Welcome back to another cartoon recap! Yesterday, we started the Netflix anime series Baki on the suggestion of a friend of mine and I liked it enough to keep it going so we’ll be continuing along with that.
Yesterday’s episode was a basic introductory chapter where we meet the title character of Baki who is such a badass that everyone in his scope is fucking terrified of the guy. He’s approached by a fight promoter named Mitsunari Tokugawa who tells of a big underground tournament happening in Tokyo and five hardened criminals from around the world who have broken out of jail and are on their way to come compete.
We have only the most basic of insight into pretty much everybody involved to this point, but hopefully that will be expanded upon today. Despite that lack of background, we got a very quick-moving, action-packed episode and I’m interested to see where it goes. At the very least, we get some gratuitous violence and intense sequences that make this pretty impressive visually so it’s not like this has nothing to offer, I just like deeper backstories and to understand the motivations of why people are doing what they’re doing. But, it’s also only been one episode thus far so I have to be fair to Flair and give that time.
Which brings us to today! Head over to Netflix and let’s move this train along!
Season 1, Part 1, Episode 2: Dark Martial Arts
We pick up exactly where we left off with Baki sitting in the principal’s office talking to Tokugawa and totally not understanding why these guys want to come to Tokyo to challenge him. Tokugawa starts rattling about the secret underground fighting network and Baki thinks he’s exaggerating, but Tokugawa assures him he’s not.
We cut away to Rob Robinson, a kickboxer who’s getting his running in. A group of people nearby take notice and are wowed to see him up close, but Robinson is met by Hector Doyle, one of the criminals we met yesterday. Robinson has no clue who Doyle is and tells him to back off because he doesn’t want to have to crush some amateur guy in the middle of the street. Doyle is not even close to spooked and then shows off some metal-implanted razor blades that extend from his fingers. He slices Robinson’s face and then slits his throat before dropping his body to the pavement and declaring, “You’re no fighter.”
A group of local thugs who tried intimidating Baki in yesterday’s episode, but then pretty much shit their pants when they realized how overmatched they were keep running into these new guys: all fighters with some kind of expertise with their own weapons. They all share some common ground: they’re all looking for Baki. One of the gang members gets Baki and brings him to this grouping and the new warriors are completely unimpressed with Baki’s look. Baki has yet to show any kind of fighting expertise, but there’s obviously some reputation that has all these guys wanting to try themselves against him.
This group attempts to take him out, but Baki shows an ability to see everything in slow-motion and is able to anticipate their moves before they make them. None of these guys prove to be any kind of actually threat. Baki makes short work of them, leaving only the local street thug who thinks he’s going to shoot Baki, but Baki really gives no fucks. He laughs off this guy because standing behind him is Spec, the first of the escaped convicts to have made it to Tokyo.
Spec takes the gun from the local jabroni and points it to his own cheek. He proceeds to pull the trigger five or six times with each bullets going straight through him. There’s blood, but Spec mostly just laughs it off as smoke seeps from the entry and exit wounds. He’s made quite an introduction and he’s here to find the best fighter in Tokyo. Spec gets some good heat and basically beats the shit out of Baki before the cops show up thinking they’ll be able to hold Spec. Spec pulls Baki in for a handshake saying he’s there just to say hi and that he’ll see him soon.
In an interesting cut, we go to a man watching the news in what looks like a hotel room. If this was pro wrestling, this little cutaway would basically serve as a vignette for a new character getting ready to make his debut. Here, that man is named Yujiro Hanma and he is Baki’s father as well as being the most feared man on the planet. He is huge and ripped to shreds and this quick interlude may as well end with, “coming soon!”
We actually get a few more of these seemingly independent asides used to introduce new challengers. Goki Shibukawa is an old, frail man who is regarded as a legend and can still kick ass when needs be. Kaioh Retsu, a master of ancient Chinese martial arts. Katsumi Orochi is a modern karate master and seemingly long-time adversary of Kaioh Retsu as they feud over whose style is better.
Orochi and Retsu are featured sparring in Orochi’s dojo, Shinshinkai Karate. As time expires, both men are bloody, but still on their feet as Orochi’s students look on in amazement. The episode comes to a conclusion, but not before someone walks through the door looking for Doppo Orochi – father of Katsumi and legendary karate fighter. It’s another of the escaped criminals, Kaioh Dorian.
Similar to yesterday’s episode, I found this to be exciting and quick-moving. If you’re into it, man, it fucking flies by. I thought there was some solid development on the characters, but it can be kind of confusing seeing as how we’re still learning the ones from yesterday while being introduced to another group today.
Thankfully, there’s a Baki Wiki page that is incredibly helpful to me being able to figure out character names and such as they come in at such a fast pace. As someone completely unfamiliar with the comic, this page has quickly turned into a valuable resource.
Just two episodes in so not long enough to offer a complete assessment, but I like where this is going. After yesterday’s episode, I was kind of worried that they may hotshot everything to the fighting tournament immediately, but today built out the world a bit and now I’m invested in seeing what happens when that continues tomorrow.
Until next time.