Baoh (Baoh: Raihousya [Baoh: The Visitor]), directed by Hiroyuki Yokoyama. 48 minutes. November 1, 1989.
Baoh, or possibly BAOH, was a pretty but forgettable entry in the evil-organization-kidnaps-hero-and-forces-superpower-on-him-which-he-turns-against-them stereotype. It was adapted from a two-volume manga by Hirohiko Araki, with anime art design by Masayuki Yamaguchi (under his first name alone) and Michi Sanaba at Studio Pierrot.
Doress is either a giant pharmaceutical company with a secret division devoted to world conquest, or a secret organization for world conquest posing as a giant pharmaceutical company. Whatever. The story starts with a cute catlike creature, Nottsuo, on a train being menaced by Sophine, a woman commander, and two uniformed guards. Nottsuo belongs to Sumire, a 9-year-old girl who is Sophine’s real target. Sumire and Nottsuo escape through the train pursued by Sophine and the guards. They corner her in a car filled with cages of fierce Dobermans, but Sumire uses precognitive mental power to unlock the cages, freeing the dogs to attack Sophine and the guards.
In a freight car, several scientists monitor something in a sealed cylinder. Dr. Kasuminome, in charge, asks whether Sophine has captured Sumire yet? No; her strange ability is giving Sophine problems. Dr. Kasuminome says it is that strange ability that makes her so valuable. Doress can sell it as a military secret. Sumire and Nottsuo enter the scientists’ car pursued by Sophine and the guards. Kasuminome notes that their car was supposed to be locked until they reached their destination; Sumire’s power has unlocked it. The distraction enables the thing in the sealed cylinder to open it. It appears to be a young man with big hair, in breathing equipment which he removes. Kasuminome yells that Baoh has awakened; they must subdue him. Sophine discovers that Sumire has uncoupled her car from the train during the distraction. The scientists and guards cannot stop Baoh from escaping, despite Kasuminome’s orders to kill him. Sumire returns to get him.
The next day, Sumire is shopping at a convevience store. She brings breakfast to the young man waiting on a bench. Although he has complete amnesia, she knows his name is Ikuroo Hashizawa and he is 17 years old. Her explanation of how she rescued him is interrupted when No. 22, a gray killer from Doress, stabs him. Ikuroo and Sumire escape on a motorcycle with No. 22 following them.
Back at Doress, Dr. Kasuminome explains to a row of masked executives how he has created Baoh and implanted it into a dog, making it a superdog. The Baoh parasite in the host’s brain senses the host’s production of adrenaline when the host becomes scared or tenses ready to defend itself, and turns that body into a superbeing. The demonstration is intercut with Ikuroo and Sumire stopping for gas, and being attacked by No. 22. Dr. Kasuminome is prepared for the superdog and kills it after the demonstration. No. 22 is not as prepared for Ikuroo turning into the bright blue Baoh and is killed by him.
There is no real need for a blow by blow synopsis of the rest of the OAV. Doress sends increasingly powerful and improbable supervillains against Ikuroo/Baoh, notably the cyborg Col. Dordo and his troops, and the embarrassingly stereotyped psychic American Indian Walken. Each of these he defeats, getting closer and closer to Doress’ headquarters. Sumire becomes a convenient hostage that Baoh has to keep rescuing. Baoh’s “armed phenomena”, supposedly created by the Baoh parasite when its host senses danger, are named like they are martial-arts techniques: BAOH LISKINI HARDEN SABER PHENOMENON. BAOH BREAK DARK THUNDER PHENOMENON. BAOH SHOOTING BEES STINGERS PHENOMENON. The main villain delivers an improbable dying soliloquy after being pierced by two large stalactites.
Baoh was a short OAV – 47 minutes – with many unanswered questions. What was Nottuso, who snarled but never did anything? She was a fantasy animal created by Doress. Why? No answer. In realistic terms, Nottuso looks like a cute merchandising toy, but Baoh never had much merchandising. Who was Sophine? Did she report to Dr. Kasuminome or to Col. Dordo? Where on Earth did Doress get Walken, and what was his supposed motivation? He came across as a world-class badass just for the sake of being nastier than anyone else.
For all its blahness, Baoh may have one claim to fame. It’s the earliest movie that I know of, theatrical or OAV, live-action or animated, to have a final scene after all the closing credits.
Baoh was licensed in the U.S. by AnimEigo, but there was never a home video release. AnimEigo released it on laser disc in 1995, then on a bilingual DVD in 2001. This version is the subtitled original Japanese; the English dub is reviewed variously as “…the simply horrendous English dub…” and “…some of the bad guys (particularly the cannon-fodder) are abysmal…”.
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #20.