I love to analyze media. I love to challenge how people see things. I look to look at things from a different point of view. And I have no problems not being completely satisfied with everything that comes out and wanting more. So if I come across as hypercritical, it’s not because I’m constantly looking for something to hate. It’s because I believe everything should have high standards and be quality entertainment. It’s important to think critically about what you love and consume.
So with that in mind, because of how GOOD Big Hero 6 was, I set my expectations very high for the upcoming series and unfortunately, it did not meet them. I was able to see both Baymax Returns and an episode released for UK audiences (that of course the Internet managed to spread around the world) and I just didn’t like them.
Being as critical as I am, I couldn’t help but point out how ridiculous some of the plot elements were (so there are 80’s dancers in San Fransokyo who can control electricity like it’s nothing?) and how the overall tone and themes made it clear that it was meant more for kids. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad, of course kids should have a show like this, but it proves to me I’m no longer the target audience and that the show is more of a fun, separate thing from the movie. (Remember, the creators made the show with the deliberate intention of generating hype for a sequel, which means that the show itself is not the actual sequel.)
I know the animation gets dragged a lot but I don’t really mind it too much (though there are times when it gets really stiff). What baffles me the most is that the design team took inspiration from 101 Dalmatians for the style. What the hell does that movie have to do with Big Hero 6? It’s way too angular and pointy for the first movie’s soft, round style.
But for me, the biggest reason why I cannot get into the show is because I HATE all the new characters. HATE.
Professor Granville, the replacement for Professor Callaghan at Hiro’s school, is one of those ‘tough but fair’ teachers that thinks being harsh on students is the best way for them to succeed. As someone who has had to deal with that type of person, I can say, no, we do not succeed when you are a hardass to us. Seeing her in the vicinity of one of my most beloved characters made me really uncomfortable. Fred has an 11 year old rival named Richardson Mole who creeps on Gogo (eww) and has a whole basement where he has games like Whack-a-Fred and video games that involve shooting at or beating up Fred. Again, that made me SUPER uncomfortable to see one of my fave characters like that.
Worst of all, there’s a new character called Karmi who is incredibly rude to Hiro (but is creepily obsessed with his superhero alter ego) that I’m supposed to sympathize because apparently she doesn’t have a support system in place. I don’t mind flawed characters, but when the first thing she does is talk about how Hiro is pathetic for liking Baymax because he’s not alive, I have absolutely no interest seeing her become Hiro’s friend.
See, Big Hero 6 is my ultimate comfort movie and the characters in it bring me so much joy. Seeing them have to deal repeatedly with characters who are bullies honestly hurts to watch. I know that may sound weird but as someone who has been bullied and identifies with these characters, that’s too much for me to handle. So, unfortunately, I cannot watch the show while it airs. I don’t even understand WHY all the new recurring characters need to be jerks when they’re already dealing with supervillains!
So yeah, it really sucks, but I cannot get excited for the show as much as I wanted to. Yet despite my feeling of dread and concern, I’m still excited as hell for Wreck-It Ralph 2. Why is that?
Well, I think I’m more confident in Wreck-It Ralph 2 because it’s a legit sequel made by the same production company (so we know it will be for everyone, not just kids) and made by the same people. Rich Moore wanted to make a sequel since pretty much when the first movie came out, so you know that he’ll be telling the story he wants to tell instead of handing it to totally new people. So I’m more comfortable knowing who is making the sequel.
And while I don’t like the new characters for the BH6 series I’m actually excited for a new character in the WIR sequel, Yesss. We don’t know much about her but from what I’ve heard from people who went to the D23 Expo, she’s probably Ralph’s love interest and not an absolute jerk.
See, having all new characters in the BH6 series seems a little superfluous since the first movie already had so many characters. I understand having the new teacher, but why do we need a character like Karmi when we need to develop the relationships between each member of the team first? Wreck-It Ralph has more room for a new character, and it would be interesting to see how a character from the Internet gets along with old video game characters.
The idea of Yesss being Ralph’s love interest is actually appropriate. Ralph has been really lonely for the thirty years of his existence and has been told that he’s ugly and worthless and bad. So, having a love interest that finds him desirable is kind of important. It would also be a realistic way to add an interesting conflict to the story: what happens when Ralph realizes he finds himself being romantically involved with someone, and how will Vanellope take it?
Am I still nervous for the sequel? Of course I am. (I’m a little worried that the crossover material will draw attention away from the main characters.) But I’m more comfortable because I know it’s the same people with the same standards of storytelling rather than completely new people having to rework something for children’s television.
So far it looks like I’m not the only person who is ambivalent towards the BH6 series. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like EVERYTHING about the show. You can just be okay with it. You can like it without having to justify it. You can dislike it! You can absolutely want more!
And it’s okay to not like the new characters, especially Karmi. I’ve seen people on social media gushing over how she’s a precious bean and must be protected (which strikes me as completely artificial given how aggressive she is to Hiro) and that you’re sexist if you dislike her. I scoff at that notion. While more representation for minority groups is important, you don’t have to like EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, especially if they’re assholes or underdeveloped. You can demand better. You can demand more female characters that have more development and are kinder while being assertive and not be a misogynist.
Furthermore, you don’t have to like every follow up product to something you love. You can admit when something is flawed or just okay. You can dislike some aspects of it, or not like it at all. You can demand better stories, better characters, and better representation.
Never settle for crap when you can have gold.