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Beelzebub (Episodes 27-60) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 25 March 2012 00:00

Beelzebub

From the "I can't believe I was still watching this" department, it's the second - and now final - batch of Beelzebub episodes, which jumps around a bit in terms of style and what it seems to be trying to do. Normally, that would be a bad thing - but somehow, Beelzebub makes it work...

In case you managed to miss the first batch of Beelzebub episodes, here's a quick recap: Oga Tatsumi is a first year student in Ishiyama High, a notorious school for delinquents. One day while taking a nap by the river he sees a man floating by, and the man suddenly splits in half to reveal a baby boy inside! This boy is the son of the Demon Lord, and Oga has been chosen as the one to raise him, together with the baby's demon maid Hilda. With his close friend Furuichi and a bunch of other characters joining in on the fun, Oga must raise baby Beel while preventing the world from being destroyed...

Of course, towards the end of the last batch of episodes I reviewed, Oga and Beel had managed to destroy Ishiyama High, leading to him and his class of delinquents being reassigned to the nearby St Ishiyama Academy, a far more classy place where people like Oga just don't fit in - and whose elite students are keen to teach the newcomers their place. So we get a batch of episodes covering the new boys trying to mark out their territory, and get introduced to a bunch of new characters along the way (you can check the episode summaries on the following pages for more on them) - fun stuff, with some great new faces to mess around with, but it's nothing too spectacular either.

We also get introduced to Lord En, Beel's older brother, and the trio of Demon Maids who look after him. Not only is En keen to prove himself to be the better brother (which to be honest, shouldn't be hard), but his lead Maid, Yolda, is Hilda's younger sister - and the siblings really don't like each other. Cue fireworks. En's presence seemed set to go on for a while, if the end of the series hadn't intervened - he comes complete with a Royal Bodyguard, the 34 Pillar Division, who eventually appear to give Oga and his allies a hard time. Although that aspect is quickly rushed through and thoroughly short-changed as the end of the series approaches.

We also get an ongoing thread about Aoi's infatuation with Oga - and she's now in on the "secret" of Beel's origins and demons in general - and a few one-off comedy-based episodes, which all adds up to a series that on one level has its fingers in a lot of pies and doesn't really seem to know what it wants to be - is it a typical shounen action show? A romantic comedy? A high-school slice-of-life show..? - and as I said before, that would usually be a bad thing. Here, though, it works surprisingly well - unlike other Shounen Jump titles, it never gets stuck in a rut of episodes-long battles, the switching from style to style and dealing with the large cast of characters stops any one aspect of it from ever getting stale, and the whole thing keeps ticking along in a fun way. On the downside, the show also never feels like it's actually going anywhere - which would have been fine if this was a typically open-ended shounen show that could run and run and run. I get the distinct feeling that the end of the series was almost a last-minute decision that the production team hadn't been expecting, resulting in a rather hurried effort to give the show some closure, which they just about manage to pull off - it gets an anime-original ending that just about ties everything up, while leaving the storyline open enough for a continuation should it ever be given the green light.

The original idea for Beelzebub filled me with dread, but the first batch of episodes kept me sniggering along enough to keep me interested. The main problem I had with it, Beel himself, has almost been sidelined to a certain extent by the sheer number of other characters that he has to share time with, so if anything the show kept going up in my estimation as it went on, and I'm genuinely sad to see it go. It's shallow, but it's simple fun, and that's what made it worth watching.

Rating - ***