In 2018, Baki—the long-running MMA manga by Keisuke Itagaki—finally got a new anime series on Netflix. Picking up where the 2001 series leaves off, Baki and his former opponents must now face a ragtag group of escaped death row inmates from around the world who lie, cheat, and steal to the point that it would make wrestling icon Eddie Guerrero (who was notorious for cheating) proud. While a new season has been confirmed, we have yet to hear of a premiere date. As we anticipate its next installment, we’d like to share why we can’t wait for the next season of Netflix’s Baki!
The Stakes Are Higher
If any of you readers saw the 2018 season, then you know that Baki’s life is now in grave danger due to getting poisoned in the concluding fight. In order to get the cure he needs, he has to win the Raitai, an underground martial arts tournament in China that makes the Kumite in Bloodsport look like a schoolyard brawl. This means that the next arc is adapting the Great Chinese Challenge Saga as Baki teams up with his fellow Japanese fighters, along with America’s greatest, as they face China’s mightiest warriors. Due to Baki’s condition, the stakes are higher as he must compete with much of his strength depleted. Once that’s over, audiences who are already familiar with the manga are going to be treated to one of the franchise’s greatest fights in anime form!
Upon the final act of the first season, Ali, Jr., the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in the world of Baki, is finally introduced, and like real-life Ali Junior, he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. As for fans whose exposure to Baki is exclusively through the anime, they can come to the conclusion that Baki and Junior are bound to throw down at some point. When the next anime series begins, they’ll start off as allies as they fight against the Chinese and once that’s over, they can finally get down to business (aka the Godlike Clash of the Kids Saga). The good news is that Ali, Jr. is going to have some considerable screen time to hype him up so audiences have plenty of chances to see how cool he is in action.
Through the first season of the Netflix series, audiences learn that Kaioh, or meaning “sea king,” is a title given to marital artists by an elite group of Chinese masters regardless of their backgrounds. As Baki’s journey into becoming the world’s strongest fighter brings him to China, he and his allies have the chance to face opponents who have obtained that rank. Like many in Baki’s cast, each Kaioh has a unique gimmick to make them stand out and add something exciting to the series. Some are a repeat of gimmicks that have been done before but are given a fresh twist to knock audiences out of their socks!
More Old School MMA Action
What makes Baki appealing is its explosive action. It was Mixed Martial Arts long before the sport even existed! The original manga debuted around October of 1991, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first event two years later! While MMA has been rapidly progressing these past 25 years (to the point that the sport has a women’s division, which took professional boxing and basketball decades to achieve!), Baki is still in-tune with old school MMA. While today’s athletes need to know how to combine striking, wrestling, and submissions, Baki is still about one style versus another, just like the original UFC fights.
How does Karate measure up against Judo? Who wins between an Aikido black belt and a Yokozuna, a Grand Champion of Sumo? Or what happens when the respective heavyweight champions of boxing and pro-wrestling collide (The 1976 fight between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki doesn’t count)? As we already saw in the old UFC fights, those questions were finally answered. However, Baki still stays true to its roots and can deliver high-octane action! As the series begins to show the insanity of the bouts in the Raitai (and after), some would wonder if the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency should test this anime or the original manga for performance-enhancing drugs!
Beyond the Great Chinese Challenge and the Godlike Clash of the Kids arcs, we hope to see more of the manga’s wildest stories get an anime adaptation. One character manga fans would love to see in anime form is Pickle, an unfrozen caveman with FREAKISH strength! As it relates to our prior suggestion that the USADA should test this series for performance-enhancing drugs, Pickle is the ultimate reason for that! What he can do is just off the charts and his presence provides the series’ most incredible fights! While we admit we’re getting ahead of ourselves by bringing up Pickle, we’re hoping that the Netflix Baki can eventually get to that point in the series and provide fresh and familiar audiences that brand of excitement that oozes high levels of testosterone (and hopefully get Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg to provide commentary as an optional track)!