Riding Bean is an action OVA from 1989, chuck full of blazing guns, souped-up cars, and delightful implausibility. It’s a pretty standard courier setup: we’ve got Bean Bandit, our hotheaded driver-for-hire with his custom car The Roadbuster and his gunslinging partner Irene Vincent, a pair who’ll take on any job for the right price. We’ve got Percy and Dick in their Shelby Cobra, the crazy cops who’ll stop at nothing to get Bean behind bars. We’ve got Carrie and Semmer, the double-crossing criminal duo who’ll stop at nothing to catch them all in their criminal scheme. Kidnappings, firefights, car chases, and thrills abound as everyone races for the 2-million-dollar ransom. For those familiar with Gunsmith Cats, this is essentially a prequel, and while I was not familiar with Gunsmith Cats before this, I am certainly going to give it a look now.
The character designs are very 80s, in that style of 80s character designs that I very much enjoy. Bean in particular stands out for his ridiculously enormous chin, which would not surprise me if it could be removed and used as an effective bludgeoning weapon.
There’s nothing particularly revolutionary story-wise, as it’s basically just a setup for the action, but it’s got plenty of twists and turns and never stops moving. As far as action movie plots go, Riding Bean delivers more than adequately, and it keeps the thrills coming from start to finish. There are a few raunchy moments in the middle that feel pretty out-of-place, but they’re brief and don’t get in the way too much. The ending also falls a little short, but again, it’s not really a deal-breaker.
If you’re looking for a good car chase in your anime, look no further than here. Riding Bean features among the best chase scenes anime has to offer, with stunning car animation, clever choreography, a pumpin’ 80s soundtrack, and some deliciously satisfying tire squeals and engine roars. The Roadbuster has a number of cool tricks up its sleeve that I’ll leave as a surprise, because it’s really awesome to see Bean suddenly bust them out in the heat of the moment (let’s just say that he’ll never have a problem with parallel parking). The Chicago setting leads to some busy streets and detailed backgrounds, with of course the iconic bumper-buster under the El that is a staple of the Chicago movie car chase, and Riding Bean pulls it off with an insanity reminiscent of the Blues Brothers. And when that final high-speed pursuit kicks in, the animation lets loose with more speed, smoke, and car-nage than just about anywhere else in anime. You won’t find many better ones than this.
All in all, if you’re looking for a high-speed, action-packed way to make 45 minutes breeze by, you’re can’t go wrong with Riding Bean.