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Despite Potential, Big Hero 6: The Series Fails
5 June 2019
While Big Hero 6: The Series has some potential, with a handful of interesting villains (not all of them, but a handful) and a few intriguing ideas, it's clear the writers are more interested in making the cartoon look "cool" than incorporating any of the heart that made Big Hero 6 (2014) - or superhero stories in general - captivating. It appears season one did try to incorporate some heart in it, but not only did it fail in the end, season two doesn't even try at all. Disappointingly, this cartoon doesn't feel like Big Hero 6.

To sum it up:

The characters are somehow flatter than they were in the movie - 4/6 of the team are twice the archetypes than they were in 2014. Wasabi went from being keenly organized to an obsessed neatfreak, Gogo went from reserved and tough yet willing to comfort to angry, bitter, and the first to punch, Honey Lemon from sweet and a little quirky to the naïve, artsy, optimist, and Fred went from the funny, not-so-bright geek to the dumb, comic relief, rich kid who thinks of EVERYTHING in comic book terms and only comic terms. They are never expanded beyond these even more stereotypical archetypes, despite ample opportunity to do so. Baymax is also reduced to the damsel in distress more and more as the show goes on, and his relationship with Hiro is limited to him just standing next to him, shooting his rocket fist, or unwittingly cracking a joke. Hiro himself is the most similar to his movie counterpart, but there are moments he feels out of character, and unlike in the movie, the show character doesn't grow or change over the course of the series.

Other movie characters are either taken out of character from their movie counterparts for comic relief (Krei, Cass) or barely touched upon unless the plot demands it out of nowhere, only for the characters to be quickly forgotten (Callaghan, Tadashi).

All of the cartoon original characters are flat. Most of the villains only exist to provide conflict for the superhero plotlines and have no character beyond Monster of the Week. The few that do have potential to be flesh out characters are either quickly abandoned or quickly reduced to archetypes the next time they appear. Not only that, but most of them are written with comic relief as part of their (albeit flat) character foundations, which isn't good when their whole character is otherwise meant to be This Week's Villain. Other than the fact these guys are bad and Villains Must be Stopped, there's little motivation for the team to go after these guys.

One of the few non-villain original characters, and arguable the most interesting, has a personality that tends to flip flop depending on who's writing her. Professor Granville is presented as a tough but fair teacher who cares about her students and wants to keep them safe through limitations, but is also known to ignore blatant bullying, become a total fangirl that ignores red flags when someone she admires is around, and in season two it's clear she's become nothing more than an attempt at comic relief now that her role in the season one arc is done.

The show rarely introduces characters that are close to Hiro's age, but when it does, it has a strange of habit of them all being girls and - in one way or another - sets them up to be subversive love interests.

Trina and Megan are introduced with romantic interest in mind, Trina and Hiro being shown as mutually attracted to each other, and Megan and Hiro being set up on a date together. Both, however, go nowhere as Trina is revealed to be a villain (and that's where her characterization halts) and Megan becomes a side/minor character who is just be a friend.

The third character is often implied to be Hiro's real love interest, fellow teen SFIT student Karmi. She's concerning, however, as her character frequently bullies Hiro for getting into college at a slightly age than her, and her behavior is always ignored by other characters - including Granville and the rest of the team. They only start paying attention when Hiro, who originally wanted to be friends with Karmi, buckles down under her bullying and starts to retaliate; however, Karmi is still never punished for her behavior, while everyone admonishes Hiro, despite him never going as far as she does. Her behavior continues to be ignored, and she's even praised and put on a pedestal by the rest of the team as the show goes on.

Bullies aren't new to children's media and enemies-to-lovers isn't an uncommon trope, but the fact Karmi and Hiro are being presented this way - a bully who gets away with her actions and a victim who is constantly blamed for them and ignored - is concerning for a Disney show. The fact that they'll be love interests makes me queasy, and this portrayal of bullying is the reason no children in my family are ever going to be allowed to watch this show. I don't want them to learn that this is how you handle bullying (by praising bullies, ignoring their behavior, and victim blaming).

Still, it's strange that the only times young teens are introduced with the implication they'll become part of Hiro's inner circle, they're always girls put in a romantic light that's either shut down, turned into a side/minor character, and/or involves blatant antagonism. Why? Why bother with young teens or romance at all if this is the way you're ALWAYS going to handle them?

The show also attempts to put morals in several episodes, but these morals are either almost entirely pushed aside and never dwelled on (privacy in "Muirahara Woods"), confusing and don't make sense (Hiro's so-called struggles in class in "Failure Mode"), or are twisted around to say the opposite of what was originally intended (lying in "Lie Detector").

There is potential in the show, good moments and ideas that could have been developed further, but the problem is, they're never developed further. The show isn't interested in emotion, relationships, or growth like the movie was. Despite a few attempts, everything gets thrown out the window at the first chance, because upgrades and action scenes are cooler and more important than the audience's emotional investment in whatever story is being told this week (or overarchingly).

Overall, it's not a good show and doesn't live up to the movie in the slightest.
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