REVIEW: Big Hero 6: The Series – Season 1, Episodes 21 and 22 “The Bot-Fighter” and “Obake Yashiki”

“All I’m saying is if you like something and you’re good at it, why deny yourself?”
*Spoilers*
“The Bot-Fighter” opens with Fred, Hiro and Baymax battling a tiny three-headed robot in a diner. Hiro dispatches it, but another robot managed to steal the register during the scuffle. The heroes locate a dog-shaped logo on the robot, indicating a bot-fighter named Stan. However, Hiro says that Stan and his cronies wouldn’t be smart enough to pull off a stunt like this. They all agree that it must be Yama, though Fred’s first guess is Aunt Cass. Hiro goes incognito and infiltrates the bot-fights on Good Luck Alley. There he meets a female bot-fighter who admired his career before he got out of the game, and he teaches her some fighting tricks. However, Hiro is ultimately unable to get proof that Yama is behind the crime wave. He plans on going back another night, a troubling notion for his friends who fear he may revert to his life of crime. That night, Hiro spies some more and flirts with her more but fails to gain any conclusive evidence. He tells his friends he’s going back to fight Yama, but when he gets there, Trina is his first fight. However, as soon as they get ready to battle, San Fransokyo PD shows up and busts Hiro; Trina escapes.
Aunt Cass again bails Hiro out of jail, and her silent disappointment is exacerbated by his reluctance to tell her what’s really going on despite saying he has a good reason for what he’s doing. Hiro is grounded by his aunt and berated by his friends, but he decides to go back one more time to get the proof.  In his match with Trina, Hiro’s bot overcomes her bot’s modifications easily. Hiro makes his way up to Yama, and of course, he defeats him again too. He texts his friends the all clear to investigate Yama’s computer. All they find is a USB containing a disturbing video. However, it doesn’t pertain to bot fighting; in fact, it exonerates him of Hiro’s suspicions. Yama has been taking a salsa class at the same time as the robberies. This makes it clear to Hiro that Trina is the real culprit, and when he confronts her she says that people like them “never really turn it around.” She creates a super-bot out of all her bots and sets it to attack Hiro and his friends. Hiro manages to gain control of his stolen bot and stops Trina’s bot. Hiro thanks his friends for being there for him; he says that without them, Aunt Cass and Tadashi, he may have ended up just like Trina. Trina is revealed to be a robot who calls Obake “father.”
In “Obake Yashiki,” Granville shows Gogo a new, giant magnet she’s been working on. Fred tries to prank Gogo, but the chains he’s wrapped himself in are attracted to the magnet. Gogo is annoyed by the joke but not scared. The crew decide to visit a haunted house, and they continue trying to figure out what Gogo’s fear is. She finally tells them that she has a fear of leprechauns. They receive word that Noodle Burger Boy is at the Kreitech shipyard and jump into action. However, once there, Hiro is distracted by what appears to be his dead brother Tadashi. The next day, Hiro leaves class when he sees his brother yet again. Fred dresses up as a leprechaun and goes to Gogo’s house, but fails to scare her. That night the team encounters Noodle Burger Boy again, and this time he sets a group of robots on them. Baymax is injured, and Noodle Burger Boy and his bots manage to escape.

Tadashi appears a third time, and Baymax doesn’t see him. He tells Hiro he must still just be missing him. Nonetheless, Hiro follows the spectre back into the haunted house, and this time, Tadashi speaks to him. Hiro insists he must be going crazy, but Tadashi makes small talk about Aunt Cass and Hiro’s rebellious nature. Meanwhile, Noodle Burger Boy and his bots detach the large magnet from its bearings. A large hippo appears, scaring Honey into a corner, and a giant spider attacks Fred. Under Wasabi, the ground crumbles. Noodle Burger Boy attempts to steal the magnet. Meanwhile, Hiro realizes that the person he’s been talking to can’t be his brother. Gogo tries to fight back against a Leprechaun that attacks her and realizes it’s not really there; Hiro and his friends simultaneously realize that in the haunted house, Obake planted lenses that create optical illusions and have been causing the episodes with Tadashi and everyone’s fears.
“The Bot-Fighter” is a pretty good episode, and I like the chemistry between Trina and Hiro, although I figured early on she was the real culprit. Disney continues to be terrible at plot twists, and I’m not sure why they keep attempting it. But other than the red herring, I thought Trina was handled really well overall, and I was surprised that she turned out to be a robot. Her voice is provided by Christy Carlson Romano, which is pretty cool for Disney fans; Romano played Ren on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, voiced Kim Possible on the TV series of the same name, starred in various DCOMs, and is acting in the new Kim Possible movie. She does a great job with Trina; I didn’t even know it was her until the credits rolled.  “The Bot-Fighter” is also a very funny episode, with lots of comic relief, usually involving Fred; the funniest was Fred thinking Aunt Cass must be the mastermind behind the theft. However, it bugs me that everyone else suspected Yama; sure, he’s Hiro’s rival from his bot-fighting days, and now he’s a general adversary for the team, but come on! I’ve been saying this since episode one: in the first movie, Yama didn’t seem like some mastermind capable of these grand schemes. He’s a thug and a bot-fighter. I can’t take someone seriously when they call Hiro “Zero” as some kind of a mind-blowing insult. But I guess that’s kind of a moot point here since it didn’t end up being Yama, but it’s still annoying.
I did, however really like the scene where the team finds Yama’s USB; at first, I thought they were going to leave their shocked faces with no explanation, as a sort of inside-adult-joke. But when they revealed what was actually contained in the file, it made it that much funnier! The comedy in this series is hit-or-miss, but when it’s good, they hit it out of the park. I liked the scene in the very end with Obake and Trina, but the actual battle with the giant bot she makes is unsatisfying. It felt like it was too easy for Hiro to gain control of such an unexpected situation, and it’s difficult to accept that he was able to completely alter the bot’s programming on the spot like that. This sometimes tends to happen with these shows, where the ending just conveniently happens. It doesn’t ruin “The Bot-Fighter” by any means, but it does make me wonder if they should make one-hour episodes so they can flesh out the fight scenes and give things more weight and tension.

I liked “Obake Yashiki” a bit better. I’m all in favor of Halloween episodes, though like with American Horror Story, I do wonder why they chose to do it weeks before the holiday itself. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of good stuff in this episode. I like the notion of Hiro being haunted by the memory of his brother, even, of course, if it turns out to be another of Obake’s tricks. I do wonder, though, since Obake seems to know so much about Hiro’s private life and Tadashi, why didn’t he do a better job at emulating Tadashi? Saying things like “You don’t need any limitations” and telling Hiro not to fix Baymax are dead giveaways. Someone with so much insight and intelligence shouldn’t have made such an obvious slip-up if he knows anything about Tadashi and the relationship he had to Hiro. My guess is that they likely ran out of time here as well, had to slap a conclusion on and weren’t sure how else to make Hiro realize what’s going on.
The title “Obake Yashiki” contains the villain’s name, and apparently together it means “haunted house.” Interestingly, in this episode, Obake acts as Tadashi’s ghost. I really like the team’s Halloween costumes, and I also thought it was cool when Fred saw regular kids dressed as Big Hero 6 for Halloween. However, I found Gogo’s fear of leprechauns and Honey’s fear of hippos a little too silly. I’m willing to accept Wasabi’s phobias as part of his character, and Fred’s fear of spiders has been well established. And honestly, a character just being high-strung or happening to be afraid of spiders makes more sense to me than running away from leprechauns and hippos. These scenes were meant to be funny, but I was watching it like, “really”? Fear isn’t rational, but I just thought that was too ridiculous to sympathize with and not funny enough to laugh at.
Overall, “The Bot-Fighter” and “Obake Yashiki” are slightly above average episodes of Big Hero 6: The Series. I like the latter a little more, but both are fun with a lot of humor, some dramatic parts, and great animation. There were no great fight sequences in either, and I think that comes down to the creators feeling rushed; they tell pretty big stories with subplots in the span of 18-19 minutes, and then the 3-4 they have left just isn’t enough for a satisfying battle or resolution. That said, I enjoyed a lot more than I didn’t, and I can actually see myself re-watching these, unlike something like “Big Hero 7.” I loved the costumes and spookier elements of “Obake Yashiki,” and I really liked the character of Trina in “The Bot-Fighter;” I hope we see more of her, as well as her relationships to both Obake and Hiro.
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