baki netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Baki is actually a very long running manga and anime franchise that started way back in 1991.Based on the manga of the same name, Baki is the third anime adaptation of the character. The first adaptation was called Baki the Grappler and ran for 24 episodes in 2001. The second series, Grappler Baki: Maximum Tournament, premiered later that same year and covered a different fighting saga. Finally, in 2018 Baki was again reborn via Netflix.


Baki Hanma is a teen and is training to be a great fighter, even greater than the best fighter in the world which is his father, Yujiro Hanma. Baki is undergoing intensive training and is being praised for his skills which somehow the word reaches every bad villain on death row and they all make it their duty to challenge him. Now, these aren’t your typical villains that are just badass and tough. They all make it their duty to escape death row and make it a mission to find Baki to fight him.


This series is over the top. From Baki’s sheer power causing anyone weak around him to tremble uncontrollably, to the five convicts who escape death row in flashy, violent showcases, the series establishes right away what audiences should expect. This isn’t a series for anyone looking for real logic, or heartfelt drama. Most of Baki is predicated around insane fights, with increasingly insane mechanics, abilities, twists and turns, that seek to continually one up itself.

Courtesy of Netflix

The simplistic plot progression isn’t exactly offset by the thin characters, most of whom are simply embodiments of the overarching philosophy of their chosen martial art. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but in conjunction with such a rote format, there’s nothing to really latch onto with Baki beyond the facile face-punching pleasures that amount from stuffing a show so full of ciphers.

What does Baki bring to the table? At least for someone new to this series, it only brings a lot of muscles and a flavorless anime dude who’s great for greatness’ sake.

Being a show titled Baki, our titular character doesn’t get a single full fight in these first 13 episodes. This gives Baki this very strange feeling, of a series that has moved past its main character or is drawing things out in order to save the ‘best for last.’ It’s also a hallmark of a long running series, where attention is gradually shifted to side characters because overtime there becomes less interesting stuff to do with the main character, or the author feels like giving audiences a break by letting the smaller characters have a chance to shine on their own. This leaves Baki in an unfortunate situation of acting as a jumping on point for viewers out of sheer in-access to the rest of the franchise.