Baoh: The Visitor
A "pharmaceutical" company dabbling in genetic research and psychic phenomena finds (or creates, we're not sure which) a worm that parasitizes on a host's brain and turns the host into a tool of carnage, called Baoh, the visitor (named after the creator's mother-in-law, I suppose). The newest host, a 17-year-old boy named Ikuro, manages to escape with the help of a 9-year-old psychic girl named Sumire, and proceeds to defend himself from some of the lamest assassination attempts ever conceived in anime. You know where the rest of THIS story is going.
Baoh. It lives in your brain... and it won't let you die!
Let me die! Oh PLEASE, let me die!
That was the assessment after watching the simply horrendous English dub of this certified turkey. With confused, halfhearted voice acting, aged animation, and mind-bogglingly stupid action sequences, Baoh fails on so many levels that it's downright laughable.
The really pathetic thing is that a lot of this seemed to be done with a sense of style and panache that, while probably apparent on the drawing board, was accidentally dropped somewhere along the way towards execution and replaced with Folger's crystals. Even the opening music and title just screamed, "Bad 80s movie! Run!"
The plot and storyline in this one, while evidently there, are so jumbled up and chopped to bits that the director resorts to having Sumire *tell* us what's going on. The characters' motivations (particularly those of the villains) and the "fights" themselves become contrived to such an extreme point that halfway through the film Eric and I began singing "Deus Ex Machina" as a Gregorian chant.
It was about this point that Christi uttered the most telling comment of the night: "Scoot over. I can still see the screen."
Still, we shouldn't expect much more than action sequences in a title like this, right? Well, to put it bluntly, the action sequences weren't too tight even back in 1989, and they only get worse with age. Apparently, the true "magic" power of Baoh is to turn the host into a half-blind blue superhero (unfortunately, NOT The Tick), and give him "fighting techniques" so spurious in concept that they have subtitles stating dubious lines such as "BAOH LISKINI HARDEN SABER PHENOMENON" (itty-bitty vorpal blades on his arms) or "BAOH SHOOTING-BEES STINGER PHENOMENON" (killer dandruff) or "BAOH KICK-VERY-HARD-IN-THE-CROTCH PHENOMENON" (just kidding on the last one, but only just).
It doesn't help that this OAV's idea of "gore and violence" was to have everything (that is, walls, door, people, small woodland animals) melt into puddles, leaving eyeballs hanging out. A piffle-poor example of forensics, to say the least. (Either that, or this alternate world version of Homo sapiens is an amazing boneless wonder. It must be an alternate world, what with the Nausicaa-reject critter on Sumire's shoulder.)
More minus points for one of the worst depictions of Native Americans in film media - Walken, the big-ass "shaman" psychic in this flick, was so stupidly portrayed that my wife's Cherokee grandmother must surely be rolling in her grave. Not that the main villain gets any better treatment, giving a seven-minute death-scene soliloquy directly at the camera about "his art" while impaled on a stalactite. Come on!
Woefully bad synthesizer and clunky, slapdash animation complete the picture. The voice acting produces true gems of dialogue, like, "He will find her by following the scent of her distress". Not to mention the truly squicky romance angle (umm, she's nine?!?) which thankfully isn't really too much of a plot hook.
Unless you wish to see lots of red paint, mute blue supermen who have laser cannons and the like just fall into their hands by chance, and endless subtitles of PHENOMENON (doot-dooooo-doodoodoot!), then just pass this title by.
The moral of the story: just because it's cheap to license doesn't mean you should.
Here's one title that we won't be visiting again. I'm not sure a Japanese track (even with Hidaka Noriko) would've helped, either. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Lots of gore, all of it so unrealistic that only the youngest children won't see through it. No nudity, no language, and, most importantly, no taste.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Baoh: The Visitor © 1989 Studio Pierrot / Toei Animation / Shueisha
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