The conflict between nature and nurture has been a prevalent discourse in literature since bygone era, and the anime scene is no exception in this regard. More often than not, shounen narratives introduce the quintessential ‘chosen one’ protagonist representing nature as opposed to the skill honed to perfection, a product of circumstance rivaling nature, where nature’s dominance will prevail irrefutably. The first part of Season two of Netflix’s Baki Hanma brings out a subversive take on the trope, which is either a result of the self-aware mockery of the shounen genre or a blatant effort to take the over-the-top nature too seriously, and we are betting on the first possibility.
The previous season of Baki Hanma had established the greatness of the Hanma bloodline by introducing Yujiro Hanma, aka the Ogre, as the strongest person in the world and his son, Baki, as the strongest high schooler. Due to unknown reasons, a feud between the father and son began years ago, and teenager Baki is now willing to clash against his old man once again in a no-holds-barred fight to settle past disagreements. In order to train himself to his best level for the battle, Baki orchestrated his own incarceration in Arizona State Prison and faced the mighty Biscuit Oliva, the strongest person in the United States. After an epic brawl, Baki managed to beat Oliva, and unbeknownst to him, a sense of respect seemed to be stemming from Yujiro. However, before the fated battle between Baki and Yujiro could happen, the climax of the season one finale introduced a character from prehistoric times who could be the entire fighting community’s toughest opponent to date.
Rewriting Human History: Who Is Pickle?
In the final moments of the previous season of Baki Hanma, it was revealed that miners had found that the depths of Colorado’s salt bed had perfectly preserved a prehistoric male human, who, to their utter shock and amusement, was in the process of fighting with the largest land carnivore in history, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This discovery changes the very foundation of the history of evolution, and the chief scientist of the discovery expedition, Dr. Albert Payne, names the male ‘Pickle,’ given how he was preserved in a pristine condition inside the saline composition.
Analyzing Pickle’s physical attributes, Dr. Payne deduces that this eight feet tall, musclebound primitive man, laced with claws and fangs, truly belonged to the Jurassic age, where he preyed on dinosaurs like T-rex, Pteranodons, and Brachiosaurus. Pickle wakes up from his ‘slumber’ after smelling his favorite delicacy, as a genius lab assistant had the idea of cooking a steak of T-Rex’s meat, and starts wreaking havoc by breaking free. Even with the United States’ army on the scene, Pickle’s raw, devastating strength almost made it impossible to restrain him alive, until Captain Strydum interfered, and an unspoken promise was made between the two, which somehow signified to the primitive savage that he would gain what he desired if he followed him. Strydum brings Pickle and Dr. Payne to Japan, where Pickle is later housed inside an indoor stadium.
Throughout the season, Dr. Payne discovers new, interesting details about Pickle, like the fact that he is absolutely unwilling to consume anything that he has not fought with and killed, and that he was possibly the only one of his kind to have existed 200 million years ago, way before modern humans arrived on Earth. Despite being a savage, Pickle shares a sense of deep respect and love towards the creatures he fights and consumes, which he shows by crying in front of the adversaries he deems worthy of fighting. Pickle’s arrival in Japan alerts the fighter communities across the globe, all of whom want to test their might against the gigantic brute, who is deemed possibly the strongest human of all time.
Primitive Gauntlet: Who Are The Warriors To Challenge Pickle For A Brawl?
The initial trouble that arises from holding Pickle captive is that he is unwilling to eat anything that will not engage in a physical battle with him, and the fiercest creatures of the contemporary animal kingdom refrain from taking him on, all except the critically endangered mighty Siberian tiger, which ends up becoming his meal. Unable to contain their curiosity, the topmost martial artists of the world—Yujiro ‘Ogre’ Hanma, his other son Jack Hanma, the director of Shinshinkai dojo Doppo Orochi and his adoptive son, Katsumi Orochi, and Chinese kung fu master Kaiou Retsu, among others—make a visit to Pickle and convey their respect. However, Baki Hanma is not too interested in Pickle, but gradually his attention veers to the primitive brute as he realizes the true might of the man out of time.
The first one to challenge Pickle to an all-out brawl is Kaiou ‘Sea King’ Retsu. Too confident of his abilities and under the assumption that mastery of martial arts through four thousand years has far superseded Pickle’s primitive fighting tactics, Retsu channels his best self to square off with Pickle. Despite putting up a great fight, Retsu loses the battle, gets knocked out cold, and his leg is eaten by Pickle.
The next challenger in the row, Katsumi Orochi, is an interesting individual. From a very young age, Katsumi displayed brilliant feats of physical strength and flexibility while performing in the circus, which impressed Grandmaster Doppo Orochi. After little Katsumi lost his father in an accident, Doppo adopted him and introduced him to a lavish lifestyle that somewhat spoiled him, and he didn’t reach his full potential. However, that is not to say that he turned out to be a brat, as Katsumi is regarded as a revered fighter among the members of Shinshinkai dojo, and even someone as highly skilled as Retsu considers him to be a formidable opponent. During his meeting with Pickle, Yujiro insulted Katsumi, which triggered a zeal in him to prove his worth, and this turned into stubbornness after Kaiou Retsu and his master Kaiou Kaku taught him the technique of the Mach speed punch.
As Katsumi entered the fighting arena with Pickle, all the members of Shinshinkai dojo and even Baki Hanma turned up as audience members to cheer for him. Imagining his limbs as formless and ultra-flexible, Katsumi strikes severe blows on Pickle and, at a point, almost knocks him out, but his body fails to handle the incomprehensible strain, resulting in his arm getting torn wide open. Pickle tears his arm off to satiate his hunger, but at the end of the battle, he shows a deep sense of reverence for the valiant fighter, to the point where the savage prays in front of his incapacitated body and doesn’t feel like eating him. Despite losing the battle, Katsumi gains massive praise for the lengths he went to uphold the honor and pride of martial artists. After this point, Baki Hanma gets really interested in taking on Pickle in a brutal brawl.
Yujiro’s eldest son, Jack Hanma, had one fixed goal since his childhood: to become the strongest being by any means, whether that meant taking anabolic steroids or medically forcing his body into enhanced condition. As he clashed with Pickle, half of his face got eaten up by the primitive giant, but Jack’s fierce battle tactics and strength nearly turned the table, and as he bit off Pickle’s ear, the brute got the taste of his own medicine for the first time. However, even Jack’s ferocity is not enough to do much damage to Pickle, as Jack loses the battle not once but twice.
Who Won The Fight Between Baki And Pickle?
Finally, after a prolonged wait, the moment arrives when Baki gets a chance to test his might against Pickle. During the initial phases, Baki gets treated like a plaything by Pickle, which hurts his ego, and Baki adopts the posture tactics, as he adapts to the stance signifying the physicality of prehistoric dinosaurs, to strike a sense of fear in Pickle’s heart. While still battling the brute, Baki remembers his troubled past with his father, Yujiro, which viewers get to know stemmed from the murder of Baki’s mother, Emi, at Yujiro’s hands. Baki feels conflicted between his hatred towards his father, resulting in the desire to get revenge, and his admiration for his strength, which, at the very moment, is helping him in the fight with Pickle. Baki adapts the tactics of relentless dodging, almost turning intangible against Pickle’s attacks, uses graze hits to knock down Pickle multiple times, and dominates a major half of their battle.
However, as soon as Baki’s conceit implores him to put the battle to the test of stamina, Pickle turns out to be the ultimate victor. Technically, Pickle wins the fight, but Baki’s irrefutable dominance leaves no room for argument against his claim as the superior fighter. Later, Pickle’s fate is decided as the public worldwide votes for him to be put into stasis once again, leaving him the way he was found in the first place, but he escapes the security. Part one of the second season ends with Pickle and Baki sitting on a rooftop in Tokyo, getting amazed by the resplendent nightscape of the city, and Pickle reminiscing about the prehistoric landscape he once used to rule.
The second part of the second season of Baki Hanma will premiere next month, and according to the title reveal, viewers will finally get the chance to see the conflict between father and son, Yujiro and Baki Hanma.