Bubblegum Crisis

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The ruins of the Second Great Kanto Earthquake, which takes place in 2033 in the timeline of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. Look familiar?

The original Bubblegum Crisis was an OVA made from 1987 to 1991, the story of which begins in the year 2032 (the same year as Oni), but this article is mostly about the 1999 TV series called, in full, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 ("BCT2040" for short). BCT2040 was created by AIC, the anime studio which animated Oni's intro and outro, and in the same year. The initial premise is simple: three young women in power suits have to stop laborer robots ("Boomers") when they malfunction and start running amok. Things become more complicated as we learn about the true nature of the Boomers. BCT2040 has several interesting similarities to Oni:

  • The brains of Boomers, like Oni's SLDs, are based on a human's brain engrams or neural patterns, but with limited free will.
  • Both stories have a little sister-like character who is artificial and based on the brain patterns of a main character.
  • Boomers are built with some sort of bio-metal and can appear totally human, including the showing of emotion. SLDs "imitate human biology" and can also "run amok" like Boomers, though we don't see this in-game.
  • In both stories, a main character's mad scientist father started the project, and his dead wife and living daughter are at the core of his new technology.
  • Both projects result in the destruction of Tokyo.
  • In a plot element of BGC which moves the concept of Boomer technology closer to the notion of the Daodan Chrysalis than SLDs, the bio-metal that Boomers are made of can be implanted in humans. One character has a Boomer implant that grew to replace his failing organs. Another character may have a similar boost to her brain via Boomer technology, but it's only hinted at. Also, Boomers are capable of evolving and changing shape.

"Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040" finished airing in the spring of 1999, and Hardy LeBel came onto the Oni project in the summer of 1999 and wrote Oni's final story. BCT2040 was expected to be a big hit in the U.S. and so it was quickly dubbed by ADV Films. Their VHS tapes of the dub started to be released in 1999. Could BCT2040 have been an influence on either the SLDs or the Chrysalis? Hardy didn't mention the anime in interviews, but Alex Okita stated that "Bubblegum Crisis" was one of the two main influences on Oni alongside Ghost in the Shell, and Brent Pease listed it as a favorite (in both cases, they may have been referring to the original OVA, which is less similar to Oni).

Coming back to the original "Bubblegum Crisis" OVA, the character designs were done by the prolific Kenichi Sonoda, referenced in Lorraine Reyes' Konoko Variants sketch. The Sonoda version of Konoko seems closest to the design that Lorraine finalized for the character.