Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Let's finally talk about BAIKINMAN
Today, we're going to be looking at a franchise I've been meaning to write about in more detail for at least the last seven to ten years, and while this series may look a little cheerful to be one of our Halloween monster reviews, it should be quickly apparent how well it fits in here on Bogleech; especially alongside some of the other things we've reviewed this season.
The world of Soreike! Anpanman needs no introduction if you live in or have spent any significant amount of time in Japan, but for those forced by the cold talons of fate to grow up in an Anpanmanless wasteland, Anpanman is a beloved and wildly successful children's superhero whose head is a big fat roll of anpan - bread filled with red bean paste - which he tears off in chunks and feeds to people in need.
THIS IS MY FLESH
Sharing his world with countless other food monsters, living toys, fairies, youkai, talking animals, robots and the living dead, Anpanman has been on literally thousands of adventures since his debut as a children's book in 1973, his 1988 animated series still running to this day. And since the very beginning, running on forty years now, one awful little bastard has never stopped trying to make his life a living hell. At least, more of a living hell than having your face eaten on an almost daily basis, though at least Anpanman seems to kind of get off on that.
We're going to let that awful little bastard introduce himself through song, the traditional method of his people (villains).
The moment Anpanman was born in his Uncle Jam's oven, Baikinman fell to Earth in a mysterious egg, born knowing that he had two important purposes: to destroy Anpanman, and to blanket the world in pestilence. Resembling a fly-like imp with nightmarishly large teeth, purple lips that can't even close and a huge, slimy tongue that we've never quite seen the full extent of, his name is literally just a portmanteau of the Japanese equivalent of "germ" and the word "man," so you could just call him "german," but that might get a little confusing. It's important to note that the term "baikin" encompasses not only bacteria, viruses and pathogenic protozoa, but also mold, which you may note is the natural predator of bread.
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While the bean-filled hero lives a life of self-sacrifice in the name of peace, justice, compassion and disturbing vore fantasies, Baikinman does every single thing he can possibly think of to just make people miserable, usually in the hopes of luring Anpanman out for a brawl, but usually also because it's fun and also because his bitterness is never ending. Like any "kiddie show" villain, it's hard not to just feel sorry for his perpetual desperation and failure - even if he's kind of a huge asshole for shits and giggles.
And a master of disguise.
Early in his career, Baikinman's nefarious schemes were often at least somewhat thematic. He's handed out toothbrushes that caused cavities, infested homes with toxic mold and shared various other flavors of contagion and rot with an ignorant public of dumb animals in t-shirts. Mercilessly beaten by Anpanman on every occassion, he quickly branched out into more generalized mayhem and chaos to varying levels of sadism, from gleefully stealing children's candy to, uh, basically just setting people's homes on fire.
Or the multiple times his plan was to glue Anpanman's head to a huge rock. Multiple times. I don't know if it's sadder that he had this idea more than once or sadder that it worked.
See, the one thing making Baikinman's job easier is Anpanman's hilarious levels of vulnerability. Though he normally has strength, speed and flight comparable to Superman, he's only at full power so long as his head remains in absolutely pristine condition. If his Anpan flesh so much as gets wet, he's rendered nearly helpless, so basically Superman if almost everything in the world were laced with kryptonite. On a more serious note, though, this is a pretty amazing concept for any hero, isn't it? The creator deliberately wanted Anpanman to be so vulnerable, he would depend just as much on the people who care about him as vice-versa, in an immediate and tangible way. This show is literally intended for babies and already slightly more tense than the DC universe.
Unfortunately, whatever terrible fate befalls our hero's extremely fragile, squishy, delicious cranium, his bakers invariably get their opportunity to whip him up a new one. When simply hurled in his general direction, his replacement head will knock off his soggy, dirty, half-eaten one, which I can only assume retains enough sentience to slither away and eat bugs forever, and he'll be back to pulverizing sweet, innocent filthy bug people who only ever wanted to burn houses down for fun.
And then there was the time this happened. I'm not even going to explain this. This is the kind of shit Baikinman has to deal with. Can you even blame him for his rage against society? Of course you can't.
Apparently, neither can a lot of the target audience. German even used to despise personal hygiene and wallow in garbage all day, like you might have suspected, but they eventually made a point to show him regularly brushing his teeth, tidying his room and even washing his hands, even though full-blown bathing still shrinks him to the size of a fly, or in his first appearance, turns him completely white. We can safely assume this shift was for the benefit of the many, many Japanese children who wound up idolizing and emulating him at least as much, or more, than his sweet and nutritious rival.
There are even bizarre specials in some alternate universe where he and Anpanman are actually friends, and hang out with actual, human children in the real world, where Baikinman's constant screw-ups offer context for important life lessons. Like when he got lost in a mall and Anpanman had to go pick his ass up and explain child safety to him like his unwilling dad.
Baikinman is even so popular, crude approximations of his beautiful visage have been Japan's go-to personification of disease for decades, like when someone was trying to explain what a "computer virus" was to Ash Ketchum in that seizures episode and he didn't really grasp the concept because he's Ash Ketchum so he thought it must be an actual, literal virus but he also thought an actual, literal virus would be Baikinman. I'm still waiting for an actual pokemon to make this reference. It'd be perfect for another poison/dark type, or even our first bug/dark, like a filthy devilish housefly, right? Why the hell wasn't that Pokemon #666? It could have been a "Beelzebub" reference, too, damn it! DAMN IT. NOW I'M STEAMED! NOW I'M 30 AND STEAMED ABOUT POKEMON. LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME, WORLD. LOOK AT THE MESS YOU CREATED.
There's plenty more to know about this little shit's biology and personality, like how he can only briefly fly with his insect wings, how he may or may not be furry depending on the animator's moods at the time, how all his teeth seem to be individually articulated, his romantic obsession with a talking thermos that didn't even have arms or a humanoid body attached, his other romantic obsession with an anthropomorphic apple or his surprising soft spot for music, but we'll give him a rest for now and explore some of the weird, freaky company he keeps, some of it even crawlier and spookier than the germ man himself.
More anpan fun here!
She also used to be a hundred times scarier and wielded a spear that could make people either shrink or grow, which isn't suggestive at all.
You know, anpanman is kind of a strange series.
The best thing about Horrorman, though, is that he's not really a villain. Despite what we just saw up there, he's as much friends with Anpanman as he is with Baikinman. In fact, Horrorman is everybody's friend. That's even his literal description on the official Anpanman website, just "a skeleton who is everyone's friend." The only reason he lives with Baikinman and ends up helping him in his schemes is that he'll do anything to be near Dokinchan and lavish her with unwanted romantic gestures. Insert "bone zone" joke here. This of course is grossly unhealthy, inexcusable behavior for anybody who is not a fleshless skeleton. Otherwise, who doesn't appreciate a good skeleton or two watching them sleep for hours and rifling through their undergarments?
There's also a beautiful running gag with other characters momentarily seeing Horrorman as he would "really" appear.
Dadandan was given consciousness of its own on at least one occassion, immediately ripping off The Iron Giant by sacrificing himself to stop the world-destroying, apparently sentient Devil Star.
Anpanman is kind of a strange show.
We've never seen exactly where Kabirunrun come from, though. Mushibakinman has been shown throwing up swarms of his own version with his face on them, which is awesome, but there's still no word on how Baikinman makes them. Since we never see where Anpanman's old, discarded heads wind up, I'm going to put forth the possibility that they pollute the environment with super-bread-matter and, in turn, hyper-intelligent macromold. Rev's idea is probably closer to the truth; that they're enlarged versions of Baikinman's own symbiotic flora, the loss of which is what makes him so sick when he gets washed.
Sometimes, they're octopuses.
And these things.
His first appearance!
By now, it should be fairly obvious why I love this jackass and what he's doing in our Halloweentime monster reviews. Baikinman and his friends are ridiculously adorable and even seem like they'd be a lot of fun to hang out with, but that's only when they're not trying to give you smallpox or forcefully devouring the delicious contents of your head. Baikinman was a Spawn of Nurgle before Warhammer was a glimmer in a fantasy geek's eye; a devilish being from space who knows no greater joy than spreading the gift of microbiota whether it's wanted or not.
You can view a couple of the internet's only subtitled episodes on Rev's Veoh. They subbed them themselves!
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