AnimEigo describes Bubblegum Crisis (BGC to its fans) as The Japanese Animated Cyberpunk Classic. Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to call it cyberpunk, at least in the Gibson variety of the genre, but it is definitely a high-tech, near-future story.
The series begins in MegaTokyo of the year 2032, where much of the city has recently been destroyed by the second great Kanto earthquake of 2025. In the process of rebuilding the city, the Genom corporation has become a major world power, due to its introduction of boomers. Boomer technology is essentially a combination of robotics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence in human form, pioneered by Doctor Katsuhito Stingray. Doctor Stingray was killed in a lab accident shortly after initial development was completed, but Genom has continued work on his brainchild, and boomers are now a major segment of the worldwide manual labour and military hardware market.
Boomers are quite obviously inspired by the replicants from the movie Bladerunner, and the series has many direct references to both Bladerunner and a number of other western entertainment icons. Noteworthy among these are some subtle (and not-so-subtle) animator's jokes and recurring arguments among fans as to whether or not Sylia is a boomer.
The above is the official, surface description of life in the 2030s. In reality, Genom is far from the saviour of the world that they would project themselves to be. Genom's development of military boomers, and their continuing program of controlling the global economy and government poses a threat to the very future of humanity. In response, Doctor Stingray's daughter, Sylia, formed the Knight Sabers to resist their plans in ways that the police and world governments could not.
Complete synopses for the eight episodes of Crisis the three following episodes of Crash and the three (prequel) episodes of AD Police written by Jeanne Hedge, are now available. Thanks to AnimEigo for their permission and assistance in this endeavour.
The Knight Sabers are a vigilante group of four women who oppose Genom's plans for world domination. Their fight is aided by another invention of Doctor Stingray's, the hardsuit, which is essentially a form of highly advanced personal body armour. With big guns, of course. The four Knight Sabers are:
Additionally, Mackie (Sylia's younger brother) appears regularly. He helps out with maintenance and development on the equipment, and drives the truck and flies the KnightWing for the Sabers. In BGC6 he gets to shoot a few missiles at some boomers, and in BGC8 he finally gets to join right in with his own mecha. His seiyuu (voice actor) is Sasaki Nozomu.
There are many more characters, major and minor, who show up during the series. I've attempted to compile a list of the ones who appear in Crisis. Links will appear as text and images get assembled. If you want to write an entry, or add information to any of the below, please mail it to me and you will be credited appropriately. Note that some of these short bios may seem a bit strange to you if you are already familiar with the series, but I have tried to avoid any plot spoilers.
Yes there is, although it isn't nearly enough to satisfy most fans. There is a followup series of three OAVs, Bubblegum Crash, which begins in 2034. Unfortunately Crash was done by a different design team, and had a different voice actor for Priss. The hardsuit designs also changed dramatically, the boomers became much less intelligent, and Genom was pretty much absent from the plot. I have yet to see it myself; some people like it, and some hate it, but most seem to agree that it is inferior to the original. Crisis and Crash are both available from AnimEigo in both subtitled and dubbed format on VHS and laserdisc.
There have been rumours for years of more episodes of BGC being made, but since the middle of 1996 AIC has been making pretty official noises about it. Apparently they're working on a new TV series based on the original characters for release in late 1997, with a movie possible for 1998. Keep an ear to the ground on this one, as it looks like it's for real. Update as of late 1997: it appears they keep putting it off in favour of other shows they're working on, but it is still in progress. Update as of fall 1998, they've got designs and such available at the AIC BGC page
Technical details on the hardsuits and other aspects of the series have been published in a number of increasingly difficult to find books. The most prized of these seems to be the B-Club Special (ISBN4-89189-169-6), which usually auctions (among fans) for in excess of US$100. There are also two volumes of the Entertainment Bible which cover BGC:
Here, courtesy of Robin Smith <Tempest@ktsabers.demon.co.uk> is a list of other known BGC works in print:
Bert Van Vliet <email@example.com> wrote to pass on information about another book, ``Bubblegum Crisis 2, Completed File #6'', which covers OAVs 2-3. It has one colour foldout of the development of the superboomer, and about 4 colour pages with shots from the OAVs. The rest of the book is character sketches, mecha sketches, background sketches, and even some concept sketches for character development. 75 pages long, although unless you can read Japanese, the last four pages don't tell you much. The book's ISBN number is: 4-943966-19-5.
Jeanne Hedge wrote to add this book info:
Jerry Schafer <Largo2032@hotmail.com> wrote to add ``I have some information about a drama CD that was released called A.D. Police: Dragon Trip. It was previewed in the Japanese version of the Dead End City graphic novel (called A.D. Police 2 in Japan). It's an elseworld story that takes place in a fantasy/futuristic seting where there is a boomer dragon, and Leon is a A.D. Knight.''
Continuing in the world of print, there is Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal, which is a four comic series set in 2031, based on an original story by Adam Warren, and published by Dark Horse Comics. Again, some like it and some hate it; personally, I'm happy to own them, and while it may not be as good as the original anime, it has some interesting ideas on the events before the anime began.
Also set before BGC proper, AD Police is a three OAV series set in the early days of the ADP. It has a much darker plot overall than BGC, but is quite good regardless. AD Police is also available from AnimEigo in subtitled format on both VHS and laserdisc. There is also an AD Police graphic novel, written by Toshimichi Suzuki and drawn by Tony Takezaki. The English translation was done by Matt Thorn, and it is published by Viz Communications, ISBN 1-56931-005-X.
On the game front there is a BGC RPG by R. Talsorian Games. It has been getting pretty good reviews from fans, particularly for the detail of information they've assembled. For more information and supplements, check out Dom and Bart's RPG Page. RPG fans should also check out Shawn Hagen's Shadowrun conversion, which came before RTG's game, and Shawn still claims is better. RTG offers a much nicer book though. There is also a MTG style card game called Anime Madness that has cards from BGC (and other anime shows), and another, Ani-Mayhem, also with BGC cards.
Finally, on the software front there is a BGC screen saver from Software Sculptors. There is also a Win95 BGC theme pack for those poor souls in bondage to Microsoft. For BGC patches to Dark Forces, Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, visit Ben Cantrick's FTP archive. Brian Dinnigan has also put together a set of Duke3D patches called Duchess Romanova 3D.
This section needs more information -- if you own any BGC CDs and would like to write up a blurb on one or more of them, please send it to me (or give me a URL to link to). There is quite a bit of technical information on the available CDs in the alt.fan.bgcrisis FAQ.
For Crisis, there is a soundtrack CD for each of the eight OAVs, though these are becoming increasingly difficult to find. There are also two Vocal Compilations, the first of which contains the vocal numbers from OAVs 1-4, and the second contains the vocal numbers from OAVs 5-7. A review of the BGC8 CD has been written by Jani Partanen.
Other well designed pages with detailed information on the various BGC CDs would be an excellent contribution for someone with both the CDs and the time to make. Goodness knows there are lots of pages about the story and characters...
The stories below are archived in the BGC section of the rec.arts.anime.creative archive. A good place to start would be the BGC Fanfiction Guide.
This is a fanfiction series written by Zoner and Gryphon (of Undocumented Features fame) which is set in the BGC universe. Highly recommended. In addition to the following chapters, there is an Introduction, and a short poem, hollow (presumably inspired by writing HL).
The links in section are very incomplete, pretty much a few of my favourites at the time I created this page. Please refer to the archive site link above for more fanfiction until I can get around to going through them all. If you write a review and/or short synopsis of any BGC fan work, I'd like to include it here, or link to it if you provide me with a URL.
Some other sites with BGC fanfic:
There is a very nice collection of Errol Lanier's <firstname.lastname@example.org> work, and another collection of fanart by <email@example.com>. The art on the latter page seems somewhat primative, but heck, he still draws better than I do.
First of all, the newsgroup alt.fan.bgcrisis is dedicated to all things Bubblegum, and features and excellent FAQ maintained by Steve Pearl. There is also a mailing list, which has its own page where you can find subscription information and list archives. Last, but far from least, the newsgroups rec.arts.anime.misc and rec.arts.manga are devoted to general discussions of anime and manga (respectively).
If you have corrections, links, or more information you would like to add, please feel free to send it to me. Anything I use will be credited appropriately. Also, if you feel I have used anything in this page without credit, please let me know, as it's very hard to keep track of all your sources. Major contributors to this page include, but are not limited to:
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Brian Edmonds <firstname.lastname@example.org> October 12, 1998