One of the original cyberpunk series, also known as Bubblegum Crisis: Megatokyo 2033, and a classic of the pre-computer drawn age of anime.
Covering the years 2032 and 2033 Tokyo has been rebuilt after a massive earthquake with the help of humanoid machines, called boomers, made by the super-corporation Genom. When a boomer goes berserk, or is programmed with a criminal personality, a special heavy police force is called in to deal with them, called the AD Police. Out on the streets are Priss: a singer with her own band; The Replicants, Linna: a the owner of a gym, Nene: a support cop in the AD Police, and Sylia: The owner of a lingerie shop. However Sylia is also the daughter of the man who first created boomers, and has created some exceptionally powerful suits for herself and her three allies, and together they take on the boomers and Genom where the AD Police canít manage. Together they fight under the name Knight Sabers.
This may show up my age compared to the real old school anime enthusiasts, but this is just what I think of when thinking of old school anime. Itís a bit tacky, taking the batman formula and making them a quartet of power suited girls as the Japanese tend to do, and takes a blend of mild comedy and Ďsimple lifeí and some very dark and powerful material and fuses them in a way that may make western audiences a little uncomfortable. However, it does it all well. This is a dark show, but itís happy to lighten the tone to let the angst drop, and for all the obvious messages it doesnít compromise in showing that things can and will go wrong for even the best of people. Itís very high powered, as a lot of action anime is, and some of the necessary power ups in the form of new upgrades and suits can seem a bit contrived, but it backs all that up with characters who do have depth to them. The characters arenít as easily pigeon holed as the personalities they were given in the Ď2040í remake. Priss, as arguably the main character out of the four, is hardened but she has a real soft streak which makes her emotional outbursts all the closer to home.
This is a really dark show at times. There are shots that can be surprisingly gory, the worst of which has an AD Police grunt literally reduced to a bloody stump in two seconds flat by machine gun fire. Boomers, even though they are machines, are perfectly willing to cough up blood before exploding or collapsing, and the general violence level of the combat is very high. We also have plenty of good characters dying here, this can get very tragic. Plus lets not forget the nudity as the girls put on their suits. Most definitely teens and up, and not for the immature ones either.
Visually this series is showing itís age, in the design of the characters if nothing more, but it does still look good in spite of that. The fluidity is generally good, and in the big scenes there is often a lot of movement happening on screen. People may complain about the lack of slickness to the look of it, but I much prefer this to the artificial and flat look of computer drawn anime if theyíve been doing it without a decent budget. This may look old, but it still looks good.
As for the dub, this is a nasty one. There are only one or two voices in bit parts that sound natural, and while the main cast may have their moments it just sounds like they are narrating to young children rather than actually acting the role most of the time. You can get used to the voices fitting the faces, but it just isnít acted well, and some of the accents that crop up every now and then are atrocious. However, they did dub the songs, and several of them are pretty well done. Music is a big thing in this show, harking back to the eighties with some great tunes if you like that sort of thing, and many of the songs have music videos that showcase the whole song along with clips from the show or sung live.
This may well get looked over for newer seriesí now, and Parasite Dolls may have become the best of the Bubblegum Crisis based shows, but this is still a strong presence from the place it began. It tells the kind of stories that you remember from childhood, and gives them a dark anime twist, throwing in violence, tragedy and action into the mix of heroes, villains and poetic justice. Highly recommended.