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.


Baikinman's Posse

Dokinchan

   Thanks to his repeated failures, Baikinman's never-directly-seen home planet eventually sends him a partner in slime, Dokinchan, whom the franchise consistently presents as a seductive femme fatale even though everybody is drawn like a pudgy troll doll anyway. While seemingly more together than Baikinman, she's hardly any more successful at their nefarious goals, since she spends most of her time obsessing over Shokupanman, seen here in an awkwardly (deliberately) timed screenshot as he tries to help her up, never having met her before and having no idea she would proceed to kidnap him multiple times, build a shrine to him and try to kill anybody she perceives as getting too close to him. Again, like Baikinman's filthiness, this skeevy behavior has been toned down over the years.




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.



HORRORMAN

   Oh yes. Baikinman is friends with a skeleton, and his name is Horrorman. We honestly could have done an entire article about his exploits alone, and heck, some day we probably will. "Horrorman" is kind of a multi-layered gag, since "hora" is an exclamation similar to "oh my!" and you can call somebody "bone like" in Japanese if they're overbearingly friendly and energetic. Guess what Horrorman says all the time, and guess what kind of person he is. To top it all off, he's basically a caricature of a famous Japanese film critic, who is also dead! Just like Horrorman! And yes, Horrorman is canonically the skeleton of a dead person, but nobody knows who. He doesn't have any memory of who he used to be, and doesn't even care, unless you count the time he met another human skeleton, who was a little girl skeleton that lived under the sea (where she drowned?) and lied to him that he was a wealthy prince who starved to death in the desert.

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

   Did we mention that Baikinman is a master of robotics? No? besides the UFO he flies around, he's also prone to constructing all manner of giant mecha, and Dadandan (which is sort of roughly like being called stompy-stomp-stomp) is his most frequently re-used and re-modified. Look at that absolutely majestic thing of beauty. Dadandan's raw elegance puts any eva unit or mobile suit to shame. Sometimes, the Baikin UFO can even transform into this crazy thing, and it can whip out all sorts of surprise weapons, from flamethrowers and bombs to, of course, giant drills.

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.



Frankenrobo-kun

   Dokinchan and Horrorman are our hero's most constant companions, but there was also a point at which he built a creepy, robotic child to hopefully assist him in murdering a series of meddling baked goods. Instead, Frankenrobo proved to be a gentle and well-meaning soul, albeit one who painfully electrocutes anybody he touches and craves hugs from his "papa." Frankenrobo was ultimately sent to live semi-alone inside a walking, sapient lighthouse because of course that's another fucking thing that exists in Anpanman, but Baikinman still has just enough sense of responsibility to be almost as protective of the little guy as he is terrified to touch him.



Mushibakinman

   We're getting into the good stuff now; the other actual germ creatures besides Dokinchan. Smaller than Baikinman - who is already one of the shortest main characters - but with way bigger eyes and even bigger teeth, I daresay Mushibakinman might even be more adorable, especially the disparity between his appearance and his deep, manly voice. "Mushiba" means "cavity," and this guy basically took over the job of dental villainy from Baikinman, who apparently created him at some point, though the series kind of flip-flops on his exact origin. There was even an episode where Baikinman suddenly had his own entire army of little Mushibakinmen, which he regarded as "adorable" but never really whipped out again. Mushi's spear, of course, causes instant toothaches in anyone it jabs, and he maintains a bitter rivalry with Hamigakiman, a giant talking tube of toothpaste from toothpaste mountain.

Anpanman is kind of a strange show.



Kabirunrun

   You already saw these guys in the musical number I'm sure you watched in earnest. They look a lot like giant bacteria, but they more specifically represent mold, and just touching them can infect food-based-people with splotches of lovely green rot, while non-food people fall ill just from breathing their musty spores. We've also seen them merge together into one giant-sized Kabi at least once, and they're even smart enough to help their master build his robots, though they can also get a little out of hand, like that time he built them little robots of their own and they indiscriminately wrecked shit on all sides. He even kicked them all out once, and they all went to live in a garbage can for a while.





   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. Margret'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.




Yamirunrun

   Baikinman has created many variations on his teeny, adorable germ pals, though most appear relatively rarely. The Yamirunrun, basically "darkness" runrun, seem to "infect" things with, like, evil, I guess, despite how ridiculously happy and cute they look. In most cases, he doesn't actually use these guys to attack anyone, but uses them to charge up other weapons, like his giant robots, with the power of darkness. There was also some other time that he harvested their tears.



Beroberoman

   A "licking" variation on the kabis, and shaped like gooey hands with legs, to boot. There's nothing that especially sets them apart from the kabirunrun other than licking stuff, I guess because sometimes Baikinman just feels like making people a little more uncomfortable. That, or he just has a weird thing about licking.





Maybe




Chikurin

   Whether or not this is actually a "germ" or just some sort of cactus-creature isn't specified, but it is another Baikinman creation and has been spotted in crowd shots of other runruns and whatnot. The sting of its needles puts victims to sleep, unless it's a dark Chikurin, which turns people evil. And evil NEVER sleeps.



Obakepan

   Tired of having his ass handed to him by bread, Baikinman eventually tries baking up some of his own - youkai-like with crab claws and spooky monster powers. Sadly, the answer to a bread problem is more than just additional bread. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that, Baikinman. Everybody.



These things?

   We have no idea what these are or why they're wearing festivus hats, but they're cute as hell, aren't they? And possibly the secondmost very germiest of Baikinman's germs! Look how jolly they are to be rubbing their gelatinous asses all over Anpanman's face! Look how pissed he is about it, but completely at their mercy! MERRY KRAMBUS ANPANMAN. IT'S ASS SLIME IN YOUR MOUTH HOPE YOU LIKE IT.



And these things.

   We couldn't find an official name for these, if there ever was one, but they're easily the most parasitic-looking things in the Baikin armada; slimy, hairy, one-eyed stars which cling directly to their hosts and make them too ill to even move, seemingly devised to sicken natural, living animal people instead of weird food people. Also, we've basically only seen them used on children. They'd be creepy as hell if they weren't so goddamned cute with their little sleepy cyclops eyes. Also of note is the original, armless version of Dadandan, who appears as fascinated by the visual as I would be.





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 Margret's Veoh. She subbed them herself!























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