Bobby's in Deep!
Bobby is a slacker with no direction for his life and few interests outside of his motorcycle. Then Bobby recieves a letter from a girl who has never met him but seems to have fallen in love with him.
Before there were Western fan favorites like Ninja Scroll, modern suspense masterpieces like Monster, or stunning psychedelic kaleidoscopes like Paprika, Mad House was animating Bobby's In Deep. In other words, things got better with time and a lot more money. This buried- and deservedly so- eighties OVA was recently unearthed by fans along with another embarrassing OVA, To-Y. After much sweat and work, it was lovingly restored digitally from what I understand was a crappy laserdisc. Its digital dirt was wiped off, chipped colors filled in and brightened and the sound... well, the sound still sucks, but it wasn't much to begin with, I suspect. Really though, the fans have done a very professional job with this OVA. But I wish they had chosen something else to put all their time and effort in (Dirty Pair TV anyone?). I suspect Bobby is something like the skeleton in Mad House's closet, or the mutant that's locked in the basement. It's not something that's talked about much, and when it does come out in the open, everyone craps themselves at the sight of it. Or at least groan and check the clock, waiting for forty-five long minutes to grind by.
What my ramblings are getting at, Dear Reader, is that Bobby's in Deep was buried and forgotten for a good reason. It is a godawful OVA. It tries to be artistic, and instead looks silly. It tries to memorable, but is too juvenile to be worth remembering. It tries to be different while still falling in line with the then-popular "rebel kid" image, and loses its audience as a result. It was made as promotional material for a Japanese idol who voices the lead, but is so toxic that I imagine only die-hards of that idol could have gotten any enjoyment out of it. Its only redemption is its lush hand drawn art that still looks nice, but that is marred by lacking any coherency.
The OVA opens with a long, still and fuzzy shot of a street. The streetlight blinks red, yellow, red, yellow, red.... This goes on for about a minute, until we see a motorcyclist stop at the street light to wait for a truck to pass. Said truck passes, cyclist moves on, cue opening titles. It is obvious within the first three minutes that this show goes at its own slow, gentle pace.
The cyclist's name is Bobby, and Bobby is a motorcycle fanatic. But since this film moves at a slow, gentle pace, he is a slow, gentle fanatic. He doesn't get out much, and doesn't seem to be the social type. He talks to his sister some, who spends the her first five minutes of screen time spinning like a ballerina on her toes. The scene there doesn't make any sense- the dialogue suggests that this is a quiet conversation between brother and sister, but the action suggests that the sister is on a sugar high.
Once the characters are firmly established in their proper place, the plot begins. Bobby gets a letter from girl he doesn't know, who apparently read his name in a motorcycle magazine and fell in love instantly. And Bobby, who I suspect has had no contact with the fairer sex beyond cover models of auto magazines, falls for her just as hard. But Bobby, unfortunately, is a retard. While the Nameless Lover writes him a lengthy and cautiously passionate letter, where all the affection is strongly hinted at between the lines, Bobby's reply is this:
Way to go, big pimpin'.
A subplot slowly creaks into motion soon after this. In a blatant attempt to tap into the then popular "rebel kid" image of that era, Bobby runs away from home. Oh yeah, he had an excuse- the plot device in this case being a militantly strict father- but the OVA is simply tapping into a reliably popular pop image, nothing more. He begins working four minimum-wage jobs at once to keep his head above water, and does so with a cheerfulness only fiction can produce for a situation like this. Or is it indifference? It's hard to tell in this OVA. He still stays in touch with the girl, writing back and forth every now and then. There's also interludes of forgettable music by the idol with animation here and there.
Let's do in this review what I couldn't do in viewing of the OVA- press fast forward.
Pause! Stop there! I think something's happening!
Isn't that Bobby's boss? And look, is he inviting him to go for a drive on their motorcycles on a breezy Saturday afternoon? Way to make a career move, Bobby!
But wait. It seems that earlier, Bobby's girl (who remains nameless throughout the OVA) said she would call him that very Saturday. Bobby, wait, what are you doing? Don't you care about her?? Don't you know that if you aren't there to answer at 6pm she will never, ever talk to you again and your heart will be broken and you will die poor and lonely??!
Ah, to be young(er) again, and have the shortsightedness that comes with it, where each minor bump in the road becomes a hormone-built mountain of angst. Bobby realizes his error suddenly, and leaves his boss (and a sudden offer to join the pro cycling circuit) to drive like a maniac and reach the phone in time.
It is here the OVA almost redeems itself of a single star rating. The sequence where Bobby races the clock is excellent; hand-drawn, and done entirely from Our Hero's point of view. It's somewhat dizzying and disorientating to watch, and somewhat thrilling. If only this scene had been in a better OVA. And if only the music was better. And if only Bobby lived to see the end of his own show.
Oops, was that a spoiler? Yeah, cat's outta the bag: Bobby dies in a motorcycling accident because he was driving like an idiot without even a jacket, much less a helmet. This scene, I think, was supposed to shock and move the audience to tears. I got one out of two there, cuz it is a shocking scene, but shocking like, "Oh geez, where did that come from?" not shocking like when you found out that Samuel L. Jackson's character was
In fact, this whole OVA is an example of crappy storytelling. Best take a rain check on this one, Dear Reader.
Watching Madhouse's growing pains was hard. I don't suggest you do it either. — Bradley Meek
Recommended Audience: There's nothing really objectionable in this one. Did you ever really expect anything else from something this tedious?
Version(s) Viewed: Digitally restored fansub.
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Bobby's in Deep! © 1985 Madhouse, Kadokawa Shoten
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