Anpanman Character Reviews:
Are you ready for HORRORMAN???
If you've already noticed him in a screenshot or two and you haven't already read what little I had to say about him in the distant past, I'm sure you've been wondering with bated breath when we're going to get to the skeleton guy.
Horrorman is exactly what he appears to be, confirming in his own words that he's an obake (especially when someone once rudely mistook him for a yokai) and often hanging out with ghosts and monsters in spooky, haunted locales. His head can operate independently of his body, he sometimes takes a nap just sort of buried under the soil and he can even pull the crossbones off of his ratty t-shirt to hurl as a classic bone boomerang attack. In fact, I think he might even be the character who popularized that whole concept, so you can possibly also thank him for Cubone.
There's also a delightful running joke in the show in which Horrorman has a tendency to pop up in unexpected places at unexpected moments, absolutely terrifying everyone for a moment until they remember that the reanimated corpse is only good old Horrorman, the reanimated corpse. Sometimes he'll even be shown in more grotesque or life-like detail for that first fleeting second, and in his official character song he even states that "if you expect me to be scary, I'll be scary!"
Horrorman's personality however, is anything but spooky. His name is actually a pun on the fact that "horror" is pronounced to the Japanese exactly like "hora," a word that's kind of difficult to translate elegantly, but it's sort of like a joyous, exuberant call for attention. The most common translation is that it means "look here!" or "look at me!", but Baikinman also sort of uses it as an obnoxious way of saying "hey!" and Horrorman himself begins or ends statements with it in the same way you would say "oh my!" or "goodness!"
There's another joke going on with him, too, and it's used by several other skeleton characters in anime and manga: calling someone "bony" (or honeppoi, literally "bone-like") carries a similar meaning in Japan as calling someone "plucky." The idea behind Horrorman as a character seems to be that not even death gets him down, as his energetic optimism never seems to falter, and above all else, his single most defining character trait is his "friendliness"...for better or for worse.
Horrorman is in fact SO friendly that he actually can't be trusted, because he may consider you his best pal in the whole world by default and do basically anything you want him to do for you, but he also feels the same exact way towards your archest nemesis and never even questions it. Horrorman is a guy who will drop by Anpanman's place for tea one morning and casually come back by noon to help Baikinman light it on fire, greeting Anpanman with the same smile both times as if this is all somehow normal behavior.
Even in his aforementioned character song, Horrorman cheerfully informs us that he is a "back stabber and a liar" like it's just another fun personality quirk.
The thing is, nobody ever calls Horrorman out on this. He might co-pilot one of Baikinman's doomsday machines, he might even get punched out by Anpanman himself for it, but everybody still welcomes another visit from him each and every single time. Everybody loves him and forgives him unconditionally, for no particular reason that has ever been justified besides the fact that he's just nice, I guess. He loves everybody, so everybody loves him back.
The main reason Horrorman hangs out so much with Baikinman is really just so he can be closer to Dokinchan, being the only non-Baikin character who's ever had the hots for her. With no concept of personal space and no concept of rejection, he spends almost every day of his undeath following her around, doing her chores, cooking her meals, showering her with gifts, showing off anything he can come up with to impress her and sometimes even scheming against his perceived romantic rival, Shokupanman, as if that guy didn't have enough problems already.
There was even that time Horrorman impersonated Shokupanman just to vandalize homes, steal toys and ruin his good name, successfully fooling everybody with a little makeup and a bread crust painted down the sides of his skull. I did mention that everybody in this setting is dumb as a brick, didn't I?
None of this is psychologically healthy behavior, obviously, and you should always accept the first "no" you get from anybody you come on to, but if you've read our review of Dokinchan, then you know she needs to hear that even more than Horrorman does. He's sure as hell never kidnapped her, injured her or tried to slip her a love potion like she's done to White Bread Man. I'd say it's only karmic that she has a randy dead guy breathing down her neck all the time, but it's not even that, because she takes so much advantage of Horrorman's affection that he's practically become her unpaid live-in maid. He technically even has a home of his own - Skeleton Island, so named because exactly this one skeleton is supposed to live there - but he's now been living almost 24/7 at Baikin Castle for years, doing pretty much all of their housework and assisting in any villainous scheme in any way they ask.
...Everybody else still likes him, though.
The only major question left, and it's a question admittedly raised by almost everything in this show, is where did he come from? Even Horrorman doesn't remember who he was before he was alive, and there are even two contradictory ways in which he debuted in the series itself. In his first television episode, Baikinman and Dokinchan just sort of found him lying around in Skeleton Island's giant, skull-shaped cave, but there's a movie from around the same time in which Horrorman is the personal mentor to a baby dragon for whatever reason, and everybody acts as if that's the first time they've all met.
In a Christmas special, we also had a brief scene of an underground "ghost town" inhabited by all manner of spooky creatures, and Horrorman was just kind of already there. How many different places can one guy hang out?!
In yet another movie special, another animate skeleton named Horahorako claims to be Horrorman's long-lost daughter and spins a story that her "father" was once a human prince whose heart was broken by a mermaid. She turns out to be a total liar, so she'd be a chip off the old block if it were true, but it turns out she's just a totally unrelated child's corpse that is, for some reason, considered the princess of an undersea kingdom inhabited mainly by seashell people. No, we don't ever learn any more about this or ever see her again, but I guess it's safe to assume that Horrorman and Horahorako probably aren't the only undead human skeletons around Anpanman's world, and I guess the only explanation we can deduce for now is that, like Anpanman and many other characters, they must have been hit by those magical stars of life.
Alternatively, and this is an idea first proposed by my spouse, we have actually never seen a single living being die in this entire series or even mention of anything dying besides Horrorman and a few other ghostly figures, who all presumably met their end well before the show began. So, what if, just what if, Horrorman was actually once a shinigami, i.e. a "grim reaper," but lost all of his memories during that long period of time when the Earth was devoid of all life? Did we talk about that yet? I think we did. It was literally stated in an episode that the Earth was one completely lifeless desert before the stars of life revived it, and maybe they weren't really supposed to or expected to, so the natural forces of death are still taking an extended retirement, of sorts.
And rifling through a creepy space alien's clothes when she's not looking.