasted time and not really a build-up towards some showdown. Most things are explained and all characters have goals. It is a character-driven story and does a rather good job at it. The explanations are not thorough and the motives are not exactly believable but there are plenty of those around to not pay much attention.The conclusion in the 80’s version will feel like the ending of a normal episode. There is no solid ending, nothing major is resolved; which was also the reason there are so many side stories and follow-ups to the series. Originally, there were 13 episodes planned for the series but the company ran out of money and had to cut the last five episodes, which explains the end open. Bubblegum Crash! is a follow-up to the original but it doesn’t actually offer anything more to the lot; it is just 3 more episodes of loose plot and half-serious stand-alone missions. The producers realized that the franchise had a lot of milking before drying up, so they made something extra for the raging fans. And guess what! A recurring villain is back from the dead, which as tv reality demands, must be far stronger than before. Beyond all this fuss, the story there is even looser than before but the characters are colorized further.In the 90’s version, there is an ending but it will feel silly. We have this world-shaking event and the heroines are more troubled staying dressed rather than saving humanity. So, ok, the main “villain” in the story has a very good reason for doing all that mess but it will all be resolved in an almost fairy-tale fashion. Not to mention the naked chicks! As a symbolism for purity, they are stripped of their gear and just smile while starring at the sky. Very poetic as a picture but also very stupid as a gullible ending. CHARACTER SECTION: 80’s: 6/10, 90’s: 7/10 [I am who I am. Nothing more.] As I said, it is a character-driven story. All of them are there for a reason; even the comic relief stunts and the dramatic side characters that die in the same episode they appear in. This is the good part. The bad is, they are not imposing in any way, they don’t look special, their personalities are blunt, and most have one line of backdrop story. Character development is loose and doesn’t affect their personalities. Plus, the open ending leaves out any kind of real catharsis. So, they are just a bit better than average.In the 90’s version their personalities are more fleshed-out and their actions more reasonable. The silly ending makes you wander if it counts as catharsis at all. So, they are above average but not great. VALUE SECTION: 4/10 [Knight Sabers save the day and yet there is a bounty for their heads.] Rather famous but not a classic. Rewatchability is low since there isn’t exactly much worth remembering or revisiting. ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10 [Slicing the Boomer’s head in half.] The story is half-serious, the plot is loose or slowm, the ending is open or silly. The main idea of the series is used in better ways elsewhere. Fan service wasn’t that great. Action scenes weren’t that great. I generally didn’t like the franchise much. VERDICT: 80’s: 5/10, 90’s: 5.5 / 10 Quite a famous series, this title made a steer when it went into market. It made such an impact that several remakes and side stories followed the originals premise for over a decade. It was indeed a pretty ok watch back in the 90’s. Now that many years went by, though, its glamour has been taken over by other, newer series. Its catchy elements have been used in far better ways in other masterwork titles. The only thing that remains of it, is the sweet memory of its initial viewing. SUGGESTION LIST This series is better than: Totally Spies. An American cartoon with anime overtones with a trio of spy girls. Too fake and stupid. Charlie’s Angels. An old American series and recent movies with a trio of spy girls. Too fake and stupid, as well... Nice asses, by the way.This series is worse than: 009-1. A sci-fi anime with a team of anti-terrorist girls. Rather boring but also with nice asses. R.O.D. OVA. A sci-fi anime with a team of anti-terrorist paper-controlling girls. Great action scenes. Gunslinger Girls. No sci-fi but it has little girls, brainwashed to become assassins. WAY better characters. Ghost In The Shell (both the series, the movies and the manga). It also has sci-fi and a woman assassin/swat member in it, but the story is a billion times better and is brimming with issues around humanity, soul, technology and politics. Graphics and sound kick ass! Battle Angel Alita (the manga). It also has sci-fi and a woman warrior in it, but the story is a billion times better and is brimming with issues around humanity, soul, technology and politics. The battles and the cyberpunk atmosphere are awesome!

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