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There are a lot of fans of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure out there. Over the decades, the series has stood out for its unique character designs, fashion, use of color, over the top stories, and so much more. Before Hirohiko Araki rose to fame with this manga, he created various other smaller works, such as Baoh. It involved people with super powers and secret government organizations, while being chalk full of gory violence. Moreover, the art was quite nice. Eventually it got a single OVA that explained the origin of Baoh, and was largely an introduction to the manga. In a lot of ways, it was par for the course as to what people could expect from an anime OVA released during the 1980s, but the gruesome deaths were great, and, in hindsight, it did give viewers an early glimpse of some little touches Araki would become much more well-known for with Jojo.

The story is extremely straightforward focusing on a teenage boy named Ikuro who gets into a car accident with his family. His parents die, but a group of scientists kidnap him to conduct experiments, implanting a strange alien worm larva near his brain. As the creature approaches maturity, Ikuro gains greater and greater super powers. His body transforms and he takes on the form of Baoh, he has incredible strength, can launch deadly needles, and he can harness electricity as a weapon. The scientist intended for him to be used as a sort of super soldier, but he escapes with the help of a 9-year-old psychic named Sumire. From there, the two are on the run from these scientist and their henchmen. This leads to a number of fight scenes that inevitably end with the baddie dying in some sort of utterly brutal fashion. It isn’t all that engaging of a story as it trots a path used many times before in the medium. Also, it doesn’t even give viewers any background about Sumire’s psychic powers. Mostly, viewers are sticking around for the gore because there is a ton of it.

Happily, the art is pretty good, so people get quite a lot of detail when a villain meets his end. There is quite a lot of head melting and bisections, but Baoh does throw a curve ball from time to time as well. As mentioned earlier, this was created by Hirohiko Araki, and we do see things here that would carry on all the more so in the future when he would create Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. For one, characters costumes can be really quite detailed. This is particularly the case for Ikuro and Sumire, but some of the villains also have fairly elaborate attire. It isn’t breathtakingly over the top like a character from Jojo, but it’s apparent that efforts are being made to add a little something extra to what they are wearing. Second, exaggerated poses creep into the show from time to time, particularly when Baoh is in battle. Many of these are simplified versions of poses that we would eventually start to see in Jojo. Artistically, Boah makes for an interesting stepping stone to observe in the evolution of Araki’s work.

Not only was Baoh a creation by Araki early in his career, but there were several other notable anime figures just starting out that were involved in this OVA. First, Hideaki Anno (Evangelion) was one of the key animators, as was Takeshi Honda (Nadia: Secret of Blue Water), Toshiyuki Kubooka (Project A-Ko), Mahiro Maede (Gunbuster, Gankutsuou), and Takahiro Oomori (Baccano!). Meanwhile, there were also some fairly well-known Japanese voice actors who lent their talent to the show including Shuuichi Akeda who played the role of evil colonel Dordo in Baoh, and was Char in many of the early Gundam series, and later Shanks in One Piece. Sumire was voiced by Noriko Hidaka who was also Jean in Nadia: Secret of Blue Water (there are actually a lot of people from Blue Water in Baoh), Akane in Ranma 1/2, Kikyou in Inuyasha, and even Pipimi in Pop Team Epic. With a little digging, it’s surprising how many well-known anime figures were involved with Baoh beyond its creator.

This isn’t any sort of groundbreaking OVA, but rather an interesting piece of history. It gives fans of anime an early look at the sort of stuff Hirohiko Araki was doing before Jojo, and even serves as a fun bit of trivia seeing who else lent their talent to the show. Nonetheless, its still a fun way to spend about 45 minutes. The animation quality, action, and gore should be more than enough to hold people’s attention while checking Baoh out.

- IroIro
June 26, 2020

More Gory Anime of the 1980s We've Reviewed:

- Dream Hunter Rem Anime Review

- Battle Royale High School Anime Review

- Maryuu Senki Anime Review

Directed by: Hiroyuki Yokoyama
Studio: Pierrot
Released: 1989
Episodes: 1

Baoh Image 1
VHS Cover Art

Baoh Image 2
Ikuro / Baoh

Baoh Image 3
One of Sumire's unexplained psychic visions

Baoh Image 4
Most people who died did so terribly in Baoh