Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

Plot: Return to the fantastical city of San Fransokyo where the affable, inflatable, inimitable healthcare companion, Baymax, sets out to do what he was programmed to do: help others.

Review: Back in 2014, Disney released their first (and only, to date) animated Marvel film. Big Hero 6 was not connected to the MCU and offered a blend of superhero antics with Disney’s trademark style of family-friendly action and seemed like an obvious franchise started. But, almost a decade later, we are just now getting a follow-up in the form of the new Disney+ animated series, Baymax!. Focused on the plush and cuddly robot companion, Baymax! is an easy-going semi-sequel that scales down the comic book action in favor of an optimistic and overwhelmingly saccharine series that doesn’t capitalize on what made Big Hero 6 and instead goes for the easy cash grab route.

Baymax! is comprised of episodes that each run less than ten minutes in length. Similar to Up spin-off Dug Days and Toy Story 4 spin-off Forky Asks A Question, this series is directly aimed at younger viewers. Bringing back Scott Adsit as the titular character, Baymax! is set after the superheroics of Hiro Hamada and his friends who defeated the villainous Robert Callaghan and saved SanFransokyo from destruction. Why Ryan Potter and Maya Rudolph do reprise their roles as Hiro and his Aunt Cass, most of these stories center on new characters who exist simply for the standalone story for that episode.

Each episode begins with a character experiencing a physical issue that triggers Baymax to spring into action to help. Taking the robot back to the reason for his creation, Baymax uses the skills programmed into his memory to resolve the various issues, some of which go beyond physical ailments and into emotional and mental symptoms as well. Early episodes deal with concepts that will be easy for even the youngest viewer to associate with while also providing good ideas for even adults to implement. The animation, which is on par with Disney feature films, does sometimes feel superior to the narrative content on screen. Basically, this looks far better than it deserves to.

The episodes improve as the series progresses and eventually it all comes together in the final episode. The final chapter essentially reveals that this series amounts to an hour-long movie which makes the episodic format a little strange. Taken as a whole, the series is underwhelming despite taking some risks with a few episodes. While the second half of the season does showcase some mild action sequences, the focus of the third episode is likely to cause a minor stir with some viewers as it focuses on Baymax helping a teenage girl when she experiences her first period. The subject matter is handled appropriately and it is a nice episode that should resonate with many viewers, but I expect parents who do not screen this series before showing their younger children may be a bit taken aback at the subject matter. The fourth episode also features a character asking another character out on a same-sex date which will rankle some even though it doesn’t come across as forced in any way.

Directed by Dan Abraham, Mark Kennedy, Dean Wellins, and Lissa Treiman, Baymax! had the potential to be a longer-form story similar to the Monsters Inc. spin-off Monsters at Work. The animation is solid, the music good, and the voice acting well done. As it stands, releasing this series as six episodes where each clock in at a paltry ten minutes or less feels like a way to milk viewers rather than releasing stronger material. Each episode also comes with a post-credit sequence that may lead many to miss the connective tissue between each chapter, but with everyone expecting everything to have a post-credit sequence these days, maybe Disney is banking on people sticking through the credits either way.

Ultimately harmless, Baymax! feels like a missed opportunity to do something with the foundation laid by Big Hero 6. At best, this is a cute series that can be described as nice and not much else. None of the episodes is long enough to warrant any substantial attention but is the right length for even the most attention-deprived children to enjoy. There is a positive lesson at the end of every episode and the animation is wonderfully vibrant, but it just doesn’t feel like the time and effort taken to make these episodes resulted in anything people will be excited to check out. I hope that Baymax! at the very least encourages people to revisit Big Hero 6 and maybe prod Disney to finally make a sequel.

Baymax! The Series premieres on June 29th on Disney+.


By admin