Welcome back to another Baki episode recap! Two weeks have come and gone now with this show and it has definitely been something. As I’ve said throughout, this is not a show I would have found on my own or that was in my wheelhouse, but it was recommended by a chum and I’ve been enjoying it.
When we left off, Dorian had killed Kato, slit his throat with that crazy technologically advanced wire he carries and left his body zipped in a heavy bag at the Shinshinkai Dojo. Except for one thing: Kato wasn’t dead. Yeahhhhhh, I have to let that go. Because, trust me, I watched it, that dude was fucking dead.
But he’s not.
So now over a million Shinshinkai members worldwide have it out for Dorian, but let’s be honest, how many of them have a legitimate shot against him? Probably just the two or three we already know about: Kaioh Retsu, Doppo and Katsumi Orochi. Maybe there’s another guy somewhere too. There’s always another guy.
I don’t even know if this tournament thing is still going on since this seems to be just about settling scores rather than becoming the best fighter in the world. At least that one I’m more comfortable with leaving to the writers seeing as how I don’t have much Kumite experience.
At the closing yesterday, Dorian was brought to an empty amusement park to have to deal with every person on the planet who ever trained at Shinshinkai. He beat up one in such impressive fashion that the rest of the jabronis backed off and let him walk into the park to see which high chief of Shinshinkai would be waiting for him.
On an aside: I don’t think Baki is in this show anymore.
Season 1, Part 1, Episode 10: Air Duel
Dorian is greeted inside the park by a small clown named Ashida. He’s the manager apparently and offers his hand to Dorian so he can begin escorting him through the park. That’s kind of cute. The park gets lit and rides turned on and Dorian begins living his best life while riding the teacups, until he’s rudely interrupted by Atsushi Suedo, a third-degree black belt and training partner of Kato who now looks to avenge his peer.
Dorian actually begins running from Suedo and heads for the roller coaster. I mean, this is great to me. Work the gimmick, brother. You have an amusement park, use it. Good booking. The coaster begins with Dorian in the front car, Suedo near the back and Dorian tells Suedo that it’s easy to say you’re willing to die for a friend when safely on the ground, but up here? On a roller coaster? This is their time.
And Goonies never say die.
What just happened? I blacked out.
Oh, Dorian basically calls Suedo a pussy if he’s not willing to fight while the coaster’s in motion.
As they reach the apex before the drop, Dorian is able to surprise Suedo by sneaking up on him from behind and applying the dreaded sleeper hold. Dorian is no Brutus Beefcake, however, and doesn’t keep the hold locked in very long.
As the coaster continues, Suedo has a memory of an old training session with Doppo Orochi. The lesson pertains to balance and was made for battles on ships while at sea. Suedo feels like it applies perfectly to his current situation and that it gives him an edge.
Dorian, desperate now, lunges at Suedo and spears him off the coaster. They begin freefalling to the ground below, but Dorian again turns to his trusty wire: this time to stop his momentum by hooking around a lamp post as Suedo took the full brunt of the landing on the concrete. Suedo fades out and once again, I’m going to assume someone’s dead, when I’m pretty sure they’ll be back before the end of the episode.
Dorian is laughing it up as Suedo fades away, but then is halted by Katsumi Orochi who is quickly joined by Kaioh Retsu. Katsumi says that Dorian is a “piece of shit” and that he doesn’t deserve to walk the Earth. Dorian asks Retsu if he also believes that and we dive into a big flashback sequence of Retsu’s training where he felt he was being held back from attaining the rank of Kaioh.
We are shown a young Retsu being led through a “Hall of Spheres”. A collection of huge spheres carved from solid rock by nothing more than the hands and feet of the former Kaiohs. There is one empty display and Retsu is told it is because that particular sphere was much too large to fit in the Hall.
Fast forward to an older Retsu, frustrated with not being Kaioh and he is finally shown the massive sphere and finds out the Kaioh who carved it was, in fact, a Westerner. Back to current times, he realizes that Westerner is none other than Kaioh Dorian.
Retsu steps to Dorian and bows respectfully telling him it’s an honor to meet him as we go to credits.
This episode has the regular dosage of action and violence, but for whatever reason, just didn’t do it for me. It was…fine. I assume all this time is being spent on Dorian to build him up to be the final boss for Baki, but it’s been so much time that it has come at the expense of just about every other character in the show.
We haven’t checked in with quite a few of them almost this whole week so this has really become Dorian & Friends.
Is this a bad episode? No. It’s not like you’re going to go home thinking this show sucks now, but it’s just questionable from a storytelling perspective. At the end of the day, I should be happy with just being entertained and this show certainly accomplishes that, but it just feels as if they’ve just completely dropped all the other characters – including the title character – to build what feels like a Dorian spinoff.
Yes, there are always character arcs in all shows, but this series really hasn’t done all the legwork of getting its main character over enough to be able to go explore the history of another person this in-depth at this time. If you disagree, I’d love to hear why because, in my view, Baki is one of the most forgettable people introduced thus far and, in his one show of battle, he is defeated and then not given any follow-up in the aftermath of his matchup with Yanagi outside of school.
That’s my complaint. I’m still enjoying the show, but I think they’ve made some questionable decisions regarding the focus and I’m going to assume that the next episode will continue to be Dorian-centric now that we’ve had this big revelation about his past.
Enjoy your weekend and we’ll pick back up on Monday.
Until next time.