Riding Bean, directed by Yasuo Hasegawa. 48 minutes. February 22, 1989.
This was adapted from the manga by Kenichi Sonoda. I had originally intended to profile the three-volume OAV of Sonoda’s Gunsmith Cats first, because I consider it far superior, but let’s take these in the order that they were produced.
Riding Bean, and Gunsmith Cats which followed it, were Sonoda’s paean to Lawless Chicago, where everyone is gun-happy and high-speed car chases are even more common than they really are in Los Angeles. Riding Bean began as a serialized manga by Sonoda in the magazine Monthly Comic Noizy. Sonoda’s comic was popular, but the magazine wasn’t and was discontinued with the manga left unfinished. By then the comic was popular enough to get this OAV with an original story, produced by AIC and Artmic. The OAV was originally intended to be the first in a Riding Bean series, but Sonoda and Toshiba EMI, the video distributor, had a disagreement and Sonoda cancelled it. Several years later Sonoda revised his concept into the much better and more plausible Gunsmith Cats manga series and its OAVs (but with less nudity), and Riding Bean was forgotten.
Bean Bandit, a huge lantern-jawed, scarfaced man, and his demure assistant, adolescent blonde Rally Vincent, are “couriers for hire” in his extremely customized “Roadbuster” sports car. They guarantee the transport and delivery of anything or anyone in Chicago. Bean charges such a hefty fee ($45,000 in this case) that any clients he gets are inevitably escaping criminals paying with part of their loot. (Is it plausible that anyone, including criminals wanting to escape the police, would pay that much?) Since Bean is just a deliveryman, he does not consider himself a criminal. The Chicago police disagree since Bean is clearly at least an accessory to his clients’ crimes. The policeman who has made himself Bean’s nemesis is Lieut. Percy Breitbart, who has become totally obsessed with catching Bean, to the degree that Detective Zenigata is obsessed with catching Lupin III.
In this OAV, Bean is waiting for his two latest clients, a masked tall man and a short man, who are robbing the big Grimwood department store. They arrive on the run, with the director’s 11-year-old daughter, Chelsea Grimwood, as their hostage, and the police on their heels. They escape with Bean driving, thanks to the Roadbuster’s being able to turn its wheels sideways. Bean collects his $45,000 but refuses to accept any more jobs from the two criminals whom he calls reckless amateurs. After he leaves, the two criminals remove masks, revealing them to really look completely different. The tall leader isn’t even a man; she’s the lesbian dominatrix Semmerling, with Carrie, her subordinate lover.
The next day, Rally is complaining that Bean’s high fees are keeping them from getting any new clients. A young man comes to their apartment with an unconscious girl, Chelsea Grimwood, claiming that they have just escaped from kidnappers and that he is Morris, her bodyguard. Her rich father will pay Bean’s fee if he will take her back to him. Rally confirms his story by listening in on police headquarters (Bean and Rally have it bugged), and hearing the police discussing Grimwood’s daughter’s kidnapping during the robbery.
Meanwhile, Lieut. Percy is gloating over his new super-car, a Shelby Cobra GT-500. (This real sports car becomes Rally’s car in the later Gunsmith Cats, rather than Bean’s imaginary super-car.) He’s sure that he’ll catch Bean Bandit and his Roadbuster with this.
Bean’s apartment is suddenly shot up by unknown gunmen and Morris is killed. Bean, Rally, and the unconscious Chelsea leave to return her to George Grimwood for the promised $50,000 fee. After they leave, “Morris” gets up and is revealed to be Semmerling in another disguise. She is framing Bean for being behind the department store robbery and Chelsea’s kidnapping – and Director Grimwood’s, too. She has notified the police so they will be waiting.
The last half of the OAV is one long road chase through the streets of Chicago, with non-stop car crashes, shootings, and hand-grenade explosions between Bean, Rally, & Chelsea; Semmerling and her gang with the kidnapped Director Grimwood; and Lieut. Percy & the Chicago police. It gets larger-than-life, to the point of making Bean appear implausibly superhuman.
These implausibilities may be the main reason that there were no further Riding Bean OAVs. After this, there was really nowhere left to go; just variations on the same theme. When the Gunsmith Cats three-episode OAV appeared six years later, it was much more believable. Rally Vincent was almost totally different, and Bean Bandit & Lieut. Percy were completely absent.
Next week: Forgotten OAVs #11