Friday, February 20, 2015

BGC Tokyo 2040, comments

(Image from Amazon. Used for review purposes only.)

Bubble Gun Crisis Tokyo 2040 Grade: D
I recently watched the full BGCT2040 TV series. It came out in Japan in 1998, and AD Vision released the English dub in 2001. You can probably find it in the bargain bin at Half Price Books, although it's still available from Amazon used at the absurdly high price of $22 for the complete set.

I first saw the original Bubble Gum Crisis OAVs when I began developing an interest in anime around '91-92. They were pure camp, and as such were fun to watch for the action sequences, and because the girls were cute. There was no real story, and the episodes didn't hang together well, but I didn't care at the time. Bubblegum Crash followed in 1991, but I don't remember ever seeing it. If I did, I probably blocked it out of memory. Doesn't really matter, the two studios that had worked on Crisis had a falling out and Crash was cancelled after only 3 OAVs because of lawsuits. Again, though, I liked Crisis, even though there were big holes in the plot, and there was never any explanation for why Priss was the series hero when she couldn't fight all that well.

Enter Tokyo 2040, an attempt to reboot the story as a 26-episode TV series. We do get backstories for each of the Knight Sabers - who they are and why they formed a vigilante group to stop Genome Corp., and its army of robot Voomers that keep going insane. And, we learn why the leader, Sylia Stingray, has technology superior to Genome's - her father was the lead researcher at Genome before dying at the hands of one of his creations. The problem is that over 26 episodes everything bogs down and the story just drags. This is compounded by the standard flaw in many anime of unlimited escalation. That is, Genome gets stronger so the Knights get stronger so Genome gets stronger so the Knights gets stronger, ad nausium. In the end, the "ultimate Voomer" turns into a god, and Priss (with the help of her motorcycle, which has become independently self-aware) turns into an ultimate super Voomer anti-god weapon. It all just gets really silly.

It doesn't help that the animation and character designs get very crude after the first few episodes, or that Priss isn't that good of a singer. That's a problem, because the original series was created as a long 6-part pop rock music video. Priss as a singer features heavily throughout Tokyo 2040, and whenever her band started playing, I just fast-forwarded until the end of the song. I do have to add that I couldn't stand the English voice acting, so I watched the full remake with Japanese language turned on, and captions turned off.

I'm not interested in exploring why AIC felt compelled to do the remake, or why ADV thought they could make a profit by funding it. The bottom line is that BGCT2040 just isn't all that good. If you do intend to buy the complete set, don't spend more than $5 on it.


MikeM said...

Haha, I have Bubblegum Crisis on VHS still. I got it after watching Bubblegum Crash on TV (one of them, anyway. Never knew there was 3!), but the cover of that video had the characters in skimpy nightwear, and my mum was suspicious enough of anime as it was.
All I can remember of Bubblegum Crash was a plot to blow up a giant nuclear power station on an island, and the bar they drink at being called "Piss".

TSOTE said...

Hi Mike, thanks for the comment.
Yes, Bar Piss pretty much is the one highlight of BGCrash.