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[ a parent's guide to anime ]

[ rated pg ] Bubblegum Crisis

A Parent's Guide to Anime
Rated: PG
Parental Guidance Advised

Reviewed by Don Kreipke:

Bubblegum Crisis (BGC) is a mini-series of eight original video animes set in near future Tokyo. This series is to animation as Blade Runner is to live action. Definitive cyberpunk fare, BGC is a standard against which other works of the genre are often measured.

The protagonists are four women high-tech mercenaries, called the Knight Sabers, who are basically virtuous, but operate in a murky zone of legality and vigilantism to accomplish usually meritorious ends. This dual nature of the protagonists isn't entirely glossed over, however. Occasionally, the storyline or even dialogue gives the viewer pause to consider the ethics of their actions.

[ 30kb ]

There is a goodly amount of violence that gets pretty graphic. Nastiest violence occurs when bad guys attack police officers or bystanders. Targets of the 'Sabers are usually robots called "boomers", but not always. However, often, the artificial intelligence driven boomers can assume very, very, very human-like external appearances and emotional qualities; so, it becomes quite easy for the 20th century Homo sapiens video viewer to empathize with them.

Language in the dialogue is sometimes quite strong (life in the cyberpunk 21st century is VERY stressful), but sexual content, by and large, is nil throughout the series. Instances of nudity are present in most of the episodes, almost always in a non-sexual context. And usually, they're so fleeting that you'll miss them if you look away from the TV screen to grab that of fistful of popcorn just at the right time.

Nutshell review: A visually intense action series that nevertheless allows the thoughtful viewer to reflect upon the concepts of justice and what it means to be human. BGC is a VERY highly regarded anime classic.

Episode Reviews:

[ 33kb ]

BGC #1: Bubblegum Crisis

This episode, along with episodes 2 and 3, is part of a trilogy that introduces the characters and sets the mood. This episode is one of the more violent of the series. There's a very brief glimpse of an unclothed juvenile-female-appearing boomer under construction. This particular child-like robot is one with whom both parents and children would sympathize considerably.

BGC #2: Born to Kill

Brief casual nudity as the team dresses for the final battle, seems very appropriate and somehow tender and touching considering the violence that follows... On that note, there are a couple of violent, graphically bloody scenes that might not be suitable for small ones; in one particularly graphic scene, a murderer pauses to lick a drop of blood off the cheek of a pretty young woman before the job is completed.

BGC #3: Blow Up

The denouement of the introductory trilogy, "Blow Up" is bit less violent than the first two episodes of the trilogy, but not much. There's another very brief flash of female nudity as the 'Sabers climb into their armor for the Gunfight at the t-OK-yo Corral.)

BGC #4: Revenge Road

A stand-alone, logically complete story, BGC #4 is less violent than the introductory first three. This episode philosophically explores how totally blind hatred can usurp and control a person's innate humanity. It's really hard to dislike the "bad guys"; the viewer feels more sorry for them than anything.

BGC #5: Moonlight Rambler and BGC #6: Red Eyes

An inseparable duet with mildly graphic violence. The robot antagonists here are remarkably human; once again, it's hard to figure out if one should have sympathy or antipathy for them.

BGC #7: Double Vision

Another stand-alone episode. Its violence escalates to the level of the first three stories. There's a brief run of in-the-shower nudity in a semi-sexual context (a protagonist, disguised as a prostitute, getting ready to "go to work"). BGC #7 is yet another story that verifies the futility of revenge.

[ 21kb ]

BGC #8: Scoop Chase

This episode backs off the usual dark mood of the first seven as the characters assume a more humorous interaction with one another. Strong language decreases slightly, but the level of violence does so considerably (of course, the by now obligatory exploding police helicopter sequence still shows up). Midway through the episode, the leader of the Knight Sabers and a teen-ager talk about the ethics of the group's activities in a pointed discussion that, on a deeper plane, examines the fine balance of good and evil in some human endeavors.

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