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Baki the Grappler Episodes #21 – 24 Anime Review

5 min read
© Itagaki Keisuke / Akita Shoten / Free Will

The show prepares for the truly big tournament that is the second half of the season.

What They Say
Baki has successfully defended his title as the ultimate underground champion. Unfortunately, before there’s time to celebrate, his father arrives with a brutal and humbling reminder.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Baki the Grappler has had a lot going on during its first half of the series where we met our leading man and his mother who was raising him for that monster of a father of his. We saw his journey from basically a top tier street fighter to one that tackled the monstrous in the Yasha Ape and then to the even more bizarre level of human fighters who have gone beyond the norm. His encounters with his father and those who’ve served with him over the years have shown him just how weak he was which led to the series moving forward several years to a time where he’s now the champion in a popular but secretive underground tournament.

This volume has four episodes that have built up quite a bit in what came before as it’s brought Yujiro and Orochi together to finish off the fight that they had started once some ten years prior. This covers about an episode and a half worth of time but it’s one of the most brutal fights yet in the series. Prior to entering the ring, we get some nice down time with Orochi as he spends time with his wife at home, goes through his purification and a round of training with everyone in his dojo. Baki’s been trying to get him to not take on his father in the fight but there’s a history that the two have that must be brought to bear. I’ve loved Orochi since he got more involved in things in the last couple of volumes but watching these episodes was hard. He’s a great fighter who has trained so hard for fifty years that it’s not hard to understand why he feels confident in taking him on. Add in the experience he got before in his first fight as well and all of it seems like it’s in his favor.

But watching him during the training and all his explanations, plus just having that gut feeling that you know Yujiro can’t lose just yet, I can’t help but get the feeling that he’s not in the right mindset for fighting someone like the Ogre. It’s not his look which is almost always a smile of sorts, but it’s just that he doesn’t have that edge to him that says he’ll go at Yujiro with a ferocity and savageness that is required. The Ogre plays to win and even though he may play with his prey, his first and foremost goal is to disable his opponent as quickly and swiftly as possible. Orocohi just doesn’t have that edge because of the kind of world he’s lived in for so long now, dealing with clean fighting environments in his dojo’s and students who will limit themselves against him. If he’d been out and about wandering the world or even participating more frequently in the tournament in the last few years it’d be vastly different.

The other fight we get to watch takes place between Baki and Kureha, the brother to the recently defeated cord cutter. Kureha’s an interesting character as he’s a master surgeon who other surgeons defer to in an instant. He’s performed miracle operations over the years and saved many lives. He’s also worked his body into a prime physical specimen that takes into account a variety of different forms of fighting to it so that he’s able to deal with almost anything that comes at him. He’s not interested in Baki beyond the fact that he’s a stepping stone to Yujiro himself and Yujiro is rather interested in him. What makes Kureha a fascinating opponent is that while many fighters gain mastery and understanding of the human body in fighting and training themselves, Kureha knows its inner works better than anyone else besides Yujiro. But even there most of it has been through book smarts and surgery methods but it’s something that makes him incredibly dangerous.

The fight between him and Baki is something that’s been a long time in coming for Baki. We learn some interesting things about Kureha along the way and Baki’s asked to do something in his fight with him that changes his attitude about the man entirely, something that at the time is entirely needed. When the fight starts, Baki gets to utter the perfect line in telling Kureha that, “This isn’t a match. This is punishment.” It takes a lot to really rile Baki but when he gets to that point nothing stops him from doing what he has to do, even to the point of revealing moves he had been saving to deal with his father someday. Taking place over the last two episodes though with plenty of downtime before and after, the fight is fantastic and is one of the best brutal ones yet. I loved how the cord cutter brother had fought before but this one just has you cringing so many times in how Kureha is able to fight and manipulate his opponent’s bodies.

In Summary: 
Baki the Grappler continues to be a very engaging brutal fighting series, one that has me yelling at the screen when the guy I want to win gets taken down, one that has me cringing with some of the moves and one that has me sitting on the edge of my seat as the cliffhangers get revealed. I know it’s easy to pass on shows like this and a few years ago I couldn’t avoid these fast enough, but for some reason, Baki the Grappler has simply fascinated me with its love of violence and the way it for the most part doesn’t cop out or back away from it. The two fights on this volume are engaging pieces of brutality with four men who are all masters of their bodies and arts. The fights are quick and violent and meaningful. Very recommended.

Grade: B+

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 21st, 2006
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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