Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is a futuristic sci-fi series that essentially aimed to reboot the original Bubblegum Crisis anime series from the 1980's and bring it up to speed for a 1990's audience. As someone who has never seen the original series it's impossible to know exactly how faithful this revamped premise is to the original intent. The good news is that the series seems created to appeal to an entirely new set of viewers. The bad news is that by the time this series concludes it leaves without giving a proper goodbye to the audience. The last run of episodes will leave viewers scratching their heads, incredibly confused, and disappointed. This is a major let-down of a show.
The story premise
seemed pretty intriguing (although
I can't say for certain why the series is ever given its
title). The basic idea behind Bubblegum
Crisis Tokyo 2040 is that humanoid robots used throughout
starting to turn from peaceful, helpful robots into monster-like
turn into violent killing machines with an agenda to wreak
havoc, and the only
hope for Tokyo is a group of renegade fighters by name of Knight Sabers. Each member of the Knight Sabers
group is an
intelligent, cool, super-hip, and cute badass woman. They were
into the group to help bring about an end to the growing
humanoid problem. The
names of these heroines are Priss, Sylvia, Linna, and Nene. The
team answers to
someone with a cloudy past connected to humanoids and their
creation. How do all
these elements connect for the Knight Sabers?
As the series progressed it became less and less interesting. It became such an incredibly convoluted mess. There are several enemy characters on the show with hinted at illusions to pasts that could be connected to some of the Knight Sabers. Little was developed here. Some of the characters do connect story-wise (more or less as anticipated) but are slowly developed to the point that the characters feel inconsequential to the story. If viewers of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 can't even get to know the characters better or experience something that provides a greater understanding of the plot there doesn't seem to be as relevant a reason to even begin watching the series.
Thematically, there is a good message of recognizing the limits of technology and to not cross the line too far where robots are developed with A.I. that makes them humanistic. This is a tried and true element essential to many thought-provoking sci-fi tales. Sadly, there isn't enough here to keep the show creative enough. The series eventually seems unable to tell a solid story for an entire episode. The individual parts never mesh as an interesting whole and the individual segments don't mesh either. There comes a point where several episodes in a row center almost entirely on poorly-crafted battle scenes lacking in both story and character. It can be a struggle to even make it through these episodes. It seemed like the writers lost all interest in the show at some point. There's nothing to write home about when one of the last episodes in the series spends almost every moment with the lead characters surrounding a campfire of humanoid-surviving strangers while random stories are shared that are entirely irrelevant to the main plot. These weren't character-building stories either. It was a collection of nonsense. Entire episodes go by where it feels like nothing at all has happened. The creative spark that existed when the show started began fizzling away.
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 turned into
an almost constant stream of filler episodes. Anime fans will
unique art style, memorable character designs, and an enjoyable
but feel let down by most of the other elements that are
essential to the
fabric of any show. It certainly doesn't help that for an action
series the action sequences are the least interesting moments.
By the time the
last of Bubblegum Crisis
Tokyo 2040 was
reached it was one of the more generic and by the numbers series
of the action/sci-fi
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is presented across four DVD's in the 4:3 full frame aspect ratio as originally broadcast. The animation on this show is unique and translates well on DVD. The picture quality is sharp, clean, and impressive. It looks extremely good for the age of the production. The series has a lot of dark colors and can sometimes look murky stylistically. The art style seems to be used to help represent the cyberpunk anime form.
The English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio sounds decent with enough surround usage to warrant hearing it with the English dub track. The music sounds especially great with enough bass and clarity to make any scene more exciting. The surrounds aren't used as often as some might want for sound effects though. The Japanese Stereo 2.0 mix is a minor downgrade compared to the surround option but is worth listening to for those preferring the original sound mix. English Subtitles are provided.
The only extras
included on this release are
text-less songs for the opening/ending credits and trailers for
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 started off strong with cool style and fun characters. It's too bad that the entire show couldn't have stayed as entertaining and well made. The story is incoherent and uninteresting from the mid-point until the conclusion. Unless your one of those anime fans that enjoys rambling pseudo-intellectual series that can't connect the story dots in a satisfying manner by the time it's supposed to wrap up... this disappoints. Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040's conclusion is several times more incoherent than that of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Consider that aspect before any potential viewing. Skip It.