Thursday, April 18

Things To Know About Baki The Grappler

As modern wrestling fans know, it’s not uncommon for the anime world and the pro wrestling world to cross over. In the West, there are a number of wrestlers who have sported anime cosplay gear for special matches, while in Japan fans have seen various instances of cross-promotion involving big companies like New Japan-Pro Wrestling. Naturally, there are also anime that feature pro wrestling, including Baki The Grappler, sometimes known as simply Baki.


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Fans with Netflix in both Japan and the West are able to watch Baki any time they want, but there are likely many that don’t know much about this series. Let’s take a look at 10 things to know about this violent fighting franchise, including its history, which dates back a few decades.

Baki Follows A Fighter Out To Surpass His Father

Baki’s Father Is The Strongest Fighter On The Planet



Baki Hanma

Yujiro Hanma

Like many anime and manga centered around physical combat like Dragon Ball Z, Baki’s centered around a hero who trains to become an even better fighter, defeating progressively stronger foes along the way. That said, Baki provides a unique twist on the trope, as protagonist Baki Hanma’s great defining rival is his own father. Nicknamed “The Ogre,” Yujiro Hanma is a cruel, ruthless warrior who ends up killing Baki’s mother during a fight between father and son, which adds an element of vengeance to Baki’s quest.

Based On A Manga

The Original Baki Manga Debuted In 1991

Manga Run




Like many anime, Baki is based on a manga, and a long-running one at that. Created by writer/artist Keisuke Itagaki, Baki The Grappler made its debut back in 1991 in the magazine Weekly Shonen Champion, lasting until 1999. From there, several follow-ups ensued: the simply titled Baki (1999-2005), Baki Hanma (2005-2012), Baki-Dou (2014-2018), the modified title Bakidou (2018-2023), and finally the most recent, Baki Rahen, which started in 2023 and continues to this day. Despite the title changes, the series all continue the ongoing saga of the title character.

A Baki Anime First Came Out In 1994

A Full Series Followed In 2001




Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter



Baki The Grappler



Grappler Baki: Maximum Tournament



Baki: Most Evil Death Row Convicts Special



The year 1994 brought the first-ever Baki anime, a 45-minute OVA (original video animation), a direct to home video release titled Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter in the West. This release only adapted a chapter from the middle of the series, but a more full-fledged adaptation dropped in the following decade


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Debuting in January 2001, Baki The Grappler adapts the manga from the beginning, albeit with some modifications. After 24 episodes, a new series titled Grappler Baki: Maximum Tournament replaced it in July 2021, running until late December. From there, the next Baki anime project would arrive in 2016 as a 15-minute short included with a special edition of a Baki-Dou manga volume.

The Current Baki Anime Continues The Story Of The Original

The Newer Anime Starts With The “Most Evil Death Row Convicts” Storyline







Baki Hanma



After 17 years, a new Baki anime finally debuted. Streaming on Netflix in 2018, Baki picks up where the original anime left off rather than adapt the manga from the beginning. The series first tackles the “Most Evil Death Row Convicts” that kicks off the second manga series, Baki, which involves a quartet of otherwise unrelated imprisoned fighters escaping their respective prisons and making their way to Tokyo. After the initial two-season run of Baki, a new series followed: Baki Hanma, adapting the third manga series, which went for two seasons from 2021 to 2023.

Features Numerous Wrestlers Inspired By Real Life

Numerous Wrestling Icons Have Been Fictionalized In Baki

Character Name


Mount Toba

Giant Baba

Jack Hanma

Dynamite Kid



Antonio Igari

Antonio Inoki

Andreas Regan

Andre The Giant

Roland Istaz

Karl Gotch

Sam Atlas

Brock Lesnar

Mike Quinn

The Ultimate Warrior

Yujiro Hanma

Masahiko Kimura

Baki features all manner of fighting styles and takes inspiration from the history of those styles, so there’s no shortage of not only pro wrestling in the series, but also characters based on actual pro wrestlers. Along with wrestlers based on Japanese wrestling icons Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, and puroresu godfather Rikidozan, there are some crucial main characters inspired by wrestlers. Along with Jack Hanma, Baki’s Canadian half-brother who’s based on Dynamite Kid, Baki’s own father Yujiro is based on Masahiko Kimura, pro wrestler and judoka practitioner for whom the Kimura Lock is named.

Baki Specifically Shouts Out Ali vs. Inoki

The Fight Is Recounted Pretty Much Verbatim As Fans Know It




Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki


Tokyo, Japan

As part of Baki’s approach to depicting various fighting styles, as stated, the history of fighting is also a factor in the series. At one point, the anime and manga even go over the infamous fight between the aforementioned Antonio Inoki and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, which happened between the fictionalized versions of the two, Antonio Igari and Mohammad Alai. While the real-life fight was poorly received, the battle in Baki serves as important background ahead of the battle between Baki Hanma and Alai’s son, Mohammad Alai Jr.

Spawned A Few Video Games

Baki Is Perfectly Suited To The Medium


Release Year


Grappler Baki: Baki Saikyou Retsuden (a.k.a. Fighting Fury)


PlayStation 2

Hanma Baki – Baki – From Yahoo! Mobage


Browser Game

Typing Grappler Baki


Browser Game

Grappler Baki: Ultimate Championship



Baki: King of Souls


Android & iOS

Given that it’s a long-running franchise focused on fighting — and an absurdly violent depiction of such — it’s a no-brainer that there would be video games based on Baki. Shockingly, however, the number of games mostly amounts to browser and mobile games that aren’t always fighting games.


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The only non-mobile or browser Baki video game ever released to date was 2000’s Grappler Baki: Baki Saikyou Retsuden, which was for PlayStation 2. While the game wasn’t particularly well received, it did manage to make its way to the West in 2003, where it was released in Europe under the generic title Fighting Fury.

Baki Inspired A Unique Live Action Show

But Not An Adaptation Of Baki




Notes Of A Girl Who Kept Thinking Baki The Grappler Is BL



In 2019, a sociologist named Junko Kaneda wrote a book about Baki in which she recontextualized the manly fighting manga as a BL (boys’ love) story. Surprisingly, this book managed to spawn a live action series in 2021. Rather than follow Kaneda, however, Notes Of A Girl Who Kept Thinking Baki The Grappler Is BL follows a woman who works at a stationary company who’s secretly become obsessed with the manga in her free time, shipping the characters.

The Creator’s Daughter Also Makes Manga

Paru Itagaki Created Beastars

Beastars Run




Pro wrestling fans are more than familiar with the concept of second-generation performers, and even the world of manga has a few creators whose children followed in their parents footsteps, including the creator of Baki. Paru Itagaki, the daughter of Baki’s Keisuke Itagaki, was born in 1993 and in 2016 debuted a major work of her own in Beastars. Adapted into an anime in 2019, Beastars takes place in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals and follows a murder in a boarding school.

There Are Lots Of Spin-Offs & Side Stories

These Are All In Addition To The Main Series

Selected Titles


Grappler Baki Gaiden


Baki Gaiden: Scarface


Yuenchi: Baki Gaiden


Baki Gaiden: Gaia to Sikorsky ~Tokidoki Nomura Futari Dakedo San’nin Kurashi~


Like many popular manga, Baki The Grappler also spawned a number of spin-offs and side stories following other characters from the series. One of the earliest was Grappler Baki Gaiden, a full-volume release capturing a bout between wrestlers Mount Toba (the Giant Baba character) and Antonio Igari (the Antonio Inoki character). While some of these are side stories involving Baki characters, there are also other releases including a comedy strip called Baki Domoe and an isekai story. Some of these comics have Keisuke Itagaki’s involvement while many are handled by other writers and artists.

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