In 2014, Disney decided to create an animated movie unlike anything else they had done before at the time. The movie was Big Hero 6. An animated movie produced by Disney Animation Studios, that for the first time would make synergy between the different branches of the Disney Empire by taking a Marvel property and creating a movie around using another studio from the company. It was a no-brainer, as the property ended up fitting the sensibilities of the animation studio to the teeth.
The film become a box office success, and it even managed to win, not without a bit of controversy, the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. The film proved that Disney’s different branches could collaborate together to create a solid product, and also that representation didn’t have to mean bad box office when done right. The film’s main characters were Asian, and the entire cast was composed of people from different nationalities.
However, the biggest start of the movie was a cute medical robot that was introduced as the main companion to the protagonist. Baymax! Became a star is a matter of days and soon enough the movie would go to have several spin-offs, including a TV show, that is now available on Disney Plus. Now a series of shorts that maintain the amazing quality animation from the movie but makes it available on Disney’s streaming platform.
Baymax! is a miniseries composed of a series of shorts that deal with Baymax trying to help the people around him when they get injured. The shorts star Maya Rudolf, and Scott Adsit, voicing Aunt Cass, and the titular robot respectively. The shorts have all different stories and deal with a variety of characters living in the city of San Fransokyo.
Baymax! is a spectacular project, of which we would like to see more on the Disney platform. This miniseries of shorts is really an animation showcase where the artists can display what they have been working on since the movie and ways to develop the city further than ever before. While the movie showed that San Fransokyo was a nice city to live in, and even one worth visiting. It is with this show that the world-building goes far and beyond, making the city a place where countless stories can be told.
The series is the first TV show produced by Disney Animation Studios, and this goes to show that the company is willing to take its talent off of projects and make them create something completely different. Although, that would be the wrong way to describe the project. The six shorts that compose the series are very much in line with what both Disney Animation Studios and Pixar do regularly with the shorts they add at the beginning of their films.
Having Disney Animation Studios produce a long-running TV series would be the next step. Making a series that can actually use serialized storytelling, instead of just being an anthology with several shorts tied around a thematic or a location, as is the case with Baymax! This doesn’t make Baymax! bad at all, but it does make the anthology feel underwhelming as there is no clear throughline, and right now long-form storytelling is king.
People want to be invested in characters and storylines for a long time, and if the creators manage to basically pull it off, then those shows become phenomenons. Baymax! is made with excellence. The animation rivals the one from the movie. This is not often the case with animated series coming out of a big blockbuster film. But we have to say that we don’t think the shorts will become a phenomenon, precisely because they are an anthology and don’t present a continuous storyline.
For what it is, the show really has a good sense of fun. The comedy is easy to understand, and Baymax is the perfect character to make this kind of series around it. Baymax! still displays a sense of caring that is difficult to match by even more expressive characters, and yet, he is also quite clueless and his moments of wisdom always come as a surprise. However, the show depicts Baymax! more often than not, as this annoying member of the community is only appreciated when needed.
What all the stories really have in common is a sense of community around them. We could say that the city of San Fransokyo is really the protagonist of the show. The series presents a series of individual characters that really pop off on screen. It is sad that most of the characters come and go after appearing in specific episodes. It would be extremely cool to see these characters developed through time, but that is not what the show has in mind.
Baymax! really shows that Disney Animation Studios are some of the most talented people working right now in the animation industry. The show is composed of amazing heartfelt moments and some good comedy, but it feels just too short, and it doesn’t have any great narrative payoffs during its duration. If Disney Animation Studios manages to take the next step and actually create a long-form narrative series that can maintain this quality of animation, then we could be in front of greatness.