16 December 2004 | BrianDanaCamp
BAOH - Exciting anime thriller with strong story and artwork
BAOH (1989) is a 46-minute anime adaptation of a manga miniseries that has been published in English in two volumes. It's a fast-paced science fiction thriller marked by a genuinely exciting and suspenseful storyline, interesting characters and lots of well-staged, spectacularly gory action. It's also distinguished by great artwork and detailed design. My only complaint is that it's all too short and would have benefited from expansion to two parts or full-scale feature-length theatrical treatment. Even so, it's an entertaining ride for fans of hard-edged anime action.
The plot involves an experiment by Doress, a secret corporate group--with government ties, of course--which results in a 17-year-old boy being given superhuman powers that continue to evolve and get more powerful each time he is attacked. The boy, Ikuro Hashizawa, escapes custody from a moving train and eludes military pursuers thereafter with the help of a nine-year-old psychic girl, Sumire, who is also sought after by Doress. Each time the pursuers catch up to them, Ikuro, under the growing power of Baoh--the name given the lab-created entity implanted in the boy--transforms into an increasingly sophisticated monstrous killing machine and plows through the bad guys with lethal precision, slicing, dicing and decapitating--in bright primary colors--as he goes. Eventually, the girl is abducted, forcing Ikuro to seek her out in the organization's underground headquarters and storm his way through their defenses, including a giant American Indian warrior named Walken who puts up the most brutal fight Baoh has ever faced.
The animation follows the lead of the manga pretty closely, not only in the actual events of the story, but the design of the characters and the style of the action and violence. The only major difference is the cutting of some of the incidents that happen during the two lead characters' flight to freedom. Made in 1989, BAOH relies on the strong suits of the animation of that period--bright colors, bold, strong lines and clear, straightforward, detailed design.