Everything you need to know about the Baki the Grappler series

The Baki the Grappler series has been an institution in manga for 30 years now, anchoring the Weekly Shonen Champion magazine and producing iconic characters Baki and Yujiro Hanma. 

While Baki the Grappler is a staple of the industry, it hasn’t hit the same heights as the likes of Naruto or Attack on Titan. In fact, it wasn’t until the Baki anime series landed on Netflix in 2018 that the franchise had any real presence in western markets. Thankfully, this breathed new life into Baki and spawned a slew of spin-off mangas and a touring museum-style exhibit complete with a life-size Tokyo Dome Underground Arena ring.

Because of how slow the franchise was to leave Japan, many in North America and Europe are playing catch-up 30 years after its debut. Here are some of the key details about the series, including both its manga and anime.

What is Baki the Grappler?

Baki the Grappler is an anime and manga franchise that follows the titular character’s journey toward defeating his father, Yujiro Hanma. The series first debuted in 1991 as a manga, which was adapted into an anime in 2001.

The manga has been renamed several times over, with those names being changed further in markets outside Japan. This can make it tough for new fans to figure out the proper read order and watch order for the Baki franchise. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to approach with a bit of help.

Can I skip the original Baki?

Fans should watch the entirety of the Baki franchise in order, starting from the beginning of Baki the Grappler. 

While watching Baki the Grappler isn’t easy to do its limited western release, the series has a linear plot and large cast of characters. These characters come and go at random, but can have a serious impact on the story they appear in. Without the proper context, it will feel like a random person has appeared to unceremoniously take out one of the major antagonists of an arc.

It’s no worry for fans that are just looking to take in over-the-top anime fights. Those who want to keep track of who is fighting who and want to know why those matchups are unique will want to start from the top. The series has been consistently strong throughout its 30 years of existence, so fans will be in for a wild ride. 

Is Baki a dark anime?

Each Baki anime series tackles dark subject matter and has gruesome moments during fights.

The manga sees characters sustain gruesome injuries and tackles heavy subject matter at times. The anime closely follows the manga’s story. Because of that, the faint of heart should look elsewhere when it comes to finding an action-packed anime.

The original Baki the Grappler anime tones things down a bit, effectively turning an R-rated story into a PG-13 series by removing its goriest moments. However, the two Netflix series deserve a hard R rating as multiple characters sustain horrific injuries.

Who defeated Baki?

Baki has been defeated by a number of characters throughout the course of the series including Yujiro Hanma. The main character has always been presented as strong and determined but is never portrayed as unbeatable.

The full list of characters who have defeated Baki Hanma includes:

  • Yuri Chakovsky
  • Yujiro Hanma
  • Zulu
  • Ryuko Yanagi
  • Pickle
  • Miyamoto Musashi

Despite sustaining several losses, Baki has traditionally gotten revenge on his opponents or had some extenuating circumstances that kept him canonically strong. Despite suffering all these defeats, he remains one of the definitive strongest fighters in the series.

Who killed Baki’s mother?

Baki’s mother was killed by Yujiro Hanma during the Baki the Grappler series. The “Kid Baki” arc introduces a 13-year-old version of the main character who is being pressured by his mother, Emi Akezawa, to become a worthy opponent for Yujiro Hanma. This leads to a great deal of tension within the family with Baki resenting Yujiro, Yujiro being frustrated with Emi for his son’s lack of progress, and Emi lashing out at both as a result.

Yujiro Hanma And Emi Akezawa

This leads to the first father-son fight in the series. While Baki trained vigorously throughout the arc, Yujiro effortlessly defeats him, with Emi stepping in to try and stop Yujiro. Yujiro responds by striking her and crushing her to death with a bear hug.

It’s implied that there was more than meets the eye when it comes to Emi’s death. Yujiro seems to immediately lament his actions and is later frustrated when Baki asks why he killed her. More than 25 years removed from when it was first printed, there is still a lot of mystery regarding this moment.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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