So, Just What The Heck Is A "Bubblegum Crisis" (and other such oddly named anime titles)?

So, Just What The Heck Is A “Bubblegum Crisis” (and other such oddly named anime titles)?

I was recently doing some reading and for some reason, I thought about the odd titles that the Japanese come up with to name their anime, manga, or light novel series.

When I came to Japan in the late 80’s, “anime” was naught but a cartoon played on Japanese TV or sold/rented on VHS. While my good friend and roommate Robert planted the seeds that made me the anime fan I am today, back then, I was resistant to the whole concept for the most part because of the lack of English dubs or even subtitles.

Anyway, there were a number of anime titles that were new or relatively new when I lived in Japan and I remember laughing at their title names. Since I’m a fan now, weird title names are nothing new but I thought I would explore a few of my favorites through the years.

Bubblegum Crisis: This eight-episode OVA series started in 1987 and ended in 1991. I remember when Robert started renting it, I looked at the title and thought, “What the heck is this?” (I even asked Robert about that.) Seriously, is this series about some terrible bubblegum crisis in the future? Did Bubblicious go out of business? Was there a run on Bubble Yum grape flavor? Maybe Bazooka Joe stopped printing their little comic strips, leading to a riot and thus a crisis? Watching the series back then, I didn’t understand a word of it but I never did see Bubblegum chewed. ^_~

Then Bubblegum Crash came out. *lol*

Bubblegum Crisis

Project A-ko/A-ko the Versus: When the Project A-ko movie was brought to my attention back in the late 80’s, the title gave me a vision of “Project Acorn,” only the Japanese decided to just shorten it to “A-ko.” Then, when the A-ko the Versus OVA came out in 1990, I laughed at the absurdity of “the Versus.” What the heck is a “Versus” anyway? ^_~

Project A-Ko

Ranma 1/2: This was on TV when I came home one day and when Robert told me the title, I immediately challenged this “1/2” business. Was this some half series? Was this “Ranma” only half man? Naturally, I was surprised and laughed at the silly notion that Ranma would change sexes depending on whether cold or hot water were poured (or sloshed) on him and his father would change into a Panda under similar conditions.

Ranma 1/2

Dirty Pair: I remember the trip to the store with the cardboard cutouts of Yuri and Kei in their traditional skimpy outfits. For something that had been a 24-episode TV series and was now being released with a new OVA series, the name “Dirty Pair” simply evoked some notion of “cartoon porn,” especially since there was an eye-popping amount of that in video rental stores. ^_^;

Dirty Pair

Blue Gender: I’d heard of the male gender. I’d heard of the female gender. I’d heard of transgender. I’d never heard of “blue gender.” Leave it to the Japanese to discover a whole new gender to share with the world. ^_^

Blue Gender

Full Metal Panic: OK, so the title name is actually supposed to be a parody of the classic movie Full Metal Jacket. However, that didn’t enter my mind when I first heard of this title but rather the idea of metal could panic if it were full. There’s nothing worse than a full metal panic attack, let me tell ya. ^_~

Full Metal Panic

Heat Guy J: Never watched this anime, but when I heard of it, it evoked an image of some heater repair guy named “J.” If your “heat” is on the fray, then call Heat Guy J! *lol*

Heat Guy J

Love Hina: Why do I want to love Hina? Just who is this “Hina” anyway and why is this person, presumably a woman, needing my love? Why would I love Hina again as requested in the anime Love Hina Again?

Love Hina

Triangle Heart: Now there’s something new — a heart shaped like a triangle. As an aside, it is amazing to me that this ero-game turned mediocre OVA series lead to the spinoff of the very popular and mostly well done Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha franchise. Come to think about it, is Nanoha very lyrical?

Triangle Heart

Divergence Eve: Its a whole new pre-holiday day, diverging from the norm by merging Christmas Eve and All Hallows’ Eve (aka: Halloween). Yeah, that’s the ticket! Oh, and don’t forget the footballs ’cause all women have to wear them under their shirts. *_* (Watch the anime to get what I’m talking about.)

Divergence Eve

Kiddy Grade: Is that the same as kindergarten or just elementary school in general? Or maybe it is a new grading scale? Or is it something uglier? *_*

Kiddy Grade

Fruits Basket: I didn’t know fruit carried baskets as accessories but that goes to show you what I know! Oddly enough, I don’t remember any fruit or baskets showing up in this series (anime or manga). Of course, I could be mistaken.

Fruits Basket

Pumpkin Scissors: After years of failing to carve the perfect Jack-o’-lantern for Halloween, a Japanese inventor creates pumpkin scissors, guaranteed to create any Jack-o’-lantern you like. ^_~

Pumpkin Scissors

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10 Responses to “So, Just What The Heck Is A "Bubblegum Crisis" (and other such oddly named anime titles)?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s been a while since I heard the official explanation, so it might lack some accuracy. The title Bubblegum Crisis was chosen to signify how volatile the situation in this story/setting was. At the tiniest spark, all hell could break loose. A general tension, like a bubblegum bubble that’s about to burst at any moment.

    As for Pumpkin Scissors, I think the lead girl even gave an in-story explanation why her unit was named that way, but I’m too lazy to go back and dig out what she said. Cheers.

  2. Nick says:

    I too loled at most of these titles when i first started with anime. I was super reluctant to watch Kiddy Grade based on the name but as i saw the trailer on the Funimation site 5 minutes later i walked to best buy and bought the show, since then its far my fav anime ever watched it hundreds of times literaly =D

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    @Anon — I hadn’t heard that explanation for BGC. I remember someone trying to explain it along the lines of “walking and chewing gum at the same time” but that was about it.

    As to Pumpkin Scissors, yeah, the lead chick does explain the name so at least there’s that.

    @Nick — Kiddy Grade does not evoke a positive image. That said, I was given a cap a few years ago after FUNimation launched the series and since it is so comfortable, I do wear it at times just to see if people will react. Sometimes they do. ^_^

  4. arimareiji says:

    Fruits Basket (yeah, it should be Fruit Basket, gotta love Engrish) did actually have a meaning in the anime.

    Apparently when she was little, one day Tohru’s class was playing “Fruits Basket”, and someone told her she was the riceball. So she kept waiting as the various fruits were called out, but no one ever said “riceball”… because a riceball doesn’t belong in a fruits basket.

    At the end of that episode, to represent the fact that now she has a place to belong, the flashback changes. Someone calls “riceball”, and little Tohru runs off happily. It’s sappy and odd, but it’s a meaning. (^_^)

    I’m not sure how it transpired in the manga, because it’s been too long since I’ve read the earliest issues. But when someone’s speech bubble is marked by a doodle because they’re talking offscreen, Tohru is often shown as a riceball. (Yuki is a rat face, Kyo is a cat face, and so on.)

  5. Anonymous says:

    These wierd names are way much better than your typical boring american shows. Heroes, anyone, or Housewives, they pick these names because they are used everyday, which will get everyone to think about these shows. America’s way of thinking is backward, and it is awkward from others. Metric or unversal system. At least now we are converting into what everybody else does.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anyone else notice on the Triangle Heart picture that part of their hair are the same to everyone else in the picture. Talk about no sense of creativity.

  7. junior says:

    These wierd names are way much better than your typical boring american shows. Heroes, anyone, or Housewives, they pick these names because they are used everyday, which will get everyone to think about these shows

    Not really. The difference is the fact that you’re more used to the cultural thinking typically used to generate the titles of American shows. Japanese culture, being somewhat more alien, comes up with titles that leave you going, “Huh?”

    Although it’s also worth noting that the Japanese aren’t above ret-conning things so that the titles make more sense the second or third time around. Case in point, ‘Appleseed’ never appears within the text of Shirow Masamune’s masterwork. But it was used as the name of a major plot point within the film of that name (which was loosely based on Shirow’s manga) that was released a few years ago.

    Incidentally, if an American had written that particular manga instead and wanted to generate a similar feeling with the title, he or she probably would have used the title “Mustard Seed” instead.

  8. Seriously I had a good laugh will reading this post. You made my day. I admit that Japanese anime titles are weird even weirder than what you think. Don’t mind the title, those anime shows are fun to watch.

  9. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Glad to provide a laugh. ^_^

  10. Cooleofranco555 says:

    wow, this reminds of a video i saw on Youtbe. The guy was ranting on lucky star, and he was right, (well for at least the title). None of the girls were lucky or a mass of plasma in space.
    I only know that haruhi and negima have title that make sense (when you translated them in english)

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