The Bubblegum Crisis/Crash! Connection

The world of Mega Tokyo 2032 was a very dark one that beckoned to the theives, murderers, prostitutes, dealers, addicts, and human trash. The streets were cold at night, the living situations dirty and unwelcoming. The streets were lined with bodies, both alive and dead. Drug addicts sold their bodies for cash and a desperate man was willing to go to any and all lengths to get some money. Rampaging Boomers destroyed entire blocks at a time and left the inhabitants homeless, foraging through the garbage and living on the unforgiving streets of Mega Tokyo. Desperation, hatred, sadness, and distraught men, women, and children were nearly all that were found.

That was AD2032.

The city is another place entirely in AD2034. No longer are the citizens as threatening or threatened. The atmosphere is lighter and less chaotic that it had been previously. Death tolls were not as high as before and the city itself was far more peaceful than it had been only one year before, in AD2033. The change was so dramatic and sudden that it seemed like an entirely different place. Roaming the streets was safe. Few people were pushing and using drugs. Streetwalkers were not on each corner. The city had regained morals and its attitude was one that seemed something the opposite of the earlier visions of Mega Tokyo.

This change led to many fans of Bubblegum Crisis questioning Bubblegum Crash! as canon. In the span of a few months Mega Tokyo had turned from a cess pool of poverty and chaos to a lighter, simpler world. No longer were mature theme evident. The characters themselves were less adult. Coldhearted Sylia Stingray became kind, sympathic, and sentimental. Nene Romanova gained the courage and abilities of the other Knight Sabers. Linna was suddenly obsessed with money and uncaring about the situations the group faced. Priss was disloyal, spiteful, and mean spirited. What on earth happened?

It's impossible to say that the two worlds do not bare resemblances to one another, but more striking are the things they do not have in common. Individuals who monopolized and manipulated others were gentler and more forgiving than before, not unlike the city itself.

The absence of GENOM also begs the question of how extreme the changes were. GENOM, the most powerful force in Bubblegum Crisis, is absent throughout the entire duration of Bubblegum Crash!. How could such a company as GENOM disappear?

There are logical answers to many of those questions. GENOM was discovered to be corrupt and the police investigated, slowing down GENOM's operations so that it was no longer a direct problem for the Knight Sabers. GENOM still existed, no doubt, but was not such a prominent figure in the world at that point. With this done, everything wuold change. Crime would be lessened. Of course Boomers were found in the city, but they were not sent to create diversions while GENOM committed some deed. If GENOM were expected to reimburse the city in some form for the years of torment, what way would be better than to clean up the streets, both literally and figuratively?

Another component to the change that would come with GENOM's downfall would be Boomers with lesser intelligence levels. The most intelligent of the Boomers were the ones GENOM manufactured for illegal business. Without GENOM doing this, the number of Boomers who were truly self-sufficient would go downhill almost instantaneously. Until Largo appears with his combat Boomers the Boomers all have 'no more brains than an orangutan,' to quote Daley Wong. This is to a point perfectly reasonable and realistic.

Naturally, the process was sped up. Expecting five or ten years for this to occur is more realistic, but this is fiction, and science fiction, no less. Whatever takes a year in reality takes far less time in this style of fiction. What Bubblegum Crash! did when changing the worlds for drastically was not nearly as severe as some might believe.

There are some problems, however, mainly in the characters themselves. In the original series Sylia was lethal, brutal, and tore her opponents apart without remorse. In Bubblegum Crash! she wanted to preserve her father's dream more than destroy the people responsible for his death, which was unlike the 'old' Sylia. She was also understanding of other's troubles and became a romantic in the case of ADAMA. The only signs of Sylia as she was in the original series come from the end of episode two where she murders Doctor Yuri and her time with Largo in Meltdown. All of the characters are more like their old selves in Meltdown, the most solid of the episodes. It also brings to light that Boomers are not complete fools, as they come together and start a revolution with a single Boomer delivering a speech about their rightful inheritance of the earth.

The result of comparing Bubblegum Crisis to Bubblegum Crash! is that it is merely a less extreme vision of the same thing. In all honesty, Bubblegum Crash! does spend too much time on combat and not enough developing the story and characters. Still, it is no worse than most anime in this respect. Sylia and Largo are given unbelievable depth in the final episode, the only episode out of either series that truly focuses on Sylia Stingray. Priss, Linna, and Nene are not so lucky, however. Both Priss and Linna reach a point where all they care for is money and duty, loyalty, friendship, and cause no longer matter to them. Nene may have improved in some aspects--she can hold her own in battle and improved her hacking skills--but in other ways she did anything but improve. She clinged to Sylia in unheard of ways and depended more heavily than ever on her friend for support. Nene resembled a little girl in the final part of Meltdown when she flung herself at Sylia. This was not particularly becoming of the character.

There are other reasons that some BGC fans prefer the original to the follow-up. For instance, Priss' voice actress changed from Oomori Kinuko to Tachikawa Ryouko. Tachikawa was less talented and singer and actress than Oomori and her music was less memorable. Her scenes were sometimes taken almost directly from Bubblegum Crisis scenes, most notably Priss' final moments with ADAMA. Priss herself became hideously racist against Boomers in a way that she had never been before. This was quite a disappointment.

Another common complaint: The animation. Some of the best shots from all three of the Bubblegum-related series come from the opening sequence to Bubblegum Crash! but other than that the animation often lags behind standards set by the other two series. It has its moments where it does well but usually it is not as good as the other series. This, along with the music quality, is a fairly petty reason to complain, but it still exists.

Another problem people may have with this series is that it answers their questions in ways that do not satisfy them. Is Sylia a Boomer? According to Largo in Meltdown, she is. So many fans do not want to think this, however, so they decide to disregard those minutes in Bubblegum Crash! which hold what might be the most revealing conversation from the three series as a whole.

Any other problems people have with the series are hardly worth calling it 'inferior' for. ADAMA was clunky looking, Priss' voice was not as good, the music wasn't as great, the animation was not spectacular, Largo was rotten (in a whole new way), Linna changed jobs, et cetera. None of these things affect the story in a meaningful enough way to dismiss it as worthless to someone who loves the concepts behind BGC. So many viewers are more interesting in other aspects, such as the music, mecha, and such, to realize this, though. That's a shame, because Bubblegum Crash! is an outstanding series when one puts time and effort into reading into the words spoken and actions committed. Like any other series, it has its problems, but unlike so many others, Bubblegum Crash! has enough redeeming qualities to bring itself out of an impending rut and become one of the most memorable animated series ever to come from Japan.

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