Oga Tatsumi tells his friend Furuichi an embellished tale of how he found a large mustachioed man floating down the river and took a baby from inside the man, after the man split open. The kid gets attached to him and refuses to leave. The problem is that every time he gets upset and starts crying he electrocutes Oga. A lot of the first half of the episode is spent trying to calm the baby down.
That this baby is obviously not normal is confirmed when Hildegarde, a demon wet nurse, comes and tells Oga and Furuichi that the baby is in fact Beelzebub, the son of the Lord of Hell. She tells them that the Lord of Hell wanted to destroy humanity; but had far too many activities planned to do it himself, so he sent his son to do it for him.
Hilda reveals that Beelzebub, Beel for short, has chosen Oga as his father. So now Oga has to raise the son of the Lord of Hell. Oga refuses, and Hilda decides to murder him in order to get Beel away from him.
After a chase scene that climaxes in Beel throwing a tantrum when some of Oga’s blood gets on him. Oga manages to miraculously stop Beel’s tantrum, something Hilda said only the Lord of Hell could do, right as a high voltage power cable tower is about to fall on Beel.
Oga saves him at the last minute, and draws on some of Beel’s demonic power to destroy the falling tower. Unfortunately for Oga, his little act of heroism has saddled him with the responsibility to raise the future destroyer of the earth.
I’ve been reading the manga this is based off for a while, yes, yes, I’ve been reading scanlations of it (this was before I decided not to start any new series through scanlations), and since I’ve started I really can’t stop reading it’s so good. As soon as the series is licensed for the states I’ll have a review up of it. Though, there are some issues that may complicate it getting licensed, more on this in a moment.
This series has a very sit-com feel to it, where most of the comedy comes from the situation the characters find themselves in. It’s definitely one of the more imaginative settings for a real world setting. But on its own the whole thing is kind of weird. What sells me on this series is the humor. It gets better, but this episode really pulls you in with the bizarre concept.
As a first episode this has a full arc that it goes through, ending in a satisfying fashion. The immediate concerns of the episode are resolved, while more are introduced for the rest of the series.
The art style is generic, and the animation isn’t really the greatest. A positive aspect of the art is that it tries really hard to make everything look grungy while still retaining that shonen feel. There are a few small details that stick out and make this first episode a much more fulfilling experience, such as the school bell - a staple of anime, that we otaku have become very much accustomed to - not working properly, instead of the clear chimes we get a fizzing, wonky sound that attests the school’s state of disrepair.
The problem is that this is the kind of series that, while it has great potential, might not have a good reaction in the states, and might not escape unedited. Much like how Tales of the Vampire Bund had some extreme scenes edited. Personally I don’t know what all the fuss was about, (I guess people really wanted their porn) there are some edits I don’t mind as long as the integrity of the original isn’t compromised. People need to understand that removing offensive scenes isn’t the same as the 4Kids butchery of OP. Those kinds of edits changed what the series was in the first place. Other edits, as long as they don’t go overboard, just might be necessary. Especially in this case.
The thing is, Baby Beel is naked. All the time. I don’t know why, he just is. Personally it doesn’t bug or affect me (on account of my not being a pedophile), but in our culture we are very sensitive of the existence of pedophiles (as we should be, those kind of people are unanimously disgusting), and a series that features a naked baby would receive a very negative reaction in our culture.
The thing is that in Japan, and most of Asia from what I understand, children being naked is just kids being kids. There’s nothing shocking about it, it’s just a fact of life. Not to say that they show naked children all over the place, but the view of the general public is that there is nothing controversial about a child being naked.
As a viewer it really doesn’t have an impact. It certainly isn’t meant to be shocking, it’s just there, kind of like the casual nudity in Ranma 1/2. It’s much like reading or watching Watchmen. People made a big deal about Dr. Manhattan being naked, and his wang being all over the place, but the fact of the matter is that when you get down to it you really don’t notice it as a reader or a viewer.
As it is, I have a hard time seeing Beelzebub receiving a warm welcome in the west by the general public. Yes this show isn’t for the general public, but I could easily see it becoming an uproar if it was brought to the attention of the public. And you know the media would have a field day with it. As such I think that if Beelzebub was ever brought over here I think it would be wise to edit a diaper onto him. Though that would require a lot of extra work, considering Beel is in practically every scene.
And before you start complaining, I’m not talking about cutting out all the violence, blood and breasts. You know, all the stuff that people watch anime for. I’m just saying they should slap a diaper on a naked baby. Feel free to argue with me all you want though, it will be much more telling than when a bunch of people complained about most of the sexual scenes (that didn’t influence the story) being removed from Dance in the Vampire Bund.
You know, the ones with the loli vampire in them.
I dare you.
Check out my blog for more reviews. Burning Lizard Studios