In the saturated pool of superhero movies, Big Hero 6 (2014) made its mark as a standout with a different approach to the genre. In place of heart-thumping action and thrilling stunt choreography was a story filled with heart, fuelled by a group of teenage superheroes and an unexpected companion: the lovable, inflatable, and affable Baymax.
It has been a little more than seven years since the fan-favourite character elegantly plodded across the silver screen, but that doesn’t mean his legacy has diminished over time. Disney+’s new Baymax! series seeks to reignite the love for the titular healthcare companion, as it transports viewers back into the familiar world of San Fransokyo, who are immediately greeted by encounters with several ordinary citizens – and species, to be more specific – in the city.
For the most part, the new show, which focuses solely on the big guy, does a great job at conveying the human touch and reinforcing the charm of the robot. It’s quite a respectable feat, considering the eight- to nine-minute runtime of each episode, and indeed, Baymax! isn’t so much a series as it is a compilation of half-dozen shorts, with only the last two episodes tied to a larger sense of continuity. The other four episodes can be enjoyed as standalone works and in no particular order, making binge-watching an extremely easy affair. Big Hero 6 and Baymax fans can also put their observational prowess to the test by locating various Easter eggs, which have been snuck into every episode.
The short-form storytelling isn’t the only difference here. Unlike the 2014 movie, Baymax! focuses more on the aspect of being an everyday hero, with none of the fancy powers or world-saving theatrics. Returning voice actor Scott Adsit impresses yet again with his proficient grasp of Baymax’s personality, balancing out his deadpan humour with a genuine, albeit limited, understanding of human emotions. The result is the same old character that everyone has grown to love: a compassionate, sincere healthcare companion who’s adorably slow on the uptake, but always tries his best to help someone in need.
The episodic length could be longer, but even with its brevity, Baymax! does a sufficiently decent job at telling a story. Each episode features a central character, and while there are cliché moments and characterisations, they are all pretty heartwarming anecdotes that can make one feel a little fuzzy on the inside. A defining trait that has been carried over from Big Hero 6 is the careful balance of humour and narrative significance, which adds a light-hearted tone to more serious topics, as well as the welcome return of Hiro Hamada and Aunt Cass, both of whom were teased in the trailers.
The third episode, titled “Sofia”, is a personal standout, mostly due to its thoughtful portrayal of puberty. Despite its fun appearance, the series doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable or unconventional subject matters, and here, the growing pains of menstruation and period cramps take centrestage. It’s a respectable effort, although the ‘NC-16’ rating inadvertently dulls some of its impact. For a show catered to a younger audience, that certainly doesn’t make a lick of sense, and honestly, goes against what it wishes to espouse in the first place (without spoiling anything, it’s because one of the episodes touches on a topic that’s regarded as extremely sensitive in Singapore).
It should also be noted that the characters in Baymax! mostly belong to the minority population, which is a pleasant surprise. The representation works in the context of the series, too, especially with San Fransokyo as the setting – San Francisco, which it takes partly after, is known to be a melting pot of cultures, so the portrayals do ground the series more to reality.
On that note, the return to San Fransokyo is enjoyable and delightful. The city is thrumming with life, surrounded by vibrant colours and the oh-so-familiar hustle of metropolitan life. It also boasts a more modern polish than seven years ago, but overall, retains enough of its identity to remain recognisable.
While Baymax! might have eased up on the worldbuilding and lore development, it continues to charm with its adventurous short-form stories, humour, and heart. The series acts as a soothing balm amidst these messy times, and reminds us of why Baymax and Big Hero 6 were so endearing in the first place – beyond their superhero roots, they have demonstrated the power of compassion in face of grief, loss, and general negativity.
Baymax! is now streaming on Disney+.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Baymax! doesn’t really offer much in terms of lore expansion, but is an entertaining and light watch for both young and adult audiences alike.
Story - 7.5/10
Direction - 8/10
Animation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8/10