Baki is the third anime series after Baki the Grappler and Baki the Grappler: Maximum Tournament. The story is based on the manga series called Baki the Grappler, which was first released in 1991 and ran until 1999. The story follows teenager Baki Hanma as he trains and tests his fighting skills against a variety of different opponents in a deadly, no-rules, bloody hand-to-hand combat. The recent anime series came on Netflix in 2018, this shōnen anime was part of a lot of discussions since its release. In this article, we will discuss if Baki is a good anime and is it worth watching.
Baki is a good anime, but it is not for everyone. Fans praise it for great fighting and amazing martial arts scenes, however, at the same time criticize questioning scientific aspects of fighting and just pure brutality and destruction of the anime. Because of that, the plot aspect of the anime falls back in the background and that is why Baki is not the best shōnen manga out there, and the likes of Naruto, One Piece, and Dragon Ball overshadow Baki Hanma and his fighting adventures. With all that said, Baki is still worth watching, if you can get over the brutality of it.
We will analyze this topic further and go through what Baki is, its origins of it, its success among anime fans, and commentate on the content of the anime. Moreover, we will draw comparisons to other popular anime of its genre and if you are interested, stay with us until the end of the article. We warn you of the spoilers of Baki anime.
Introduction to Baki and Its Popularity
Baki the anime is based on the original manga series that was released from 1991 to 1999, Baki the Grappler. The anime adapts the “Most Evil Death Row Convicts Saga” of the second manga series where the protagonist Baki Hanma, trains to become a better fighter than his father, Yuujiruo, who was the strongest fighter in the world.
His wealthy mother helps him with rigorous training, and the plot of the anime starts when five very dangerous and brutal death row inmates seek Baki for him to defeat him since were undefeated and got bored of winning all the time. During that time, Baki gains friends who fight on his side including Doppo Orochi, Kaoru Hanayama, Kaiou Retsu, and Gouki Shibukawa.
In the beginning, Baki follows all the training regimes his father went through to become the best and even outgrows all the traditional training. Eventually, he meets his father who destroys him in a fight. After the tough defeat, Baki decides that his training is not done and travels the world to continue his training and improve his skills. Years go by and during that time, Baki finds an underground fighting arena where he fights the best and most powerful fighters specializing in various martial arts.
Finally, his martial arts skills start to really improve, and his will to challenge his father fights him, beats him, and eventually becomes the best fighter in the world, staying strong while encountering troubles and obstacles along the way.
The anime was released in 2018 and is available on Netflix. The fans loved it because it showed pure hand-to-hand combat and rarely seen brutality. The manga series was the same, and because of that Baki the Grappler manga is one of the best-selling manga of all time, with only a few manga series selling more volumes. It is without a doubt, one of the best martial arts, fighting anime ever.
The anime series does start a bit differently from the manga series, and the arc of the second series of manga is the beginning of the anime. Regardless, the anime mostly follows the original source.
How Good Is Baki Anime?
Since its release in 2018, there was a lot of discussion about Baki anime. Fans who did not read manga saw great hand-to-hand combat representation and martial arts prowess of some characters in the anime. Implementation of a somewhat solid plot that follows a teenage boy wanting to be the best fighter in the world really fell in the line of what shōnen anime really is – an anime targeting young teenage boys, the main character who is passionate and wants to ultimately achieve their life goal.
Baki’s motivation to beat his father is valid since most of the shōnen series focus on similar character motivations.
All in all, Baki anime was praised for its martial arts skills of the characters, brutality, and exploration of the psychological state of the fighters, who need to be really muscular to be good.
However, the praise mostly stops there. Yes, teenagers loved the anime but some other fans, of which some really loved the manga series, disliked the Baki anime. Some fans disliked the animation of the show to the point they could not watch it. Other fans disliked the starting arc of the anime – for the beginning of the series, anime creators decided to use the “Most Evil Death Row Convicts Saga”, which starts in the second series of manga.
Even though the manga is also quite graphic and brutal, the way the anime has animated the brutality became a double-edged sword for Baki because some fans just did not like the way it was depicted. Blood, brutal fighting, and just destruction everywhere were a huge criticism of the series.
On the other hand, some fans did criticize brutality for the fact that that same graphic scenes overshadowed the story of Baki in the background. The anime is full of fights to the point that even some huge shōnen fans got “overdosed” by them.
Finally, the plot of the series was not revolutionary for some fans even though the anime had a cool scheme that did not focus on only one thing but branched storylines that could pull the viewers in. However, regardless of that, fans did not love the plot of the show – most of them criticized its simplicity, boring dialogue, and just doing the same thing over and over again.
Fans of the previous shows like Baki the Grappler and Baki the Grappler: Maximum Tournament during the 1990s and 2000s, disliked 2018’s Baki and were quite disappointed because of the criticism we listed above.
All in all, Baki has good and bad sides, but how does it fare against the best shōnen series ever like One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball?
How Does Baki Fair Against Shōnen Classics?
Even though Baki the Grappler is one of the best-selling manga series of all time, anime fans around the world agreed that Baki just can’t fight with the best shōnen series in recent decades. Do not get us wrong, all of these series have flaws (One Piece probably the least because it is so good) but still overshadow Baki in most aspects.
For example, if we compared Big Three’s (One Piece, Dragon Ball and Naruto) and Baki’s storylines, the Big three wins definitely. One Piece is almost perfect and its storyline is better than any of the listed series, and Naruto and Dragon Ball have more solid and better stories than Baki.
Naruto and Dragon Ball fall victims to longevity and overusing material over and over again, and its fillers, with Naruto’s, especially being exhausting to the point that even fans skipped them. Baki, even though does not have the problem of fillers and “over longevity”, still has a much simpler story than the Big Three shōnen series.
Animation is just superior in One Piece, Naruto and Dragon Ball, and Baki’s improved after Baki Hanma was released. This issue can be blamed on the budget but overall the style was not really appealing to the viewers.
All in all, Baki is not the best shōnen series out there, and Big Three, even though with its own issues (besides One Piece, it’s a masterpiece), still brings out great storylines, and its cool dialogues, and just overall memorable characters we easily attach to.
Baki can have an advantage over the Big Three over fighting scenes – Baki is much more realistic since it “promotes” combat without magic and mystic forces.
Is Baki a Good Anime and Is It Worth Watching?
After everything we listed, praised, compared, and criticized, we need to say that Baki is a good anime, and definitely worth watching. Baki is still new and fresh in fans’ minds, and will definitely attract new shōnen fans, and give them a break from other series like Naruto and Dragon Ball.
It provides fans a great look into the psychological state of the fighters, great fighting scenes, a solid plot, great strategic planning, and just insanity of the Baki world as a whole. The struggles of the main character to get away from his father’s shadow will rule the fans and will provoke sympathy in them.
Baki the Grappler is one of the best-selling mangas for a reason – there is no way fans bought this series just for it to be a decoration on their bookshelves but to read it and enjoy it. Even though the Baki anime did reach the success of the manga series, the new Baki Hanma series, which will have a second season, already improved on the animation and extended the world of Baki as we know.
So yes, Baki is a good anime and definitely worth watching.
If you are interested in our other Baki-themed articles, check out this piece about the new Baki Hanma anime compared to the Baki, or take a look at our Baki Hamma Review.