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Anime: Bubblegum Crisis

"Or: 'What if Joan Jett and Coco Chanel became New Wave terrorists?'"
Shadowjack, RPG.net forums, "Speaking of women sentai groups... Bubblegum Crisis"

One of the groundbreaking anime series to come out of Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bubblegum Crisis is a Film Noir / Cyberpunk epic with superhero subtexts (especially Iron Man), heavily influenced by the films Blade Runner, The Terminator, and Streets of Fire.

In the early 2030s, the world economy (and some of its politics) is controlled by the megacorporation GENOM, whose primary product is the boomer — humanoid robots that can be manufactured for any purpose from cheap labor to prostitution to heavy combat. Opposing GENOM and its plots are the Knight Sabers — four women in astoundingly advanced powered combat suits, led by Sylia Stingray, the daughter of the scientist who invented boomer technology and who was murdered by GENOM's agents when they stole it.

The meaning of the title is obscure. Most commentators believe that it refers the point in blowing a bubblegum bubble where it has equal chances of exploding all over your face or collapsing limply. The mid-21st-Century society depicted in the show appears to be approaching a similar crisis point.

Originally plotted for 13 hour-long episodes, Bubblegum Crisis was forced by a mixture of budget issues and internal politics between the two studios producing the show to cease production with the 8th episode (which wasn't an ending at all). A 3-hour sequel series, Bubblegum Crash!, is believed to be a compressed version of the plot of the remaining five episodes, but is generally considered to be inferior to the original.

In 1990, a prequel series, AD Police Files was released, featuring Cowboy Cop Leon in his early days on the force, five years before the series.

It was "reimagined" in 1998 as the TV series Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, but the result bears almost no resemblance to the earlier show. It kept the Broad Strokes of the premise and the hardsuit designs, but broadly changed the character designs and personalities, and went off in a different direction from the original series. This version began with Linna as an Office Lady who moved to Tokyo to join her heroes, the mysterious Knight Sabers.

In 1999, a second AD Police series: AD Police: To Serve and Protect, was released. A third OVA focusing on the AD Police, Parasite Dolls, was released in 2003. For a time there was talk of a sequel series, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2041 that ADV Films would have been more involved with in terms of production and story, but it never materialized. This project probably died when ADV went bankrupt and reorganized itself into Section 23 Films.

In 2008, the company AIC announced that they'd signed an agreement to let a Singaporean studio begin production of a live-action version of Bubblegum Crisis — which has ballooned into a coproduction between six countries (including Australia and China), planned for release in 2012. Fan reaction seems to be skeptical (especially with the reported $30 million budget), yet hopeful — especially with the possibility of another anime revival as a tie-in. However, the lack of news suggests the project entered Development Hell.

The most recent installment in the franchise is a one-shot 2012 Light Novel, Bubblegum Crisis: Hard Metal Guardiansnote , which reimagines the story High School AU style.

Additionally, AnimEigo ran a very successful Kickstarter to fund a Blu-ray release of the original series. Additionally, the original series and Tokyo 2040 are available on Hulu.

This show provides examples of:

  • Acoustic License: A great example in the Tokyo: 2040 series episode "Minute by Minute". Priss and Leon have a quiet conversation together... while speeding down a highway on motorcycles. No evidence of radios here, and in fact it's even crazier because Leon is wearing an open face helmet while Priss's helmet is totally enclosed, which would muffle her voice even if they were at a dead stop.
  • Action Girl: All the Knight Sabers, but mostly Priss and Linna.
  • Actually a Doombot: GENOM's CEO in the OVA is never found on-screen; it's always an android impersonator. Which is good because this saves his life.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Nene went from being a redhead to a blonde in 2040; Sylia became white-haired instead of a Brainy Brunette.
  • Adaptational Badass: While many people debate whether the original or new series is best, what they don't debate is that Linna took twenty levels of badass in 2040. While in the original series she was a ditzy, materialistic and (to most of the series' plot) inconsequential character, in 2040 she's a much more down-to-earth girl with a strong personality and a hidden intolerance to authority. A big part of her character in the new series is how being a Knight Saber lets her cut loose and be more true to herself than she can be when in the civilian world. She has such a strong personality, she actually manages to impress Priss, of all people, and when she joins the Knight Sabers she becomes their close-combat specialist, Priss's Lancer and her full equal in combat ability.
    • Nene also got a bit of a bad ass upgrade in 2040 - in the original OVA she was content to watch the action from the sidelines while working her hacker magic, and the few times she had to engage in physical combat usually ended badly for her, while in 2040 she's much more aggressive and usually handles herself better when in combat (though sometimes things still don't work out for her).
  • Adaptational Sexuality: While only in the subtext, in the original OVA, Priss had no interest in Leon but was almost certainly hot for Sylvie. In 2040, by contrast, she's Tsundere for Leon and doesn't appear to reciprocate Linna's affections (though Linna also liked at least one guy during the course of the show) while being infatuated with the soft spoken mechanic Nigel. Conversely, Linna and Nene's subtext (though in 2040 they were usually more like surrogate siblings until the series finale), and Sylia's textual bisexuality, were added in 2040.
  • Age Is Relative: Believe it or not, but Linna is only a year older than Nene in the OVAs.
    • And in 2040 Linna is only a year older than Priss - who is supposed to be nineteen years old.
    • In general a lot of characters both in the original and 2040 don't look their intended ages. Sylia is 23/24 but looks to be in her early 30s, the 2040 Leon looked to be early mid 30s but was only 24, etc.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The rogue boomers in 2040; it's unclear whether most of the rampaging boomers in the original series were accidents or "field testing" by GENOM.
  • Alternate Continuity: The OVA series, AD Police OVAs and Crash form one continuity, while 2040, AD Police TV and Parasite Dolls are a separate universe.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The third OVA episode "Blow Up" starts with Mason sending a military-grade Boomer at Sylia's Silky Doll store — and none of the Sabers are able to suit up in time to fight it.
    • 2040 has a more full-scale invasion of the Sabers' base once Galatea starts the Robot War.
  • Animation Bump: The quality of the OVA's animation improved noticeably between "Moonlight Rambler" and "Red Eyes".
  • Arm Cannon, Breath Weapon, Combat Tentacles, and Chest Blaster: Boomer weapon options. Knight Sabers may have Arm Cannons and/or the Power Fist. Sylia carries a Blade Below the Shoulder. Linna's hardsuit has microfilament hair ribbons that cut through steel!
  • Armed Legs: Priss' Powered Armor has contact-triggered explosives on top of both its feet. And rockets on both ankles. Attack sequence; 1). Jump. 2). Kick. 3). Activate rockets for rocket assisted kick. 4). Explosives go off once Mecha-Mook receives kick to head. 5). Get dustpan to sweep up remains of mook.
  • Ascended Fangirl: The 2040 version of Linna came to Tokyo because she'd become a fan of the Sabers and wanted to join them; because of her encounter with Priss and other lucky breaks, she succeeded.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In 2040, boomers can only be destroyed by attacking their core, a small red sphere embedded somewhere in their body. In the first OVA episode and the last episode of Crash, the only way to stop fusion boomers is by destroying their original bodies inside the huge accumulation of matter they've assimilated.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Quite a lot of the series carnage is set to rock tunes. Then there are the official videos for those songs. It could even be argued that the entire OVA series is a series of Music Videos with a bit of plot hung around them.
  • Battle Butler: Kou, to Reika, in OVA episode 7.
  • Big Bad: Several — GENOM, Largo, Quincy; Galatea in 2040.
  • Biker Babe and Badass Biker: Priss; Sylvie is only a little less badass.
    • Technically, Linna and Sylia also count as both are pretty handy on a Motoslave of which both have their own colour coded ones (in addition to Priss' red one). Linna often rides hers in tandem with Priss on missions. Nene, on the other hand, is only seen riding her pink Motoslave once, and she never transforms it. She rides around on a scooter in civilian life.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Mason has a trio of Boomer Robot Girls in the episode "Born To Kill", capable of performing Genom's wet work off the clock, and going toe to toe with the Knight Sabers.
  • Body Horror: An important aspect of the OVA Boomers' design that was unfortunately absent from 2040's Boomers.
  • Bottle Episode: One episode of the AD Police TV series is set entirely inside a bar during a hostage standoff.
  • Break the Cutie: The second AD Police OVA is told from the viewpoint of an idealistic young policewoman who is trying to prove that the serial killer in the episode is human (both to the police and herself) while struggling with the decision to replace her right eye with an artificial one. The episode ends with her going under the knife, narrating that this was the story of how she lost part of her humanity.
    • Nene undergoes this in the 2040 episodes My Nation Underground and Woke Up With A Monster when her bratty arrogance finally comes back to bite her in the ass after she tries to play match maker between Priss and Leon, earning her a long overdue scolding from Sylia for endangering the team's secrecy, and then gets her ass handed to her in a boomer fight when she tries to rush in and beat the boomer by herself in a misguided attempt to prove herself.
  • The Brigadier: Leon, sort of.
  • Broad Strokes: 2040.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Most of the characters have names (and appearances in some cases) that suggest they're of mixed ancestry, but they still all speak Japanese and are pretty obviously Japanese culturally. Part of this has to do with the show's genre and Japan's take on impending multiculturalism (well, for The Eighties at any rate).
  • The Captain: Sylia
  • Characterization Marches On: In Bubblegum Crash!...
    • Priss starts using ore instead of watashi as a first person pronoun, which she hadn't done beforenote  her voice actress was replaced. Her animosity to the idea of Adama being a boomer who thinks exactly like a human is inexplicable considering her previous relationship with Sylvie.
    • Nene Took a Level in Badass, right after OVA 8 gave her A Day in the Spotlight episode that was all about how she didn't need to be a conventional badass.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In ep. 2 of the OVA, Linna takes Irene's engagement ring after Boomers kill the young woman, as a memento to remember her friend. This comes into play later, in ep. 7, when Linna gives this ring to Irene's sister, Reika, aka Vision, to convince her not to take up the leadership of the Hou Bang group and pursue further vengeance against GENOM.
  • Cool Bike: The Motoslaves.
  • Cool Car: In the OVAs, Sylia drives a replica (according to the artbooks) of a red 1954 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing. Her 2040 counterpart has a Porsche 911, but it only appears in two episodes.
    • The Gryphon that episode 4 of the OVA is centered on is also a very cool, highly customized vehicle. It just happens to be owned by someone completely insane.
  • Color-Coded Characters - Each Saber has a different colour that identifies than and, for 2 of them, carries over to their Motoslave (Priss has a red Motoslave, and Nene has a pink one that was only seen once).
    • Sylia, White/Bluish-white and Blue
    • Priss, Blue and Red
    • Linna, Green and Orange
    • Nene, Purple and Pink, later Red and Pink after the Mid-Season Upgrade and in 2040.
  • Combat Stilettos: Both the Sabers' powered armor and their Motoslaves in robot / armor mode have these. God knows how the Sabers manage to do much more than walk in theirs, as they have the same basic design as a ballet boot.
  • Compressed Hair: In the OVA, Priss and Nene are sometimes seen pinning their hair up before putting on their helmets, but not always.
  • Conspicuous CGI: The cityscape sequence that introduces each episode of Bubblegum Crash!.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Several. After Sylia mentions Sexaroids, Nene (who doesn't know Sylvie is one) wonders if they're as pretty as Sylvie. Priss spotting Anri and Largo is covered in Slow Motion Pass By. This is also how clues get picked up in the first two AD Police OVAs.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Everyone in GENOM.
  • Cowboy Cop: Leon
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Near the end of the 2040 series, Linna and Nene are riding behind Priss on her motorcycle; all three of them are wearing hardsuits. Linna and Nene get cross popping veins on their hardsuit helmets, which then detach and float away on the wind. The cartoonishness of this scene qualifies as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Cut Short: With ye originale OVA. The eighth episode is a Midseason Upgrade episode which focuses on Nene and wasn't intended to be the end at all, but various factors made it the last produced episode of the first OVA series.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Discussed in the AD Police OVA, with two episodes revolving around cyborgs going insane, and other characters worrying about the consequences of having smaller artifical organs installed. It's also revealed in Episode 2 that anyone who replaces more than 70% of their body with implants is legally considered a "Boomeroid", meaning that the AD Police can terminate them with extreme prejudice if they step out of line.
    • R. Talsorian's Bubblegum Crisis RPG books expand on the humanity-loss phenomenon: "Boomer Syndrome" has various causes, ranging from purely mental to actual mechanical malfunctions in the implants, and over time can cause such delightful side effects as phantom pain, mood swings, emotional disassociation and terrifying hallucinations. One of the worst, though, is "cybermorphosis", which occurs with implants that incorporate recycled Boomer tech: occasionally, the self-repair functions of the Boomer parts will reactivate, causing severe pain and disfigurement as the implant attempts to "fix" itself. This eventually happens to The Ripper in the AD Police OVA.
  • Cyberpunk: One of the defining anime examples, which takes heavy inspiration from one of the big trope makers.
    • Interestingly, though, there are at least shades of Post-Cyberpunk throughout all of the various incarnations of the franchise. The Knight Sabers aren't dedicated to "the destruction of Genom" (with the possible exception of Priss) but rather to the much broader ideal of peace and social justice. Also, even though they're often rather ineffective, the AD Police (as agents of the State) are not villainous at all, and the two major male characters who are AD Policemen are explicitly heroic (and Nene is a data analyst and part-time traffic cop for the ADPD, and she openly loves her job). And, generally speaking, the tone of the original OVA at least is pretty positive - the Sabers can make a positive impact on the world, Genom can be stopped, etc.
    • And it is strangely dry compared to other works influenced by Blade Runner.
  • Da Chief: Chief Todou
  • Darker and Edgier: The AD Police OVA series, set five years before the original BGC OVAs, shows a grittier MegaTokyo with more pervasive crime and urban decay, more graphic sex and violence, and people with more obvious-looking cyberware.
  • A Day in the Limelight: What the eighth OVA episode amounts to, focusing on Nene and developing her character substantially. (This ends up being a weird capstone for the original OVA series, since the run wasn't supposed to end there.) Linna also gets some focus in the second episode, but to a much lesser extent.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The D.D. Battlemover. Everything about it is ridiculously contrived in order to force Priss to kill Sylvie. (For specifics, see Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds on the character page.)
  • Deus ex Machina: OAV 6 "Red Eyes" has two notable examples — the new Typhoon II Motorslave shows up with Priss's new hardsuit just in the nick of time to save Priss from Largo and his Hyperboomers, and the prototype MSX-01 Motorslave equipped with a surface-to-orbit anti-satellite laser cannon was never previously established.
  • Die Hard on an X: Lampshaded by Jeena in the AD Police manga when she finds herself trapped in a building being taken over by anti-corporate terrorists (the leader of whom happens to be one of her ex-boyfriends).
  • Diminishing Villain Threat: At the end of Parasite Dolls, Genom is completely destroyed by a terrorist bombing campaign.
  • Dirty Old Man: Dr. McLaren.
  • The Dragon: Brian J. Mason, Madigan, others.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Or rather, a radio tower in Adama's case.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Sylia
  • Engrish: Oh good lord, absolutely infamous for this too. Almost none of the English in the show escapes without some kind of error. A lot of neophyte anime fans in The Eighties were introduced to the Engrish concept via this show.
    • A fair bit of it was so bad as to become memetic in the days prior to widespread Internet access, particularly anything that showed up on Nene's computers. SYLIA WANTS YOU is just one example.
  • Enhance Button: The last notable element of Blade Runner that the original OVA didn't borrow shows up in episode 7 of 2040 instead.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Sylvie, Sylvie, Sylvie. Justified in-story by her background as a purpose-built sex slave.
  • Evil Minions: Various boomers.
  • Evil Twin: Arguably, Galatea from 2040. Also a set of three Boomers dolled up as fake Knight Sabers in one episode of the OVA.
  • Expy: Sylia, Galatea, Mackie and Kain Smith (Linna's boss) in 2040 look almost exactly like Ifurita (OVA version), Ifurita (TV version), Makoto and Jinnai, respectively, from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World.
    • The AI newscaster that appears in Crash! bears more than a passing resemblance to Max Headroom.
  • Fake Band: Priss and the Replicants (and Sekiria, the 2040 version of her band), Vision and the Revengers. The OVA Knight Sabers sing as a group on some songs and are seen playing instruments in the "Asu e Touchdown" video, but they're not canonically supposed to be an in-universe band.
  • Fanon Dis Continuity: Bubblegum Crash!, Soldier Blue and Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal in the eyes of some fans.
    • It doesn't help that the main arc of Crash! contradicts the most popular arc in Crisis [the Red Eyes arc], and is also presented in a manner that is internally contradictory; Priss' experience with Sylvie and Anri and subsequent character development is completely ignored, an intelligent Boomer is suddenly a radical new thing [as opposed to Crisis where Boomers could easily pass for human, far more so than the 'advanced' one in Crash!], and yet it still uses the Largo character who was involved in all the events it ignores and is, um, an intelligent Boomer.
    • Some secondary source materials suggest Adama was unique for having a fully mechanical brain capable of advanced AI rather than one reliant on boomer biotechnology. No clue how this is really justifying the trope though.
  • Fingerless Gloves: The 2040 version of Priss.
  • Flamboyant Gay: Daley, apparently one of the earliest anime examples. OTOH, 2040!Daley is more of a Straight Gay.
  • Future Spandex: The Knight Sabers, underneath their power suits, wear form-fitting outfits. It's also justified, as it's explained that the outfits serve as a neural interface between the user and the suit.
  • Game Face: While the Boomers from the OVAs were heavily derivative of Terminators, an important difference is that Terminators only lose their skin through injury, while Boomers intentionally have to burst out of their skin and expand their bodies when they go into combat.
  • A God Am I: Largo
  • Going Critical: A threat of such an incident is part of the plot of the final episode of Bubblegum Crash, "Meltdown". The title of this episode is also a Spoiler Title.
  • Government Conspiracy
  • Gratuitous English: On signs all over. For instance, the "Lanjary" shop. And the songs.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: In one episode, there's a danger that military boomer technology might get sold to... the communists! Granted, especially given where the show is set this could still sort of work, but it's very obvious which kind of "communist" they're talking about.
  • Groin Attack: Priss knees an uncooperative ADP crowd control trooper in the groin when he refuses to let her pass so that she could slap a boomer in Episode 2, "Born to Kill" of the original series.
  • Guinea Pig Family: In Tokyo 2040, Professor Stingray created the Boomer prototypes Mackie and Galatea by implanting their cores inside a young Sylia's brain and letting them learn its structure. He created the cores by dissecting his wife's brain — which is why it only worked with Sylia.
  • Gunship Rescue: Mackie in the "Knight Wing" during OVA episode 6.
  • Hand Cannon: Leon's oversized revolver that is almost effective against Boomers.
    • And to really drive it home, this revolver can fire RPG rounds.
  • Honey Trap: Used on Dr. MacLaren by Vision as part of her revenge for her parents and sister. Includes Room Disservice by multiple parties.
  • Hot Springs Episode: There was a rejected script proposal for one of these. Word of God says that the script eventually resurfaced as an episode of one of director Hiroki Hayashi's later projects: Tenchi Muyo!. This Usenet post attempts to reconstruct the original storyline.
  • Humongous Mecha
  • Idol Singer: Vision (AKA Reika Chang) in OAV 7.
  • I'm Going for a Closer Look: A frequent way Priss gets into trouble.
    • This is the code phrase for A.D. Police helicopter troopers to indicate that they're about to die. You're in a helicopter with a minigun on it. Why would you ever go in closer?
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Boomers explode out of their human skin to show their robot form. One boomer is wearing a suit when he transitions and is still wearing the suit once he's a robot.
  • Intrepid Reporter, combined with Dark-Skinned Blond: Lisa Vanette, a young photographer introduced in the last OVA episode.
  • It's Personal: It's extremely easy to make it this way for Priss, even when it was Linna's friend, and is the theme for most episodes of the OVA. Parodied with Lisa's vendetta against the Sabers for destroying her camera.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: There in some ways, given the show's roots, but oddly inverted in a sense: while the world does seem to be largely under the heel of various kinds of zaibatsu, nearly all of the top-level executives in the show are westerners, implying that Western influence took over originally Japanese megacorps and made them their own.
  • Jumped at the Call: 2040!Linna
  • Killer Robot: To quote Zoogz, "Genom assumes no responsibility for your domestic boomer going on a psychotic murder spree."
  • Kill Sat: The first episode centers around a stolen Kill Sat controller, and Kill Sat strikes are important events in later episodes.
    • Everyone has them, even some third-world countries and there are enough of then in the orbit to pull a Code 666 on the whole planet like Snake Plissken did. note 
  • Lighter and Softer: MegaTokyo looks surprisingly clean and shiny in the eighth OVA episode, and more so in 2040 before the Robot War.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Linna, implied.
    • Priss gets a bit of this in 2040. Sylia also may not count in 2040.
  • Loving a Shadow: Priss's infatuation with Nigel in 2040. Sylia comes dangerously close to this herself until it becomes clear that Nigel does care for her on some level.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Hardsuits, motoroids, motoslaves, powered suits, battlemovers.
  • Mecha Show
  • The Men in Black: Most of Genom's Boomer Mecha-Mooks have human disguises that fit this trope.
  • Meta Mecha: The Motoroids/Motoslaves, which transform from Cool Bikes into both robots and exoskeletons for the hardsuits.
  • Midseason Upgrade: To the hardsuits in both the original series and 2040. Especially "funny" in the original - they spend all of Nene's Day in the Limelight getting their suit upgrades and clearly preparing for a major confrontation narratively... and then the show ends!
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: For a rebellious Biker Babe who plays in a hole-in-the-wall bar, Priss's music ranks surprisingly low: not more than about 4-5. (Adam Warren's characterization of her music as "retrothrash" is at odds with this.) 2040!Priss may get up to level 6 with amateurish punk songs like "Bug List".
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: A frequently-seen characteristic of rogue Boomers in 2040.
  • Motorcycle On The Coast Road: How Priss and Sylvie hang out.
  • Mr. Fixit: "Pops" Doc Raven; Nigel in 2040.
  • Multinational Team: If you count base ethnicity rather than actual citizenship. Specifically, Priss seems to be part-American, Sylia is at least part British or otherwise Western European (unless you consider the Grand Mal comic canon, in which her name is really Stengovich), Linna seems to be straight-up Japanese and Nene has some blatant Russian/Eastern European background, if the name didn't clue you in. See But Not Too Foreign above.
  • Musical Theme Naming: Some of the later 2040 episodes have titles taken from famous (or infamous) songs or albums, such as Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City", The Doors' "Light My Fire", The Eagles' "One of these Nights", Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" and The Police's "Walking on The Moon"
  • Mysterious Informant: Fargo
  • Names to Know in Anime: Kenichi Sonoda did the character and hardsuit designs for the original series. Hiroki Hayashi directed the 4th OVA episode before going on to Tenchi Muyo!. Masami Obari (Gravion, the Fatal Fury anime) directed the episodes "Moonlight Rambler" and "Red Eyes," and Satoshi Urushihara supervised and was "guest character designer" for the episode "Double Vision." See also the Hey, It's That Voice! entry.
  • New Neo City: MegaTokyo.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Particularly in 2040, the Boomers start out as mostly-believable humanoid cyborgs, only to degenerate into magical fusing zombie ghost robots by the end.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. McLaren looks suspiciously like Walt Disney, and the new AD Police chief in Crash is clearly based on George H.W. Bush.
  • No Name Given: Sho's mother.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Archetypal example.
    • Exception: Sylia's midriff-baring high-collared sleeveless blouse worn under a business suit has never been fashionable in the past, but as the years pass it's starting to look increasingly plausible that women may dress like this in the future.
  • No Product Safety Standards: You'd think Boomers would be better to test in a lab than on the public.
  • No One Could Survive That:
    Nene: We did it! But... do you suppose he's dead?
    Linna: He's got to be. Nobody could survive a fall from this height.
  • OC Stand In: Madigan, the female Genom executive who appears in the Largo arc.
  • Off Model: The character art in the first OVA episode is distinctly cruder than in the rest of the series.
    • Subverted in OVA 7: director Satoshi Urushihara draws the characters in his own Signature Style instead of following Sonoda's model sheets, but that episode has some of the best draftsmanship in the entire franchise.
  • The Ojou: Sylia and Reika.
  • One-Winged Angel: The 2040 boomers do this when they go rogue, becoming distorted mockeries of their "normal" states (see the waitress boomer). The boomers in the original OVAs Hulking Out of their skin also qualifies.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck In The Future, along with Technology Marches On: Sylia's car has a full-colour fax machine, but cellphones seem quite rare (she does have one, though). Computer equipment in general seems bulky and antiquated by early 21st century standards. Video pay phones seem to be the usual method of communication.
    • Three words: Microsoft Excel 2040 (which looks less like Excel 2007 and more like Excel 2000.)
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The 'vampire' stalking Megatokyo in one episode of the OVA is in fact an old-model Boomer that uses artificial blood in its internal systems. Who has a friend with a big leak or something. Also more or less a Lesbian Vampire.
  • Paintball Episode: The Sabers' introductory scene in OVA 4, "Revenge Road".
  • Pink Means Feminine: Sylia humiliates Priss with this trope in 2040 episode My Nation Underground when the tomboyish biker loses a bet to her flighty boss, forcing her to be photographed wearing an ugly pink dress while Nene and Linna laugh at her and mock her.
    • It made more sense in the original Japanese language version (where Priss wanted Nene kicked off the team for digging into her personal life) than in the English language version (which changed it to Priss wanting Nene removed from the team for her own safety).
      • Comes back to bite Sylia, Nene and Linna in the ass when Priss temporarily quits and refuses to help them due to Sylia lying to them and abusing their trust.
      • Incidentally, pink tends to be a prominent color in Nene's hardsuits and 2040 indicates that she and Linna both own and wear at least one set of pink underwear each.
  • Playful Hacker: Nene
  • Plot Leveling: Perhaps it was a mistake to introduce Kill Sats and runaway Nanotechnology in the first episode, since these are the most powerful weapons that could realistically exist in this setting. Further into the franchise, the technology becomes increasingly cartoonish and superhero-like, such as the Boomers used by Dr. Miriam in OAV 8 and Largo in Crash, and the upgraded hardsuits in Crash and 2040. Also see above under Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Linna's day job in 2040. In the OVAs she was an aerobics instructor (turned stockbroker in Crash).
  • Police Are Useless: With three exceptions.
  • Powered Armor
  • Promotion to Parent: Sylia, with Mackie.
  • Race Lift: The Hard Metal Guardians novel eliminates the Multinational Team aspect of previous BGC versions by giving all of the main characters Japanese surnames and black hair.
  • Rape and Revenge: In the fourth OVA, J.B. Gibson rebuilds his car into an instrument of revenge against the motorcycle gang who, it is implied, raped his girlfriend.
  • Redshirt Army: The AD Police, yes, but the ones in helicopters are specifically screwed.
  • Research, Inc.: Genom does a lot of R&D and hardly any safety tests.
  • Robot Girl: Sylvie, Anri, other sexaroids, plus Mason's bodyguards.
  • Robotic Reveal: The first OVA episode.
  • Robot War: Finally breaks out in the second half of 2040.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Guest characters frequently get killed in order to invoke It's Personal, including Cynthia, Irene, Sho's mother, all five of the Sexaroids, Dr. Yuri and Adama.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Galatea from Tokyo 2040.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: Sylvie and Anri
  • Sentai
  • Shadow Archetype: The Largo-Sylia relationship.
  • Shout-Out: To Streets of Fire, Blade Runner, Top Gun, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons, Marvel Comics, and others. Deserving special attention is the Miura/Miula factory in 2040, which references AIC producer Toru Miura.
    • The Boomers' metallic skulls with glowing red eyes are reminiscent of the Terminator's endoskeleton. In 2040, the nanotech-based second generation hardsuits resemble liquid metal in their initial state, like the T-1000.
    • The weapons the AD Police carry are clearly the pulse rifles from Aliens. The way Sylvie kills the last Doberman with Weaponized Exhaust is also a reference to the first Alien movie.
    • All of the episode titles for 2040 are the names of rock songs and/or albums.
    • The mere existence of Priss (and her backing band, the Replicants) needs to be mentioned here. Especially since she first appears to us as a wild-haired blonde. (The joke is that it's a wig.) Leon is also named after one of the replicants from Blade Runner.
    • AD Police headquarters is a cylindrical building like the police headquarters in Blade Runner as well.
    • The bands, Priss and the Replicants and Vision and the Revengers, are shout-outs to Streets of Fire's Ellen Aim and the Attackers.
    • The female head of Genom security is named Madigan, a possible Shout-Out to actress Amy Madigan who had a supporting role in Streets of Fire.
    • BGC features a red-haired Romanova. A certain hardsuit-wearing hero features a red-haired Romanova as a secondary character. Hilariously, though, the two could not be more dissimilar otherwise (Nene is a Playful Hacker who isn't that great at the physical violence while Black Widow is, well, a bigger Action Girl than Priss).
    • A neon sign in the background of the first episode reads "MZ 23". Megazone 23 was AIC's previous project before starting BGC.
    • The AD Police's Roadblock "truck" in Revenge Road is named Lulu Belle. That's Bogart's tank in Sahara.
      • J.B. Gibson may have been named after Mel Gibson, since he was the star of Mad Max.
      • The "Highway Star" superbike is probably named after the Deep Purple song.
  • Slow Motion Pass By: Priss recognizes Anri as the driver of a car she just happens to pass by on her motorcycle.
  • So Last Season: Dr. Miriam builds customized Boomers to defeat the Knight Sabers' current hardsuits, only to find that they've already upgraded their hardsuits when he deploys them.
  • Something Only They Would Say: "This is the look of the true victor!" Said by both Corrupt Corporate Executive Brian J. Mason and his "reincarnation", Largo.
    • In the English dub, during Largo's confrontation with Leon, he calls Leon "little puppy," which he also called him as Mason.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The second original OVA closes out at a graveyard, with a wide shot of many gravestones and mourners... then immediately kicks in the upbeat '80s anime pop music. Both the shot and the music remains constant throughout the end credits. Not quite putting The Fun in Funeral, but...
  • Space Elevator: Tokyo 2040 has a "skyhook" connecting Tokyo and an orbital power satellite play several important roles in the plot. Genom is building a network of tunnels beneath Tokyo to store energy released by the satellite, which are put to other uses by both Mason and Galatea. Sylia also tries to use the energy discharged by the skyhook to power a BFG so she can try to fry Galatea while she's still Sealed In A Can. (It doesn't work.) Before the end, the Knight Sabers have to hitch a ride into orbit.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Boomers vs. Voomers vs. Buma, anyone?
  • Spider Tank: The GD-42 mecha, piloted by Reika and Kou.
  • Stock Sound Effects: As the two were made concurrently with one another with a similar crew. Sound effects from this series can also be heard in the animated Captain Power training videos.
  • Stripperific: Vision's stage outfit, also the Knight Sabers' spandex thing worn under their power armour.
  • Superhero: The ladies are a quartet of Iron (Wo)men. However, Sylia has more in common with Bruce Wayne than Tony Stark.
  • Super Hero Origin: Given the above, the OVA is oddly notable for avoiding this; we never actually get around to seeing how the team got together, and the first episode is practically In Medias Res. At best we get some vague hints about Sylia's reasons for wanting to assemble the team in the first place, but how in the world Priss, Linna, Nene and Sylia all fell in together (when it seems highly improbable that they'd all meet by chance) is never even remotely explained. It seems like they were building toward addressing this in the original series (it would've been a logical segue from the team-building of OVA ep8), but, well...
    • Even more interestingly, none of the "direct" sequels to the original OVA bother answering this either, not even Crash! or AD Police. The only part of the franchise that details anything like an origin for the team is 2040.
    • The music video for "Touchdown to Tomorrow" ("Asu E TouchDown") in Hurricane Live shows a few glimpses of it. It makes Nene's recruitment clear enough (hey Playful Hacker, that woman whose files you're in WANTS YOU), but still leaves a lot of questions about the exact circumstances and motivations around Priss' and Linna's recruitment.
      • Worse, it counts as All There in the Manual, since Hurricane Live was a separate product and not widely distributed outside Japan until AnimEigo's DVD collection was released.
  • This Is Unforgivable: Played for laughs in 2040; Linna (over)reacts to Priss riding off after accidentally making Linna drop her lunch by shouting "Yurusan!" and running after her.
  • Those Two Guys: AD Police Officers Leon McNichol and Daley Wong. Nigel Kirkland and Mackie Stingray have a bit of this in 2040.
  • The Tokyo Fireball
  • Took a Level in Badass: Nene in Crash.
  • Took A Levelin Jerkass: Nene is kind of a brat at the start of 2040, as opposed to the lovably goofy girl she was in the original. She gets better, though.
  • Transhuman: The OVA had numerous hints at Sylia being this.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The Hou Bang from OVA episode 7, "Double Vision".
    • Triad Princess: Reika Chang, though Linna was able to convince her to give up being the Hou Bang leader at the end.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The OAVs never offer any explanation for how and when Mason transferred his mind into Largo, or how Largo got put into a life-support tank in Crash.
  • Universe Compendium: R. Talsorian's RPG sourcebooks serve this purpose, even if you don't use them to play the game.
  • Video Full Of Film Clips: The music videos for several songs mostly consist of these.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Billy from the A.D. Police episode "The Man Who Bites His Tongue", an ADP officer who gets picked as the test subject for the new Cyborg Unit of the force.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kate Madigan is covered in the One Episode Wonder example on her character page.
    • Why don't we see the Motoslaves after OVA 6? They would have come in handy fighting Reika's Genki battlemover, and they could have taken on Miriam's Boomers without needing the hardsuits to be upgraded.
  • Whole Plot Reference: AD Police Files episode 3, The Man Who Bites His Tongue, is this for Robocop. It's also a perfect example of doing this right; rather than simply feeding off the popularity of Robocop and cribbing the plot, it is a much darker and more serious exploration of what would happen in that scenario.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Priss hogs a lot of screen time, more so in the OVA than in 2040.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Word of God (in this case, Kenichi Sonoda) says that the stripes on the legs of the hard-suits is specifically meant to invoke this.

BaohCreator/Anim EigoCaptain Harlock
Wonder Beat ScrambleAnime of the 1980sCampus Special Investigator Hikaruon
Ah! My GoddessCreator/MVM EntertainmentBakemonogatari
Blue SeedCreator/Section 23 FilmsBurn Up!
Break BladeMadmanEntertainment/Anime & MangaBurn Up!
B't XScience Fiction Anime and MangaCanaan
Black LagoonCreator/Studio GhibliLe Chevalier d'Eon
Blade of the ImmortalCreator/Dark Horse ComicsCard Captor Sakura
Btooom!SeinenCanaan
Blood: The Last VampireCreator/Manga EntertainmentDead Leaves
BleachThe EpicClaymore
AKIRAThe EightiesDirty Pair
Brave 10Creator/HuluBunny Drop
AKIRACreator/FU NimationChobits
B't XAnimeBuddy Complex
Non-Nude BathingImageSource/Anime & MangaArtistic License - Awards

alternative title(s): Bubblegum Crisis2040; Bubblegum Crisis; Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
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