In the year 20X6, the vast majority of citizens will no longer drive. Instead, they will be able to rent an AI-driven car of their choice, depending on their needs. This system will greatly reduce the number of driving-related deaths, and also allow a more rapid response to road-related emergencies. These new cars will also be driven by electric motors, thus also being much cleaner for the environment.
But any system is prone to issues and random errors, and the world of éX-Driver is no different. When one of these self-driven cars goes rogue, a small but elite group of human drivers and their internal combustion-powered vehicles to chase and safely stop these runaway cars from going further.
Self-driving cars have been discussed for many years, and occasionally make an appearance in anime and other media. In éX-Driver, the concept is discussed a bit further to address the what-if and potentially hazardous situations a fully autonomous vehicle would cause if it ran amok.
As Anime Central 2019 approaches, and the premiere of a new crowdfunded OVA featuring Bean Bandit along with it, I thought I’d take a look back at the OVA that started it all. It occurs to me that some (or most) of you might not know who Bean Bandit is, nor the man who created him, Kenichi Sonoda. To be fair, most of the work he is known for came out in the ’80s and ’90s, but he’s probably best known for the anime and manga Gunsmith Cats. Less known is his previous work featuring many of the same characters, Riding Bean, which also takes place in Chicago.
Bean Bandit is essentially a shady getaway driver for hire, who drives a tricked out sports car of his own design that is not only bullet-proof, but can swivel all four of its wheels ninety degrees so he can drive it sideways. If you’re familiar with Gunsmith Cats at all, you might recognize the name Rally Vincent. In Riding Bean, she’s a blonde-haired, blue-eyed anime American, who’s partners in crime (and the sack) with Bean Bandit, which is something of a surprise given their back-and-forth relationship in the Gunsmith Cats manga, and the fact he appears basically the same in both. He never did make it into the anime, though, which is probably why most anime fans aren’t even aware of him (uncultured swine!).
As for plot, Riding Bean isn’t super complicated or anything (it is only 48 minutes long after all). It’s just a classic ’80s action flick, featuring plenty of violence and brief nudity, and a tone that’s never quite entirely serious in spite of the blood and gore. Basically, a sadistic lesbian kidnaps a millionaire and his daughter, and her brilliant plan is to frame Bean Bandit for the kidnapping since he’s already on the Chicago PD’s shit list. Unfortunately for her, Bean Bandit is basically the Terminator, and manages to escape the trap she set for him by sheer awesomeness alone.
The soundtrack is very ’80s, and despite the fact it was dubbed much later than the original 1989 release, the delivery of the vast majority of the lines fits right in with the era. But that’s okay, because that’s all part of the glorious ’80s anime experience.
There’s also an interesting “what if” scenario with this anime, because this was apparently originally planned as a series and that never happened. There was also a manga based on this premise that was left unfinished because the magazine publishing it cancelled, which caused Mr. Sonoda to move on and create the Gunsmith Cats manga. While Mr. Sonoda prefers Bean Bandit because he can identify with him better, I tend to prefer Gunsmith Cats and that version of Rally Vincent. All the same, I’m excited to see what the new OVA is going to bring, and I hope to catch it when it premieres at ACEN this year.
In the meantime, it’s fun to look back at what started it all, and I recommend you check it out yourself!
FUCK YEAH! LOOK IT UP Riding Bean Original Video Animation Based on the manga by Kenichi Sonoda Produced by AIC, Licenced by AnimEigo
Future GPX Cyber
Formula is coming back from behind
by Bob Johnson
breakout hit is another country’s also-ran. Notoriously, Cowboy
Bebop – perpetual pinnacle of the genre among western anime fans
– never caught on in Japan, whereas shows like Future GPX Cyber
it and got sequel after sequel. So what gives? How is *THIS*
such a huge franchise?
Maybe it appeals to
Japan’s affinity for achievable futurism and plucky protagonists. At
age 14, Hayato Kazami is hanging around his dad’s co-workers, “Cyber
Formula” race team SUGO – but his main jam is riding his
motorcycle. Everything is turned on its head when thieves come for
the team’s car, forcing Hayato to take the wheel. Day saved, no
problem? Well, Asurada’s computer locks everyone else out except the
kid, and even the race team’s top cyber-whiz can’t crack the FaceID.
So their up-and-coming Cyber Formula team is doomed unless Hayato can
learn to drive.
Monolith’s mostly-fogotten, anime-inspired FPS is a needle full of nostalgia.
1998 was a big year for the first person shooter. Unreal was the start of a long-running series that would be most famous for its multiplayer-focused (with available single player campaign) Tournament games. Most notably, Half-Life was released, changing the landscape of the FPS for a long time to come. Though not revolutionary in its gameplay, it was nonetheless a polished and exciting experience, with a well-told story to boot. I played Half-Life until my eyes bled from ecstasy, especially once the modding scene was established.
In the same year, Monolith Productions dropped 2 FPSes that are not well known outside of those in the retro FPS community. Blood 2: The Chosen was a rushed (forced by GT Interactive while they were being bought out by Infogrames) mess. The levels are bland, enemy placement gets cheap and frustrating as the game goes on, and most weapons don’t have much impact. The other game was Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.
China makes its first shots and corrects for windage and elevation
by Punch Rockgroin
If the new Diablo: Immortal game is any indication, mobile gaming has yet to take off in the West in the way it has in Japan. Mobile gaming continues to grow in popularity, while the Diablo fiasco is only exacerbated by the statement “You guys don’t have phones?” As other parts of the gaming market lag and dwindle, mobile gaming has found its footing.
Japan is spoiled for choice when it comes to mobile, such as Granblue Fantasy and Fire Emblem Heroes, among others. One such mobile game I have mentioned before, Kantai Collection (for a time overtaking Touhou Project as the top spot for doujins released at Comiket), has stagnated and is falling behind a rival with a similar premise.
-or- How I Learned To Stop Worrying About the Radio In My Supra by Gristle McThornbody
Once the domain of vaporwave-blaring hipsters pining to be ironic under the guise of A E S T H E T I C, city pop is Japan’s answer to the bombastic 80s. Clawing back from relative obscurity, we are treated to neon-filled, tape deck fueled ode to the big city life. Filling this watercolored, pastel world is the melodic and often horn-filled songs that toast to the bustling life of a never-ending, 24-hour day. To some degree, it mirrors America in the same time, with artists like Chris Cross who –well sparkle- with some technopop elements, while letting the mix aerate with elements that naturally advect into our stream of consciousness, and you have the recipe for that musical entrée.
Ungrounded Jin-Roh retread misses the point by Bolt Vanderhuge
When I heard that there was going to be another addition to the Kerberos Saga, a live-action movie made in South Korea, I was cautiously optimistic. While plenty of my fellow weebs know of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, most don’t realize it’s actually the third adaptation of an alternate-history manga written by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, 1995). It’s set before the two live-action films, both directed by Oshii. Thing is, these films are not like Jin-Roh.
The Japanese approach to copyright and trademarks used to seem a lot more relaxed, especially when it came to characters. In the 1980s it seemed like every other character was lifted straight out of a Hollywood film! In those days, to use some famous character in an anime, was seen as a parody in itself, or failing that, as no big deal. Probably the biggest example of this relaxed era is Lupin III, whose manga spawned an eternal fountain of new TV shows and feature films – plus a lawsuit from the Maurice Leblanc estate. By the time the family of the creator of the original Arsène Lupin caught on to the craze, their lawuit was essentially ruled to be too late.