Fans of the 2014 Disney film Big Hero 6, loosely based on the eponymous Marvel superhero team, will enjoy this manga adaptation of the spinoff Disney XD series Big Hero 6: The Series. The first volume includes three chapters, each of which has the same title as its corresponding episode of the series. In Chapter 1: Issue 188, Hiro’s thermodynamics professor pairs him up with an unfriendly girl named Karmi, whose place as the youngest student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology was supplanted by 14-year-old Hiro. In a Big Hero 6 showdown against mother-daughter supervillain team High Voltage, Hiro saves Karmi’s life, leading Karmi to develop a huge crush on Big Hero 6 member Hiro—whom she doesn’t realize is the same person as her classmate. Big Hero 6 member and comic aficionado Fred tells the group about the infamous comic Captain Fancy Issue #188 and suggests they may glean useful information from the elusive comic. That is, if they can convince Fred’s archnemesis, 10-year-old comic collector Richardson Mole, to let them read it.
In Chapter 2: Failure Mode, Hiro is tasked with creating a miniature building that can withstand an earthquake with a Richter magnitude of 9.0. He procrastinates, and the building he ends up turning in instantly falls apart. When he finds out that all of his follow-up ideas for the building have already been tried, he becomes disheartened. Healthcare companion robot Baymax shows Hiro video footage of his late brother Tadashi considering giving up after his 58th attempt to create Baymax; obviously he persevered, since he successfully completed Baymax. Meanwhile, local villain Globby attempts to steal art from the local museum, and Big Hero 6 member Honey Lemon teaches Baymax about art. This subplot is very charming, with the logical robotic Baymax struggling to understand emotional concepts; it is reminiscent of and will appeal to fans of Data’s characterization in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Case in point, Baymax’s mechanical explanation for his desire to learn about art: “I am coded to expand my therapeutic capabilities. Perhaps I should increase my understanding of art.”
In Chapter 3: Baymax Returns Part 1, we see how Hiro recreated Baymax after the events of the Big Hero 6 film. Yama, a criminal whom Hiro defeated in bot fights in the film, steals Baymax’s exoskeleton and attempts to blackmail Hiro into stealing a mysterious sculpture from his professor’s office. This chapter occurs chronologically before either of the other chapters, so the choice to place it at the end of the first volume of this manga is strange. Since it’s a two-parter, it seems the decision was made solely so this volume would have a cliffhanger. But the cliffhanger’s tension is undermined by the knowledge that Hiro must succeed in retrieving Baymax, since Baymax appears in the other chapters unharmed.
The art differs between the film and series, and since this manga is based on the series, one would guess the art would mirror its 2D hand-drawn animation style. But by drawing the characters in kodomo anime-style art, Hong Gyun An evokes the rounded 3D animation of the original film. The illustrations are rendered in full color, though the colors are more muted than those of the film or the series. Unlike typical manga, this book is read from left to right. Consider purchasing this series where the Big Hero 6 franchise is popular, or where kodomo adventure manga like Pokemon Adventures circulates well.
Big Hero Six: The Series, vol. 1
By Hong Gyun An
Yen Press JY, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 8 and up
Related media: Movie to Comic, TV to Comic
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)
Character Representation: Japanese-American