Thursday, February 12, 2015

28 Day Bubblegum Crisis Challenge, Day 12: Comparison to the Remake, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040

Like I said way back on Day 1, I actually watched the reboot of Bubblegum Crisis before watching the original, so I came at the series a little different than those who'd done the opposite. Now, I actually prefer 80s anime over most modern series, and a lot of that comes from character design, which I guess is the best place to start here?

Since you've seen plenty of images from the original series, I'll start with this one from Tokyo 2040
Via Hero Machine

While the hardsuit designs* didn't change that much, the character designs are much more crisp in 1998's reboot, which I don't really mind, but I will say that I like the much softer curves of the women in the original. Anime is well-known for its fanservicey images of women's underwear and giant jiggly boobs, and while there are definitely moments like that in both versions of Bubblegum Crisis - Priss' bare breasts appear as she's putting on a leotard before donning her hardsuit in the original, and it's a wonder that Sylia's cooch doesn't flash everyone from the short skirts she wears in the remake - but they are significantly less cheesecakey than other shows I've watched, Cowboy Bebop included (I'm looking at you, Faye's impossible to stay up outfit). Anyway, the style in general has been updated, and I can say that I am thankful that Linna's haircut** is much better in 2040.

Via Ronin Army
And actually, that segues well into my next section! Characters! Starting with my least favorite from the original, Linna Yamazaki! Like I said back on Day 7, Linna was fleshed out significantly in 2040 and, instead of being an aerobics instructor, she got an office lady job in Tokyo and was a track and field star in her little country town. Her physical talents are enough to impress Priss, who suggests to Sylia that Linna be invited to join the Knight Sabers, which is really Linna's ultimate goal here. Priss, on the other hand, was not my favorite revamp. Not only is her mullet just blech, she's surly and kind of a bully, bringing Linna to tears several times***, and the band? Ugghhhhh. Sekiria does not have the attitude that the Replicants had. As far as Sylia goes, she is ... bipolar is probably the nicest way to put it. She is still as fanatical about bringing down Genom as she was in the original, but she has several mental breakdowns, once even smashing a glass that ends up cutting her hand really badly. She is also much more overtly sexual; while the original Sylia has sophisticated sensuality, 2040's version is more like a sex kitten sort of thing, which I actually felt detracted from who she really is: a successful business woman with a plan.
Nene is another positive reimagining****, though! Oddly enough, I actually prefer 2040 Nene to the original. Her youth is commented on by nearly everyone, from Priss - telling her that she is going to spank her (and not in a sexy way) - to Leon, and she doesn't try to prove that she's more mature than they think she is. She acts very childlike most of the time, but she still has her technological brilliance in tact.

While Daley is essentially the same in the reboot, Leon takes a much more gruff turn. In the original, he's a decent enough cop but is hot-headed in a goofy sort of way. In 2040, he seems down-trodden instead of defiant, kind of like the difference in Sonny Crockett between the early seasons of Miami Vice and the later ones. It's almost a little sad to watch, especially given the cocksure attitude of Leon prior to 2040. Another deviation is that Leon's attraction to Priss actually turns into a relationship by the end, something that would not have happened in the original, and not just because I'm pretty sure that Priss was attracted to women.

The main villain is still Genom in 2040, but I think one of the major faults of the original is that we were never really clear who the Knight Sabers were fighting and why. Genom was kind of like "Terror" or "Drugs;" a fight against an idea. It's very difficult to do that concept well in fiction, not to mention in real life. But in 2040, Quincy, Brian Mason, and ultimately, Galatea, become the faces of evil the Knight Sabers must overcome. While I did like turning Quincy into essentially a boomer, I wasn't that big a fan of what 2040 did with Mason, which I mentioned back on Day 8; instead of having him turn into this incredibly powerful enemy, he gave away his agency and died horrifically, literally becoming a gargoyle for Galatea, who was kind of an asshole.
Via Villains Wiki
However, I do think that his death meant quite a bit more - especially since he kept on reviving in the original like he was Wolverine or something - because for the first time, he actually seemed like a human, one with past hurts and blissful memories instead of the creepy rapist vibe I got off of him every time he popped up.

Structurally, I think 2040 was trying to be a darker, grittier complete version, emphasis on the complete. This is not to say that the story arc in 2040 is that great; I got bored by the end of it and felt a little cheated by a one-note villain like Galatea. Despite sharing character names and a similar universe, the creators of 2040 seemed to want to distance themselves as much as possible, which is how we get to a giant space battle at the end of the series. But I feel it's a little unfair to judge the original by what was not made; it's almost like it was the 80s anime version of Firefly - or really, any of the Joss Whedon shows that have been canceled to early (Dollhouse, we barely knew ye). "Born to Kill" started out as a one-shot, seemingly, but was ultimately concluded in "Double Vision," so I wonder if some of the other episodes that seemed kind of disconnected - like "Scoop Chase" - were only part of a greater story that would have concluded if all thirteen episodes had been created. I guess we'll never know, but I don't think that Bubblegum Crash was necessarily the way to do it, but ... I'll get to that later on in the challenge.

And yay! I'm all caught up now! Thank God. I was getting incredibly frustrated with my apartment's lack of decent wifi, but I'm hoping that's a challenge I won't have to overcome any time soon.

Stay tuned for tomorrow!

* Okay, they still have high heels, which is a big point of contention with me
** True story: I had my hair cut similarly to this in high school and have often wanted to have it this way again. It's surprisingly easy-breezy! Also, my mother hated it. Hahahah!
*** Priss nearly runs over Linna with her motorcycle, ruining her lunch, but just drives off.
**** I think a lot of this also had to do with the voice actress for Nene in 2040, Hilary Haag. Her voice is absolutely perfect for Nene.
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