Bubblegum Crisis (Japanese: バブルガムクライシス Hepburn: Baburugamu Kuraishisu) is a 1987 to 1991 cyberpunk original video animation (OVA) series produced by Youmex and animated by AIC and Artmic. The series was planned to run for 13 episodes, but was cut short to just 8.
Bubblegum Crisis poster
|Genre||Action, mecha, cyberpunk|
|Original video animation|
|Produced by||Junji Fujita|
|Written by||Toshimichi Suzuki|
|Music by||Kōji Makaino|
|Studio||Artmic & AIC|
|Released||February 25, 1987 – January 30, 1991|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Hiroshi Ishiodori|
|Produced by||Toshimichi Suzuki|
|Written by||Emu Arii|
|Music by||Takehito Nakazawa|
|Released||May 25, 1991 – December 21, 1991|
The series involves the adventures of the Knight Sabers, an all-female group of mercenaries who don powered exoskeletons and fight numerous problems, most frequently rogue robots. The success of the series spawned several sequel series.
The series begins in late 2032, seven years after the Second Great Kanto earthquake has split Tokyo geographically and culturally in two. During the first episode, disparities in wealth are shown to be more pronounced than in previous periods in post-war Japan. The main adversary is Genom, a megacorporation with immense power and global influence. Its main product are boomers—artificial cybernetic life forms that are usually in the form of humans, with most of their bodies being machine; also known as "cyberoids". While Boomers are intended to serve mankind, they become deadly instruments in the hands of ruthless individuals. The AD Police are tasked to deal with Boomer-related crimes. One of the series' themes is the inability of the department to deal with threats due to political infighting, red tape, and an insufficient budget.
The setting displays strong influences from the movies Blade Runner and Streets of Fire. The opening sequence of episode 1 is modeled on the opening sequence of Streets of Fire. The humanoid robots known as "boomers" in the series also resemble Terminators cyborgs from the Terminator film.
Suzuki explained in a 1993 Animerica interview the meaning behind the cryptic title: "We originally named the series 'bubblegum' to reflect a world in crisis, like a chewing-gum bubble that's about to burst."
The series started with Toshimichi Suzuki intention to remake the 1982 film Techno Police 21C. However, he met Junji Fujita and the two discussed ideas, and decided to collaborate on what later became Bubblegum Crisis. Kenichi Sonoda acted as character designer, and designed the four female leads. Masami Ōbari created the mechanical designs. Obari would also go on to direct episode 5 and 6.
The OVA series is eight episodes long but was originally slated to run for 13 episodes. Due to legal problems between Artmic and Youmex, who jointly held the rights to the series, the series was discontinued prematurely.
|#||Title||Japan first release dates||English first release dates|
|1||"Tinsel City Rhapsody"|
"(Runtime: 45 minutes)"
|February 25, 1987||August 30, 1991|
|The Knight Sabers are hired to rescue a little girl from a group of kidnappers, but the girl is far more than she seems...|
|2||"Born to Kill"|
"(Runtime: 28 minutes)"
|September 5, 1987||September 27, 1991|
|A friend of Linna's threatens to expose Genom secrets that led to the death of her fiancé, but Genom plans to silence her, first.|
"(Runtime: 26 minutes)"
|December 5, 1987||October 10, 1991|
|The Knight Sabers attack Genom Tower to put an end to the machinations of Genom executive Brian J. Mason.|
"(Runtime: 38 minutes)"
|July 24, 1988||December 19, 1991|
|A racer modifies his car into a weapon of vengeance against the biker gangs of Megatokyo, but the car soon develops a mind of its own.|
"(Runtime: 43 minutes)"
|December 25, 1988||January 23, 1992|
|A killer is draining victims of their blood, but this is no vampire. And what do a pair of escaped love-doll androids, Priss's new friend Sylvie and the D.D. super-weapon have to do with it?|
"(Runtime: 49 minutes)"
|August 30, 1989||February 27, 1992|
|A group of fake Knight Sabers are ruining the group's reputation, leading to a fight against a returning foe.|
"(Runtime: 49 minutes)"
|March 14, 1990||March 19, 1992|
|A singer with a vendetta comes to Megatokyo, and brings some heavy firepower with her.|
"(Runtime: 52 minutes)"
|January 30, 1991||April 2, 1992|
|An ambitious technical scientist and an aspiring reporter both plan to make their names at the expense of the Knight Sabers, and of all people, Nene is caught right in the middle.|
In North America, AnimEigo first released Bubblegum Crisis to VHS and Laserdisc in 1991 in Japanese with English subtitles. The series is notable in that it was one of the few early anime series that were brought over from Japan unedited and subtitled in English. While anime has become much more popular in the years since, in 1991, it was still mostly unknown as a storytelling medium in North America. Bubblegum Crisis was aired in the US when it first aired on PBS affiliate Superstation KTEH in the 1990s, and STARZ!'s Action Channel in 2000.
An English dub of the series was produced beginning in 1994 by AnimEigo through Southwynde Studios in Wilmington, NC, and released to VHS and Laserdisc beginning that year. A digitally-remastered compilation, featuring bilingual audio tracks and production extras, was released on DVD in 2004 by AnimEigo. The company later successfully crowdfunded a collector's edition Blu-ray release through Kickstarter in November 2013. The series was released on a regular edition Blu-ray on September 25, 2018. The series is currently available for streaming on Night Flight Plus.
There are 8 soundtrack releases (one per OVA), as well as numerous "vocal" albums which feature songs "inspired by" the series as well as many drawn directly from it.
Masaki Kajishima and Hiroki Hayashi, who both worked on the Bubblegum Crisis OAVs, cite the show as being the inspiration for their harem series Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki. In an interview with AIC, Hayashi described Bubblegum Crisis as "a pretty gloomy anime. Serious fighting, complicated human relationships, and dark Mega Tokyo." They thought it would be fun to create some comedy episodes with ideas like the girls going to the hot springs, but it was rejected by the sponsors. He also said that there was a trend to have a bunch of characters of one gender and a single one of the other gender, and asked what if Mackey (Sylia's brother) was a main character, reversing the Bubblegum scenario. This idea then became the basis for Tenchi. Hayashi said that Mackey is "sort of" the original model for Tenchi.
Kevin Siembieda's becoming aware of "Boomers" being already in use in this caused him to changed his planned name for the Rifts RPG which he had named after the "Boom Gun"-wielding power armor which was also renamed to Glitter Boy.
The success of the series spawned several sequel series. The first of them was the three-part OVA Bubblegum Crash (バブルガムクラッシュ! Baburugamu Kurasshu!). After the split between Artmic and Youmex, Artmic proceeded to make a sequel on their own, Bubblegum Crash, which ran three OVA episodes and is conjectured that it was a shortened version of how Crisis was to end. Youmex promptly sued Artmic, cutting Crash short and tying the entire franchise up in legal issues for the next several years.
It is set in 2034, and the Knight Sabers seem to be finished; each of its members - except Nene - have seemingly drifted off to pursue their own goals. But at the same time, parts of a unique artificial intelligence are stolen by several villains acting under the orders of a mysterious voice. Unexpectedly, Sylia resurfaces and prepares her teammates for battle. And as a gigantic machine drills its way to Mega Tokyo's main nuclear power plant, they meet again with an old and deadly enemy.
|#||Title||Japanese release date||English release date|
|1||"Illegal Army"||May 25, 1991||November 14, 1991|
|The Knight Sabers re-unite after a period of absence to handle the emergence of a mysterious group of former soldiers with mecha suits.|
|2||"Geo Climbers"||July 25, 1991||February 15, 1992|
|Dr. Yuri, Dr. Stingray's former colleague, seizes a 2nd generation boomer named Adama that Dr. Stingray's successor, Dr. Haynes, created.|
|3||"Melt Down"||December 21, 1991||April 15, 1992|
|A virus mysteriously infects all boomers, making them go rogue. Who is behind all of it? The final episode of the Crash OAV series.|
- A.D. Police Files is a three-part original video animation produced by Youmex and animated by Artmic and AIC, released in 1990. It takes place in the original Bubblegum universe.
- A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve is a sequel to A.D. Police Files.
- Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is a 26-episode anime television series broadcast in 1998–99. It is a reboot of the original series.
- Parasite Dolls is a three-part original video animation series made in 2003 and set in the original Bubblegum universe.
- Bubblegum Crisis role-playing game produced by R. Talsorian Games. It introduces an alternate setting named "Bubblegum Crossfire", basing on a premise that data units with hardsuit blueprints have been sent to more individuals than just Sylia Stingray, resulting in that by 2033 there are numerous Knight Saber-like groups spread all over the globe. RTG's license to produce this game has expired and at present all copies of back stock have been sold.
- "Bubblegum Crisis: Before and After" (covering material from A.D. Police Files and Bubblegum Crash)
- "Bubblegum Crisis EX" which includes completely new materials (also incorporating early design concepts for BGC mecha and hardsuits as new variants)
The series' creator Toshimichi Suzuki wrote two novels:
- Bubblegum Crisis Vol.1: Silent Fanfare, Fujimi Shobo
- Bubblegum Crisis Vol.2: Break Down-48, Fujimi Shobo
In Japan, a number of comic books were produced that featured characters and storylines based in the same universe. Some were very much thematically linked to the OVA series, while others were "one-shots" or comedy features. A number of artists participated in the creation of these comics, including Kenichi Sonoda, who had produced the original Knight Saber character designs. A North American comic based in the Bubblegum Crisis Universe was published in English by Dark Horse Comics.
- Go! Go! Sabers!, a comic by Tokio Kazuka.
- Soldier Blue, a comic by Toshimichi Suzuki. It serves as a prequel to Bubblegum Crash! It was also made as an audio drama. It was translated into English language in 1997 by R.Talsorian Games. A copy of the translated dialogue can be found here.
- Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal produced by Adam Warren via Dark Horse Comics.
- Crime Wave: a game for PC-88, set in Megatokyo and featuring Knight Sabers as the main characters.
- Bubblegum Crash: a game for TurboGrafx-16.
In May 2009 it was announced that a live-action movie of "Bubblegum Crisis" was in the early stages of production. A production agreement was signed at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The film was expected to be released in late 2012 with a budget of 30 million. The production staff was said to have consulted with the original anime's staff members, Shinji Aramaki and Kenichi Sonoda, to help maintain consistency with the world of the original. However, no further developments have been announced.
- Horibuchi, Seiji (May 1993). "The Animerica interview: Toshimichi Suzuki". Animerica. 1 (3).
- "Bubblegum Crisis [商品紹介:Video/Ld]". Anime-int.com. Archived from the original on 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "Interview with Hiroki Hayashi". AIC Anime English Website. Anime International Company. February 2011. Archived from the original on July 5, 2011.
- Rifts Ultimate Edition.
- "Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal #1 (of 4) :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics". www.darkhorse.com. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- trebor (2000-06-28). "Mason Largo Theory Part 2 [WAS Re: [INFO] ANOTHER BUBBLEGUMCRISIS FAQ (Part 3/3)]". Newsgroup: alt.fan.bgcrisis. Usenet: email@example.com. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "channelnewsasia.com". channelnewsasia.com. 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "AIC Agrees to Live-Action Bubblegum Crisis Proposal (Updated)". Anime News Network. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "Pre-Production Bubblegum Crisis Film Image Posted". Anime News Network. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "2012 Bubblegum Crisis Film Planned with Caucasian/Asian Cast (Updated)". News. Anime News Network. 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-07-05.