It is often said that the act of fighting is the reflection of the purest, more primal instincts of living beings, which signifies the essence of the very struggle to survive itself. And when it comes to exploring the complicated relationship between a father and a son using a myriad of fighting disciplines, concepts, and philosophies, trust the shounen genre of anime to provide you with the most unabashedly over-the-top, in-your-face display of spectacle, which at the same time delivers a latent commentary on the nature of the human spirit. Released in 2021, Netflix’s Baki Hanma, the anime adaptation of the manga of the same name created by Keisuke Itagaki, revolves around the aforementioned narrative structure, which takes viewers through the coming-of-age journey of the eponymous hero. The second season of the anime is just about to premiere; therefore, to catch up on the events that have preceded it, let’s take a look back at the first season of Baki Hanma.
Hanma Bloodline: Who Are Baki And Yujiro?
The introductory episode of the anime quickly sets up the premise of the story, along with the key characters and the stakes. Yujiro Hanma, aka the Ogre, the world’s strongest human being, comes into the spotlight after taking down a monstrous rogue African elephant barehanded—an incident that shocks the world. As the scene shifts to Japan, viewers are introduced to the son of Ogre, Baki Hanma, the strongest high schooler in the world, who is eager to face his father in a battle to settle a past feud. Baki faces an opponent in Rumina Ayukawa, a little kid who has been bullied by his classmates to take a knife and challenge Baki to a fight. Despite the stark difference in their age, physicality, and strength, to uphold Rumina’s dignity, Baki agrees to battle him and defeats him by one hit, an incident that boosts the kid’s morale immensely – considering the fact that he battled the world’s strongest high-schooler. A certain Captain, Strydum, meets Baki to inform him that his father has accepted him as a true challenger, which leads to Baki deciding to prepare himself for the oncoming battle.
Intrigued by Baki and Yujiro’s conflict, Rumina decides to follow Baki to learn about his fighting techniques. Rumina gets shocked to learn that Baki’s shadowboxing regime is so unbelievably focused that he faces opponents like legendary heavyweight champion Iron Michael in his sparring session—in his imagination—but fights with them as if they were palpably real and sharpens his Skill in the process. However, the fight Baki is about to partake in is not restricted to one fighting style, as it is a no-holds-barred conflict, the gravity of which someone like Baki, who has trained rigorously in various fighting disciplines from a young age, can fathom. As Rumina goes to Baki’s home, he is amazed to see Baki emulating a fight with a giant praying mantis just by focusing on the movements of a regular-sized one. Baki considers the insect to be the strongest attacker in the animal world with fierce offensive capabilities, and in order to prepare for his battle with the Ogre, he chooses to spar with a giant version of it in his imagination. Baki’s vivid imagination, along with his strong focus, turns the battle almost real, with Baki getting viciously beaten initially and later winning by changing his fighting style and adapting to the opponent. News of this unbelievable scenario reaches Ogre, and as Captain Strydum praises Baki’s inventive training regime, Ogre laughs it off.
Black Pentagon: Why Did Baki Go To Arizona State Prison?
In the next phase of his training session, Baki does something unthinkable: he kidnaps U.S. President George Bush right from his convoy by evading security and demands to be incarcerated in Arizona State Prison. The strongest person in the entirety of the United States, Biscuit Oliva, aka Mr. Unchained, is stationed in that prison along with numerous other heinous criminals, which earns the prison the unofficial nickname of Black Pentagon. Baki’s requests are approved, and he gets confined in prison, where he meets Oliva for the first time and lets him know about his wish to face him in battle. However, he has to wait for that opportunity, as the second-strongest person, who is also serving jail time in the prison, has already challenged him.
Who Are Biscuit Oliva And Jun Guevaru?
As Baki gets to know more about the second and third strongest people in the world (After Ogre), i.e., Biscuit Oliva and Jun Guevaru, their extremely contrasting motivations and backgrounds come to light. Oliva lives in affluence and complete freedom even in prison, as due to his fearsome reputation as a brawler, none of the authorities dare upset him. A connoisseur of the finer things in life, Oliva lives in a grand, luxurious suite along with his long-time girlfriend Maria, for whom his love is almost devotional. Maria was once a beautiful woman, but medications for a particular illness did a number on her, and she became morbidly obese. However, that didn’t affect Maria’s strong spirit, which inspires Oliva every single day of his life.
On the other hand, we have Jun Guevaru, a former pirate hailing from a South American island nation, who was frustrated after seeing how American capitalism and exploitation were ruining the lives of his fellow islanders and, to counter the might of the States, trained his compatriots in the rigorous discipline of Mugakure Ninjutsu, which his grandfather had taught him. Guevaru trained himself and his comrades to such an extreme that they defeated the armed forces barehanded. Guevaru wrested complete freedom from the United States by forcing George Bush to acknowledge the autonomy of the island nation and Guevaru become the president of his nation. Through the course of Baki Hanma Season 1, it is also revealed that once a boy from the island nation tried to ‘capture’ the cyclone that almost destroyed their island in an urn and gifted it to Guevaru, earning his respect in return. That urn is Guevaru’s source of strength and courage and is symbolic of what his homeland represents for him.
A subplot revolving around Iron Michael, who is imprisoned in the Black Pentagon as well, is highlighted as the prison warden is given a substantial amount by the chief of the IBA (International Boxing Association) in exchange for ensuring the boxer’s career ends in prison. The Warden employs his trusted triplet operatives (Tongue, Teeth, and Lips, aka Mouth) in unison to ensure that Iron Michael is never able to fight again. The bizarre coordination and tactical dominance of the Mouth almost end Michael’s career, until Guevaru arrives at the scene and scatters the fearsome operatives with just a punch.
Is Baki Prepared To Face the Ogre?
Finally, the day arrives when the two powerhouses, Oliva and Guevaru, are about to clash, and the four thousand prisoners gather around the prison field to witness the most epic battle of their lives. After a prolonged battle of ‘losers lose’ which involves holding a handkerchief on one end and not letting it go despite getting thrashed by the opponent, Baki forces the duo to engage in old-school brawling. Guevaru fights valiantly but is ultimately defeated by Oliva’s brute force. He easily escapes prison to return to his island nation, but not before inviting Oliva and Maria by addressing a letter to them.
Soon after Guevaru’s escape, Baki starts provoking Oliva for their battle and slowly gets into his mind. However, he doesn’t want to clash with Oliva, while he is still healing from his last battle, and allows him to recuperate. The prison warden and Oliva plan to make the battle a fight-night-like event, with the clash being broadcast across the United States, thereby earning the prison and affiliated organizations high revenue. However, Baki loathes the idea, as for him, the essence of fighting matters way more than flashy showmanship, and he insults Oliva even more for his superficiality.
An infuriated Oliva begins the fight by thrashing Baki through several prison cells, pummeling him ruthlessly, but the young fighter perseveres. The beating is so severe that Baki remembers the pain he endured the last time he faced his father Yujiro in a battle, and reliving the memory all over again at once gets him all pumped. Soon the fighters start trading vicious blows with incomprehensible speed and strength, moving beyond the human capability of endurance and strength, which ends with Baki winning the fight. Admitting his defeat, Oliva announces Baki as the new Mr. Unchained in front of the entire prison, but at the same time, arranges for his immediate release as he can’t stand the sight of the person who delivered him defeat for the first time in his life. Strydum shares the news of Baki’s victory over Oliva with Ogre, who finally seems to have grown a sense of respect for his son.
However, that doesn’t mean Baki is going to face his father first thing in the next season of Baki Hanma, as another new adversary is hinted at in the season finale of the first season. Strydum jokes with Ogre about whether he will be able to defeat a dinosaur, and the scene shifts to Colorado, where underground in a salt bed, a perfectly preserved 190-million-year-old caveman is seen fighting against a prehistoric beast. Baki Hanma Season 2 will initiate in a grand manner, with either Baki or Yujiro having to face an opponent of this caliber, and hopefully, we will get to know more about the sordid past Baki shares with his old man.