Our anime challenge this month is the classic remake of the 1987 Bubblegum Crisis anime, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 chosen because it is so much more than its original incarnation. Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 produced by Anime International Company premiered on TV Tokyo on October 8, 1998 and ran for 26 episodes.
Imagine a world where most of the manual labour is done by Boomers (a type of robot), which are run by Genom, a mega-corporation. Our story starts where Linna Yamazaki, a new office worker sees one such Boomer that has gone rogue, attacking people and leaving scenes of destruction in its wake. Even if the AD Police were called in to stop this rampaging robot, a group of cybernetic-clad renegades, the Knight Sabers, appear on the scene and save the day. As the story progresses Yamazki joins the Knight Sabers which consists of Priss, a rock star; Sylia, a boutique store owner and the group’s leader; and Nene, a computer whiz who works within the AD Police as a dispatch operator.
Week 1 June 06 – 12
Weekly challenge: Episode 1 – 4 of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
This week we start our challenge by watching episodes 1 to 4 of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 but we also bring you a classic sci-fi anime series recommendation straight from the 1990s. Outlaw Star (Seiho Bukyo Autoro Suta in Japanese) is a Space Opera/ Space Western anime about a crew of outlaws and misfits in search of a treasure trove called the “Galactic Leyline’. The anime opens with outlaw Gene Starwind and his 11-year old partner James ‘Jim’ Hawking running a sort of jack-of-all-trades business. They take on a bodyguard job for an outlaw pirate name Hilda and get involved in a little fight with the Kei Pirates. Suddenly Gene and Jim find themselves as owners of a ship (They name it Outlaw Star) and as guardians of a cyborg girl called Melfina. Hilda spills the beans about the real situation: The ship was built to seek the Galactic Leyline, a legendary place that holds countless treasures, knowledge and power. In this quest, they also get the weirdest companions, like Suzuka a beautiful assassin in a Kimono and Aisha Clanclan an alien cat-like girl to join them.
Outlaw Star is a perfect balance of dramatic as well as comedic elements, and the English dubbed version is wonderfully done, the voice actors give life to each character. The intro song is easy to get stuck in the head and the rest of the soundtrack is well executed in each scene where necessary. The characters and their mannerisms are the best part of the series and very likeable. It is a classic from the 1990s and if you are in the mood for a fun anime, it is not a bad choice to make.
Week 2 June 13 – 19
Episode 5 – 8
This week we start our challenge by watching episodes 5 to 8 of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 but we also bring you a sci-fi anime series recommendation with themes of being lost in space, homesickness, and conspiracies – Kanata no Astra (Astra Lost in Space).
2063. Space travel is now a possibility, even commercially viable. A group of students from Caird High School are going to Planet Camp! Just after they, Group B5, arrive at their planetary campsite, a mysterious sentient sphere of light warps the nine of them into outer space, stranding them more than five thousand light-years away from home.
Luckily they discover an old, unmanned spaceship and use their mental resources and limited resources around them to use that ship, Astra, to go on a trek back home. The long journey reveals things about their characters, strengthens bonds and ultimately also makes them realise that there is a deeper conspiracy at work than just getting lost in space.
Kanata no Astra was directed by Masaomi Andō and Norimitsu Kaihō (Gunslinger Stratos) handling the series composition with Keiko Kurosawa on character design. The series music was composed by Masaru Yokoyama (Fruits Basket) and Nobuaki Nobusawa. The anime ran from July to September 2019.
Week 3 June 20 – 26
Episode 9 – 12
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is not just an anime with strong sci-fi elements, it also celebrates strong female lead characters, this is why this week our recommendation is Agent Aika. This anime plays off in the not-so-distant future, 95% of the world has sunk into the ocean, after a great disaster flooded the world’s land mass. Due to the fact that most of the world is underwater, the profession of choice has become a Salvager; high-tech scavengers that comb sunken cities for loot.
Aika Sumeragi is a salvager who works for a small company run by a father-daughter team. Unfortunately, the company isn’t exactly thriving, and money is needed desperately. To help, Aika accepts the very dangerous job of acquiring an artefact called Lagu for a hefty sum. Aika’s partner and best friend, the boss’ daughter Aida Rion joins Aika on this mission, and the two set off.
Part of the plot is Aika and Rion being captured by Rudolf Hargen —an effeminate but over-sexed man who wants Lagu and Aika (and just about every pretty girl) for himself. Hargen commands a huge battleship manned only by droves of cute girls in mini-skirts alongside Hargen is his obsessive sister Neena, who is jealous of Aika, as well. Another salvager named Gusto, who’s also after Lagu and has a crush on Aika as well also tries to fight with Aika. When Aika’s special bustier is activated, she becomes a superhuman who can take on whole armies by herself….
Week 4 June 27 – July 03
Episode 13 – 16
Our last anime recommendation this month also celebrates women warriors but is darker and filled with intrigue. Our recommendation is the anime Noir. Noir was produced by the Bee Train anime studios in 2001. This action-packed gun-fest is the tale of two female assassins, Mireille Bouquet and Yuumura Kirika. Kirika starts off the series suffering from amnesia, with the only thing she can remember being the word ‘Noir’ which means ‘black’ in French. Mireille is from a powerful Corsican crime family, one of two survivors after a brutal attack on her family.
These two form a dark alliance, calling themselves ‘Noir’, both setting off on a personal journey to find answers to the mysteries of their past. At first, they seem only vaguely related to each other, but as the series progress, they are lured into traps set by a secret organisation named Les Soldats (‘The Soldiers’ in French) with which they share a mysterious past. Les Soldats is a strange, thousand-year-old organisation born from revenge and blood.
All this makes for great viewing. Noir is suspenseful, grim, emotional, dramatic and very psychological. If you expect any comic relief as in the usual anime, there is none, this is a serious anime that deserves respect. If you prefer technicolour-haired, cute and funny characters, skip it, but if you are looking for a serious, memorable anime, this one is for you.
The exotic European locations and beautiful animation will have you hooked and the soundtrack is so amazing that there are quite a few people I know that went out and looked for the soundtrack, this reviewer included.