- "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
How much trouble can one man get himself into? The Bubblegum Zone is the story of Bert Van Vliet, a college student who suddenly finds himself catapulted into the animé series Bubblegum Crisis mid-way through the second OVA episode. He quickly joins the Knight Sabers, builds his own hard suit(s) and tries his damnedest to save everyone.
He also gets hurt.
Mostly written in the 1990s, The Bubblegum Zone is a classic of the self-insert genre filled with high-action, advanced technology, a plethora of pop-culture references and great drama. The beginning can be a little iffy at times, as Bert can come off as a Gary Stu, but the story really kicks into gear past the halfway point, especially once it passes the original OVAs. Many fans regard this series as one of their favorite pieces of fan fiction and it has been greatly influential to the growth of the genre, to the point where many self-insertion or Bubblegum Crisis stories written afterwards feature explicit shout-outs to or crossovers with the Zone.
Although there haven't been any new chapters for nearly a decade, the author is still writing when real life allows, giving readers the occasional teaser or snippet for the eleventh chapter.
This page is currently a work in progress. If you think something is missing or needs to be changed, go for it.
The Bubblegum Zone contains examples of:
- Air-Vent Passageway
- Ascended Fanboy
- Big Bad: Quincy, of course, but also the original character Hollister who shows up later in the series.
- Break the Cutie: The results of Nene and Bert's breakup are particularly harsh on Nene.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: What happens to Bert.
- Cool Car: Bert builds himself the Bond car of trucks.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Some of Bert's plans and ideas. His method of saving Sylvie is... special.
- Crazy-Prepared: When Bert's house gets invaded.
- Crossover: Motoko Kusanagi shows up late in the series. Why, we don't know yet.
- Determinator: Bert on occasion late in the series.
- Door Stopper: Although there are only ten chapters, they comprise nearly 640,000 words. And this isn't spread out evenly either; chapter one is around 15,000 words, while the tenth chapter is 170,000, nearly a novel unto itself.
- Expanded Universe: The three author crossover Three Knights, jointly written by Bert Van Vliet, Amanda Stair and and Craig Reed, uses all of their characters in one scenario.
- Face Palm: Sylia does this an awful lot, usually in reaction to some crazy stunt Bert has pulled.
- Fan Verse: The Zone has been referenced and/or used in a great many later works. Craig Reed's BubbleGum Avatar and DartzIRL's Yours Truly, 2032 both exist because of this story.
- Fix Fic: The chapters that take place during the OVAs has Bert trying to attain the best possible outcome using his foreknowledge and tech savviness.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Bert is exceedingly chivalrous, to the point where it sometimes dictates how he acts in combat. At least until Hollister...
- Knight In Sour Armor: What Bert becomes due to an incredibly traumatic experience. He gets better after a long struggle.
- Large Ham: Bert has a tendency to crack jokes, mouth off and make corny exclamations while in combat.
- Mad Scientist: Although Bert doesn't act like one, some of the stuff he comes up with may as well have been made by a mad scientist.
- More Dakka: Beam swords, laser cannons, corrosive chemical launchers, electrified knight's lances...
- My God, What Have I Done?: An interesting example: Bert spends a good chunk of the series inventing better and better weaponry for his hardsuit. When other parties attempt to either capture his inventions or make their own versions, he realizes that he basically started an arms race.
- Omake: There's a short extra story where the Knight Sabers and Bert visit the real Bert Van Vliet and "thank" him for all the trouble they go through.
- Put on a Bus: Bert and the Knight Sabers manage to save both Sylvie and Anri, who are promptly never heard from again for several chapters. Same with Irene Chang and Bert himself for a short time
- Rule of Cool: A good chunk of the reason why Bert makes some of the gadgets he does.
- Self-Insert Fic: Duh.
- Shout-Out: Numerous, to everything from Star Wars to Ghost in the Shell.
- Schedule Slip: Part 11 has been 'in progress' for over a decade at this stage.
- Trapped in Another World: In the world of Bubblegum Crisis.