Riding That Bean

An ’80s Action Anime Classic

by Bolt Vanderhuge

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.

Just imagine the Blues Brothers theme playing to this.

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.

Please note this is after he’s been run over by this car.

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

Check your rearview!

Future GPX Cyber Formula is coming back from behind

by Bob Johnson

One country’s 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 Formula outsold 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.

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GOTCHA!

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.

A rival made in China. Continue reading

City Pop

-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.

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Gods, Gold, and Revenge

Golden Kamuy‘s Hokkaido Treasure Hunt

by Punch Rockgroin

Great Hunter Asirpa

A young hunter, with the greatest facial expressions known to man.

On rare occasion, I will buy a manga based on its cover. Golden Kamuy ended up being an exception simply based on the fact said cover had what I assumed (correctly) was the main character wielding some type of well-detailed bolt action rifle. Reading the description on the back cover stated the story follows a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war. Being this is a time period rarely covered in fiction, historical or otherwise, I picked it up without much hesitation. Best of all, I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent story with great art and GTO-worthy facial reactions.

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What am I watch?! – ACCA 13

ACCA: 13-Province Inspection Department is a romp through a fantasy kingdom composed of distinct locales that are like a photo tour of the real world.  It’s about bureaucracy and baked goods.

Blonde ’nuff for ya?

Our hero is a guy by the name of Jean Otus, who catches wind of the biggest conspiracy since Welcome to the NHK!  and cracks it like a pro, all while making gourmet sandwiches.

It’s a slow burn, but it was fun and classy all the way.

A Man and his Sword

My Love For You is Like a Truck
by Bolt Vanderhuge

If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the manga!

If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the manga!

Berserk is yet another one of those series that I’ve come to appreciate more upon later viewings.  Just as with Dirty Pair and Deep Space Nine, the first time I watched it, I just couldn’t really get into it all that much.  I suppose I could blame the obsessive yaoi fans ruining it for me, but really I’d say it had more to do with me not enjoying hack-n-slash all that much.  On repeat viewing, though, I’ve come to appreciate this show for the over-the-top action, and its story about love, loyalty, betrayal, and rape.  Also there’s plenty of joke fodder if you’re into giving anime the MST3K treatment like my friends and I are.

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A School Boy’s Life for Me

by Punch Rockgroin

Anime clichés get smacked by reality in Daily Lives of High School Boys

High school girls in Japan live the life. Before them stretches a vast array of possibilities: They could be magical girls saving the world from evil, having other-worldly adventures surrounded by the most beautiful men in the universe, or even just starting a band and having a great time with their friends. With so many fun and exciting activities to choose from, it’s no wonder the anime industry has made it their duty to show the many teenage girls of Japan what they can do while in high school. Despite the myriad of options available to the Japanese high school girl, high school boys in Japan are only good at fighting or sports, and are thus much more limited in what they can accomplish during the golden years of their life.

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