After being under wraps for some time, one of the most widely-discussed anime-to-live-action projects appears to finally be under way, according to Anime News Network.
No, this isn't the Evangelion live-action film -- which has become the stuff of legend, and even inspired a few fan trailers -- but Bubblegum Crisis, an adaptation of the late-Eighties OVA series about four female mercenaries, the Knight Sabers, and their suits of armor in a Tokyo of the not-too-distant future. It's become a staple anime title, one cherished by fans across the years and kept consistently in print.
The director slated for the live-action project, Anthony LaMolinara, has mainly been involved in animation, both for animated films (Stuart Little) and live-action features (Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2). He also helmed up a short film named Lonesome Matador in 2005, but this would mark the first time he's directed a full-length feature. The film's being produced as an Australian / Canadian / Chinese / UK four-way co-production with a budget of $30 million, although back in 2008 another effort to launch the project under a joint Japanese / Singapore banner stalled out.
The official project title is Knight Sabres: Bubblegum Crisis.
People worried about the scope of the film may need to remember that by Hollywood standards, $30 million may be small, but the same amount of money goes a much longer way overseas. Check out another live-action anime adaptation, Casshern, which cost a mere $6 million and looks like it cost easily ten times that much thanks to the same green-screen virtual-studio technology used in 300 and Sin City. If Crisis works the same way, they may be able to get quite a bit back for their investment.
The series exists in two forms: the original 8-episode Bubblegum Crisis and the 26-episode Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, the latter being a retelling of the original with newer animation styles. The plot of the show has been pretty consistent across each incarnation. Tokyo is devastated after an earthquake and rebuilt (shades of Akira there) courtesy of a mega-corporation named "Genom". Among Genom's other products are synthetic life forms named "Boomers", which were originally designed to aid with the reconstruction but have a bad habit of running amuck. With the police helpless, four women decide to form their own vigilante group to defend the city, with the aid of special suits of powered armor.
A couple of spinoff shows also went into production -- Bubblegum Crash (a direct sequel to the original) and A.D. Police Files (a "side story" show). They're all good examples of cyberpunk by way of anime, and Crisis itself flaunts plenty of references to the godfather of cyberpunk in live-action movies, Blade Runner. (One of the main characters is named Priss and she fronts a rock band named The Replicants. You get the idea.)
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