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“This is a silly fight between a father and son,” Baki Hanma claims. “It’s the kind of thing that happens in families all the time.”
“You are gravely mistaken,” replies Captain Strydum. “This whole situation is basically the same as two countries going to war.”
Based on Keisuke Itagaki’s manga (Japanese comic book), Baki Hanma’s titular character prepares for an epic fight with an undefeated man called the Ogre. Not only is this adversary capable of ripping apart an enormous elephant with his bare hands, but the Ogre is also Baki’s father, Yujiro Hanma. The Ogre is so powerful that not even the strongest nations in the world dare to challenge him. Instead, they pledge to Yujiro that they won’t get in his way. Vicious and proud, the Ogre believes no one, not even his son, could defeat him. Baki believes otherwise.
A showdown between these individuals is inevitable. But first, Baki Hanma needs some practice. And his methods are a bit unconventional.
Using shadowboxing techniques and imagination, Baki “summons” worthy opponents. First, he fights a former boxing champion, Iron Michael. And his next opponent is a giant praying mantis. Unfortunately, Baki needs a greater challenge than these imaginary foes. Hoping to fight a real opponent, Baki commits a crime to land himself in Arizona State Prison, home of massive fighter, Biscuit Oliva. Baki believes a fight against Biscuit Oliva (also called Mr. Unchained) will prepare him for the showdown with the Ogre.
But just as Baki feels prepared to face his father, scientists discover a monstrous prehistoric man. In his era, this man, called Pickle, feasted on colossal T-Rexes. So Baki fights him, too. And pretty soon, it’s time for him to face off against his dad.
Baki Hanma’s premise revolves around training for a legendary fight. As such, violence is a central part of each episode. Baki engages in ferocious fights, throwing devastating punches and kicks. Often, he and his opponents get covered in scars and leak pools of blood. Although the show is animated, these moments are pretty gruesome.
That said, Baki Hanma adeptly pays tribute to martial arts. A narrator describes the episodes’ actions, often explaining different styles and techniques of the craft. Sometimes these explanations touch on the spirituality of martial arts, but (for the most part), the narration positively amplifies another culture.
And then there’s the characters’ clothing—or lack thereof. When Baki and his opponents fight, they usually wear as little clothing as possible. In some instances, the bare backsides of characters can be seen, and sometimes their fighting poses amplify the content issue. We find some issues above the waist as well. Both Hanma father and son use special techniques called “Demon Face,” a method of scrunching the back muscles to form a creepy face on their back to terrify opponents and amplify power. And it’s said that Baki’s brain has the same demon face permanently etched into its wrinkles.
Several characters also use profanity including the s-word, “h—,” “a–” and “d–n,” and there are a few scenes that feature smoking. The second season features a prehistoric man from the Jurassic period, though discussions about the Earth’s age are not a significant aspect of the story.
A young man on a quest to defeat the strongest man alive, combined with prehistoric fights between men and dinosaurs might sound like appealing premises. I’d guess younger anime fans might be drawn to the action in Baki Hanma. But with the gruesome violence, bare backsides and profanity, this anime is clearly for older audiences.
Baki and Yujiro trade blows in the climactic battle between father and son.
Archeologists stumble upon hieroglyphics depicting Baki and his father fighting, and they believe that the hieroglyphic of Yujiro is that of a god or demon. The show’s narrator calls Yujiro an Oni, a demon in Japanese folklore. People pray to Yujiro, hoping that he’ll use his strength to protect them. It’s said that they “worshipped him as a god and loved him as an angel.” The narrator says that “there is no justice. There is no evil. There is only strength.”
Yujiro and Baki punch each other relentlessly, causing lots of blood to spill from both of them. Later, we see the damage to one of them: His skeleton reveals multiple fractures, fissures and cracks. A man’s jaw is separated from his head.
Baki bumps into an old family friend who causes him to rethink his family trauma.
Neuroscientists study Baki’s brain and find a creepy face on it. They say the face is a sign of the brain being demonic in nature, and they call Baki a demon.
A man is killed by a kick. Others are similarly found dead. Baki’s mother beats him. Later, Yujiro crushes Baki’s mother to death, and we hear her bones cracking. We’re told that Baki’s mother enjoyed watching people be killed.
There’s a reference to sex. A man sobs, covering a woman in his tears, sweat and snot. Someone smokes a pipe.
We hear a misuse of God’s name. We also hear one use of “d–n.”
Baki engages in a legendary fight with Pickle. But the results are unexpected.
During the fight, both men wear minimal clothing, and in a flashback, Pickle’s bare backside is shown. Baki and Pickle exchange violent punches and kicks that often draw pools blood. In a flashback, we see Pickle rip apart and kill dinosaurs. Pickle’s skin is covered with terrible scars from these fights.
There is a brief discussion about the evolution of man. We hear two uses of “d–n.”
American scientists discover a prehistoric man frozen in a fight against a T-Rex. One scientist believes the frozen man could be brought back to life.
The prehistoric man, Pickle, is a monstrous individual capable of massive destruction. He throws devastating punches at a dinosaur and violently attacks another man. Some fights draw blood, including a moment in which someone fires a gun at Pickle.
While people discuss how to contain Pickle, someone mentions suicide bombers. Another character refers to Pickle as a “savage.”
A scientist asserts that humans appeared seven million years ago, and we learn that Pickle hails from the Jurassic era. Pickle’s prehistoric background means that he is completely nude throughout the episode. His bare backside is seen, and at times his front side can be seen as well (though nothing critical is shown). In an attempt to connect with Pickle, another man also strips his clothing off, and we see his completely bare backside.
Single uses of “jeez” and “h—” are heard. A man reads a porn magazine, and images of women in underwear posing seductively are shown. This character also smokes a cigarette.
Against all odds, Baki Hanma defeats an undefeatable opponent at the Arizona State Prison.
Baki’s fight with the prisoner dominates the episode. Both men wear minimal clothing. They violently kick and punch one another, drawing pools of blood. By the end, both men are badly injured with cuts and bruises.
Someone refers to Baki as the “child of a demon,” and another person calls him a “punk.” We hear two uses of “h—” and one use of “d–n.” Someone begins the phrase, “Son of a … ” before trailing off. In a flashback scene, a man drinks wine and smokes.
Baki is bored of fighting imaginary foes. He wants to take on the infamous Biscuit Oliva. But to face this foe, Baki must construct a plan to enter Arizona State Prison.
We hear references to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Later, a character kidnaps the U.S. president (at the time the show was released), George W. Bush. The kidnapping isn’t violent, but someone suggests the character should have killed the president.
Men are seen in their underwear, and one man wears a speedo-style swimsuit. In one scene, Baki strips completely, and his bare backside is shown. While he walks through a hall of prison cells, a male prisoner asks if Baki wants to be his boyfriend.
Several scenes involve smoking and drinking, and there is one use of “h—.”
Mr. Saman tells the press about an impossibly strong man (nicknamed the Ogre) who killed a giant elephant with his bare hands. Meanwhile, a young boy named Rumina Ayukawa challenges the Ogre’s son, Baki Hanma.
The episode focuses on the men’s impressive fighting abilities, and characters often engage in graphic and bloody altercations. Portions of the Ogre’s elephant fight are shown, and we see some animal carcasses that have been ripped apart. After his fight, the Ogre eats a dead animal.
As he trains to challenge the Ogre, Baki boxes an invisible opponent. Their confrontation results in a bloody nose and bruises.
Rumina Ayukawa’s friends peer pressure him into challenging the strongest high schooler in town. As Rumina contemplates their dare, one of the friends says that if Rumina fails to take the challenge, the group will “tease him until he commits suicide.” During their showdown, Rumina threatens Baki with a knife. Unimpressed, Baki hits Rumina, sending him flying across the lake.
Male characters are seen wearing no shirts and very short shorts. There are four uses of “a–” and a single use of “h—.” A character says, “What the heck,” and another calls his friend an “idiot.”
Sarah Rasmussen is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2023.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”
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