What is the Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf based on?

Garouden manga cover

Netflix adds another underground martial arts anime to its library with Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf, but what is it really based on?

Martial arts anime seems to be one of Netflix’s favorite genres to produce. From iconic franchises like Baki the Grappler to modern hits like Kengan Ashura, it’s clear the streaming service loves its fight scenes.  However, one can never have too many martial arts anime, and Netflix added another to the roster.

Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf follows Juzo Fujimaki, a mysterious monster of a man with a dark past. After gaining notoriety for his exploits, often to protect the innocent or himself, a shady organization blackmails him into joining an underground fight club. 

An exciting premise, but as with many adaptations, Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf strays from its source material.

What is Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf based on?

Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf is a loose adaptation and spin-off of the Garouden novel series.

The Garouden series, written by Baku Yumemakura, spans thirteen novels in its first part, published from 1985 to 2003. A sequel series, Shin Garouden, began in 2006, with five volumes as of 2020.  The original plot of Garouden does not follow Juzo Fujimaki at all. Instead, it follows self-proclaimed fighting expert Bunshichi Tanba.

Tanba spends his days looking for popular fighters on TV and humiliating them on the street. However, the cocky fighter bit off more than he could chew when he entered the Federation of Amateur Wrestling. Otherwise known as FAW, it is an underground fight club where some of the strongest fighters compete to see who is the strongest.

Meanwhile, in the novels, Juzo Fujimaki debuts as an imposter of “Bunshichi Tanba” to draw him out. The Netflix series doesn’t dwell on that aspect of Juzo’s character, instead focusing on his dark past and his rivalry with Tsutomu Himekawa. 

Garouden Manga Splash
Keisuke Itagaki’s Garouden manga

Notably, Baki the Grappler mangaka Keisuke Itagaki illustrated a Garouden manga adaptation, which ran from 1996 to 2010 before entering an indefinite hiatus. The manga has never received an official translation or release outside Japan. It is unclear why Itagaki’s Garouden manga stopped but there are no signs that it will be restarted, even with this anime raising the series’ visibility. 

Is Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf canon in Baki the Grappler?

Garouden and Kengan Ashura may be part of the Baki the Grappler universe, as a character from Garouden has appeared in a Baki spin-off manga.

Jyumei Kuga, the “Vessel of Darkness,” showed his dark presence in the Baki universe. He appears in the Baki Gaiden: Yuenchi spin-off manga, teaming up with its main character, Mumon Katsuragi. Katsuragi is Katsumi Orochi’s estranged brother and was trained by Kozue’s father. Baki’s spin-off mangas are of uncertain canonical status but mainline Baki manga have pulled characters and plot points from spin-offs before.

Whether that potential canonicity extends to the rest of the Garouden cast is murky, especially when Garouden seemingly has no clue about the likes of Yujiro. Either way, the two series fit together nicely, and the adaptation’s success might inspire an animated crossover like Baki Hanma VS Kengan Ashura in the future.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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