Baki the Grappler
Cover of the first tankōbon volume of Baki the Grappler, featuring Baki Hanma
グラップラー刃牙
(Gurappurā Baki)
GenreMartial arts[1]
Manga
Written byKeisuke Itagaki
Published byAkita Shoten
English publisher
ImprintShōnen Champion Comics
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Champion
English magazineRaijin Comics
DemographicShōnen
Original run1991 – present
Volumes149 (List of volumes)
Manga parts
  1. Grappler Baki (42 volumes)
  2. Baki (31 volumes)
  3. Baki Hanma (37 volumes)
  4. Baki-Dou (22 volumes)
  5. Bakidou (17 volumes)
  6. Baki Rahen
Original video animation
Directed byYuji Asada
Produced by
  • Chiaki Yasuda
  • Tsuneo Seto
Written byYoshihisa Araki
Music byTakahiro Saito
StudioKnack Productions
Licensed by
ReleasedAugust 21, 1994
Runtime45 minutes
Game
Fighting Fury
DeveloperTomy
PublisherTomy, Midas Interactive
GenreFighting
PlatformPlayStation 2
Released
  • JP: October 12, 2000
  • UK: July 26, 2003
Anime television series
Directed by
Produced by
Written byAtsuhiro Tomioka
Music byProject Baki
StudioGroup TAC
Licensed by
Original networkTV Tokyo
English network
Original run January 8, 2001 December 24, 2001
Episodes48 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
  • Baki: Most Evil Death Row Convicts
  • Special Anime
Directed byTeiichi Takiguchi
Produced byYu Kiyozono
Music byKenji Fujisawa
StudioTelecom Animation Film
ReleasedDecember 6, 2016
Runtime15 minutes
Original net animation
Baki
Directed byToshiki Hirano
Produced by
  • Kei Watahiki
  • Yuki Yokoi
  • Executive producer:
  • Tetsu Kojima
Written byTatsuhiko Urahata
Music byKenji Fujisawa
Studio
Licensed by
Released June 25, 2018 June 4, 2020
Runtime24 minutes
Episodes39 (List of episodes)
Original net animation
Baki Hanma
Directed byToshiki Hirano
Music byKenji Fujisawa
StudioTMS Entertainment
Licensed byNetflix
Released September 30, 2021 August 24, 2023
Runtime24 minutes
Episodes39 (List of episodes)
icon Anime and manga portal

Baki the Grappler (Japanese: グラップラー刃牙, Hepburn: Gurappurā Baki) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Keisuke Itagaki. It was originally serialized in the shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Champion from 1991 to 1999 and collected into 42 tankōbon volumes by Akita Shoten. The story follows teenager Baki Hanma as he trains and tests his fighting skills against a variety of different opponents in deadly, no rules hand-to-hand combat.

The series was followed by five sequels in the same magazine; Baki (バキ, officially romanized as New Grappler Baki: In Search of Our Strongest Hero), which was serialized from 1999 to 2005 and collected into 31 volumes, Baki Hanma (範馬刃牙, Hanma Baki, officially romanized as Baki: Son of Ogre), which was serialized from 2005 to 2012 and collected into 37 volumes, Baki-Dou (刃牙道, Baki Dō, lit. "Baki's Style"), which was serialized from 2014 to 2018 and collected into 22 volumes, a fifth series, also named Bakidou (バキ道) but with Baki's name written in katakana instead of kanji, serialized from 2018 to 2023 and collected into 17 volumes, and Baki Rahen (刃牙らへん, Baki Rahen, lit. "Baki and Others"), serialized from 2023.

A 45-minute original video animation (OVA) was released in 1994. A 24-episode anime aired on TV Tokyo between January 8 and June 25, 2001, and was quickly followed by a second 24-episode series from July 22 to December 24, 2001. An original net animation (ONA) was released on Netflix between June 25 and September 24, 2018, followed by a second season that was released on June 4, 2020. A third series was released from September 30, 2021 to August 24, 2023. The OVA was the first to be licensed and released in North America, in 1998 by Central Park Media, followed by the original manga series in 2002 by Gutsoon! Entertainment (incomplete), and finally both anime series in 2005 by Funimation Entertainment. Media Do International began releasing the second manga series digitally in August 2018. The Baki series is one of the best-selling manga of all time, with over 85 million copies in circulation.

Plot

Main article: List of Baki the Grappler characters

Baki Hanma is raised by his wealthy mother, Emi Akezawa, who also funds his training in the hopes that he can be a powerful warrior like his father, Yujiro Hanma. Around the start of the series, Baki outgrows traditional training and heads out to follow the path of his ruthless father's training and meets many powerful fighters along the way. Eventually, Baki fights his father and is beaten without a challenge. Emi who tries to save him is killed by his father, causing Baki to feel hatred against his old man.

After being beaten, Baki travels around the world continuing his training. Years down the road he finds an underground fighting arena where he fights some of the most powerful fighters of various styles of martial arts. It is here he truly begins to hone his martial arts skills. He intends to get stronger, surpass his father and continue to endure and survive the numerous hurdles he encounters in his journey.

Media

Manga

Main series

See also: List of Baki the Grappler chapters

This series was licensed for a North American release by Gutsoon! Entertainment, who retitled it Baki the Grappler. They published the first 46 chapters in their English-language manga anthology magazine Raijin Comics.[4] The magazine's first issue was released on December 18, 2002, but in July 2004 it was discontinued. Four collected volumes were planned but it is unknown if they were released.
This series is licensed for English release by Media Do International, who released it digitally between August 2018 and August 2019. The company stated a future print release is possible and that they are interested in the original manga as well.[6]

Gaiden

Supplements

Original video animations

A 45-minutes original video animation (OVA) was released in 1994. The story is a close adaptation of the first few volumes of the original manga, adapting the Karate Tournament arc (not adapted in the later TV series) and Baki's fight with Shinogi Koushou, later adapted in the episode 18 of the Baki the Grappler TV series. It was licensed and released under the title Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter in North America by Central Park Media on VHS on December 1, 1996, and on DVD on December 1, 1998.[23] Manga Entertainment later released it in Australia and the United Kingdom.

A 15-minutes original animation DVD (OAD), referred to as Baki: Most Evil Death Row Convicts Special Anime (バキ 最凶死刑囚編SP(スペシャル)アニメ), was included with the limited edition of the 14th volume of Baki-Dou on December 6, 2016. However, it adapts the arc of the same name from the second manga series, which is titled simply Baki. Created by Telecom Animation Film, it was directed by Teiichi Takiguchi and focuses on five inmates who break out of prison from around the world and travel to Japan.[24][1]

Anime

See also: List of Baki the Grappler episodes, List of Baki episodes, and List of Baki Hanma episodes

A 24-episode anime series aired on TV Tokyo between January 8, 2001, and June 25, 2001. The anime was produced by Free-Will, a music record label. A second 24-episode series, titled Grappler Baki: Maximum Tournament (グラップラー刃牙 最大トーナメント編) as it tells the story from that part of the manga, aired from July 23, 2001, to December 24, 2001. All of the series' music was written and composed by "Project Baki", and all the theme songs performed by Ryōko Aoyagi. The first anime's opening theme is "Ai Believe" (哀 believe), while its closing theme is "Reborn". For the second series, "All Alone" is used as the opening and "Loved..." as the closing. Baki the Grappler: Original Soundtrack was released on March 27, 2003.

Both series were licensed for a North American English release by Funimation Entertainment. They released both series as one on 12 DVDs, each with four episodes, beginning on June 14, 2005, with the last released on February 27, 2007.[25] Two box sets were released on January 23, 2007, and March 25, 2008, the first included volumes 1-6 (1st series), while the second included 7-12 (2nd series).[26][27] A set including every episode was released on September 2, 2008.

Funimation's English version was one of the launch-shows on their own television channel, Funimation Channel, which debuted on June 19, 2006. Baki was broadcast on weekends at 11:30pm,[28] switching to the 10:00pm slot on September 4, 2006.[29] Dubbed in English, the episodes were edited for time but do not appear to have been edited for content. The opening theme is the song "Child Prey" by Japanese metal band Dir en grey, who is signed to Free-Will.

In December 2016, it was announced that the "Most Evil Death Row Convicts" arc of the second manga series would be receiving an anime television adaptation.[24] Titled Baki, like the second manga series, the 26-episode series is directed by Toshiki Hirano at TMS Entertainment with character designs handled by Fujio Suzuki and scripts overseen by Tatsuhiko Urahata.[30] It began streaming on Netflix on June 25, 2018, in Japan, and started streaming on December 18, 2018, outside Japan.[31][32][33] The series then started airing on several Japanese television channels beginning with Tokyo MX1 on July 1.[34] Its opening theme song is "Beastful" by Granrodeo and its ending theme "Resolve" is performed by Azusa Tadokoro with lyrics by Miho Karasawa.[35] Sentai Filmworks released it on Blu-ray on May 25, 2021, with a new English dub.[36]

Netflix renewed the series for a second season on March 19, 2019.[37] On March 5, 2020, it was announced that the main staff TMS Entertainment would be returning to produce the second season with the addition of a new character designer and art director. The 13 episode second season covering the "Great Chinese Challenge" and the Alai Jr. arcs was released exclusively on Netflix on June 4, 2020. Its opening theme is "Jounetsu wa Oboete Iru" performed by Granrodeo and its ending theme is "Dead Stroke" performed by Ena Fujita.[38]

In September 2020, it was announced Hanma Baki: Son of Ogre will be adapted as the third series and the sequel to the second season of the Netflix series.[39] The 12-episode series was released on Netflix on September 30, 2021, as Baki Hanma.[40] The show's opening theme is "Treasure Pleasure" performed by Granrodeo[41] while its ending theme is "Unchained World" performed by Generations from Exile Tribe.[42] A second season was announced on March 24, 2022.[43] The first half of the second season was released on July 26, and the second half on August 24, 2023. The second season has two openings and two endings. The first part opening theme is "The Beast" by Wagakki Band, while Upstart performs its closing theme "Wilder". The second part opening is "Sarracenia" by Sky-Hi, while Be:First performs its closing theme "Salvia".

In March 2024, Netflix announced a crossover anime with Kengan Ashura, titled Baki Hanma vs. Kengan Ashura, which is set to premiere on June 6 of the same year.[44]

Video games

There have been a few video games based on the series. A fighting game developed by Tomy was released for the PlayStation 2 as Grappler Baki: Baki Saikyō Retsuden (グラップラー刃牙 バキ最強列伝, Gurappurā Baki - Baki Saikyō Retsuden) in Japan in 2000 and as Fighting Fury in the United Kingdom during 2003.[45] Baki the Grappler: Ultimate Championship was released for Android in 2017. A card game for web browsers called Typing Grappler Baki was created. Another browser game, Hanma Baki - Baki, was for Yahoo! Mobage. Yujiro Hanma appears as an unlockable character in the PlayStation 2 game, Garōden: Breakblow – Fist or Twist.

Reception

As of May 2021, the various Baki series had over 85 million collected volumes in circulation.[46] The Baki Gaiden: Scarface spin-off series had 3.5 million copies in print as of February 2019.[47]

Allen Divers and Jason Thompson, both writing for Anime News Network, briefly described the series as "very compelling" and a "demented fighting manga", respectively.[48][49]

Anime News Network had four different writers review the first volume of the second manga series. Faye Hopper scored it the highest, four out of five, and wrote that she was captivated the entire read with its appeal lying in "its absurdity held up by its absolutely incredible artistry." Amy McNulty gave it a 2.5 rating and also praised Itagaki's art, but felt the character designs were not particularly memorable. She also wrote that the volume "succeeds in identifying the stakes, but it completely fails in anchoring the reader with characters to care about." Rebecca Silverman and Teresa Navarro both gave it a 2 and noted its status as a "set-up book," with each new character introduced in the same manner. Both Hopper and Silverman said that Baki reminded them of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.[50]

Reviewing the first 24 episodes of the 2001 anime, Mark Thomas of Mania Entertainment gave it a B− rating, stating that fans of shōnen and fight series would enjoy it, but others should look elsewhere. He felt it had plenty of good, realistic fight scenes, but fell short on the story. Explaining that despite a lot of story arcs, it ultimately feels like a setup for the second season.[51] Thomas gave the same rating to the final 24 episodes, and "mildly recommended" the series. While he started to enjoy this set more thanks to its more action focus, he stated that not showing Baki's final fight with Yujiro, which was built up the entire show, really ruined it for him.[52]

The 2012 comedy film Graffreeter Toki is based on the March 2011 play of the same name, which in turn was inspired by Grappler Baki.[53]

Sociologist Junko Kaneda interpreted Baki the Grappler as homoerotic and published an essay book about it titled Notes of a Girl Who Spent 30 Hours a Day for 300 Days Thinking "So Baki The Grappler Is BL, Right?" The essay was adapted into a live-action television series titled A Story of Grappler Baki and Me (グラップラー刃牙はBLではないかと考え続けた乙女の記録ッッ, Gurappurā Baki wa BL de wa Nai ka to Kangaetsuzuketa Otome no Kiroku) that was broadcast on Wowow in August 2021.[54]

References

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  3. ^ グラップラー刃牙 24 完全版 (少年チャンピオン・コミックス) コミック. Amazon.com (in Japanese). Retrieved May 25, 2012.
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