Saturday, August 6, 2011

Take a Baoh: "Baoh the Visitor" (1989)

Japanese anime is an acquired taste, either you find it pretty cool, or you are bored stupid by it. This one is pretty cool.

Dubbed in English, Baoh is actually Ikuroo (voiced by Brian Hinnant), a seventeen year old amnesiac traveling with young girl Sumire (voiced by Kem Helms). The opening chase onboard a train shows Sumire has special powers. Ikuroo has escaped from a pod being controlled by evil Dr. Kasuminome (voiced by Mike Way). He refers to Ikuroo as "Baoh." Kasuminome has found a way to speed up evolution with the help of a parasitic worm that lives in the host experiment. The worm changes the host as needed, usually making them unstoppable in a fight.

The villains send cyborg hitman Dordo (voiced by Dave Underwood) to kill Ikuroo and Sumire after others have failed. Ikuroo keeps recovering from seemingly deadly wounds, the only way to completely stop a baoh is to shoot it in the head and then torch the body. Dordo is dead, but Walken (voiced by Chuck Denson) waits in the wings. Walken is a powerful Native American. The bad guys capture Sumire and use her to lure Ikuroo to the secret lab, unaware that Ikuroo is experiencing baoh powers that no one could foresee. At fifty minutes, the action is quick and the plot sparse as Ikuroo finally meets his evil creator, and tries to rescue Sumire.

Unlike a lot of anime I have seen, this piece does not feel like the first episode of a series we never get to complete. The story is self contained, but does leave room for a sequel. Ikuroo's baoh is pretty cool looking, as is the giant Walken. The pace is brisk, and the gore is heavy. Kiddies expecting Pokemon will be grossed out and probably have nightmares.

I could easily picture this as a big budget action flick along the lines of "Blade" or "Spawn." The story is certainly interesting, if not overpopulated with characters, and the hero is likable, whether severing his own arm in order to escape Walken or giving Sumire a mouthful of his own blood to revive her after an attack.

"Baoh the Visitor" is nothing earth shattering, but plenty entertaining. Ignore the lousy end credits songs, the nerdy baoh powers literally spelled out for you on the screen, and enjoy the carnage. (* * * *) out of five stars.