Baymax, the medical robot that injected a huge amount of heart into 2014’s Big Hero 6, is adorable.
He is algorithmically relentless.
It makes sense; he’s been programmed to provide the best care possible to those he identifies as being in need and he will do it whether you want him to or not.
He doesn’t do it in a hurtful way since that would completely counter to his programming but because all he’s committed to is providing nursing care where it’s needed, he keeps going and going until he is able to deliver the best and most tender care possible.
It’s the sheer tenacity of his care giving that informs much of the heartfelt humour of five of the six shorts (all written by Cirocco Dunlap) of Baymax! by Walt Disney Animation, which follows Big Hero 6: The Series (2017–2021).
Both of these series slip neatly into the continuity of the film, occupying the same world, centred on the city of San Fransokyo, and featuring the two main characters of Baymax’s tenderly circumscribed world, Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) and Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), who are his family and devoted to him in ways that make your heart fill with quiet joy.
It’s this sense of found family that gives Baymax! and indeed the whole franchise, such a buoyantly delightful feel; Baymax may push on regardless to get the job done, but he’s kind and caring in his own way, and surrounded by the same love and care, and it’s this sense of belonging that grants the series, like its predecessor a lovely warm and fuzzy vibe to go with its laugh-out-loud sense of humour.
The five episodes which make up most of Baymax!, focus on the five people (and a cat!) that Baymax helps, all of them deeply reluctant to accept any medical assistance but who, to a person (and a cat!) finally relent to their deep and ongoing benefit.
First up is good old Cass who injures herself while tending to her busy and popular café and who, knowing better than anyone besides Hiro what Baymax is capable of when he is resolutely on mission, does her best to escape then subvert his ministrations.
She doesn’t succeed but for a very good reason – she needs to learn a life lesson that will make things better for her; in this case, that people love and adore her and won’t desert her at the first sign of the café not delivering its customary service (Baymax steps in to make coffees etc but let’s just say his efforts, while well meaning, are gorgeously comical) and that she can, and needs to rest if she’s to return to the buzz and vibrant life of her business.
The other episodes before the final one, which is cliffhanger resolution from episode five, “Yachi”, focus on Kiko, who has grief issues to resolve, Sofia who experiences her first period at school sending her into a panic, Mbita, who has to reshape his life at the same as he meets someone special (the meet-cute is a delight and will warm your heart) and the cat, Yachi, who swallows an earbud and doesn’t realise that he’ll be better off without it.
Each of those emotionally resonant episodes, comes loaded with a ton of slapstick fun, whether it’s a careering chase through the streets of San Fransokyo or a cat doing it’s claws-engaged utmost to evade the care it needs, and they will make you laugh.
But the joy of Baymax! is that it captures, sustains and continues, the feel of the movie and previous series, combining zestful comedy with some huge life lessons and a significant amount of affecting emotion.
It’s a neat little double act that works a treat, making these short but wonderfully impactful animation nuggets the perfect way to get a laugh and have your heart lifted, and to remember that sometimes when we don’t think we need help, we do, and that we should just give into it.
To be fair, when Baymax is on the case, you don’t really have choice in the matter, but really that’s a good thing as everyone discovers because while everyone’s favourite nursing robot may not pick up on EQ cues, his care is superlatively good and just what you need.
Each of the episodes, including the final one where Baymax needs some help and everyone come together to deliver it, including Hiro who is mostly relegated to short but effective end-credits scenes in the first five episodes, do a heartwarmingly good job of celebrating Baymax, and extolling the healing virtues of love, belonging and found families.
Baymax! is a sweet, special joy, all gut belly laughs and soul-enriching humanity, that makes you feel absolutely wonderful about the world, which given the state of things at the moment is just what we need to re-focus our attention on the good things around us and to be reminded that there’s a lot of love about being alive, especially when you are loved and cared for (whether you think you need it or not).