The Baki the Grappler anime has a spotty history when it comes to anime, and the story behind its manga is even more difficult to get straight. Because of that, the read order for the Baki manga can leave fans scratching their heads.
Baki the Grappler first landed in the west in 2002, eight years after its initial release in Japan. The series was licensed for release by Gutsoon! Entertainment, but the company went defunct not long after licensing the series. Just 46 of the more than 350 chapters of Baki the Grappler were translated by the company prior to its closure.
Since then, the entire franchise has largely been left in limbo. Fans have taken it upon themselves to translate the series even though publishers should theoretically be scrambling to get the rights to the manga behind the popular anime series from Netflix. For the most part, these unofficial translations are the only ways to read the bulk of the Baki manga.
But what order should you read the various Baki series in? And what happens in each book?
Baki manga read order
As of this writing, there are five Baki manga series with a long list of spin-offs. The five Baki manga series are all direct sequels to one another, with some picking up just days after the conclusion of the prior series. Here is the order you should read the Baki manga series in.
1. Baki the Grappler (1991)
The original Baki the Grappler series started 30 years ago in an underwhelming fashion. Though the franchise is iconic at this point, the series started out somewhat derivative of other popular manga and anime of the time.
Its art style was heavily inspired by major manga releases of the 1980s and leaned on homages to real-life combat athletes. Most notably, the Baki Hanma character was a generic peppy protagonist rather than the calm and intimidating figure fans are familiar with today. An extended flashback effectively fixed these issues, completely reinventing the character and darkening the tone of the series.
There are three arcs to the Baki the Grappler manga. It starts with the Underground Arena Arc, which is followed by the Kid Baki Arc, before wrapping with the Maximum Tournament. The manga was adapted into an anime of the same name in 2001.
2. Baki (1999)
Though it’s officially named New Grappler Baki: In Search of Our Strongest Hero, the second series is largely referred to simply as “Baki.” This is the starting point for most fans of the series thanks to the 2018 Netflix anime.
The series departs from the grounded martial arts feel of Baki the Grappler in favor of over-the-top action. It also has a very different presentation than the rest of the series. Instead of following Baki, it tracks other characters before effectively making Muhammad Alai Jr. the main character for the final stretch.
Baki is the lone series that has received an official English language release in its entirety. Media Do International has all 31 volumes available for sale in digital format on Amazon.
3. Baki Hanma (2005)
Romanized as Baki Hanma: Son of Ogre, this series follows the titular character’s preparation for a fight with his father, Yujiro Hanma. It effectively has four arcs, starting with Baki’s fight with Biscuit Oliva in the Arizona State Prison before moving on to the “Prehistoric Menace” Pickle. There is then a filler arc ahead of the conclusive fight between Baki and Yujiro.
The series does not have an official manga release yet, but could receive one in the future. The Netflix anime adaptation of Baki Hanma dropped in September 2021 and a second season has already been confirmed.
4. Baki-Dou (2014)
Baki-Dou kicks off weeks after the battle between Yujiro and Baki, with the characters stricken by inescapable boredom. Things pick up for them in a surprising way with the resurrection of legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.
The characters are fascinated and excited by Musashi’s appearance. Things take a scary turn when they realize that Musashi truly emphasizes the “martial” aspect of martial arts.
5. Baki-Dou (2018)
Baki-Dou was technically relaunched in 2018 under a slightly different name, with “Baki” being written in katakana instead of Kanji. The series picks up after the end of Musashi’s story and sees Baki and the other main characters shift their focus to another legend of Japanese history.
The gang winds up crossing paths with Nomi no Sukune II, a man with the skills and power of the creator of sumo wrestling. This informs much of the proceedings with a shift in focus to sumo and how it fits into the Baki world.
How many Baki manga are there?
There are five Baki manga series with over 140 collected volumes between them.
Alongside the five manga series are a number of shorter spin-offs that last for between one and eight volumes. These spin-offs vary wildly in terms of subject matter and quality. The one fans are most familiar with is Baki: Revenge Tokyo. This one-volume story was adapted into the last episode of the Baki anime and serves as an epilogue for the five death row inmates.
Some of the Baki spin-offs are relevant to larger story beats, such as a deep dive into Doppo Orochi’s past. Some are just wacky, like Kaio Retsu being transported into a high-fantasy world. Baki fans don’t need to seek these out in order to get the full story, and can instead just read the five main manga series.