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Baoh Anime DVD Review

6 min read
Baoh is the kind of work that's just not going to connect much for modern fans and is a bit too obscure in some ways for older fans as well.

An unexpected title in the AnimEigo library.

What They Say
A secret organization called ‘Doress’ has funded the development of a genetically engineered parasite code-named ‘Baoh.’ Organisms infected by Baoh become living survival machines, virtually indestructible, able to mutate their body structure to meet any threat. Properly controlled, the Baoh parasite could allow Doress to control the World.

Unfortunately, their first human guinea-pig, a young man named Hashizawa Ikuroo, has managed to escape, along with a young girl, Sumire, who has a strange precognitive gift. Unless Doress operatives can find and destroy Ikuroo before the Baoh parasite fully manifests, their evil dream will come to naught.

But Baoh, comfortably hiding in Ikuroo’s brain, won’t make it easy…

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. Being an older OVA, it’s pretty much a simple stereo mix that sounds more mono than anything else, with music, dialogue and effects pretty much filling up the entire forward soundstage. There’s nothing being thrown to the rear speakers, but overall it’s a servicable soundtrack.

Originally released back in 1989, the OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. And you can tell that it had some rather good production values for its time but that time hasn’t been as kind to it as it could have been. The main issue with the transfer is a persistent low level amount of cross coloration throughout the characters. It’s more noticeable on some than others, such as a midrange shot of a soldier in green fatigues, where most of his chest with all the pockets looks somewhat alive. Other than that, it’s just typical age related stuff and some minor macroblocking in the blue night time sky backgrounds.

Using what looks like a shot from the show, the cover looks fairly washed out and indistinct with the split face of the main character showing both sides of his life. There’s also a full body shot in the Baoh mode. But what really detracts from the cover is the large DVD logo. C’mon guys, go with the small stylish DVD logo that every other vendor uses these days. The back cover provides one piece of artwork and a couple of paragraphs summarizing the show. Production credits and general information are also included here, thouhg no region coding. The recipe card insert provides some song translations and provides a look at some of the background bits of the shows premise.

The menu system for Baoh is pretty straightforward with some minor bits of animation and music playing as you move between each of the menus. Language selections are pretty simple as once you select what you want the show starts. Access times are solid and the overall presentation is good.

The only real extra here is a video image gallery that runs under a minute and shows off some of the cels from the OVA. There’s also a translated credits section which you can thankfully pause so you can take the time to read them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Baoh is an OVA that if you doubled its running time and fleshed it out just a bit more, it’d be the perfect summer Hollywood action flick. Of course, the Hollywood version would turn out much like the Guyver movie did, so it’s probably a good thing that it’ll never happen. Based on the manga by Hirohiko Araki, the OVA landed in the fall of 1989 with studio pierrot animating it. The original manga is one that was pretty short as it ran for just two volumes between 1984 and 1985, which Viz Media picked up way back when. It was surprising that it got an OVA but it made sense as a pickup here since it had a little more history in a much more limited market.

The story of Baoh is pretty simple. We’re introduced to a young nine year old girl with some special abilities, including one to figure out locks and open doors that are otherwise secured. As she races away from a group of soldiers chasing her on a train, she ends up in a freight car where we have a spectacled bald scientist of sorts who may be slightly mad. Well, he’s upset that people have gotten into this sensitive area, so maybe he’s that kind of mad. While trying to figure out what just happened and how the girl pulled it off, something inside a sealed coffin of sorts begins to rise and we see a mostly naked young man, presumably late teens, rise out from within and smash his way out of the car. While he’s doing all of this, the girl sneaks to the previous car, unlatches it and manages to escape.

We learn that the young man is named Ikuroo and the girl is Sumire. Ikuroo was the subject of some experiments, which we see take place at the scientists company where they’re showing it off for prospective buyers (buyers who are on the leading edge of fashion by wearing gold masks to conceal their identities). The scientist shows, via a dog, how the Baoh “virus” it got allows it to become a powerful animal. And when killed, it revives itself into an even nastier critter. The only way to kill it is to maim it and then burn it. And then when the tiny worm like creature comes out of the roasted body, you’ve got to burn that.

Quick, apply all that to Ikuroo! I bet you didn’t see that coming. While this is all being done on screen, we follow Ikuroo and Sumire as they escape from the soldiers and other people sent to hunt them down so as to leave no loose ends. The show pretty much is a standard chase flick with little real depth or characterizaion and feels pretty formulaic. There’s some nice stuff going on as Ikuroo begins to transform and manages to control this new ability and fights back against the soldiers, but these scenes go by pretty fast. After all, it’s only a 45 minute OVA.

The fight sequences are also very bloody and violent, something we’re just not used to seeing from an AnimEigo title. Bodies are melted away slowly, eyeballs are popping out of their sockets left and right and body parts are all over the place. The show holds up pretty well considering its age, but you can definitely feel how it’s almost like a piece of history from a bygone era in anime production.

In Summary:
Baoh is the kind of work that’s just not going to connect much for modern fans and is a bit too obscure in some ways for older fans as well. It’s a nostalgia piece at this point, less so back in 2000 when AnimEigo first licensed it. What serves as the draw is that it comes from the creator of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and was written for this adaptation by Kenji Terada. Terada doesn’t have a lot of anime credits to his name but did work on my favorites like Orange Road and Wedding Peach while also directing Outlanders. He also wrote quite a few for the time scenarios for the first Final Fantasy games. These all make it an interesting bit of minor history to revisit and view as a what-if kind of scenario.

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Image Video Gallery

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Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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