Watch Baki If You’re Looking for Your Next Combat Anime Fix

I recently finished the Netflix anime series Baki. Recommended by the good guys who run the Manime panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta, my girlfriend picked this one out for us. She picked this right after we finished Kengan Ashura, another stellar combat anime series I recommend.

With that being said, Baki has its ups and downs. But I will say those downs don’t really hit until the end which I’ll get to shortly. For what it’s worth though, this anime kicks ass. The animation, the music, the character design, and even the narrative history on martial arts and other tidbits of trivia hit a high note.

You’ll enjoy the grossly exaggerated feats.

For those wondering, this adaptation of Baki does not take place at the beginning of the manga. This anime begins with the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. The previous tournament arc is essentially recapped right in the opening.

With that being said, I would love to get to the point on why I recommend Baki.

What to Expect from Baki

Baki the Grappler is a martial arts shonen manga released in Japan in 1991. It features the young martial artist, Baki, who seeks to defeat his father, Yujiro Hanma, also known as the Strongest Living Creature. Having murdered Baki’s mother, he seeks revenge while training and fighting against many powerful martial artists.

Yujiro Hanma is also known as The Ogre.

Compared to your contemporary shonen anime, however, Baki is a great deal more violent and geared towards a more mature audience. Think more like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in terms of violence because it pushes on horror levels of gore. On the flipside, Baki also offers insightful trivia on martial arts, history, as well as some grossly exaggerated anatomical feats such as surviving bullets to the face.

The fighters can engage each other anywhere at any time.

The Netflix arc focuses not just on Baki but on a myriad of fighters. The Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc features five fugitives who escaped the death penalty and traveled to Tokyo in order to seek defeat. These convicts fight against Baki as well as his fellow martial artists including Doppo Orochi, Kaioh Retsu, and Gouki Shibukawa, among others.

Stellar Work of Animation and Narrative

Being released in 2018, Baki features some of the most cutting-edge animation. Many of the fights feature some incredibly hard-hitting blows and fast-paced fighting. Along with the stellar character detail, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Every fighter in this series is a true badass. Fighters like Biscuit Oliva and Jack Hanma are among the most intimidating people introduced alongside the already frightening Death Row Convicts. Not to mention some of the convicts are just downright sick in the head, like Spec, who will surely disturb you.

I enjoyed watching the dub which featured prominent voice talents like Steve Blum as Doppo Orochi. However, feel free to pick whichever language suits you.

Baki brings a wonderful notion of dread especially throughout the first part of the Death Row Convicts arc. The villains are seemingly unbeatable at first and the fights involve a number of grotesque sequences. For a martial arts series, I daresay the level of violence might blow your mind.

A Couple of Drops in Writing

However, Baki isn’t a perfect anime. I feel there were a few studders here and there with the writing. Naturally, whether it’s the same as in the manga or not, I’m not sure. I certainly don’t fault the anime production team for bringing this to life. Regardless, the writing dips once during the first arc and essentially the second half of the last arc.

**SPOILERS BELOW**

For starters, Dorian’s defeat egged me a little bit. He was soundly defeated by Doppo Orochi. Yet he retaliates in a sneak attack against Orochi only to be defeated quickly by Kaioh Retsu. As such, he loses his mind and regresses to a childlike persona. I don’t know why that was ever necessary when it could have ended at Orochi.

This problem also extends similarly to my least favorite arc, the Muhammad Ali Jr. arc. While the manga pays great tribute to Ali, his son initially starts off as an incarnation of Ali, but younger, in the Baki series. Beating down tough fighters using Ali’s skills, Ali Jr. quickly becomes a dominant fighter. Where does that lead us?

I will say, however, that the series pays tremendous respsect to boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

After his utter defeat, he is rematched by and loses to the 3 competitors he previously defeated. Suddenly, he’s going to challenge Baki Hanma and expect to win? After his inevitable defeat, he’s reduced to a crying mess. While I’m all for an arc where a powerful character is humbled and grows from it, nothing came of this ass-whooping that Ali Jr. received.  It felt like a pointless direction. And to make matters worse, the arc ends on the cliffhanger of Baki and Yujiro finally going to battle.

**END SPOILERS**

The Ali Jr. arc in itself wasn’t terrible. But it didn’t live up to the Raitai Tournament and certainly not the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc which I found epic. It still had plenty of gorgeously animated visceral scenes but it lacked the tension of the previous arcs as well as building up a prominent fighter just to drop him like a basket of eggs.

Final Thoughts

I especially enjoyed the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. I loved the premise of a life-or-death tournament where a battle could happen at any time. These frightening convicts with superhuman strength were fighting to kill and the series wasn’t afraid to gross you out with it. The latter arcs were endearing with their fights and animation but nothing quite hit like the first one.

With that being said, Baki isn’t perfect but it’s certainly worth watching. For shonen and martial arts enthusiasts, definitely give this one a watch. If you’re interested even further, seek out the manga or the older anime series to catch up on what happened before the Netflix series.

If big muscles, hand-to-hand combat, and gory deaths excite you, Baki will surely deliver. While I would disagree with the direction of writing in a couple of places, I still found myself entertained throughout. The Death Row Convicts and Raitai Tournament arcs were surely exciting.

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Up and Coming Cosplayers with Queen B Cosplay: Pictorial

It was a pleasure featuring Queen B Cosplay for this Up and Coming Cosplayers.  I would have thought that cosplayers would be more open to being featured for all of the home-bound masses of a COVID-19 world, but strangely enough we have been hurting for cooperative and participating cosplayers (hence our new series “Cosplay at a Glance).

If you haven’t read our interview with Queen B Cosplay, I suggest you do, as it will lend portent into our choice of photos for her pictorial, as well as give you more of a appreciation for them.

One thing that we will tell you that we did not get to touch upon in her interview, is that Queen B Cosplay is a graphic designer and editor.  In fact, you can see some of her work in her pictorial, as well as the other pictures in her Cosplayer Score Card and Interview.

Without further ado, please enjoy the pictorial for Queen B Cosplay:  The Fighting Queen!

Up and Coming Cosplayers with Queen B Cosplay: Interview

 

With COVID-19 still in full effect, I’ve had a dry spell of cosplay goodness for my Up and Coming Cosplayer series, and so I had to find another way to share great lesser known cosplayer with you all.  Fortunately for me, this fighting queen answered my call without fear, and we’ve gotten some great articles and content from working with her.

She’s #CosFit as a fitness enthusiast and a martial artist of several disciplines.  She’s a gamer that loves her fighting games, and lives her life like her cosplay characters:  in charge and independently.

All Cool Things™ is proud to present 2021’s first Up and Coming Cosplayer:  Queen B Cosplay!

 

 

I think I always ask this question, but it’s too big to put as a form question in my “Cosplayer Score Card.” How did you get into cosplay?  Is there a person that helped indoctrinate you?

 

I saw a Facebook event suggestion for Anime Pasadena back in 2019.  Then one day I looked at concept art for C. Viper and I was like: “I could totally pull it off!”

It took me like a month and a half to pull together store bought clothes that looked similar, and a whole bunch of YouTube videos on how to do the wig.

 

 

 

What were some of the things that you really fell in love with, about cosplay?  What made you realise that you had found a community for you?

 

I loved that not only do I share some martial arts skills as some of my favorite characters, but now I can look like them!

I am always in love with the transformation and give me an excuse to dress up.  My makeup game has improved because of cosplaying.

POC Cosplayers on Facebook has been overwhelmingly supportive and inspired me to take cosplaying more seriously.

 

 

 

Like many cosplayers, you have passions beyond that you draw inspiration from.  One of them is martial arts.  How did you get into martial arts?  What disciplines do you know?

 

My very first introduction to martial arts was Karate at the age of 16.  I was consistent for about a year and a half, then took to studying and preparing for college.  During college I’ve dabbled in Krav Maga, Gumdo, and Kung Fu San Soo.

I really got serious with my training when I took up Juj Jitsu for the purpose of MMA.  Through that, I’ve also taken boxing and Muay Thai classes.  During COVID, I plan to take Gumdo back up because I can still practice social distance, but I plan to get back into Muay Thai and Jui Jitsu after COVID is under control.

 

 

I can tell by your cosplays that you are also a fan of fighting games.  Which did you like first:  martial arts or fighting games?  Did one get you into the other?

 

I was exposed to fighting games first, but shortly after I took up Karate which boosted my confidence a little.  It wasn’t until I saw Tekken 5 for the first time, and I was so pumped up, I signed up for Kung Fu the next week.

‘Been my obsession ever since.

 

 

 

I grew up a SEGA man, for various reasons.  To me, SEGA systems always made the best SNK ports, and tried their best to be arcade accurate with every port they ever got, rather than other systems that took liberties depending on their strengths and weaknesses.  What was/is your console manufacturer of choice?

 

I’ve always been a SONY girl.  My family got the “family PlayStation” so we were all gamers when I was a kid.  I do sometimes wish that I had a Nintendo for the sake of nostalgia attached to Mario, Zelda, etc, but I love that I grew up with Spyro (I LOVE Dragons!) Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy (which inspired me to get into game art and design), Resident Evil, Tekken, and sooo many more!

 

 

 

What are some of your favourite fighting games?  Do you tend to like 2D or 3D better?  Do you tend to like the older or newer fighting games, better?

 

I like 3D better to play, but I do like to look at concept art for the 2D games. Tekken, Soulcalibur, and Mortal Kombat are my main faves.

 

 

What is it about fighting game characters that inspires you to cosplay?  Do any of those qualities translate to the other characters you have cosplayed, like Sephiroth?

 

Being a martial artist, it’s such a nice feeling when I pull off a move during a round and I’m like “I can totally do that in real life!” Walking around as my favorite fighting character at cons knowing that I can mimic their fighting moves is icing on the cake for me.

Also, a lot of game characters have such unique fashion sense.  King of Fighters has great fashion in my opinion.

I LOVE weapons, so much so that I collect antique blades. So a character donned in black leather, long gorgeous hair, and a katana… Why didn’t I cosplay him sooner!?

 

 

Between the cosplay, working out, and martial arts, would you say that romantic interests find you intimidating?  Do you find time for it?  Would you say that you have to find time for love outside of these interests, or does it help to find someone within them?

 

I spent much of my adult life on my own, getting my work and home in balance.  I have been told once that I was intimidating:  A woman who can defend herself, makes her own money, and has a place of her own?  I suppose it’s kind of a rarity.  I think those who have the right mindset, or one similar to me, wouldn’t be intimidating.  I do love that the intimidating factor does weed out the not-so-eligible suitors, LOL.

The only problem I find when looking for love is that I am extremely picky:  I look for a man who shares the same core values, is just as loyal as I am, and physical activity is a must, (martial arts is a huge bonus for me) and is a nerd like me.

I’m sure you can imagine the search for a partner takes quite a while, but I have taught myself to love my own company so I never settle or rush into anything, and I am content when I am single.  I rarely consider anyone outside of shared interests.  What would there be to talk about?  I prefer quality connections, not to collect bodies.

 

 

 

You are a relatively new cosplayer, so there is still so much to learn.  What aspects of cosplay and crafting would you like to explore next?  Is there an aspect that you are working on, now?

 

I would LOOOOOOOVE to learn EVA foam armor.  I am planning on getting a 3D printer soon.  Being a 3D Artist, it only makes sense to incorporate it into my cosplay.  I figured I could learn 3D armor printing first

 

 

 

Have any cosplayers taken you under their wing to help give tips on the craft?  Are there any cosplayers that you like to collaborate with?

 

I am the type of person to figure things out for myself, LOL.  Sometime I do post a question or 2 on Facebook cosplay groups, but I tend to be pretty independent.

 

 

Some would say that now is one of the worst times to get into cosplay because of COVID-19, and how it has caused so many conventions to be put on hold.  How do you keep your fledgling flame alive without so much interaction with the community?

 

I feel I do get the interaction of the community…but without being crammed in a hall next to potentially hygiene-compromised fans… and all of the other downsides to con-going.  I’ve taken part in
a few online contests, live chats, and I’ve even won some prizes here and there.  I use this at-home time to be my own subject for learning photography, and improving my photo compositing and 3D photo integration.  I am excited for when cons come back.  I have so many new costumes to show!

 

 

 

Were there any conventions in particular that you missed because of COVID-19 that you definitely would have attended?

 

I’ve never been to Fanime, but the idea of a 24/7-ish con is amazing.  I was about to go earlier last year, but COVID happened. I definitely want to go one day.

 

 

 

Is there anything that you particularly enjoy about conventions?  Before cosplay, had you ever experienced “con life?”

 

I’ve always been to tech/game conventions like SIGGRAPH, and even a few E3’s.

 

 

 

When COVID-19 becomes moot, do you think you would like to start travelling to conventions out of state or region?

 

100%, I plan to first go to GACUCon, which is a gaming/anime convention via Royal Caribbean, then I want to go to Thailand for some Muay Thai camps, and beach fun/cosplay shoots, and
of course, Japan, LOL.  I actually have a whole list of travel ideas…

 

 

As a newcomer to cosplay, do you have a message to would-be cosplayers sitting on the fence?

 

Cosplay really is for everyone!  It adds an extra dimension to your favorite show or video game when you can cosplay as your favorite character.  You don’t have to start big, in fact you could even just do closet cosplay, or even casual versions of your favorite character.  It is a very good outlet to expressing oneself.