Bakki the Grappler manga received several sequels and spin-offs, becoming one of the most popular martial arts manga today. Due to its popularity, it has been adapted into an anime, first as Baki the Grappler (called just Baki in the text) and currently as Baki Hanma (which includes both the modern Baki and Baki Hanma, as they are, despite different titles, the same show), which is a standalone sequel to the original anime.
Baki Hanma is certainly better than the original Baki. This is mostly because of the better animation and the fact that the producers have more resources than at the time of the original anime, but also because Baki Hanma has expanded the universe more and has adapted more of the manga than the original series.
Our comparison is going to be divided into three sections. The first two sections are going to bring you an overview of the two anime series, respectively, so you know all the necessary information. Finally, we’re going to bring you a detailed analysis of the two shows to determine which one is the better of the two iterations.
Baki: An overview
The first animated series of Baki the Grappler, consisting of 24 episodes aired on TV Tokyo between January 8, 2001 and June 25, 2001, adapting the first manga series but changing the order of the arcs, and avoiding the chapters adapted in the previous OVA from 1994. The anime was produced by the Free-Will music label.
A second animated season, likewise consisting of 24 episodes, was titled “Maximum Tournament Saga” and adapted arc of the manga of the same; it was broadcast between July 23, 2001 and December 24, 2001 with music is composed by Project Baki and songs performed by Ryōko Aoyagi.
For the first series, the opening credits were “Ai Believe”, and the end credits are “Reborn”. For the second, the opening credits are “All Alone” and the end credits are “Loved”. The soundtrack was released on March 27, 2003.
Both series were licensed in North America by Funimation Entertainment, which also aired the episodes on its television channel, Funimation Channel in 2006, with the song “Child Prey” by the group Dir En Gray as the opening credits. The show has also been licensed for European markets.
Baki Hanma: An Overview
In December 2016, an animated adaptation of the “Most Evil Death Row Convicts” arc from the second manga series was announced. Entitled simply Baki, it is composed of 26 episodes directed by Toshiki Hirano and produced by TMS Entertainment with a character design by Fujio Suzuki and a script supervised by Tatsuhiko Urahata.
The series aired on Netflix on June 25, 2018 in Japan and December 18, 2018 in the rest of the world. The series is also broadcast on Tokyo MX1 from July 1, 2018. The opening credits are “Beastful” by Granrodeo and the end credits “Resolve” by Miho Karasawa played by Azusa Tadokoro.
On March 19, 2019, Netflix renewed the series for a second season. On March 5, 2020, most of the previous TMS Entertainment team have announced the project with a new director and character designer. The 13 episodes are broadcast exclusively on Netflix on June 4, 2020. The opening credits are performed by Granrodeo and the end credits by Ena Fujita.
In September 2021, the adaptation of the third series, Hanma Baki – Son of Ogre, following on from the second season of the Netflix series, was announced. The release of the twelve episodes happened on September 30, 2021 on Netflix. The opening credits, “Treasure Pleasure”, are played by Granrodeo and the ending credits, “Unchained World”, by Generations from Exile Tribe.
Baki vs Baki Hanma: Which show is better?
And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two shows and how all of these facts add up to our final verdict on which show is better. Let us continue.
As you can see, Baki and Baki Hanma are connected, although the latter is a standalone sequel. The style and the themes have remained more or less the same in the sequel, with the changes being primarily due to the changes in the plot. On a general level, Baki and Baki Hanma are practically identical, which was – to be honest – expected.
The one thing where Baki Hanma beats Baki are the visuals, but that is also expected, seeing how Baki Hanma is a modern anime series, while the original Baki is around two decades old. Animation standards in anime have increased multiple times during the anime, and it is only logical for Baki Hanma to be far superior in that field.
On a general level, Baki Hanma is certainly more enjoyable than the original Baki. Firstly, there is more to enjoy and Baki Hanma actually expands on the plot and brings us more details about Itagaki’s world. Secondly, the animation of Baki Hanma is far superior; not that the animation in Baki is bad, but Baki Hanma has made good use of modern standards, thus being the better show. Finally, Baki Hanma is generally better in both narration and character development, which is why we can declare it the winner.