I Got My Wife to Watch Anime With Me Again. Unfortunately, it’s Beelzebub

 

beelzebub 01 oga & baby beel

We are too harsh on mediocrity sometimes, I feel. Just because we can identify strongly with certain works of excellence (as I do with titles such as Cowboy Bebop, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Berserk, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt and Macross 7¹) we simplistically expect that every show that comes out conforms to this “standard” of ours, or at least be so radically different to give us a novel experience (and yet remain very “Japanese” – since you know, it’s anime).

When we do enjoy shows that do not meet even our own standards of excellence, such as they are, we perform all these philosophical workarounds justifying our actions. The bolder ones argue that the show their watching is actually good (it’s because I am watching this, my taste is impeccable; the show must be good); while an example I often make fun of is calling some of these shows “guilty” pleasures. A confession, an admission – that sometimes we enjoy something less than excellent.

Bullshit. We are not as averse to mediocrity as we say we are.

Beelzebub, the anime is good for a few laughs but I don’t think the show is good at all. But I like it anyway. And yes, I get to watch anime with my wife again. Let’s talk about this devil.

Buster Beam Slash vs Beelzebub

No, We Can’t Relate to Oga & This Show as a Whole Because Our Baby Doesn’t Have a Penis.

I first thought the laughs will come from us seeing ourselves (or our kid) in the situations Oga is in. Nope. Beelzebub is adapted from an ongoing Shonen Jump manga. Readers of Jump are primarily children, adolescents, and post-adolescents. I don’t imagine that these readers are raising babies currently because I’m almost certain that I heard from a number of anime references that Japan has a negative birth rate.

So no, the situations involving Baby Beelzebub and his “family” are quite absurd. Sure, putting a baby to sleep is tough (next to impossible for me personally). Sure, pacifying a baby is hard work. But the laughs don’t really come from Oga’s failures in baby-raising. They come from the shonen tropes: how easy it is for him to just pwn everyone; how Furuichi is obviously obsessed with Hildegard’s boobs; the lame homosexual jokes; the Demon Overlord starting a 10,000-year mah jong game; and the Cromartie High School kind of setting.

image

My wife and I laugh out loud at the gags related to these sometimes.

At my most generous, I think the clumsy irony of the show camps on the borderlands of compelling:

Oga’s Success as a Father to Beelzebub, Marks His Maturity and Growth. We Like This. It is Heartwarming. It Also Marks The End of Our World and the Triumph of the Devil.

I’m not too worried. I suspect the manga is too successful for the world to end via significant character development. If it suffers a significant dip in popularity, I suppose all hell will threaten us in the story.

So if the entertainment value is really some lukewarm set of over-the-top shonen tropes (unless you are particularly entertained by seeing a baby’s animated penis and testicles the whole time – it shoots jets of life-giving pee as well), it really isn’t good is it? It isn’t bad, which leaves me this opinion that the show is a mediocrity; nothing to get too worked up about.

beelzebub 04 high pressure pee

You’ll get your laughs, maybe fewer and further in-between than those from a similarly mediocre show from last season: Invasion! Squid-Girl! I dropped that show, despite finding it funny in places. I probably won’t drop this one because my wife likes it and I love watching shows with her. I just need to really get the wisdom in acknowledging that not every show this season can be Star Driver… and that Fractale can still be enjoyed even if it’s already crushed by the weight of expectations its ambition clumsily tried to carry.

¹Okay, I lied. Only Macross 7 is truly excellent in this list.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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42 Responses to I Got My Wife to Watch Anime With Me Again. Unfortunately, it’s Beelzebub

  1. Kabitzin says:

    I have a little boy and I didn’t think Beelzebub was funny either. I wouldn’t even say it is one of the better shounen series, to be honest.

    • kadian1364 says:

      I can do you guys one better: #sccsav tried watching one episode of this to a drinking game when the OniKoto subs were late, and even copious amounts of alcohol and giggling friends couldn’t make this show very entertaining.

    • Yep. While we do get a share of laughs, I don’t think the show is funny in a general sense — which is important because the show plays things for laughs.

  2. Mentar says:

    It’s sad what Pierrot has been doing with the (IMHO really funny) manga. Putting the emphasis on all the wrong things. Meh.

    • I’m not well-educated when it comes to studios and their work, but you imply that Pierrot’s past fare is excellent, and lately it’s been mediocre.

      Excellence is difficult to maintain.

      Mediocrity is no great tragedy, I think.

  3. I’ve been watching the show with my 13yo brother and he loves it to pieces, so it’s been pretty fun to watch, even though I probably wouldn’t have gone too far with it on my own. When it comes to comedies, I usually prefer to marathon them in one sitting because I don’t care enough about the story or character to carry my interest over longer periods. I also usually marathon comedies with friends, most especially no name because we have the exact same sense of humor. So suffice it to say, if there was a chance of me watching Beelzebub, there wasn’t that I’d watch it weekly if it weren’t fun to watch it with my brother. And even then, I’ve stalled after episode three, and if this turns out like Ikamusume, then he’ll get tired of waiting for me and finish on his own.

    Re: the idea of mediocrity, I’m surprised you didn’t mention the fact that also must be kept in mind, that we’re talking about personal mediocrity. It’s obviously mediocre to me and you, but to my brother for instance, this is his favorite kind of show.

    I think I’ve probably given up on following the current season already (when I reach the point that I start marathoning older shows is when I can usually tell, and I just marathoned Umineko), but I seriously want to finish Star Driver while it’s airing. It may just be the most fun I’ve had with weekly watching during an airing show.

    • It should be obvious to you that this post is a kind of lame joke — while the opinion here is authentic, the idea is to do a kind of post that I consider to be mediocre: an anime review (inclusive of trollish, off-hand statements about what shows are great and what shows suck; as well as being a review of show that isn’t even finished!).

      If it isn’t obvious, then the post is a victim of its own conceit. I went overboard with the meta mayhaps.

  4. Reiseng says:

    I love the Beelzebub manga, but I suppose the anime does kinda suck, but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t been following it.
    I have made note of the fact that people take things way too seriously. Yes, some things are great because they are artsy, or they teach us an important lesson, but that isn’t always necessary for enjoyment.
    In the end, it doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy what you are watching, even if you only enjoy it under certain circumstances.

    • My wife thinks that the anime is far more enjoyable, but since I haven’t read it, I don’t have my own opinion.

      “…even if you only enjoy it under certain circumstances.”

      This, is one of the keys to a happy life I think.

  5. adaywithoutme says:

    Mediocrity is totally awesome. I don’t know why so many feel a need to justify it – I absolutely LOVED Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora (Shattered Angels), and that thing was complete crap. AND I AM PROUD OF HAVING LIKED IT. CRAP, FUCK YEAH!

    I think a lot of people would feel a lot better if they just stopped being so uptight and let themselves just be taken along for the ride of crappy shows. Smile, smile~

    • Day!

      Mediocre isn’t complete crap! It’s incomplete crap. It’s also incomplete good.

      Crappy shows can be awesome in an AWESOME way (caps merited). Mediocre shows have good parts, bad parts, maybe a big moment or three, but is rather uninteresting by and large.

      Macross 7 is my favorite sequel in the franchise. That show has a shit ton (or seven) of crap in it. Ask EO. Ask Shinmaru. But fuck it. The show rules.

      It’s like the difference between Gundam F91 and V Gundam. The former is mediocre (looks great, shitty otherwise), the latter looks terrible but appeals to some people in a powerful way (I personally think V stinks).

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Victory Gundam appeals to my inner masochist. Telling other people it makes for a great viewing appeals to my inner sadist.

        I probably fail at appreciating the mediocre, then. I dropped Squid Girl, Star Driver, and Beelzebub ^^; Then again, once upon a time I endured fifteen episodes of Cluster Edge, which was literally one of the dullest shows I’ve ever watched.

  6. Ryan A says:

    Couldn’t agree more on not being averse to mediocrity. Some of the things I enjoy most (lately Shounen Jump, not very high production values, Gintama), I don’t consider that great (Minami-ke trilogy, if it can be called that) but they aren’t really wastes of time unless you’re hard on yourself about watching anything but “the best”… very silly.

    This sort of feel like Lawson’s Give Anime a Chance. 🙂

    • Just to make it clear, I am not endorsing Beelzebub, as Lawson seems to do for the shows he talks about. This post is more confessional than it is a review when it comes down to it (also, read my response to digiboy as to why I think this post fails).

      Otherwise, I’m with ya.

  7. otou-san says:

    I guess I’m just lucky that I’m watching Star Driver with my wife. :3 we tend to watch the good stuff.

    Maybe I’m just trying to keep up the illusion that there isn’t any mediocrity at all in anime…

  8. Jack says:

    I don’t have much time in my life for mediocrity. Something either has to be fantastically good or spectacularly bad.

    • …and what are these shows from the current and recent seasons?

      • Jack says:

        In terms of good shows, Wandering Son, Kuragehime (apart from it’s truncated ending), Panty&Stocking and the Black Lagoon OAV’s. It’s a small list from the last couple of seasons, that’s for sure.

        Actually, I don’t watch really bad shows from the current anime seasons because they tend to revolve around harems or little girls. I was thinking of “bad” anime from the 80’s and 90’s which are at least pretty to look at it.

        • Got it. A bunch of fools come together every weekend over Skype and get smashed drunk while watching whatever that onni-chan show’s name is. I can’t be bothered to pick that show up, though I ended up drinking with them one time.

  9. Myssa Rei says:

    Beelzebub is one of the shounen titles I follow semi-regularly, but I’ve found the anime adaptation seemingly devoid of the stupid charm that the manga has. Then again, I could also say the same about The World God Only Knows anime, which had some odd directing decisions (Keima blushing to girls so early in the story, for example, whereas in the manga this only started to happen after a certain arc late into the plot).

    And gosh, why the dislike for Nessa? I don’t think she’s annoying, but her bubbly personality does contrast with everyone else (and indeed, the world setting’s tone at times!).

    • Nessa the character as concept is fine, I think (a clever conceit, anyway). However,

      NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA NESSA

      is fucking annoying. The character design annoys me, and a few other things I’d rather mention in a post on Fractale, whenever I actually go write one.

      As for Beelzebub, we sometimes laugh. If my wife is happy watching anime with me, I’ll be happy with mediocrity at this point.

  10. Baka-Raptor says:

    On the flip side, there are plenty supposedly good shows that I don’t like.

    I tend to a like mediocre show if it’s good at one or two things I like while failing at everything else. If a show does everything with mediocrity, I’d probably dislike it.

    • Yes. This is why I can watch all these 4-cour robot shows I’ve lined up in my backlog. The shows will have a few things I’ll really like while being droll or outright terrible in other things.

      Armored Trooper VOTOMs is an example. For all the hype about its being action-packed, the action actually fails because of LOL80s infinite ammo, as well as enemies existing for the sole reason to get shot. But the grim humor and the dark setting overall, plus the badass lead Chirico Cuvie makes for a worthwhile watch overall.

  11. sadakups says:

    Man, you’re daughter looks like if you were a girl. Seriously.

    As for the show, I only have seen the first episode and I admit not getting hooked to it. Though, if anything, I haven’t been watching anime for the last few weeks.

  12. I’ll acknowledge that the show amuses me, but I also sometimes feel like it’s just trying way too hard. I think episode 3 is the prime example of this; I was happy again during episode 4.

    • Oops, need to correct myself here. It’s episode 4 that I felt was trying too hard, and 5 that made me smile again.

    • I think I can see what you mean by it trying too hard, but am unsure. Can you clarify/give examples? (I just don’t want to nod my head without being sure of what I’m agreeing with just because you sound like you’re agreeing with me hehe).

      • Like…well, I felt like the entirety of episode 4 was the trying too hard. Flooding the world with pee, really? That’s just trying too hard for laughs, going for the fact that a lot of juvenile boys (not trying to be sexist, just going by what I’ve seen) are going to be amused be that variety of joke.

        • …but the show is for juvenile boys! It’s an adaptation of a JUMP manga.

          I don’t think it’s particularly funny myself, but I don’t think it’s objectionable… since I carefully nurture and preserve my inner juvenile boy.

  13. TheBigN says:

    Beelzebub is not consistently funny, but it has it’s moments. The question is whether those moments are enough to justify for yourself why you keep watching it. For me, they are enough.

    And Ikamusume is tons better than Beelzebub in my subjective humor department. 😛

    • I would also perhaps contend that Squidvader is better crafted to produce volume laughs compared to a more straightforward, if absurd comedy like this. The super-episodic/anecdotal method Squidvader used allowed more gags/ep and prevented (as much as it did) my pet peeve AzuDai syndrome: that is, lingering waaay too long after the joke has gone stale already.

  14. What the hell?! I expecting a post about your wife’s love for Galactic Pretty Boys & I get devil baby penis shounen anime? The mere presence of this post makes me laugh. I will say that I’m very happy you two get to enjoy something together. I have enough Shounen Jump material on my plate. I’m actually quite glad my significant other is more into Star Driver, Gosick and Madoka Magica right now.

    I’m not gonna make a comment on your Squidgirl statement. I’m sure you’ve gotten enough of those already from the rest of the Squid Army. >:-(

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