(Vaga)Bem! Bem! Boom!!!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Noooo… it’s BEM!!! *cue snazzy upbeat jazzy tune* Ahahaha… Welllllll, as a countdown to Kame’s newest drama, Second Love that’s about to air this Friday, I decide to post this. Well, actually, that is not the whole true reason, for the real truth is that this post has been rotten long enough (like monthssss) in my draft and knocking my computer screen with it’s grubby paws while saying, “post me, you dumba$$!!!” Lol… Heh, whatever the reason is, in the end all I can say is that I never thought that nowadays I would watch a tokusatsu dorama. Again. I may love this genre back then; when I was a ninny kid, since my favourite was Minami Kotaro. Yes, I watched that sodding Kamen Rider Black and I can rehearse his (dubbed) dialogue lines in a snap. Ahaha… what a good times indeed back then… *sniffle* But now, I have a whole different kind of “obligation” and “motivation” to watch this kind of drama, as I did it to check the box of the Kame’s drama completion list. (Remember? Me? Completist? Ring a bell?) Anyway, at first I was making a certain condition for myself that I shall watch all Kame’s drama except Sapuri and Youkai Ningen Bem, cos I thought that both of these are crappy. And Sapuri proved me absolutely right-o (read my two parters rant here and here) But this drama is surprisingly… good; not to shabby, if I’m not exaggerating. Despite the cloddish execution of Bem’s unrealistically high standard of morality, or a repetitive-episodic format of villainy acts evilly-Bem and the gang save the day-debacle over and over again, this drama manage to get me as a viewer hooked until the very end of the final episode. And now Imma talk a lil bit about it, since y’know, I’d already watched it. Hahaha…
(Spoilert: Slippery slimy sticky greeny mucusy. Better watch your steps, kiddo! Lol…)
Okay, it won’t be fair if I’m not telling you the storyline first. Youkai Ningen Bem (YNB) tells a story about three humanoid man-made critters, Bem (Kame), Bela (Anne), and Belo (Suzuki Fuku) who was created from a slimy jelly green single cell by a scientist Ogata Shinsaku (I dunno what his real name is, all I know is that he’s Hiroki’s papa in Soredemo Ikite Yuku, heheh…). On the exterior, they all look like a normal human being, but when they become schmaltzy or have an over-emotional moment such as too sad or too angry, they will cracked their skins out and turn into their real forms, which are creepy uglay monsters. And it makes them feel devastated over themselves because they’ve been longing their hearts out to be real human beings, but turns out they’re just a bunch of ‘defective products’.One day, after some incident, they wake up in an empty foggy forest, half naked, and they can’t remember wut da heck had happening to them
(but they definitely did not get mugged, lmao…) cos they got this episodic amnesia. Since then they begin to travel from place to place; looking for their creator with just a piece of ragged old newspaper article as the sole clue.
But these three are not vicious monstery as their real forms like, for they are kind-hearted and avid justice devotees; so they always eager to help people in hard times and difficulties. At first, they were welcomed and accepted with warm hospitality, but once people knew the REAL FACE (ahaha…) of Bem and the gang, they ostracize and repudiate them right away; with all torch and rocks and bunch of angry mobs.So that is why Bem, Bela and Belo live their lives in nomaden for years and yeaaaaarsss bcos they’re also synthetically immortal. And by the time being, Bela starts to lose her hope towards humanity; but Bem is KEEPing THE FAITH (lol…again) and keeps helping people, cos he doesn’t want to be just a heartless monster who’s living his life without doing any good deeds.
Move on to the present year. On a fateful day, they arrive in one small town, still looking for a clue, while aiming to live their lives quietly under the radar. But turns out there are series of criminal events with a string of similar symptom that keeps happening there, which makes their justful hearts can’t stay still and do nothing. So, again, they keep helping the police to solve the crimes one by one. (Seriously, they should be named Vini, Vidi, Vici, instead of Bem, Bela, Belo, cos that’s what they always do; they come and see something criminal happening, and they conquer the culprit with their monstrous growl and terroryyy attitude. Lol…). They do all this crime sweeping-heroic act secretly without anyone notice. But surprisingly, all this event leads them closer and closer to the revelation on how to become a real human and also their fugitive creator’s whereabouts.Well, we can say that YNB is just as same as every other tokusatsu drama series; which is a family friendly kind of show. Every episode always riding on a same structure: One guest star acts as common citizen with dark past and baggage; he/she does benignly harmful criminal act, meets Ogata and gets possesed by a (CG) green slime, turning their crimes into an atrocious act, meet Bem and the gang who turn into monsters, having a Casper moment (y’know the “Aaaaargh!!! Ghost!!!” thingy, but instead they were like “Gyaaaaaa!!! Bakemono!!!” which makes me LOL-ing hard every. single. time) and in the end they got caught by the police posse, regain their consciousness, but having amnesia over what they had done. “Woooow, that means this show is such a boring watch then…” Wowowowoooo… hold your sarcastic thought, peeps, cos this drama is not sucks like what you think it is, for it ALSO has the extra sprinkles. If Peter Parker has Mary Jane, Clark Kent has Lois Lane, and Tony Stark has Pepper Potts; then Bem, our hero bakemono, has his own heroine; a damsel in distress, or should I say, a bodach in distress (lol), for he is scruffy, mussed up chocolate eater detective with traumatic past and (another) heavy emotional baggage, named Natsume Akinori (Kitamura Kazuki).At first, Natsume didn’t know that Bem, Bela and Belo are trio monsters that have become the town’s terror. All he knows that those three are a quirky family with medieval fashion taste. So Natsume likes to invite Bem & co. for dinner with his happy poster family (in which their interactions are very cute and pleasant to watch).And that is also why Natsume likes to remind Bem–who loves to do a vigilance night patrol–to watch out! for his safety by saying stuff such as “be careful, there’s monster out there!!!” which indicating that he cares toward his new ‘family’ friend, but it secretly hurts Bem’s kokoro cos Natsume addresses them as ‘bakemono’, which is a harsh word for youkais like Bem, Bela and Belo.
But when Natsume comes to know about the true nature of Bem and the gang, he’s scared his pants out and having a hard time contemplating about whether or not he needs to confront them about it. But later on he can really solve and deal with all of it and be friends with them sincerely. He even said to Bem, Bela and Belo that their kindness and righteousness make them more ‘human’ than he himself and anyone, and he will try his best to protect them with all his might; which makes Bem, Bela, and Belo feel deeply moved (and skin cracking, lol…) by Natsume’s words cos it’s indicating that he has accepted them for who they really are.
Aside from Natsume; Bem, Bela, and Belo–seriously, typing these three names over and over again is downright exhausting, heheh…–are also befriended with Natsume’s uncle; a professor named Hiroyasu, whose come to be associated with them cos he coincidentally owns the same human bone cane like Bem. He lives with a housekeeper named Hidemi and a granddaughter; a broody, jaded, and poetically insightful high school student named Koharu (Ishibasi Anna), who later become good pals with Bela. And later it’s reveal that Hiroyasu is Ogata Shinsaku’s descendant, which makes Bem, Bela, and Belo–*pant* *pant* EXHAUSTED!!!–sure that they have walked on the right path in finding out about the truth.There’s a strong attachment and high sense of belonging that grows deep inside Bem, Bela, and Belo towards Natsume and his big family, which makes Bem, Belo, and even Bela couldn’t look pass or ignore every time Natsume has his hard times or one of his family members gets into a trouble, no matter how trifling the problems are. For example, on the fifth episode, Yui lost her hair tie which is a birthday present from her dad, Natsume. Since her hair tie has charms of her name’s alphabets, she lost the “I” letter in the park. Belo, who knows about it, asks Bem and Bela to help him find it. And so, these three are looking for that one little cube-shaped charm all day and all night.and in the end they indeed found and returned it to Yui. And it makes Natsume realizes that Bem, Bela, and Belo are indeed good guys and he just misunderstands them based on his prejudice towards their outward appearances and presence at every crime scene. Also on the tenth episode, where professor lost his monkey pet, Eitaro; Bem & co. search for it by canvassing through the neighbourhood. They even also help professor to build the monkey house for Eitaro, in case that escapee pet is coming back.All this thing clearly just a petty and trivial matters compare to the quotidian crimes that Bem, Bela, and Belo have to fight to everyday, but when they do and get through all of it together, it makes the bond between these two different ilks blended into one heart-warming family friendship.
If we can put aside the monotone-episodic format and crappy prosthetic make up technique (to which I can describe by quoting Maggie Prescott: “D for down. D for dreary. D for dull and for depressing, dismal and deadly!” Lol…) This drama always presents a good subplot storyline of each guest star villain on every episode. Each of them has their own back-story, but if I have to pick my favourite episodes, it’ll definitely the fourth and seventh, where the crimes are more involving personally; either with Bem, Bela, and Belo, or with Natsume. On the fourth episode, there is a case of arson where the culprit is a lonely spinster who works as treasurer in a company. That’s why she has this psychological issue of her hands have distinct reeks smell of money print cos she holds and counts them all day long, and the smell won’t go away even though she washes and wipes her hands over and over again. So the only self-assuring thing that she can do to calm her nerves and distract her from the ‘reeks’ is inhaling fire smokes that appear from things that she burns; either it’s the other people garbage, yard’s plants, or even an apartment room. But one day, she meets Belo, who is walking around at night in sadness due to having a lil misunderstanding with Bem and Bela. And she helps that chibi chap from night patrol police who tries to take him to the post by pretending to be his mom. And since then a sweet lil bond has created between Belo and her, whom Belo called ‘oba-chan’ or auntie, and when Belo has a big bicker with Bela, he moves out from the ship-house to live with her. She considers Belo as her own son that she never had and she’s happy to shop and cook dinner for him when she gets home after work.At one point, I almost think that this case could be different from prior episodes, cos this oba-chan is at an initial process of turning a new leaf into becoming a better person. But, buuuuuuut…urgh… that sly wrinkled Ogata must show up and also transferring his jell-o green bile to her, which in the end makes her become no different than any other cases and it simply makes me angraaaaay!!! GAAAH!!! *kicking in tantrum* And to make matter worse, not only she became wicked, she also wants to kill sweet little Belo-in a shape of monster-who has been such a good companion to her lonely daily life, by trying to whack his head with a giant shovel. Uwaaarghhh!!! *spitting fire* whyyyy it couldn’t be one case where everyone ends happy?!?! WHY??? Durrrr… *self destruct*
My other favorite case is on the seventh episode, which involves a low life chinpira named Kohei (Go! Ayano Go! Lol…) who was saved by nosy Bem in the middle of a fight with bunch of thugs (Peanote: you should see how Bem fight these bunch of hoodlums, for he did it with swag, and a lil KAT-TUN shimmy-swaaay movement in an act of stick spanking, which is soooo lololol…end of Peanote)And it makes Kohei goes all “aniki” towards Bem, and he even wants to follow Bem to his place and become his disciple, which makes Bem goes awkward and confuse on how to deal with his sudden aficionado. But then, Natsume lends a helping hand by asking Kohei to stay overnight at his family house instead.Unexpectedly, Kohei’s presence in Natsume’s household somehow brings the same vibe as Natsume’s eldest son, Makoto, who had died due to building explosion five years ago. But turns out, on the next morning, Kohei had conned them all, for he is taking the entire money in Yui, Natsume’s daughter, piggybank and also in Natsume’s wifey’s wallet. It makes Bem feels guilty by making Kohei stays in his BBF’s house, and angry for this delinquency act. So he tracks down Kohei, only to later finds out that Kohei is just a lonely lad who hold a grudge towards his a**hole daddy, and he also lost his mom on the same explosion incident with Makoto. And Kohei has this trust issue because of the betrayal that his father had done to him and his deceased mom by leaved them behind back then.
When Kohei’s father betrays him again for the second time by pretending to act remorseful, Kohei is once again feels broken and disappointed. That’s when grandpop Ogata shows up (again) and possesses him into wanting to kill his dad blindedly and atrociously like a rabid dog. But when Bem finally got him in bakemono mode–gee golly, Ayano Go monster shocked reaction should get an award cos his scaredy expression looks like he just piss in his pants; it’s soooo damn hilarious. Lmao…–Kohei was caught and interrogated by Natsume, who then cheers him up and assuringly says to Kohei that he must come by to his house for a family dinner when he gets out later. At that point, I am so touched by Natsume’s kindness and how he treated the bitter Kohei as if Kohei is his prodigal son, who makes Kohei try to act indifferent about it, but actually he’s on the brink of tears; feeling grateful towards Natsume.And now let us do the talking about these trio heroics. First we got Bem, or Bemu as they say in the drama which somehow rhymes and reminds me a lot with Shamu. Lol. Bem is a guy errr… I mean, critter, who is socially awkward, taciturn, and wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Heheh… He keeps getting disappointed by human, but yet at the same time, he wants to keep his hope and trust towards them, and not losing his own humanity as well; cos he always thinks that if he stops helping people, it makes him no difference than a monster which he actually is. Goodie Geordie… Bem deserves one Nobel Peace Prize for his 24k solid gold heart. Standing ovation for you, brother Bem… *clap clap clap*–That is why Bem keeps helping people secretly which always ends in a case close-solven crime, and Bem, hiding in the blind spot, saying to Bela and Belo in a trembling low-bass voice, “ikoooo…~” and POOF!!! they’re gone to another place. Same old, same old. Other things that stand out from Bem are his nosiness and stalkery-trait (lol) Dang good giddy, he always snooping people around, and sometimes he knocks his SOS echo stick to a solid ground in order to find voice of helpless people in desperation–there’s even one point where he knocks it on an electricity pole in the neighborhood street on a bright morning day, which makes him looks like a town nutcase, hahaha…—
Bem also often stalks and watches people from a far higher ground like a roof, or a hill, which makes me wonder why he never got bored doing all that crappy creepy thing. lolzzz… But when Bem meets Natsume and has a chance to feel Natsume and family’s warm and kindness towards him, Bela, and Belo, it makes him wants to become a human more and more.All I can say for Kame is that he managed to pull this role purrrr-fectly; not only by his gesture and his voice, but also by his eyes’ expression. I mean, as Bem, the humanoid who can cracked up, literally, if he gets too emotional, he has to be able to restrain the overbearing emotion, but yet at the same time, he has to show some, so his character wasn’t looked cardboard-cutoutly. And it means Kame practically must smolder his fricken eyelinered eyes out for the entire ten episodes.
But his keeky expression is indeed work, cos as a viewer, we can truly understand what emotion he has bottled up inside through his gaze, whether is sad, happy, or angsty. Can you imagine if Bem’s role was played by the dead fish-eyed Yamapi and his infamous GLARE? This drama will be having a trivia at every end of the episode with the same question: What emotion does Bem had shown today? A. Angry? B. Sappy? Or C. Constipated? Text your answer right now and you’ll get a pair of Bem’s prosthetic horns for FREE!!! signed sealed, and delivered at your front door!!! Ahahahaha… So, Kame, bless youuuuu, and your squizzy pensive smoldaaah! Lulz…The friendship between Bem and Natsume is also one of the “it” factors in this drama, for they are two polar opposites, but complete each other’s gap, as Bem is cold-exterior and introvert, while Natsume is friendly and outgoing. And their friendship is built on a sincere genuine base, that they willing to sacrifice their lives for each other. Like on the fifth episode, when Bem was about to get shot by culprit of the day, Yutaka (Saito Takumi), Natsume quickly stands in front of Bem, covering Bem with his own body; which surprised Bem and make him feels touched at that moment, cos Natsume was the first human that would ever do such protective act for youkai like him.While Bem sacrificial act for Natsume appears on the eighth episode, where Natsume, who’s at the brink of despair and frustration, is having an on-the-verge moment of shooting the real explosion culprit that had killed Makoto. At that time, Bem who watches it all, unable to let Natsume crosses to the evil side, so he says that instead of Natsume is the one that kills the culprit and becomes an evil, he will turn into his usual bakemono form and do that ‘dirty work’. But in the end, Natsume regains his conscience and stops Bem right away from doing it for him. Let’s be honest here, there’s definitely a sparxxx of chemistry between Bem and Natsume cos for the love of Kame’s faux leather pants, the way they stare at each other is soooo affectionate and screams b-b-br-bromance!!! to me. Like seriously, if Natsume is a single old lad, we’re definitely have our OTP here, my nuggets!!! Mwahahaha… *evil laugh* Oh-am-zaaayyyy… me are so bonkerzzzz…lololol
Next we have Bela. Bela is stand-offish, spunky, and indifferent, but at the same time, she’s affectionate and caring, although she tends not to show it away since she has such a high pride.Bela was skeptical towards Natsume and family at first, since she thought that they’re just the same as other people she has encountered before. And later, she even often has clash and bicker with Koharu, whom she thought as an annoying snob girl who acts exclusive but playing herself as a victim. But, as time passes, she grows to care towards these people. Moreover, by knowing them, she grows to value Bem and Belo more as her only family by doing what any human beings do to show the storge love.Example on the fourth episode, where Bela was invited by Hidemi to make gyoza with Koharu, Yui and Yui’s mom. Since Bela can’t cook—for Bem, Bela, and Belo only eat plants and herbs, which makes them like fricken herbivore goat/sheep–She gets frustrated easily and wondering why in the world they would do such difficult thing like stuffing gyoza in different toppings, just for somebody who’s not even in the same place with them right at that time. And when they answered her that this is one of the acts to show care and affection, it makes Bela reflecting to herself on how she has treated Bem and Belo all this time. And in the end, she tries her a** off to make it and she finally manages to succeed, despite the unappetizing appearance.If Bem and Natsume has bromance that only happen in your imagination (or fanfic, lol…) then Bela is the only character in the drama that has love interest, even though it’s just for an episode, and it’s only with a scraggly-sleep deprived looking guy. Heheh… But truth be told, Bela is the coolest chick in love eveeer!!! Cos, even though she has these butterflies every time she gets near the guy, Ookubo (Tanaka Tetsushi), she can show her feelings without any nervousness.But sadly, in the end Ookubo was possessed as well, and she whacks Bela in rage and hatred, that sends her straight into the broken-heart ville. And worse, the truth was revealed later on, that Ookubo was involved in the building explosion that had killed Makoto five years ago. But fortunately, on the up-side, Bela doesn’t let her own feeling clouds her judgement to what’s supposed to be right.
Aside from her instant platonic love story, Bela also builds a friendship with Koharu, who at the beginning resents Bela very much-o. And turns out there’s a good reason why Koharu becomes such a jaded chic, cos she feels like she was abandoned by her parents who work overseas, and also by her classmates, who likes to talk behind her back, and bullying her later on. That’s when Bela steps in and pointing out Koharu’s fault for being bitter without any effort to change herself first.And even though Koharu keeps pushing Bela away from her life, Bela persistently gets Koharu’s back, just because –as quoted– “When I like something, I will be serious about it”. I gotta say that this role fits Anne appearance personality. She looks tough, acts tough, and her Bela’s accent is distinctively memorable. Not to mention she’s a long-limbed lass either, with high-heeled lace combat boots, which makes her has this model-like appearance and sends Kame away in a degrading puraido as a pint sized Johnny. Gee golly, Kame why in the world you always get this sky high tall chick as your co-stars? Bet you feel all that regret of why you had chosen to hold a baseball bat instead of…shooting the hoops in your good ol’ young’un days, huh?! Lololol…And now we’re gonna talk about Belo, the bubbly playful youngest chap in the entourage, who has peter pan syndrome, for he never grows up and stays as a kid as like foreverrrr. Belo always becomes the ice breaker between the reserved Bem and the broody Bela, cos without Belo around, both of these people will die in boredom towards each other–and the aftermath of Belo’s leaving scene on the fourth episode, where Bem and Bela are trying to make a good conversation about weather is just so dang awkward and hilarious. Lol…–Belo’s easy going trait also allowing him to be friends with Natsume’s daughter, Yui. And the way they interact is very cute and natural. Belo may be stronger physically and mentally than any other kids, but in the end he’s just an ordinary child who always needs affection and parental love after all. That’s why he considers Bem and Bela like his parents. The fourth episode explains everything about Belo thoroughly, either with the main debacle of having the oba-chan as a mother figure that he’d never had, or by simply putting metaphoric event of happening at the park. At a park, Belo is looking for a flowers to put at Oba-chan apartment cos he wants to cheer her up after hectic day of work.But what he doesn’t know is that Bem the stalker has followed him and hiding behind a tree, which makes him looks like a predator on a hunt. Lol. And Bem watches as one kid who’s playing fall to the ground and cry, which makes the father comes to pick him up right away. But not so long after that, Belo who sees flowers from a far, accidentally trips and fall to the ground as well. But what makes the difference is that he’s strong enough not to cry and to get up by himself right away.But then, Belo shows his pure naivety by trying to fit the flowers in some plastic cup, that makes Bem secretly throws a perfectly fit empty milk bottle to Belo. And Belo is happy as a clam when he “discovered” that bottle. Man, I feel weepy towards this whole scene… *sniffle*Acting wise, this kid, Suzuki Fuku is so dang adorably good. He can act so natural despite being only seven years old by the time this drama was made. Even though starting around the middle of the drama he wears some kind of braces or retainer that clearly decreases his comprehensive talk ability. However, he’s still as cute as a button.The last couple episodes of the drama brings out a plot twist of the truth about what really had happened between Ogata and Bem, Bela, Belo back then. And I must say that the way this drama executed the whole thing is very neat and make sense, cos in my opinion, the ending barely leaves plot hole that will make the viewers questioning things. Although the final final end of the drama is not something that we always hope for, but I think, it’s the most rational ending that could ever be made. I bet you wanna know the ending, huh? Well… you gotta watch it yourself, cos this time I’m not gonna tell you. Mwahahaha!!! *evil laugh* But I think, you can already guess it by the time you read this.All in all, Yokai Ningen Bem is a one well-made heroic drama. It may be a bit formulaic and didactic with high morality idealism, but yet at the same time, this drama brings a heart-warming feeling of a genuine inter-human bond and relationship that you can’t help but to feel connected with each and every main character. And if you love tokusatsu drama kind of genre, then Yokai Ningen Bem is a must-o watch-o for you yo! Hahaha… Peace out, justice league!
Final Score: 75/100