Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > Beelzebub Episodes 1 and 2 – Bringing Up (a Demon) Baby

Beelzebub Episodes 1 and 2 – Bringing Up (a Demon) Baby

We’ve mentioned before that most anime is shown late at night; despite its reputation in America as being primarily for children, most anime series debut at hours when normal children would be in bed. There are exceptions to this, however, with some of the ultra popular shows airing on weekend mornings or afternoons. These are the shows, generally speaking, which are meant for the consumption of children and teenagers, and not the older generations of otaku (who often will watch them anyway).

Beelzebub, which airs at 7 am on Sundays, seems a bit crass for that time slot. It’s a show which involves lots of crass humor, punk high schoolers, violence for the sake of violence, and a diaperless baby who demonstrates at least once an episode why a baby really, really should have a diaper. On second thought, perhaps the show is perfect for children.

Oga naturally has a monstrous looking face, even when trying to look nice to a child. It's one of the things that endears the baby to him

Tatsumi Oga is a 10th grader at Ishiyama High, a school with a 120% delinquency rate (don’t think about that too much). He’s already beaten his way to the top of the school pyramid, which only makes those below more eager to challenge him. It’s while he’s in the process of semi-drowning the latest contender that a man washes up from the side of the river, splits in half to reveal a dimensional gate, and out sprouts a baby who immediately attaches himself to Oga.

Oga promptly realizes that he needs to keep the baby happy; whenever the child cries, an electrical pulse shocks everyone in close vicinity and occasionally blows holes in walls. His life only gets more complicated as the child’s demon maid Hildagard arrives, to teach him the ways of demon parenting.

This is the electrical shock the baby generates whenever he cries. Get used to seeing it

Supposedly the fate of the world rides on Oga’s work, as the baby is Beelzebub IV, sent to Earth by his father the demon lord to eliminate humanity. Rather foolishly, the demon lord ordered his son to be entrusted to an earthly “father” that will raise him up to be the brutal destroyer of worlds he should be. Oga, therefore, must actually raise the child to find enough to like about the world not to destroy it.

Of course, the show doesn’t extend its interest that far; what we have now is a demon baby, and the show is going to milk the comedic potential of that for all that it is worth. Unfortunately, it’s not even worth two episodes of solid entertainment. This show is the definition of a one trick pony.

There's an early gag where the demon lord winds up being too booked with social events to carry out his plans to destroy the world himself. His "banality of evil" schtick isn't bad, but I suspect like everything else about the show the gag will eventually be driven into the ground

I can basically summarize both episodes as: Oga fights people while trying to keep the child happy, always succeeding at the first task while failing at the second. Admittedly, watching Oga’s carelessness anger the baby and get himself shocked is funny the first, and even the second time. But after its happened a few dozen times, the luster just wears off.

What’s worse, the show seems to reset between the first and the second episode. At the end of the premiere, Oga manages to calm the child down after he’s about to enter a major rage; this convinces the previously skeptical Hilda to allow him to raise the child. Next episode, that ability is nowhere to be found. It’s no longer convenient to the plot, so it’s gone.

It's not clear if Hilda is being knowingly deceptive when she convinces Oga's family to take her and the baby in. Hilda is described by one of Oga's friends as a "goth loli busty babe"—which is the main reason why the show has her in the first place

Beelzebub does occasionally find moments to shine. Alaindelon, the man who is a walking dimensional portal, is sufficiently silly in concept, character design, and behavior to at least crack a smile through his antics. And Miyuki Sawashiro provides yet another example of why she is one of my favorite voice actors with her performance as the little tyke. Gurgling, crying, giggling, and generally spouting gobbledygook, she sounds perfect in the role.

But while the show occasionally finds ways to break out of its mold, far too often it’s content to return to the single gag which the show revolves around, or to pull in gags employed in basically every show known to man. When Hilda introduces herself to Oga’s family, she of course makes it sound, seemingly by accident, that she’s his girlfriend and Beelzebub is their love child. It’s so predictable I could probably write the lines myself.

Now, when Oga and the audience are led to believe that Hilda will be joining him in the bath, only to have Alaindelon come in instead? That's funny. It's a pity that's one of only two or three moments where the show tries to subvert expectations

Occasional flashes of comedic brilliance buried in a mountain of recycled gags is basically par for the course with most anime comedies, however, so I should give credit to the show for having solid acting, decent production values, and a proper understanding of when to be shameless. But when the number of funny moments is equaled or outnumbered by the number of potty jokes, I’m going to give it a pass.

You can watch the episodes here.

Beelzebub urinates (an excessive amount) on Oga's head in the first scene of the show. I suppose that should have been an early tipoff about what I was getting into

  1. aseariel
    January 23, 2011 at 1:05 am

    *stares at the last image*

    W-why is there a rainbow in the urine? I just… I don’t even…

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      January 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Because the child unleashes a miniature waterfall of it over the course of several seconds.

      Yes, it’s a very classy show.

  2. t dog
    August 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    This is a funny anime

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: