Buckaroo Banzai (character)
|First appearance||The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension|
|Created by||Earl Mac Rauch|
|Portrayed by||Peter Weller|
|Occupation||Scientist, rock musician, race car driver|
Buckaroo Banzai is the lead character, played by Peter Weller, of the eponymous 1984 cult film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
A renaissance man, the character is a top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star and comic book hero, and probably the last hope of the human race. Popular culture scholar Nevin Martell wrote that Banzai "is an anti-hero of sorts, tromping over time and space not as a buffed-up superhero, but as a smarty-pants scientist/surgeon/musician—a quasi-mythical character who resists strict characterizations. (As one character in the film remarks, "He thinks he's Einstein, James Bond and Batman all rolled into one!")."
In the film, his latest experiments open the door to the 8th dimension and unwittingly start an interplanetary battle for the world.
Born in London in 1950, the son of two scientists: Masado Banzai, a brilliant Japanese research physicist whose work in theoretical quantum mechanics is reported to have "rattled" Albert Einstein, and Sandra Willoughby, the daughter of the eccentric Scottish-born Texas mathematician Edward McKay Willoughby. Sandra Willoughby fell in love with Masado Banzai when she was sixteen and married him twelve years later, after becoming an expert in her own right in the field of negative mass propulsion. The couple fled Japan at the outbreak of World War II and eventually settled in Texas. Their son grew up in Colorado and Arizona and was named "Buckaroo" because of his father's love for the American West.
In 1946 Masado Banzai and Sandra Willoughby joined forces with Masado's old friend and colleague, Professor Toichi Hikita, who shared their belief that one day man would be able to pass unharmed through solid matter. Their researches culminated in 1955 in the Texas desert, when Dr. Banzai took the controls of a jet car equipped with an early version of the Oscillation Overthruster. But the experiment ended tragically: Buckaroo Banzai's parents were killed in an explosion (caused by sabotage planned by criminal mastermind Hanoi Xan) as the five-year-old child looked on. Hikita raised young Buckaroo, using the entire world as his classroom, and the boy grew up to be, among other things, an extraordinarily skilled neurosurgeon.
Dissatisfied with a life devoted exclusively to medicine, Buckaroo Banzai perfected a wide range of skills. He designed and drove high-powered automobiles. He studied bujutsu and particle physics. His skill with a sixgun was reputed to eclipse that of Wyatt Earp. He spoke a dozen languages and wrote songs in all of them. His band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, was one of the most popular, hard-rocking bar bands in east New Jersey (Buckaroo plays electric guitar and pocket trumpet), though its members (bearing names like Rawhide, Reno, the Swede, Perfect Tommy, Big Norse, and Pecos) were not professional musicians at all, but rather cartographers and botanists, linguists and propellant engineers, an entomologist and an epidemiologist. All of them are experts in their fields of endeavor, which is why they were drawn to Buckaroo.
The end of the 1984 Buckaroo Banzai movie promised a sequel, Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League, but Sherwood Productions' bankruptcy prevented the film from being made—at least for the time being. The original film's ownership changed hands over the years, and the Banzai franchise is currently owned by MGM, so any sequel or remake is at their discretion.
In the meantime, after a hiatus of over twenty years, original writers Earl Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter have begun new adventures for Buckaroo Banzai, in the form of a comic book produced by Moonstone Books. The new story, the three issue mini-series Return of the Screw, which was published on September 15, 2007, picks up where the film left off. It has since been collected in trade-paperback.
In March 2008, a two-issue prequel to Adventures in The 8th Dimension, titled Of Hunan Bondage, was published. Most recently, a one-shot, Big Size, was published.
Buckaroo Banzai and several other members of Team Banzai are prominently featured in the Battletech universe, a science fiction world taking place in the 31st century. It is not clearly explained how they find themselves in the future other than some sort of time warp, either intentional or inadvertent, but he occupies himself in that era as a professor at the New Avalon Institute of Science on the world of New Avalon within the Federated Suns successor state and is also a Battlemech designer, having designed the Hatchetman and Axeman mechs according to the sourcebooks Battletech Technical Readout 3025 and Battletech Technical Readout 3050. He is also featured as a character in some of the Battletech novels written by Michael Stackpole.
- Vincent Canby (1984-10-05). "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! (1984) FILM: SCI-FI FARCE, 'BUCKAROO BONZAI'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
- Martell, Nevin (August 13, 2010). "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: No Matter Where It Went, There It Was". Filter Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2013.