Pixar’s Big Hero Six was a rarity for its time with its unique animation style, its standalone characters, and rather quirky superhero, Baymax. Baymax’s main occupation is to be a healthcare companion who, with simple scans, could check a person’s vitals, anxiety levels, and physical health.
It was rather odd that Baymax (Scott Adsit), along with Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), endure the same cliche set up in most super hero movies: fighting a wacky supervillain for the fate of their beloved city, San FranTokyo. Yet, it was to ignore the more predictable parts of the movie, partly because of its inherent warmness.
Hiro and Baymax were able to form an inescapable relationship with each other that superseded the loss of Tadashi, Baymax’s original designer. Both of them were content with existing in their simple ecosystems and helping people survive on a more immediate scale. These unique character designs managed to help Big Hero Six remove the inherent pompousness of the superhero genre.
In the reality of San FranTokyo, there was a sense of optimistic realism that a technological being like Baymax could be working for the common good. The almost ambivalent attitude San FranTokyo’s residents had to Baymax would almost be impossible to replicate here in 2022, where the threat of AI is at the heart of many conspiracy theories.
When a Baymax-centred spinoff show was announced by Pixar, I was ecstatic. Sure, it wasn’t the sequel audiences were promised in Big Hero Six’s end credit scene, but it would suffice! In a sea of lackluster television that we unfalteringly call ‘content’, Baymax seemed like a pleasant surprise that injected a much needed tinge of optimism to our TV screens with its unorthodox storytelling.
It hurts me to say that Baymax didn’t abide by the insanely high standards set by the makers of Big Hero Six. All of the episodes were astonishingly short which hindered viewers from becoming more familiar with Baymax and Hiro in their more subdued surroundings. Additionally, the episode length robbed viewers of enjoying the beautiful world of San FranTokyo introduced in Big Hero Six.
Here was the perfect opportunity to introduce a city with a unique cultural landscape as its own character, but the show completely ignored it. The lack of care allotted to Baymax, makes it appear that this show was an underdeveloped attempt to keep the Big Hero Six franchise relevant in public consciousness.
Sadly, the show’s weak structure hindered audiences in seeing a tinge of cultural commentary. Baymax, an emotive display of artificial intelligence, was built to take care of other beings’ health needs. At times, like in Episode five, Yachi, where Baymax patiently chases a stubborn cat, he completely disregards his own safety for the sake of others. Yet, even though Baymax was programmed to care for others, the show makes sure to showcase the importance of community.
In Episode six, Baymax, we see a vulnerable person trapped in a warehouse, having no more energy to carry out their tasks, in danger of being destroyed by a warehouse demolition, they are saved by Hiro, Aunt Cassandra (Maya Rudoplph), and all the people Baymax has saved. As the show is showcasing the importance of survival mechanisms, it effectively pushes back on the idea that healthcare workers maintain invincibility, always running on a full supply of energy.
Baymax’s need for support serves as a timely allegory! While the pandemic has made public officials and corporations defy healthcare workers, it is important to constantly recognise their humanity. Instead of viewing them as superhumans, government institutions need to give them adequate support through proper funding. Also, healthcare workers often come in contact with traumatic events. It’s important that there is infrastructure in place that cares for their needs.
All in all, Baymax had the opportunity to be a groundbreaking show known for asking important questions on what care is and how it can function in the future. However, through brash and undercooked stylistic choices, we are given a show that wants to be forgotten.
Baymax is available from stream exclusively on Disney+ now
by Ro Ajiduah
Since she was in middle School, Elizabeth “Ro” Ajiduah (she/her) has been quite interested in everything regarding culture. Last summer, she finally mustered the courage to write and has been doing it ever since. When she isn’t typing frantically on her laptop, she’s baking chocolate cake and talking to her friends.