There’s a clear love of all things anime and Japanese in Disney’s Big Hero 6, from the robot-controlling orphan (see Giant Robo) to the mysterious masked villain (20th Century Boys) to the fire-breathing monster… literally a guy in a rubber suit. Best of all is the fictional setting of San Fransokyo, which in combing two of the most iconic cities in the world provides a visual treat every second the characters step outside – streetcars running down hills covered with cherry blossoms, gleaming cityscapes merging the Financial District with Shinjuku, and a Golden Gate bridge lined with Shinto’esque spires.
Sadly the plot is paper-thin as origami. After a patiently told and at times even poignant beginning, the second act steps firmly into get-the-bad-guy territory, and the third… I’m not sure there was a third act, unless a villainous scheme and critical character introduced ten minutes before the closing credits count.
Still, for kids the underlying story is good and there’s plenty to entertain, while for kids-at-heart who share the creators’ interest in Japanese culture, a sour ending doesn’t too much spoil all the CG candy that comes before. Bonus points for the opening short “Feast”, which is as charming as any the studio – including their Pixar subsidiary – have produced.