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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 Baki Hanma's quest to become the strongest grappler in the world, thus taking the title from his father, Yujiro Hanma, in addition to gaining the love of his psychotic mother.

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

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 steeping 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, his monstrous half-brother Jack Hanma.


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 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.

Probably one of the most over-the-top fighting mangas to ever be written. If it didn't take itself seriously you would swear it was a parody of martial arts shonen manga.

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 is due during July, 2018 on Netflix in Japan, and in Fall 2018 outside it.

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: Hanma Yujiro. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and his continual lack of respect to his opponents leads to him slowly developing a conscience of sorts. 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.
  • 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.
  • Blood Knight: Yujiro, the five supercriminals. Most of Korakuen stars are fighting junkies as well, but have more regard for human life.
  • 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: The reason 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • Gaia is the master of this; it was said in combat tactics he was better than Yujiro.
  • 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.
  • Counter Attack: Kaku Kaioh's specialty, being able to redirect attacks with startling ease.
  • Covered with Scars: Baki as well as several supporting characters.
  • 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 Miyamoto Musashi
  • Death Glare: Baki is the frikking king of this trope. 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 who was over him, on her knees, punching Baki on the face in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • The Determinator: Broken limbs, profuse hemorrhaging, cut ears or hands, and getting your face ripped off won't stop fighters in this series.
  • The Dreaded: Yujiro full stop. His presence to the average person is compared to the deer in headlights effect. The possbility of Yujiro doing something causes people to freak out like the Grim Reaper is after them. Fighters who are literal 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.
  • 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 he is hurt by the "shadow" attacks.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Expy: Whether coincidental or not, Yujiro and Akuma are very similar.
  • Faux Death: Kaku Kaioh fakes his death to survive his fight against Yujiro.
  • 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.
  • The Giant: Mount Toba, who stands at least two feet taller than Baki. Artemis Regan, meanwhile, is a full head taller than Mount Toba!
  • Glasses Pull: The prison director is looking kinda cool.
  • Gonk: Everybody in the manga. You get sort of used to the ... idiosyncratic ... art style eventually, but most of the fighters are still hideous with the exception of 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.
  • Good People Have Good Sex:
    • Averted in the case between Yujiro and Emi as Baki's conception occured 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.
  • 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!"
  • Heroic R.R.O.D.: 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!
  • Immune to Bullets: Oliva no sells a shotgun blast to his stomach. The shotgun pellets fail to penetrate his abs and he squeezes the pellets out of his body by flexing.
  • Left Hanging: The anime only adapts the first series; the manga is still ongoing.
  • 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: Totally 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 people in the audience are greatly moved by Shiba's heart and determination. Kaouru 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)
      • Say hello to president Obama...
  • 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 regarless 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.
  • Older Than They Look: Speck, 97 years old; Shunsei, 120 years old. But Pickle beats them all, 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.
  • Orochi: Karate master Doppo Orochi, who in a subversion is actually a pretty nice guy. Who once OneHitKilled a tiger.
  • 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.
  • 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, suddenly Jack reflexively slams both 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.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: This often happens whenever somebody tries to fight Bisquit "Unchained" Oliva. He alows 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 concent, 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, 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. It's that kind of story.
  • Razor Floss: Dorian uses one, even managing to slice off Doppo's hand! He Gets Better.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: 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.
      • 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.
  • Reality Ensues: During the Pickle sub-arc, one character develops a fighting technique that allows him to perform unbelievably powerful punches, one of which even breaks the sound barrier. Unfortunately, we're given a rather bloody and gory explanation of why that should never happen.
  • Redemption Equals Death - Emi finally decides to step up and be a mom, for once. Sadly, she stepped up against Yujiro.
  • Refuge in Audacity: An unfrozen caveman from the Cretaceous that fought dinosaurs, 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 considered realistic by the characters.
  • Repetitive Name: Robin Robinson, the cocky kickboxer.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire Pickle subplot. He doesn't lose in a fight to anyone except 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) but goes into hiding... though he eventually shows up during Baki's fight with Yujiroh.
    • 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 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.
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: The series is filled with borderline-insane martial artists eager to battle each other to near death; 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 goes beyond “spicing up” to outright change the original dialogue.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Kureha, in the subs, was obsessed with body building. Kureha in the anime dub, however, is obsessed with body building 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.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: The Hanmas' Oni face back muscles.
    • Kinda averted and played straight. The Hanma's back muscles are referenced in old legends because they were developed only by combat training, so anyone so devoted could get them. But there are a lot of references about the strenght into 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 millenia.
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and 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.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: kozue trys 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 beligerance. The sheer ballsiness of this almost sucidal act brings hanayama back to his senses and causes him to quickly leave the couple in peace.
  • "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 strongest man on Earth and gives it to Baki.
  • The Worf Effect: 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.

Alternative Title(s): Baki The Grappler