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ADV Films presents
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 #3: Leviathans (1998)

"As I think you already know, this is classed as a Special A secret. Nobody will ever find out about this."
- Mason (Joji Nakata)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: December 19, 2000

Stars: Yu Asakawa, Satsuki Yukino, Rio Natsuki, Hiroko Konishi, Christine M. Auten, Laura Chapman, Kelly Manison, Hilary Haig
Other Stars: Tomonori Miyata, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Yuji Ueda, Joji Nakata, Spike Spencer, Jason Douglas, Chris Patton, Andy McAvin, Phil Ross
Director: Hiroki Hayashi

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for violence, mild fan service)
Run Time: 01h:38m:01s
Release Date: January 23, 2001
UPC: 702727002021
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

ADV brings us the third disc in the Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 series, which is a retelling of the popular 1980's Bubblegum Crisis series, updated with a bigger budget, new character designs and a harder soundtrack than the original. This disc features four episodes: My Nation Underground, Woke Up With A Monster, Sheer Heart Attack and Made In Japan. After the big quake hit Tokyo, the city was rebuilt by robots dubbed "boomers", built by the Genom Corporation, who are out to dominate the newly reborn world of Megalocity. The growing boomer population includes domestic servants, maintenance crews and all manner of occupations, however something is going wrong and the boomers suddenly turn violent and destructive. While the A.D. Police are officially in charge of maintaining these renegade robots, they are often ineffectual, and instead, a group of vigilante warriors, who call themselves the Knight Sabers, appear to do battle with the robot boomers who are rampaging new Tokyo. Priss (Yu Asakawa), Nene (Hiroko Konishi), Linna (Rio Natsuki) and Silia (Satsuki Yukino) all have their cover in their day jobs, but decked out in hardsuits as the Knight Sabers, they are on a mission to quell the renegades. We also have Mason (Joji Nakata), chairman of the Genom corporation, who is hatching plots of his own.

As episode 9 of the series opens, boomers are disappearing in their underground work areas outside of town, though the media isn't making any mention of the fact. Since this area used to house many important underground laboratories, supposedly including that of Dr. Stingray, the inventer of the boomer, attention focuses on these occurrences from all directions. Nene uses her position at A.D. Police headquarters to uncover the details of these events, though her co-worker Leon (Kiyoyuki Yanada) is suspicious of her. Leon also has his eye on Priss, though in that case he has more amorous intentions, a fact Nene finds hilarious but Sylia finds threatening to the Knight Sabers. Priss on the other hand, has a deeply ingrained resentment of the A.D. Police, and has no intention of becoming involved with Leon, at least for now. Dissention in the Knight Sabers is also coming to the surface, as some members of the team are questioning the others' place, while some are doubting their own part in the team. Meanwhile, Mason continues his interest in the hard suits the Knight Sabers are donning, and begins linking their origins back to acquaintances from his past.

Unlike many anime series where each episode is self contained, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040's episodes overlap, with new developments showing up halfway through the show and continuing into the next episode. While the overall story arc continues to develop from episode to episode, with character backgrounds being exposed in bits and pieces, we also get our fair share of battle action as the girls take on the boomer de jour, and instead of simply pitting them against robot after robot, each incident has its own set of consequences, and often, hidden agendas. One thing about this show is how quick everything moves. I had to review the last disc in the series to piece together all that had happened, as the series melds into one long story. Even the filler episodes that normally occupy this stretch in most anime series are full of new details on the characters and story. The animation quality is certainly far advanced from the original series, and in a completely different style. Throw in a bit of (minor) fan service every now and then, lots of action, a good mix of comedy and drama, and an increasingly interesting storyline and we have a winner here. This is certainly a great remake of a classic, and I am anxious for the next disc in the series to arrive.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full frame image is very well presented, with only minimal amounts of aliasing present in a few places. Colors are bold, rich and solid. Contrast between the drab underworld and the vibrant above ground scenes add more interest to the viewing experience.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in the original Japanese stereo, with English and Spanish stereo dubs. The soundtracks are solid, with great ambient sound design, and of course the show's hard rock theme song, one of my favorites for an anime series.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Princess Nine, Arc The Lad, A.D. Police, Reboot, Shadow Raiders, ADV Mix promo
Packaging: other
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Character profiles
Extras Review: We get a selection of front end trailers, this time for Princess Nine, Arc The Lad, A.D. Police, Reboot and Shadow Raiders, plus the obligatory ADV Mix promo. These can be either title skipped through or bypassed completely using the menu button on your remote.

Accessable from the menu are another set of character profiles, which I would avoid at all costs until you have digested future episodes in the series, since these contain far too much information on the characters not to spoil the unveiling of their backgrounds later on.

Once again I have to comment on the inconsistency of the package design, especially the spines. I really wish ADV (and all companies releasing multi-disc series) would pick a spine design before publishing discs, as their on-shelf presentation is degraded in my eyes when the logo placement varies from disc to disc. This has apparently been addressed for future series and episodes, which I hope is the case.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

I can safely recommend the Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 series for those looking for great action, an interesting storyline and cute anime girls who kick butt in hardsuits. The presentation quality is top notch, and fans of the old version should be won over once you adjust to the new character designs. We are also not being subjected to only a few episodes per disc like some other series, so you have a decent runtime for your money, though the series is a bit light on real extras.


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