Baoh Anime Review
Baoh The Visitor
US Release By
Gory Superpowered Action
An innocent young man, Ikuroo, has a parasite known as Baoh implanted in his brain by the evil organization Doress. The parasite makes him nearly immortal and gives him the ability to transform into a powerful creature when he's in trouble. Doress intends to use him in some sort of ploy for financial success, world domination, or something along those lines, but while they're moving him around, Sumire, a young psychic girl also being held by the organization, sets him free and the two escape together. Of course, Dr. Kasuminome--the mad scientist behind the whole thing--isn't about to let his test subject get away... and he has everything from superpowered lackeys to a small army at his disposal.
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Baoh is basically a traditional splatterfest "kid imbued with incredible powers by the secret organization that now wants to kill him" story. It manages to slightly distinguish itself though a combination of reasonably likable characters (both the standard hero-boy Ikuroo and psychic girl Sumire) and wanton cheese (announcing each super-ability with its long meaningless name for example) for a few bonus chuckles. The story is a rushed and unsatisfying manga adaptation and it's over before it really gets anywhere, but the gory action looks good enough and there's plenty of it, which is the main draw, anyway.
Worth at least a look if you enjoy gory action flicks, but if you prefer more cerebral parasite-in-the-brain stories (pun intended), Baoh isn't going to do it for you.
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Baoh certainly doesn't cover any new ground--yet another "kid imbued with incredible powers by the secret organization that now wants to kill him" story--but it travels the bloody old road with a fair amount of style.
First, let's establish that Baoh definitely fits into the super-gory action flick category--it has more than its share of sectioned bodies and melting scientists. Fortunately, though the action is front and center (and plentiful), it stands out a bit from the splatterfest crowd because Baoh's host and his companion are fairly likable characters. You get the feeling that if this was a series instead of a one-shot, they might even get interesting (probably because it's based on a manga series where they did).
The story, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. Though there are some decent hints at backstory, the whole thing feels rushed. Adding to that, several parts of the plot have almost no explanation or follow-up whatsoever--the mysterious organization is never detailed, the "world's most powerful psychic" just shows up out of nowhere, and a lot of it feels like setup for a continuing series (which of course it is, in the sense that there's too much info from the manga). In any case, the plot is pretty unsatisfying as a whole.
On the bright side, there are several really cheesy touches that don't do much for the seriousness of the story, but do make it more fun. For example, everybody likes to either explain what super-ability they're about to use or (the old classic) yell out whatever special move they're using. Of course, Baoh can't talk, so there are convenient labels at the bottom of the screen, featuring great names like "BAOH SHOOTING BEES-STINGERS PHENOMENON" and "BAOH LISKINI HARDEN SABER PHENOMENON." On that note, I also enjoyed watching the big bad psychic spend the last 10 minutes of the show walking around with a large piece of metal sticking out of his head.
The art in Baoh is generally well done, detailed, and despite the otherwise '80s-era style has a sort of... shiny look to it, for whatever that's worth. The character designs are fairly appealing and relatively distinctive, and the design of Baoh's fighting form is rather nice, too. The animation is also quite good, and the action is both plentiful and well animated. Heavy on the gore, of course, but depending on your preference, that could be a good thing.
As for the acting, I can't speak for the Japanese dialogue, but the dub isn't anything to write home about--the two primaries (Brian Hinnant as Ikuroo and Kem Helms as Sumire) turn in decent performances, but some of the bad guys (particularly the cannon-fodder) are abysmal. Sara Seidma is pretty good as Sophine (the bad lady), though.
Overall, I'd say that Baoh is certainly worth at least a look if you enjoy gory action flicks, but if you prefer more cerebral parasite-in-the-brain stories (pun intended), this isn't going to do it for you.
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The Guyver is an obvious similar series (Baoh even looks a bit like the Guyver). It also has quite a bit in common with Battle Royal High School, as well as Genocyber (though Baoh is much less morbid).
Notes and Trivia
Based on a 2-volume manga by Araki Hirohiko, available in English from VIZ. After seeing the animated version, I had a passing desire to read it.
As always, AnimEigo's extensive liner notes can be found at their website.
US DVD Review
AnimEigo's bilingual DVD throws in a cel art gallery as a bonus. The package design, unfortunately, follows the pattern of many of their DVDs and is much uglier than the older VHS version.
Nothing objectionable other than very graphic violence, but that's enough to put it in the 16-up category.
Violence: 4 - Gratuitous violence.
Nudity: 0 - Zip.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - None.
Language: 1 - Nothing noteworthy.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Ikuroo/Baoh: Hori Hiroyuki
Sumire: Hidaka Noriko
Dr. Kasuminome: Nagai Ichiroo
Dordo: Ikeda Shuuichi
Sophine: Inoue Yoo
Walken: Yara Yuusaku
Engineer: Shioya Koozoo
Masked Men: Ootaki Shinya, Satoo Shooji, Sawaki Ikuya
Soldier: Kobayashi Michitaka
Girl: Maruo Tomoko
English Dub Cast
Ikuroo/Baoh: Brian Hinnant
Sumire: Kem Helms
Dr. Kasuminome: Mike Way
Dordo: Dave Underwood
Sophine: Sara Seidman
Walken: Chuck Denson
Masked Men: Paul Johnson, Marc Matney, Mark Franklin
Hitman: Sean P. O'Connell
Girl: Sandy Clubb
Technicians: Patrick Humphrey, Frank Lynn, Gary Lawton
Soldiers: Jim Clark, Nick Manatee, Kevin Greenway
End Theme: Eien no Soldier (Eternal Soldier)
Lyrics: Andoo Yoshihiko
Music: Shigemura Yasuhiko
Arrangement: Namba Hiroyuki
Performed by: Machida Yoshihito
English Reinterpretation: Lyrics by Scott Houle, Music Beds by Ernesto Ferreri, Performed by Scott Bailey
Based on the Comic by Araki Hirohiko (Published by Shuueisha in Jump Comics)
Executive Producers: Nakano Kazuo, Sai Haruo
Producer: Fukakusa Reiko
Screenplay: Terada Kenji
Character Designs/Animation Director: Sanaba Michi
Mechanical Design: Tano Masayoshi
Art Director: Miyamae Michiharu
Music: Namba Hiroyuki
Directed by Yokoyama Hiroyuki
Animation by Toho/Studio Pierrot
Previously available in North America from AnimEigo on bilingual DVD, now out of print and, at last check, quite hard to find. Prior to that AnimEigo produced subtitled and dubbed VHS versions, and a bilingual LD.