The VHS Era – Riding Bean / 1989

▶ Riding Bean - YouTube [720p].mp4_snapshot_00.04_[2014.11.17_16.50.19]

I like cars, and I like guns. I especially love short OVA’s filled with action and zany anime cliches.

…AND HERE WE GO AGAIN

In this article, we will go far, some say too far, into the mind of resident writer Don Don Kun’s fantasies involving high-powered firearms, hot girls, and Shelby Cobra GT-500’s.

…Oh wait, that’s Kenichi Sonoda’s fantasies.

"I just drive."

“I just drive.”

Riding Bean is one of those odd anime that comes along with the premise of being a series or long running, but is tragically cut down for some reason or another. In the case of Riding Bean, it had a 4 chapter manga release that was cancelled when the magazine was cancelled. Truly a great loss that would eventually become the well-known and well-beloved Gunsmith Cats, with character spotlights and transfers from this very OVA!

FANTASTIC!

From this point on, I recorded a bit of running commentary while watching Riding Bean with some friends, and I will be transcribing certain bits of informational dialogue and other humorous bits.

rihochancirclePrinny: This is, (Riding Bean) is really good. It came out in 1989, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Gunsmith Cats, but this is like the prequel or the gaiden story essentially. (Riding Bean) is a 45 minute or so OVA that they made before they made Gunsmith Cats, it also had a really short manga.

Because this is supposed to be the original, (Bean) also shows up in (Gunsmith Cats).

The real trick here was fitting a plot and all the lovely action in just 48 minutes without it being a slide show of well shaded explosions and fanservice. Not that there’s any problem with that.

At all.

Meet the Road Buster, the unholy fusion of the Ford RS200 and Porsche 959 to make one badass kit car full of all kinds of tech.

Meet the Road Buster, the unholy fusion of the Ford RS200 and Porsche 959, all to make one bad ass kit car full of all kinds of tech.

One thing of note before talking about the anime proper, is that there is the foundation for a lot of great scenes and movie ideas that may or may not have inspired some people/movies, notably Drive (2011) and obviously, Gunsmith Cats (1991-1997).

Also the music is kick ass.

 ACT ONE – THE SETUP

No good crime thriller is without more twists and turns like the US Highway system or without an interesting cast of characters to accompany you on the wild ride.

rihochancircle

Prinny: This twist here, it’s gonna blow your mind.

 

The main characters of Riding Bean are:

Bean: Man of mystery, intrigue, high physique, and unnatural resistance to otherwise harmful actions. He also eats pineapples in halves. With the skin still on them.

 Bean, a man of mystery, intrigue, high physique, and unnatural resistance to otherwise harmful actions. He also eats pineapples in halves. With the skin still on them.

rihochancirclePrinny: He eats like a whole pineapple, in a half or some shit. He just takes it by the root and just eats it, and I’m like what the fuck?

Faust: What’s his deal though?

rihochancirclePrinny: He’s just really tough apparently.

 

Bean is your classic tough guy. He’s quiet, he’s extremely durable, but harsh to some, except children. A real golden heart, a true US patriot.

The first scene of Riding Bean bills him as the driver, and a professional one at that. With a near mechanical precision for driving his expensive and teched out sports car, Bean can be trusted to get the job done. Thing is though, he’s a little slow on the uptake, hence the sharp and observant female partner. In a later scene he proves to be beyond our mortal coil, to which end he takes a bullet straight to the forehead. It doesn’t even kill him, just makes Bean a little loopy and cross-eyed, still being able to function slightly. On top of that, not even being crushed by a vehicle into another vehicle can finish him off, just snap him out of his daze.

Can also throw a knife at supersonic speeds.

Meet Rally: The cool, calm, and collected female partner in crime to Bean. An uncanny shot, and sharp observer, all skills needed to survive in the underworld. Goes through a series of changes in Gunsmith Cats, but is essentially the same.

Rally, The cool, calm, and collected female partner in crime to Bean. An uncanny shot, and sharp observer, all skills needed to survive in the underworld. Goes through a series of changes in Gunsmith Cats, but is essentially the same character.

Together, they do cool crime stuff for lots of money, and in this case, a cool two million dollars. (Which by the way, coincidentally, was the same amount that PepsiCo bribed us with offered us to advertise Mountain Mtn Dew and Doritos. We had to turn that down for moral reasons because the financial gain was insufficient.)

It’s never really clear on what a typical job for the pair is, but I guess they never got the chance to, so I can forgive that. With all crime related stories, nothing ever goes as planned.

That’s the setup, Bean thinks he’s driving some small time criminals that were dissatisfied with their measly take, and before he knows it, got caught on film with what appears to be the kidnapped daughter of a very rich family.

Should’ve never taken the job without Rally.

ACT 2 – THE CONFLICT

▶ Riding Bean - YouTube [720p].mp4_snapshot_17.45_[2014.11.19_10.39.12]

At some point, action, explosions, and drama was going to happen in a very spectacular way. A way that would make people then and now say, “Wow that’s some pretty good shading.”

I thought that the movie had some pretty interesting scenes, and I really love the style that OVA has. Reminded me of a really fast paced 80’s cop show with all the over the top visuals and explosions of a Saturday morning cartoon.

What really stood out to me was the pure love for cars and chase scenes, and there’s quite a few minutes of top-notch, high-octane chases, packed to the brim with collateral damage and inept policeman.

I don’t want to spoil too much from these bits, but it’s safe to say that the antagonists, Semmerling and Carrie are pulling a lot of strings to extort a large sum of money from the Grimwood family.

By setting up Bean and Rally as mere kidnappers, it threw off the suspicion (if there ever was any on Semmerling and friends) and made it easier for the antagonists to get what they want. They just didn’t expect the Road Buster to have the ability to drive sideways and be bulletproof.

Boy do things turn south for the villains when they learned that they pissed off the wrong superhuman, that’s for sure.

The real weapon of mass destruction was really man.

The real weapon of mass destruction was really man.

 ACT THREE – THE RESOLUTION

▶ Riding Bean - YouTube [720p].mp4_snapshot_34.37_[2014.11.19_10.53.39]

Any conniving, manipulative criminal mastermind realizes that when things are going really downhill, it’s best to bargain with the victor so you at least don’t die. I mean, you can make do with losing over 60% of your take from the crime you committed if you’re still alive right?

Yes, this is a scene from the OVA where Bean tackles a moving vehicle and stops it.

Yes, this is a scene from the OVA where Bean tackles a moving vehicle and stops it.

Only problem is, Bean doesn’t play that kind of game. In fact he’s only going this far because Semmerling abused a child for her own gains, and was attempting to again with Chelsea Grimwood. Truly a man of action, a man of substance and style.

Not quite the cliche "driving off into the sunset" ending, but it'll do.

Not quite the cliche “driving off into the sunset” ending, but it’ll do.

If you’re looking for a cheesy dub and an OVA filled with the quintessential 80’s action movie tropes, or just want to see what Gunsmith Cats was before it was, this is the movie for you.

I highly recommend it, and especially so with friends. I hope it’s as funny as it was for you, as it was for me.

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2 responses to “The VHS Era – Riding Bean / 1989

  1. Good review. The OVA is well animated and fun! I prefer the Gunsmith Cats’ version of Rally but I would love to see more of Bean.

    • Bean’s a classic look too. Sonoda said something about how he really like him, and kinda saw himself in the character, which is why he appeared in Gunsmith Cats.

      Who wouldn’t want to honor the first iteration anyway?