(Netflix) Baki: The Grappler – Part 1

This past week has been a little bit of a lull in seasonal anime, so there isn’t that much to write about. Not even Santia Sho had an episode and that show just started airing. I did watch some non seasonal shows, but those are either shows I watched for Mecha March and am waiting to write my thoughts on them or Banner of the Stars, which I watched too much of in a short amount of time to write in a weekly capacity. (I’m not done with that show yet, but there will be a review in some form later on.) That leaves Baki from Netflix, which I do have a lot to talk about. Winter 2019 seasonal anime start airing next week, so this post is like a truck stop. Everything will be back on the road next Mondays will return to normal.

It’s very strange talking about this edition of Baki that appeared on Netflix, because it’s a sequel. Why do I say that? I mean, itt takes place after a major tournament arc of brutal combat. I’ve seen enough fighting anime to figure that one out. Plus, there is the fact that there are flash backs and blatant references to it as the show went on. Baki was it’s winner after all. The story in proper starts when five death row in mates from all around the world come to Tokyo in hopes of being defeated. These are some of the toughest people in the world who are physically stronger then anyone can actually handle in which it’s a coincidence they wanted to escape at the same time. So with this arc, it’s five Japanese warriors from Tokyo against five death row inmates in brutal combat without any rules at all. It’s not exactly a tournament, because fighting can happen at anytime, but there are still vague goals.

I could talk about characters in this brawl thing, but they are barely developed enough. Each one is a master of karate or combat in some form cool and that’s all you need to know. Baki is the most characterized person because he is a bumbling high school kid with muscles goes on dates with his girlfriend and has zero sense of awareness. At the same time, he’s just another fighter in this show that just needs more experience and that’s perfectly all right with me. Baki barely gets any focus. This show is just all about those characters beating each other up and cutting each other part in the most brutal ways possible and I have been loving every minute of it surprisingly. I want to thank Hazelyn from Archi-Anime for introducing this show to me. Thank you so much, Zel! It’s been a lot of fun.

In all it’s brutality, there are some interesting themes to this battling. The first one is traditional body training against the newest gadgets. The Japanese fighters are the kinds of people that train every single part of their body to the limit for peak performance. I am not going to call the escaped death row inmates weak at all, because these are the kinds of people that are strong enough to shatter the Statue of Liberty with their firsts, but these characters rely on modern gadgets and tricks most of the time to win. Another theme is tournament combat vs real combat. The Japanese fighters are too used to fighting in a tournament ring with people cheering for them and getting used to fighting before a bell goes off or when combat just happens for the hell of it is taking them some time because the prisoners are used to this style of combat. I’m glad all of them are insanely strong.

If there is any sort of let down, a lot of the fights revolved around cg models.The switch of characters from traditional animation to cg animation is very easy to spot because there is such a huge difference between the two in their quality without any since of smooth transitions. I suppose some of it is ok, but extended cg characters models doing flips then transitioning to standardly animated character models is a little off putting. I think the traditionally animated before and after frames of combat are enough to keep me busy. Still, none of this ever dampens any of the fights for me. I just love seeing what happens next.

In the end, this is just the first half of what Netflix is giving us for Baki. I’m sure the second half will appear in three months and I will have more to say about it then. As for now, I am enjoyed what was given. I love the fact that Steve Blum is voicing one of the characters in combat. I didn’t think that he has been voicing anime characters lately, so that was a good surprise for me. For now, I am signing off with my thinking towards Baki. Next up, I have the second part of Last Hope to watch. I liked the first part, so I hope I can say the same about this part. I guess all will be revealed eventually.


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