Reviewed by: Spike
Released by: ADV Films
Age Rating: 15+
Region: 1 - North America
Length: 650 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Spanish 2.0 Stereo
Six years ago Tokyo was ravaged by an earthquake of enormous magnitude, almost destroying the city and leaving the area a ravaged mess. Now we fast-forward to the year 2040 and the city has been rebuilt with the gracious aid of the GENOM Corporation and their new range of Boomers, bio-organic androids that have reconstructed the city in a mere six years. All is not well however, for these saviours of this modern city have a darker side, and that is that they have been known to 'go rogue' and become out-of-control mindless harbingers of destruction. The cities only form of official defence is the AD Police, a special police unit assembled to combat Boomer crime, but as an underpowered organisation they are usually badly equipped to deal with Boomer problems. However, they are not alone. Rumours abound about a vigilante group called the 'Knight Sabres', and although despite sounding like something that Jonathan Ross would fight dark Jedi with, are in fact a group of extremely well armed mercenaries that clean up mad Boomer problems, much to the chagrin of the AD Police. Into this melee is thrown Linna, a country girl who has just started a new job in this new Megacity and who is not quite at home in this world of Boomers and fighting, however once mixed up in this new world she is intrigued and decides to investigate further, but has no idea the peril that she may be placing herself in.
The latest version of this Crisis series has a long and proud heritage, from the original Bubblegum Crisis OVA, through Bubblegum Crash and the AD Police OVA and even further down the timeline to the most recent AD Police: To Protect and Serve series. This 1998 outing shows some impressively fluid standard animation as well as what can only be described as a very early implementation of some rather jittery 3D computer graphics in sparing amounts. This original print is rather disappointing as it shows not only noticeable digital artefacts but colour bleaching and other flaws intermixed with a transfer that provides a generally grainy experience. Fortunately the sound is excellent and even under the strictest of studio conditions the pounding J-rock and sound effects come across with crystal clarity. That said, the hard-core rock suits this series to perfection, with the dark beats complimenting the equally dark almost cyberpunk nature that this series projects.
As for the translation, it can seem at times as if the subtitles and the dub could be destined for separate series; however at closer inspection it becomes obvious that while the words used may seem worlds apart, the ideas that are being conveyed are - while not identical - close enough for either viewing to be acceptable. That said, the subtitled version seemed to focus more on the relationships between the main characters, while the English dubbed version relied more on the action to carry it through.
At this point discussing the personalities of the main protagonists is relatively pointless. Each characters outlook changes from episode to episode as not only the past histories of not only the heroes but the villains are revealed, but the events that link each of them unfold. This fluidity leaves a strange compulsion to progress on to the next episode and to see what angels and demons are harboured by each of the main characters and how it relates to the story as a whole, and how not only their compatriots but their enemies as well will react and attempts to use this information for their own ends.
This series is not only interesting but compelling as well, the mix of human interaction with the intense action and cynical humour provides a well rounded balance than is sure to appeal to most fans of hard action, but Azumanga Daioh this is not. Put simply, this falls neatly into the 'girls guns and giant robot' genre. Though that said, it's huge amounts of fun for those who like their action but don't necessarily feel like putting their brains into neutral to enjoy it. In essence it's a sort of thinky kiss-kiss bang-bang show, enjoy.