Sunday, December 3, 2017

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Riding Bean

Kenichi Sonoda got his start working for Artmic studio designing the Iron Man suits for Bubblegum Crisis, but later gained enough traction by creating his own OVA one-shot through Artmic, Riding Bean. Sonoda was a huge fan of The Blues Brothers movie, so he set his story set in Chicago making for what could be described as "The Transporter in the 80s starring Sylvester Stallone".

Bean Bandit(also known as "Roadbuster")is a professional underground getaway driver operating out of Chicago along with his gun-expert partner, Rally Vincent. After a previous job where he helps a two crooks rob a mall, Bean is visited by a bodyguard working for a wealthy industrialist whose daughter was kidnapped. Bean and Rally have to deliver the rescued girls while the bodyguard is seemingly gunned down by snipers. So our professional drivers head out in Bean's suped-up car to the wealthy family's mansion, only to find out they've been duped by the actual kidnappers who have been using them the whole time. Bean and Rally eventually track down the boss lady of the whole caper, which leads to a major chase through downtown Chicago, and a climax right out of Terminator!

Riding Bean eventually spawned off its own unfinished manga series, which Sonoda reformatted into a completely new manga titled Gunsmith Cats where Rally is now about 1 ft. shorter and half-Indian instead of a statuesque blonde who is a professional bounty hunter along with her partner Minnie-May(slightly based on an existing Riding Bean character), and Bean is a underworld driver that works alone. It's success lead to a 3-episode OVA series, which acted as a separate story making it okay to check out if you've never read the manga. Bean and Rally had a background appearance in Scramble Wars OVA special where characters from various Artmic titles engage in a Wacky Races-styled event(because Wacky Racers was a huge cult hit in Japan!), but all of the characters are in super-deformed or "chibi" form. The original Riding Bean OVA has been released in English through Animeigo that first put it on VHS and DVD, along with laser disc double-feature with MADOX-1, plus they recently produced a Kickstarter-funded blu-ray. It's a short 45-minute one-shot, but makes for a fantastic take on 80s American action flicks, and for anybody who thought Baby Driver was to "tame".