Riding Bean

Official Blurb:

"In Chicago, ace courier Bean Bandit rules the road and operates on both sides of the law. When it absolutely, positively has to be there NOW, you hire Bean Bandit to get it there; and neither rain, nor sleet, nor the Chicago PD will stop him! Bean's latest cargo is a 10 year old girl who's worth 50 grand when delivered home - but what Bean doesn't know is that she has already been kidnapped and he's about to be framed for the snatch!

"Sonoda Kenichi did extensive research on Chicago before doing the storyboards for Riding Bean, and according to our Chicago correspondents, with the exception of the truckstop, every location seen in the film actually exists. In addition, to give the soundtrack an authentic flavor, the producers hired some of the top studio musicians in Los Angeles to compose and perform the music.

"There are many visual jokes in Riding Bean, starting with the license plate numbers. If something catches your eye, we encourage you to take a second look."

Director:         Hasegawa Yasuo
Screenplay:       Sonoda Kenichi
Character design: Sonoda Kenichi
Copyright:        Youmex Inc.

First release:
Label:            Anime Projects
Language Format:  Japanese Language, English Subtitles/English Language
Running time:     46 mins
Certificate:      18/18
Catalogue no:     AP093-001 / AP094-003
Price:            £12.99 / £12.99
Release date:     1993 / 1994

Second release:
Label:            MVM
Language Format:  English Language
Running time:     46 mins
Certificate:      18
Catalogue no:     MV1004
Price:            £14.99
Release date:     7th June 1999

DVD version:
Label:            MVM
Language Format:  English Language
Running time:     46 mins
Certificate:      18
Catalogue no:     MVD2005
Price:            £17.99
Release date:     8th October 2001
Limited edition of 500 with free 'Gunsmith Cats: Bean Bandit' graphic novel.


Two minutes in and having already seen bodily remains strewn about, a dumb security guard get his head blown off, and the crowd goes wild, and not just on the screen in the mall. Riding Bean gives the sort of entertainment so much of its ilk only promises, namely cool action, stylish violence and very big cars, and as such becomes an instant smash hit with practically everyone who sees it.

Like for so many others, Riding Bean became an instant favourite of mine. I'd always been interested in what anime could do outside of the cliche of robots and starships, so here was a tale of crime in Chicago that caught my eye immediately. Kenichi Sonoda must feel similarly as this is a virtual one man show on his part, and we can be pleased for that - no corporate philosophy, no forced moral standpoint or unneeded love interest.

Sonoda's singular work provides a whole batch of convincing characters that break the perceived moulds of their genre. Imagine the Hollywood remake - Bean loves Rally, Rally becomes a helpless female, Seemerling a guy! And of course you can forget about all your favourite bits - lost in a wash of conscience. No way, it may only last 45 minutes but give me Riding Bean's 'Don't give a damn' attitude over any American actioneer any day. All this and I haven't even mentioned the animation. Of course it's great, but that's by the by. If western action shows like this were made perhaps some of them would be animated too. Certainly they could pick up a few inspirational points from it. It may not pose the great questions of life or touch the soul, but dammit, it's cool, 100% entertainment. Get me that car! [Dean Heathcote]

This is set in Chicago and features Bean, a contract driver who hires himself and his special car, the 'Road Buster' out to robbers. The all-action plot involves the kidnapping of a rich man's daughter. The action sequences are well constructed and feature an armed robery and getaway, shootouts, high speed car chases with high-powered cars, and the efforts of an equally car-obsessed Police Inspector Percy to trap Bean. Apart from Bean, the main characters are his female partner, Rally, the kidnapped girl Chelsea and her father George Grimwood, kidnapper Semmerling and her young accomplice Carrie. The featuring of active female characters is typically Japanese. There's not much to the film apart from the action, touches of comedy and a couple of adult sex scenes, but of its kind it's well done and enjoyable. Only the sex scene with the childish Carrie provides a cold and uncomfortable dash of reality. A good example of all-action adult anime, with the inevitable cert 18. [Geoff Cowie]