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Manga / Baki the Grappler

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"If one is born as a male, at least once in his life he'll dream of becoming the strongest man alive. Grappler, the martial artist who aims to become the strongest in the world!"
—Quote from the original opening

Baki the Grappler is a shonen manga revolving around teenage martial artist Baki Hanma. Born to Emi Akezawa in Japan, Baki is a talented prodigy in the field of martial arts, easily crushing most opponents who come his way. Unfortunately for Baki, success in the public scene is not enough for him- his true goal is to surpass his father, Yujiro Hanma, a titanic monster of a man who has made it his goal to ruin Baki's life as punishment for being born "too weak" for his standards. You see, the Hanma bloodline carries with it incredible superhuman genes, and Yujiro is intent on molding his son into a warrior by whatever means necessary. The manga follows Baki as he slowly grows stronger and stronger and the vendetta against his father only grows in intensity, building up to the eventual grudge match between father and son.

Probably one of the most over-the-top and Gornographic Manga Fighting Series of all time. If it didn't take itself seriously you would swear it was a parody of martial arts shonen manga. Just about every major plotline has at least one totally ridiculous plot point, from death matches with reanimated cavemen to people who have more crushing force in their jaws than pneumatic presses. The series revels in completely absurd antics the whole way through. Underneath this insanity lies a very personal plot following Baki's development as a fighter and his assembly of a motley crew of True Companions. Also noteworthy is the focus spent on the philosophical sides of combat. Each major fighter in the series has taken on a different perspective on what it means to be a martial artist, and each fight is as much a duel of minds as it is of bodies. Much deliberation is spent discussing what it means to be a fighter as characters are given ample means to express their philosophical inclinations.

It was originally serialized in Weekly Shonen Champion from 1991 to 1999, lasting 42 volumes, and followed by four sequel series, New Grappler Baki, Baki: Son of an Ogre, Baki-Dou, and Baki Dou.

     Main Story Synopses 
Grappler Baki is the first series of the saga where we see Baki’s humble beginnings against the martial arts clubs and delinquents of his school and the start of his delve into serious training. Baki’s fighting foundations are established through his countless life or death battles against a litany of formidable opponents: from champion heavyweight boxers to yakuza bosses, from special ops soldiers deep in the war torn jungle to great beasts hidden in the mountains. All of these battles just stepping stones setting Baki up for his first serious fight with his father, the strongest man in the world, Yujiro Hanma, and beginning the years long feud between the two. Finally we see Baki having already distinguished himself as Korakuen’s foremost champion, enter into the “Maximum Tournament” where he will have to defend his title against a slew of powerful fighters from the heights of professional fighting to the bottom of the underworld, before facing off against the man who will become his greatest rival.

New Grappler Baki directly follows the climax of the previous series, as Baki and four of the best fighters from the Korakuen arena face off against five of the world's most dangerous death row inmates who have escaped maximum security prison and even their own executions and are now looking to face the strongest fighters in the world. Their search for a challenge leads them to unknowingly and inexplicably congregate to the secret fighting circles of Tokyo. After some of the most gritty and gruesomely realistic fighting in the series, Baki heads to China alongside his father (and a few special guests) to duel against the representatives of various traditional martial arts styles called "Kaiohs." They do this to take part in the centennial Raitai tournament wherein the winner will be declared the "True Kaioh". Finally there is the arrival of Muhammad Ali Jr. to Japan, who is trying to establish his reputation as a powerful fighter and test out the new martial art he claims to have created from boxing and use it defeat Baki.

Baki: Son of an Ogre (also known as Hanma Baki) follows the road to the final battle between father and son, as Baki trains fighting the most physically-remarkable antagonists in the saga yet. After managing to strong-arm the President of the United States into sending him to the seemingly impregnable Arizona State Prison Fortress, Baki gets to meet Biscuit "Unchained" Oliva, the strongest man in America who is powerful enough to treat the most secure supermax prison in the world as his own personal penthouse, living a life of sophisticated luxury and obliterating anyone who tries to challenge his position as number one. Then in an obscenely improbable turn of fate, Pickle the defrosted caveman who has just been rudely awoken after millions of years of cryogenic sleep, is thrown headfirst into the modern world. But having no more dinosaurs to feast on, the ultimate predator turns his hunger to the greatest warriors of humanity, the only rule: eat or be eaten. Finally we see the climax of the series as Baki and Yujiro go face to face in the grudge match to end all grudge matches.

Baki-Dou (also known as The Way of Baki) takes place after the events of Baki: Son of an Ogre. As a bored and discontented Baki adjusts to life after achieving his goal, with the rest of the fighters feeling much the same way. But unbeknownst to them a secret project is underway to clone Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman in history. And upon his rebirth, the legendary warrior wants nothing more than to fight and to kill as he once did. Thankfully for him, he has many challengers eagerly waiting to meet him.

Baki Dou begins with Tokugawa showing Baki the fruit of a dynasty two hundred and seventy two generations of unbroken martial arts mastery in the making. A humble piece of coal turned into a solid mass of raw diamond with but the strength of a man’s hand alone, the martial artist who created this marvel of nature being called: Nomi no Sukune II. The descendant of the man who singlehandedly founded the art of sumo over two thousand years ago. But himself could only crystallize that ancient piece of coal partially, leaving veins of diamond where his fingers rested. Thus with the completion of this art of so called “Ancient Sumo” Nomi No Sukune II leaves his post as guardian of the hidden temple and goes out into the world. Looking to see if this newly reborn art can stand against those wielded by the modern masters, and above all testing his ancient form against that of the modern "Grand Sumo" and the Rikishi who too have perfected their craft over these thousands of years.

An OVA adapting early chapters of the manga was released in 1994. A 24-episode anime adaptation aired in Japan from January 8, 2001 to June 25, 2001, followed by a second 24-episode series called Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament, released on July 22, 2001. A short OVA covering the Convicts arc of the second series was released on December 6, 2016 and an ONA series adaptation of the same was released in 2018 and 2020 on Netflix.

Compare to Kengan Ashura, a series very reminiscent of the first Baki series in setting and characters, including the protagonist who is very much Baki in personality and design but with a different motivation.

Now has a character sheet in need of love.

This series contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Yujiro Hanma. The man is so good at fighting that he's become essentially the apex life form on the entire planet. The only people who can pose a threat to him is his own son by the end of Son of Ogre, as well as Miyamoto Musashi.
  • Actor Allusion: A couple of them in the Latin American Spanish dub:
    • It's not the first time we hear José Antonio Macías (Retsu Kaioh in the 2018 series) voicing a Chinese guy with lots of weapons under his sleeves.
    • Likewise, it's not the first time we hear Idzi Dutkiewicz (Doyle in the same version) voicing a guy with lots of gadgets at his disposal.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Kureha, in the subs, was obsessed with bodybuilding. Kureha in the anime dub, however, is obsessed with bodybuilding and beautiful men. The dub also changes the scene Kureha has with Baki after Doppo's loss from Kureha talking about how life and death are natural for a doctor to Kureha going on about how cute Baki is, and gives every line out of his mouth huge amounts of innuendo from then onward.
  • An Aesop: Honor isn't nearly as important as you think it is. While honor and a code of ethics can make you a respectable individual, that goes right out the door when you start fighting someone to the death. After all, it's hard to be honorable when you're dead, so numerous characters from Baki himself to Miyamoto Musashi, Biscuit, the Death Row Inmates and more are willing to throw away their honor for survival. This is why Yujiro is the strongest creature and not the strongest human, because his willingness to fight dirty means that he's extremely unpredictable and dangerous in a fight even outside of his Super Strength.
    • It is possible to become strong in ways that are not measured in physical limitations. Many of the most powerful people in the series are disciplined and philosophical, something that even extends to Baki himself. This actually gives them an edge in combat as their ways of thinking give way to unconventional strategies. During Baki's leadup to his fight with Yujiro, he becomes so good at shadowboxing that he's able to manifest imaginary stand-ins that can physically hurt him, giving him an easy way to train.
    • Learn when to admit defeat. Being a Determinator just means that you could die or be crippled in a fight instead of tapping out when things get too extreme. Refusing to back down when you've clearly been beaten will probably kill you, something the Death Row Convicts have to learn the hard way.
  • Arc Words: The Convicts arc has "I want to know defeat."
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Yujiro Hanma, Retsu Kaioh, Katsumi Orochi. The Raitai tournament is literally a bunch of kung fu masters showing up they are the best by beating a bunch of foreigners with their four thousand years of martial art history. It doesn't go so well at the time of the series.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Rather notoriously, the first chapters have characters being blinded by having their optic nerves severed... but the series thinks the optic nerve is in the neck (as opposed to behind the eye where it actually is).
  • Artistic License – Law: There's no death penalty in the U.K., as it was abolished since the 70s, much less with the electric chair as it was never used there, and less so in Scotland, as the last execution there was done in 1963, making the attempt of executing Doyle very out of place, as that punishment is used mainly in the U.S.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The existence of Pickle, a prehistoric human who hunted dinosaurs, is pretty self-explanatory, as far as this trope goes, and especially egregious for an arc published in 2008. The scientist that discovered him even explains that it makes no sense until he sees that Pickle was clearly being bit by a T-rex before both got trapped in saline rock formation, which is why he is so obsessed with studying him.
  • Back for the Finale: The childhood arc ends with every single of Baki's previous opponents coming back to cheer on him during his fight with Yuujiro. It is also given a dark turn: after wiping the floor with Baki and killing Baki's mother, Yuujiro proceeds to beat the shit out of the assembled onlookers as well, apparently just for the hell of it.
  • Badass Decay: In-universe. Both Retsu and Kaku thinks the Kaioh's standard has really lowered during the Raitai tournament.
  • Balls of Steel: Katou tries a Groin Attack against Orochi, and nearly gets suffocated for his trouble. Orochi then goes on to explain a martial arts technique that pulls the testicles up into the body.
  • Beat Panel:
    • Taken to an extreme in Baki Dou. When Motobe visits Yuujiro (essentially the most powerful and undefeatable creature on Earth) and warns him that Musashi is too strong an opponent for him, we get a whole page of nothing but identical beat panels, depicting Yuujiro's face with a look that says "this is the single dumbest thing I've heard in my entire life."
    • Happens again in a later chapter, when Donald Trump learns that each president of the United States must swear an oath of non-aggression to Yuujiro. The result is a whole page of beat panels depicting Trump's incredulous face.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Baki's fight against Oliva ends with Baki asking for a boxing spar, with everyone poiting out how dumb that is since the guy has two hundred pounds of muscles over Baki and has been tanking punches for most of the manga. Baki still wins.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Death Row inmates all wished to know defeat, but only a few of them were ready to understand what that actually meant. In particular, only Doyle seems to figure out that there's more to life than "winning" a fight, as the mercy his opponents have shown him leads to him slowly developing a conscience of sorts. Speck's body deteriorates to reflect his age following his battle with Hanayama and will likely spend the the rest of his short life in a coma, but the narration says he is happy about this outcome and likens it to dying right after achieving your life goal. Everyone else simply cannot mentally handle genuine defeat, and as a result all of them fail to cope with it. Dorian, for example, regresses to a childlike state after being beaten down by Doppo, shown Kato's unbelievable fighting spirit, and finally put down with one more final kick from Retsu when it’s clear he just will not stay down. Sikorsky never gets a chance to lose on his own terms to know defeat after being forced to surrender when he gets savagely beaten into submission by Gaia. Yanagi refuses to yield right after telling Yujiro that it's not his place to decide the victor, even when his hand is cut off and his legs been impaled by Motobe; Yanagi ends up killed for his trouble by Yujiro.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Baki, when fully clothed (so that his muscles and scars are hidden), looks fairly non-threatening and even cute. He also prefers to avoid unnecessary fights and repeatedly spares various punks who try to attack or mug him. However, if you have managed to make him serious, you better be prepared for some broken bones at best. After a certain point in the series, however, the local toughs start wising up.
  • Beware the Superman: In a story where Charles Atlas Superpower is actually possible, Yujiro holds the United States at his mercy. He's not the only one either, even weaker characters in the series have abused their absurd strength. Most humorously is Biscuit Oliva (a man who is the epitome of physical strength) who uses a supermax prison as his personal penthouse.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • The most prominent fan scanlation, by the Wild Fang group, takes a lot of liberties with the text at times. One notorious example is the time Baki and Kozue first try to make love and Yujiro interrupts them to give them a piece of his mind. The original Japanese dialogue has Yujiro gloating about how Baki and Kozue shouldn’t be nervous about touching each other, that people should indulge themselves in sexual intercourse as much as possible, and living for one’s desires is the true way of life. The scanlation dialogue changed all of that to Yujiro demanding Baki to make a child with Kozue as soon as possible and wanting a new heir, since Baki till that point was not the potential fighting challenge Yujiro hoped for, so a grandchild would be groomed for that goal. That introduced a completely new plot point that simply did not exist.
    • Another Wild Fang example occurs during Doyle's fight against Oliva. Doyle slashes Oliva with a blade, and soon afterwards, Oliva suddenly collapses. In the original Japanese version, Doyle explains that he had laced the blade with a hallucinogenic drug. He then goes on to describe that death row prisoners use hallucinogens on the day of execution to ease their fear of death. In the Wild Fang translation, Doyle instead says that Oliva collapsed due to blood loss, and recalls how back in prison he escaped death on the gallows by slicing the rope. It has nothing to do with the original text.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The 2018 ONA, compared to the first anime. due to the increased budget and plot of the story (pragmatic criminals fighting against trained martial artists or wrestlers) the fights are far more violent, gory and darker than the arcs preceding it. So brutal and extremely Gornographic like Kentaro's Berserk series, that it made the already Rated R or TV-MA Live-Action Deadpool duology feel more like an extended Barney episode or two by comparison (no seriously, Yuujiro himself is basically the answer on What If? the Merc in the Mouth is played by Brock Lesnar instead of Ryan Reynolds, except with Red Hair).
  • Blood Knight: Who the hell doesn't like fighting in this series? But Yujiro and the five supercriminals are this. Most of Korakuen stars are fighting junkies as well, but have more regard for human life.
    • Pickle is so obsessed with fighting that he refuses to eat anything that won't attack him first.
  • Boring, but Practical: When the Mouth fights Iron Micheal, one of the easiest ways to take down a larger opponent is to stomp on them.
  • Break the Haughty: Hanma Yujiro makes a point to do this to anyone he fights or threatens. The most prideful characters in the series have their egos shattered after an encounter with him. It's practically why he exists: just to prove there's always someone better who destroys previous conceptions of grandeur.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Che Guevara throws toy windmills, urinates on his opponents, and lets them stomp on his face. He's one of the strongest fighters in the world, as well as politically formidable. Dorian also qualifies - singing Charles Aznavour songs while vandalizing Doppo Orochi's house.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Baki fights to prove that he isn't a genetic waste and that he is strong enough to carry the Hanma bloodline. Even though he fails to defeat Yujiro, he does manage to get through to him that he's his own man, and Yujiro comes to respect his prowess as a fighter and as a Hanma.
  • Can't Catch Up: By Son of Ogre, very few recurring characters can match Baki and the new threats.
  • Cat Smile: Not how you'd expect; Most older fighters, when particularly excited, give a rather vicious and eager smile that looks positively leonine. Baki tends to have an odd version of this a good deal of the time as well.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The ability to completely ignore the natural limitations of the human body is, logically, supernatural, but this fighting series doesn't ADMIT to it.
  • Child by Rape: Yujiro Hanma does this to Jane, after revealing that he knew about her hidden agenda all along, resulting in Jack Hanma.
  • Chromosome Casting: Justified. The series is mostly about unusually powerful men competing physically to become the World's Strongest Man. Thus women don't exist in this setting, other than as background extras.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Most of the cast would qualify for this trope by normal standards, as the only thing that Korakuen rules forbid is bringing weapons into the ring (using whatever you find on the ring as a weapon is OK). Fighting dirty is practically expected - see Eye Scream and Groin Attack below. To be perceived as a dishonorable Combat Pragmatist in this series, you need to use weapons left and right and refuse to accept defeat after being knocked out and spared, like Dorian and Speck.
    • Deconstructed for the convicts and especially Dorian, who was a Kaioh long ago. Unlike Doppo, who had absolute faith in his karate, Dorian never fully relied on Chinese Kenpo and learned several offhand techniques. It caused him to grow apart from Chinese Kenpo as these techniques became more effective at dealing with untrained individuals. As Dorian became stronger against weak opponents who can be easily manipulated like Kato and Suedo, he grows weaker against strong and experienced opponents like Doppo who can see through his conniving techniques. If Dorian had instead dedicated his life to perfecting Chinese Kenpo techniques, he might have defeated Doppo. The fight between Doppo and Dorian is a lesson that learning several tricks is useless compared to learning one comprehensive technique and giving as much to the art as you take. The other convicts also learn this lesson as Baki and his friends slowly start to see through their tricks, leaving them as strong, but predictable, opponents. And when you've been fighting people as long as Baki and his friends have, becoming predictable is the worst thing to do against people with years of experience fighting...
    • Gaia is the master of this; it was said in combat tactics he was better than Yujiro. He can turn a handful of sand into buckshots and then use the sand and sweat to become invisible.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Any time people are not beating each other to a bloody pulp is mostly spent expounding on the psychology and philosophy of beating people to a bloody pulp.
  • Comic-Book Time:
    • None of the characters seem to age, especially Yujiro, who fought against both military and the Vietcong during the Vietnam War when he was 16 years old.
    • In the spinoff Manga Baki Gaiden - Kenjin, Doppo doesn't seem to look like has aged at all even though he met Yuichiro Hanma, the father of Yujiro Hanma; aside from not having any facial scars or losing an eye yet when he's still in his prime as a fighter.
    • Despite ostensibly taking part over just a few years (not counting the childhood saga), the series has had the characters meet several U.S. presidents in succession (Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden), not to mention them using smartphones and the Internet in the latest installments.
  • Covered with Scars: Baki as well as several supporting characters.
  • Creator Cameo: In the first series, the sniper who was able to take disable Yujiro with tranquilizer darts looks extremely similar to Baki's mangaka Keisuke Itagaki. It is a very tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the only person stronger than Yujiro is the author who created him. In the first Baki Dou, in the middle of Musashi's fight with Hanayama when the yakuza has his hands crushing the samurai's face, the narration compares it to an real world event that happened in the author's stint in the military where he was bullied by a senior doing the same thing to him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Retsu vs Katsumi, Baki vs Ali Jr, Baki vs Shunsei are just some examples.
    • Yujiro vs anyone. Including an earthquake. And the United States military. Averted if your name happens to be Pickle or Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Many fights in general after the Maximum Tournament is over are this. Very rarely fights ever held between characters of equal skill level or prowess anymore (and the rare ones that are equal are serious cases of How Much More Can He Take?). But the biggest examples go to the Rai Tai Tournament and Muhammad Ali Jr arcs in their entireties.
  • Death Glare:
    • Who else can manage to frighten a super-powerful Ax-Crazy murderer with a Death Glare while kissing? Oh, and Baki's girlfriend didn't even notice that there is someone else around.
    • Previously, he had stopped a foe over him, on her knees, punching Baki on the face in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Demoted to Extra: With the exceptions of Hanayama, Retsu, Doppo, Shibukawa, Kozue, Tokugawa, the Shinogi Brothers, Gaia, Igari, and Katou, nearly all the major supporting characters from the first two seasons are just gone after the Maximum Tournament.
  • The Determinator:
    • Broken limbs, profuse hemorrhaging, cut ears or hands, and getting your face ripped off won't stop fighters in this series.
    • In some instances, it's Deconstructed: there's no point in giving up if you still have a chance at victory, but sometimes giving up is the right thing to do. After all, you can always fight another day, and pursuing a fight that you have no hope of winning doesn't make you brave or determined; it just means you're suicidality and overconfident.
  • The Dreaded: Yujiro full stop. His presence to the average person is compared to the deer in headlights effect. The possibility of Yujiro doing something causes people to freak out like the Grim Reaper is after them. Fighters who are one man armies have literally pissed themselves in his presence. The funny thing is that it can't be overstated how terrifying people find him, and its completely justified since he single-handedly caused the U.S. to pull out of Vietnam at 16. He's in his forties and if he wants you dead no one on the planet can do a damn thing to stop him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: There is such a difference between the way Yujiro is in the first series and how he is in the second series that you have to wonder if the author hadn't completely fleshed Yujiro out yet and simply used him as a plot device in the first series. Not to mention how he could not open a door because someone was holding the doorknob on the other side...
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: Some techniques can only be achieved through imagination. Become liquid, a thousand of extra joints... imagining it can make it real. Also, Baki's "shadow training" invokes the figure of a foe so realistic that the "shadow" attacks hurt him.
  • Eye Poke: A specialty of Kato, attempted in his fight against Dorian in the underground bunker. Unfortunately Dorian's art of hypnosis only made Kato think his gouging attack was successful. After Dorian was able to observe the next set of attacks Kato would use in their fight, Kato's "second" attempt at eye gouging was repelled by Dorian merely tilting his head down and having Kato's fingers bounce harmlessly off of his forehead.
  • Eye Scream: Doppo loses his right eye fighting against Yujiro. Later, during the Maximum Tournament, Koushou Shinogi attacks Shibukawa Gouki's eye as a last resort, but it was an already fake eye. The Death Row convict arc implies he lost his eye to Yanagi prior to the series.
    • Baki's opening move against the Yasha ape is to run up and claw one of its eyes to ribbons. The Yasha Ape's opening move is to tear out and eat its own useless eye, thus causing an epic Oh, Crap! moment of the 'Why the hell did I think this was a good idea?!' variety for Baki.
  • Fighting Series: It's about wrestlers.
  • Flipping the Table: In the last two chapters of the Son of Ogre manga Baki engages his father in a battle of illusions and ends up flipping an imaginary table at which they were having an imaginary dinner.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: A bestial neanderthal man who is called... Pickle. Also, a guy who gave Baki a good run for his money is named Biscuit.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: It takes a lot to put any of the fighters out of commission for good. Doppo, for example, has an eyepatch, a reattached arm, and had his face blown up, yet he is still among the strongest fighters, but some lose their arm for good or get their body broken like Doyle are out for good.
  • The Giant: Mount Toba, who stands at least two feet taller than Baki. Artemis Regan, meanwhile, is a full head taller than Mount Toba!
    • Yuichiro Hanma too, especially in stark contrast to his son, Yujiro.
  • Gonk: Everybody in the manga. You get sort of used to the ... idiosyncratic ... art style eventually, but most of the fighters are still hideous except Baki himself, who's kind of cute if rather goofy-looking ... until he removes his outer clothing and reveals that every part of his body below the neck is covered in scars.
  • Groin Attack: Both for comedy and serious battling, as Korakuen fights only forbid the usage of weapons and allow below-the-belt attacks.
    • Also used in the Yasha Ape fight, for a serious example. The Yasha Ape has Baki in a Bear Hug, crushing him, and Baki unloads seven fully cocked kicks to the groin. The Yasha Ape decides to fling Baki away shortly after.
      Baki: "And now for your favorite dessert... MASHED NUTS!"
    • Retsu seriously discussed the effectiveness of this at one point. As he points out, the testicles are internal organs that just so happen to be separated from the outside by only a sack of skin. If any other organ were in its place, it would be just as painful. He also brings up that there are only two ways the other guy will react: either he'll be in too much pain to continue or he will be furious and the fight will have escalated even more.
    • Deconstructed with Baki pulling this on Pickle, as it causes the caveman to become the ANGRIEST he has ever been. He manages to even scare Baki a bit.
  • A Handful for an Eye: Quite frequent, particularly during the Evilest Criminal arc for obvious reasons. Notably, flung blood is the most common example, what with the buckets of it gushing everywhere.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Fighting with an honorable sportsman mentality is fine, but in the harsh world of street fighting and grapplers if you aren't a Combat Pragmatist willing to put your life on the line you are gonna be beaten to a bloody pulp or outright killed. That's what the Ali Jr. arc was seemingly aiming at.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Yujiro is simply too powerful for anyone that is not his son Baki (or Pickle or Musashi), who trains throughout the series to defeat him and fails, because Yujiro is just that strong; he only conceded because Baki made him work up a sweat.
  • Heroic RRoD: Orochi Katsumi perfects a super-sonic karate punch to be used against Pickle. It ends up being too perfect as it ultimately blows the flesh off the bones on his arm.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Done frequently. The most extreme example is probably Speck vs. Hanayama, which ends with the victor (Hanayama) being shot, stabbed, beaten, having his cheeks torn off, and being shot through said cheekholes!
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Baki's conception occurred literally minutes after Yujiro killed Emi's husband, a yakuza boss, automatically making her mob leader and covering for her ex's murder by claiming a short guy did it.
  • Lonely at the Top: Son Of Ogre 294 sheds some light on this with Yujiro, who has long been waiting for a Worthy Opponent. The chapter also goes to mention that everyday life has become a boring and repetitive existence due to how easy his massive strength makes things.
    • As of Baki-Dou, it seems this has affected Baki as well.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: "Unchained" is only in prison because the US government gives him virtually anything he could ask for if he stays there (except for the occasional wetworks). It's less expensive (and safer for human life) than the alternatives.
  • Made of Iron: Just about every major martial artist. Hanayama, in one of the more outlandish examples, once took dozens of very literally iron-shattering blows, then had most of his cheeks blown away, then took repeated blows to the head with a metal club, until the club was bent out of shape, then was shot repeatedly, then the super-strong opponent attempted to break his neck by stomping on it several times, then he got a finger slammed all the way in his ear in a killing attack... then Hanayama still kicked his opponent's ass.
  • Magic Pants: Initially averted, then played straight, due to a strange lack of art continuity — after Dorian gets set on fire, he's initially in his underwear. A couple of chapters later, he's instead in the tattered remains of his sweat pants.
  • Manly Tears: Expected of a series full of manly men but also has drama. Many examples but in particular, the end of the battle between Ian McGreggor and Chiharu Shiba. Many audience members are greatly moved by Shiba's heart and determination. Kaoru Hanayama, who happens to be one of the manliest men in a series about manly men, gives Shiba a manly embrace and call him a role model for everyone looked down on by society. As Hanayama was also Shiba's hero, water just pours from Shiba's eyes.
  • Might Makes Right: How Yujiro operates.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Everywhere, but most notably with Yujiro, who beats everyone so stupidly easy it's almost painful sometimes.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Or a gun, for that matter. Speck demonstrates the futility of it by shooting himself through the face and not even flinching.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Biscuit Oliva is almost Made of Diamond; point-blank shotgun blasts and sword stabs have practically no effect on him.
    • Yujiro Hanma himself is this too, of course.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: President Bosh and the Ali family.
    • Igari, the Pro Wrestler in the Maximum Tournament arc is based on legend Antonio Inoki, down to the chant the fans do for him.
      • Others include Mike Queen (the Ultimate Warrior), Mount Toba (Giant Baba), and even Che Guevara, stated in universe to be one of the three strongest humans in the world.
      • In Baki: Son of Ogre, Baki shadow boxes against the image of the former heavyweight champion Iron Michael (Tyson)
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: A lot of fighters in this series aren't interested in fighting someone unless said someone can give them an interesting fight. This ends up being true regardless of the opponent for every fight Yujiro's in. To be fair Yujiro finds a fight with a massive elephant 3 times larger than normal to be boring.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Too many to list, but probably the worst is Baki's first fight with Yujiro. Yujiro beats the ever-loving crap out of Baki, kills his mother, and decides to brutally maim the rest of the fighters that came to support Baki. Yujiro has this many, many, many times; to the point where when he appears it's almost expected. Needless to say, there is a reason every one is terrified of Yujiro when he makes an appearance.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Son of Ogre, Wilbur Bolt (a champion sprinter and a champion boxer at the same time) is hyped as Retsu's next opponent after Joe Crazier. The next time we see Retsu (in Baki Dou) he's returning to Japan after having trounced Bolt offscreen.
  • Older Than They Look: Speck, 97 years old. But Pickle beats him by a lot, being roughly 65 million years old.
  • Old Master: Age doesn't matter much if you're a top fighter in this universe.
  • One-Man Army: Yujiro and Gaia are explicitly this; by extension, any fighter of a comparable level is one as well.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Subverted; The US President is typically just the current real-life President of the time.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Yujiro has been named "the one and only Brute Strength Country", with the USA having made a pact of amity to him, through Barack Obama.
  • Pile Bunker: Various characters have a version of this attack, most notably Retsu's "no-inch punch".
  • Power Copying: Yujiro encouraged Baki to learn and use the opponents' moves, as it "pissed them off".
    • He demonstrated this in his fight against Kaku Kaioh, using the Xiao-Lee technique after it was used against him once... and then saying he would never use it again, because he didn't need it to win.
  • The Power of Love: Baki becomes much stronger after he resolves to protect Kozue. He trounces Yanagi and Sikorsky at the same time. It's also implied that this is because Baki has lost his virginity, and his latent Hanma genes have activated to protect his new partner.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Jack has never relied on anything other than his own training and the terrible things he does to his body in the series. As Pickle is about to defeat him, Jack lampshades how he is praying to the gods for help for the first time in his life.
  • Precision F-Strike: In a sense: after the first defeat of Jack Hanma at the hands of Pickle, Pickle holds back instead of eating him. When Tokugawa Mitsunari goes to investigate Jack, Jack suddenly reflexively slams his middle fingers together. He had intended to jam them into Pickle's brain if he had gone to eat him—a literal "F Strike" as it were. Tokugawa even calls it the strongest "fuck you" in the world.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Yuri Tchaikovsky, a Russian of Mongolian descent whose stated objective is proving that the people of his particular nomad tribe are the greatest warriors to ever walk the Earth.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: In this series, pro wrestlers are right up there with the rest of them. Well, sort of. Mount Toba, at least, is described as a champion of "show wrestling", and faces off against Baki to prove himself a legitimate athlete and martial artist. It's mentioned that prior to "joining the circus", he really did wrestle in leagues where the fighting wasn't fake, though.
  • Punched Across the Room: This happens often when one of the fighters is particularly big.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: This often happens whenever somebody tries to fight Biscuit "Unchained" Oliva. He allows them to punch away at his tough-as-iron body Before they eventually realize it does nothing to him.
  • Rape as Drama:
    • Jack Hammer was born after Hanma Yujiro raped his mother.
    • Pickle, being a caveman with little knowledge about the concept of consent, raped a female reporter, who wanted to interview him. In front of television cameras.
  • Rated M for Manly: Pretty much every major character is saddled with an absurd case of muscles (though a lot of them have oddly feminine faces to go with it). In the sequel to the original manga and as well as the Netflix Baki show, Baki Gaiden Scarface, an unarmed man wins a deathmatch against a twenty-two-foot shark by shoving an arm through its eyesocket and crushing the brain. Yujiro is commented on having so much testosterone that, to Yujiro, all other humans (yes, even the most manly of men) are comparable to women. It's not that kind of story but also, the Baki franchise in general is basically a Human-focused version of Happy Tree Friends or Ren & Stimpy meets Invincible, Berserk and even, WWE in the Attitude Era.
  • Razor Floss: Dorian uses one, even managing to slice off Doppo's hand! He Gets Better.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: Quite a few characters show the ability to cut people with nothing more than their bare hands:
    • Shinogi Kanno practices a fighting style that allows him to sever nerves with his fingertips, allowing him to cripple or blind his opponents.
      • In at least the anime version, he blinds Baki by ripping out nerve endings located in Baki's neck (?!). Baki is able to temporarily repair the damage by tying his nerves like shoestrings. He later makes a full recovery, of course, because that is totally how nerves work.
    • Baki figures out how Kanno's technique works through observation and uses to blind Jack on his left side during the tournament finals.
    • Dorian was a villain who used special weapons as much as martial arts, included a super-strong cutting wire which was almost invisible. Orochi Doppo is able to cut the wire with his perfect karate chop, before explaining that the way of a true karateka is making your body such a weapon that you would never need another one. He does it again during the Grand Sumo Tournament, cutting the ear off Sekiwake Take-Tsurugi with a kick.
    • Sikorsky cut cut people with his knuckle strikes, using friction to split their skin.
    • Yujiro does this on occasion, often to open glass cola bottles by cutting the tops off of them.
    • Shobun Ron's spear hand strike is strong enough to cut Oliva, who is tough enough to No-Sell a shotgun blast.
    • Kaku Kaioh cuts the hands off three martial arts ministry members (as punishment for giving the Kaioh title to weak fighters) with an open hand chop.
    • Miyamoto Musashi usually sticks to cutting things with his katana (something he's VERY good at), but as he demonstrates during his fight with Yujiro, he can still cut while holding nothing at all. It's an extension of his Sword Simulation technique, where his imagination is so powerful that not only will opponents feel like they've been cut, they really will be.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Most characters sports red glares in their irises when going face to face against in opponent signifies their violent intent.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Emi finally decides to step up and be a mom, for once. Sadly, she stepped up against Yujiro.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The entire series is steeped in this trope. It's so over-the-top, and yet somehow so earnest in that over-the-topness that it loops back around to being taken deadly seriously. For example, one arc deals with an unfrozen caveman from the Cretaceous that fought dinosaurs being fought as an opponent, and other weird elements of the setting include elephants the size of dinosaurs, kung fu gorillas, earthquakes caused by fighting your imagination, using human beings as nunchucks... All this and more while genuinely being considered realistic by the characters.
  • Repetitive Name: Robin Robinson, the cocky kickboxer.
  • Save the Villain: An inversion that turns into a straight example. After Retsu is knocked out before he can finish Doyle, a death-row criminal, off, Doyle starts walking away...and then returns to ward off a pair of thieving mobsters and a dog from Retsu's unconscious body. He eventually ends up standing watch to the point of bleeding out... Which leads Retsu to play this trope straight and rush him to hospital to repay him for his kindness.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire Pickle subplot. He doesn't lose in a fight to anyone, not even Yujiro, and the only real changes in the status quo are a couple of guys get their limbs eaten. Of course Baki doesn't, though. And when's all said and done, he simply goes into hiding when the world narrowly votes he be put back into stasis (remember: this is a rapist, man-eating caveman)... though he eventually shows up during Baki's fight with Yujiro.
    • In retrospect, the entire series is one as well, considering Baki still couldn't beat Yujiro in the end, and, as mentioned above, Yujiro will never face justice for the shit he's pulled.
    • That said, there is a fourth entry and as of now a fifth entry into the series, so the story is not yet finished. The series also implies that despite Baki not being able to defeat his father right now, he'll be able to eventually.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: A classic level 3 example. Women are irrelevant to the plot other than as Satellite Love Interests (Kozue) or as Apron Matrons (Baki's mother) who mold their sons into strong men. Nevertheless, the series has no hostility towards women as a principle, nor does it encourage mistreatment or destruction of XX-chromosomes, it just doesn't feature them.
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: The characters are so testosterone fueled that some scanlation efforts really took their time to spice up the dialogue to make the characters talk in nothing but a string of cuss words and generally be extremely rude to each other, as if that was the standard way a manly man should ever talk. The scans for the Prisoners Arc and a good chunk of Son of Ogre really pushed this idea, sometimes it going beyond “spicing up” and into outright changing the original dialogue.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: A major plot point of the series is that the Hanma bloodline has these. They tend to manifest through powerful and warped back muscles that take the appearance of a demonic face when they get extremely tensed up. This is later subverted, as it's explained that the Hanma's back muscles are referenced in old legends because they were developed only by combat training, so anyone devoted enough to fighting could get them. At the same time there are a lot of references about the strength of the "Hanma's blood".
    • Grandpa Yuichiro Hanma was the same as his son and grandson. He gave the United States in WWII hell single-handedly. On top of that, a hieroglyphic shows a man with the "Oni's Face" back muscles as well. Apparently, the Hanma bloodline goes back millennia.
    • It even goes back to the Dawn of man himself, as there's a cavemen on a cave painting shown with the Oni's face back muscles.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Jack's constant Training from Hell caused his muscles to die and nearly killed him as he never rested and pushed himself far too hard. He only recovered due to receiving special steroids.
    • During the Pickle sub-arc, one character trains and develops a fighting technique that allows him to perform supersonic punches and kicks. While the entire series hinges on outlandish breaks from reality, unfortunately, we're given a rather bloody and gory example that the human body is not built to withstand supersonic motions and impacts. When he manages to land said supersonic attacks, he ends up breaking both feet and flaying his own arm down to the bone.
    • Pickle took down every opponent to face him with relative ease and seems more like a force of nature than a caveman. Once a fight gets him hurt enough that his opponent starts scaring him, Pickle screams and flees on all fours like an animal. He is ruled by instinct, not martial arts or honor, and most animals are not Super Persistent Predators who will fight to the death but instead will run away when they think they're losing the fight.
    • Yujiro could potentially be killed with More Dakka or just bombing where he stands but the casualty and repercussion since he is technically an allied nation to the United States means it's not worth it.
    • The Rikishi weight difference makes them a big threat to characters nowhere near their size even if they are masters of strike and grapple. Hanayama however is as big as them so he can just deck them with no refined technique aside a hard fist. Also Hanayama was never accepted by sumo stables despite having thrown an Ozeki with one hand in highschool and getting Yokozuna Kinryuuzan's vested interest because his facial scars, tattoos and Yakuza affiliation would hurt the sport's reputation.
  • Take That!:
    • Judging by the mostly unflattering depictions of Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump, it's safe to say that the creator of Baki is not very fond of American politicians.
    • As of the most recent arc, MMA is the new subject of Itagaki's ire, likely because Sumo wrestlers have historically done extremely poorly in MMA, and Sumo is the centerpoint of this arc. So of course, Itagaki devotes seven full chapters to introduce Jobber MMA fighters who get one-sidedly brutalized by a variety of Sumo wrestlers. Eight counting that Baki's first appearance in the 2nd Baki Dou was instantly beating the American UFC heavyweight champion who was just Brock Lesnar in all but name. He seems to be a Graceful Loser about it though.
      • The most telling Itagaki's distaste for the sport is Rekizou Miyairi, the final MMA fighter to go up against the Sumos, and a very obvious parody of Conor McGregor, and has exaggeratedly cartoonish and undignified body language, clearly parodying the distinctive strut he's for, and his massive ego causes him to lose to Shishimaru despite genuinely standing a chance against him due to his fighting style's focus on hitting vital points enabling him to comfortably fight against bigger opponents like Shishimaru despite the weight and size difference, as him stopping to gloat gives Shishimaru the time to regain consciousness and the perfect set-up for a bear hug, as he clung onto Rekizou as he lost consciousness.
  • Talk to the Fist:
    • Baki kicks Ali Jr. very squarely in the nuts during their fight in the arena, not noticing and not caring that he was spacing out and having an internal monologue.
    • Oliva sucker punches Sukune while he’s still explaining how a sumo match starts, then jokingly asks if the punch was a matta.note 
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most of Baki's friends are already certified badass to begin with during the Childhood and Maximum Tournament Arc and only get stronger throughout the series as they're forced to fight unconventional opponents outside the ring. The Death Row Inmates arc is a great example of this, as even though the five convicts are suppose to be one of the most dangerous threats in the world, Baki and his friends manage to take them down after honing their skills to powerful new extremes.
  • Training from Hell: Baki underwent many of these as a kid; his body is full of scars due to it.
    • His first memory of training? When he was three, as his dad threw him face first into concrete.
    • While everyone in the series trains impossibly hard, Jack Hanma takes the cake. He needs specially designed super steroids so that his body doesn't waste away from training.
  • A Truce While We Gawk: The upcoming fight between Oliva and Jun Guevara is so enticing that the prisoners are allowed to attend and openly converse about it in the halls. The head guard openly states he wouldn't be bothered to stop any escape attempts that occur during it, but the staff is right that no one would miss it if they had a choice.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Kozue tries to be one on several occasions but is thankfully almost always talked out of it by Baki. Who is well aware of what can happen to untrained individuals who try to fight against the monsters that he regularly goes up against.
    • Played straight only once when she kicks Hanayama in the shin after he attempts to fight Baki in a fit of needless belligerence. The sheer ballsiness of this almost suicidal act brings Hanayama back to his senses and causes him to quickly leave the couple in peace.
  • Weak, but Skilled:
    • Shibukawa Gouki is an Aikido master in his sixties, short and alumno. His masterful technique allows him to fight against the massively built rest of the cast.
    • Kaku Kaioh deliberately turned himself into this, renouncing his amazing strength and letting his muscles shrivel through ‘decades’ of training exclusively devoted to his technique because he was convinced that this would ultimately make him a stronger fighter. He is over one hundred years old, is usually carried around in a wheelchair, and gave Yuujiro a run for his money.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy:
    • A rare mother-son example with Baki toward his mom Emi, who doesn't love him because he doesn't satisfy Yujiro's requirements.
    • Yujiro to Baki after the final battle, renounces his title as the strongest man on Earth and gives it to Baki.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Mt. Toba is first introduced by having him grievously mangle Junichi Hanada — a fighter who himself was being hyped up as Baki's next opponent, and who was earlier shown defeating several martial artists effortlessly.
    • Gouki Shibukawa and Doppo get Worfed by Ali Jr. during the Ali Jr. Saga. They all pay him back for the Worfing.
  • World of Badass: Even at the beginning of the series, Baki fights some seriously dangerous people. By the time of the Maximum Tournament, the real freaks start showing up and all bets are off.
  • World's Strongest Man: Yujiro Hanma, once again. It's also worth noting that due to the diversity inherent in martial arts, there are multiple different strongest men, such as Biscuit Olivia, who has the strongest muscles known to man. He's still weaker than Yujiro.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Yujiro Hanma of course. One sequenced example includes how he slapped Jack's mother, raped and impregnated her, and later threw her into a bunch of armed soldiers in that order.
  • Wrestler of Beasts: Being an over the top Fighting Series where even weaker characters are closer to Humanoid Abominations than to normal humans, the manga features many characters who do or have done this either to challenge themselves or simply to demonstrate their strength. Just a few of the examples include Baki fighting with giant apes, Garland demonstrating his strength at the Maximum Tournament by effortlessly outwrestling an anaconda and beating it to death, etc. When a minor character at that same tournament boasts about having wrestled with a wild lion, the other character he's speaking to wonders if the first guy is so self-interested and short-sighted that he doesn't realize that every competitor at the tournament has sought out some sort of similar challenge, and that the attempts at Trash Talk and intimidation just come off as pathetic.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Many skilled combatants can imagine concepts or opponents so well they take damage from it. Good for shadow boxing but less so when you can vividly see your opponent turn into a dinosaur or feel them slicing you with invisible katanas.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Baki The Grappler, Baki


Baki (2018)

Baki Hanma giving Speck when he interrupts him with his woman.

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