Baki Hanma in the Baki anime

The best and most complete watch order for the Baki series

By Steven Rondina

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Apr 5, 2022

Reading time: 5 min

The 30-year history of the Baki series and inconsistent support from western media companies have combined made it tough to be a longtime fan of anime’s most tenured grappler. So what is the best watch order for the Baki series?

Baki has had three different anime series alongside two one-shot animations. Some of the companies behind the series’ first anime adaptations have gone out of business, forcing fans to figure out what was going on themselves. With the second season of the third series now officially looming, it’s important to have things sorted for those wanting to catch up on the series’ history. Here’s the complete series history and best watch order of the Baki anime.

Which Baki series to watch first

Newcomers to the Baki franchise should start by watching Baki the Grappler.

The Baki franchise includes a large number of characters. Unlike such series as Naruto and Bleach, characters will disappear entirely for years at a time, reappear for a big fight, and then disappear again afterward.

In Baki, main characters are defeated by opponents who appear with minimal explanation. It’s whiplash-inducing even for established fans, and it’s even more jarring for newcomers. Though Baki and Baki Hanma can be enjoyed on their own, watching Baki the Grappler gives some much-needed context to the proceedings.

Baki the Grappler can be found in its entirety on social media sites including YouTube. From there, fans can move on to Baki and then Baki Hanma on Netflix.

In what order should I watch the Baki series?

There have been three Baki series released alongside two OVAs. The OVAs are an interesting time capsule of the series’ history, but both are skippable as the events included in them are mostly included in the three series.

The three series in the Baki franchise so far are Baki the Grappler, Baki, and Baki Hanma. The three are parts of the singular large story about Baki Hanma working towards defeating his father Yujiro. Here’s the complete history and watch order for the Baki franchise, and which series can be skipped.

Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter (1996)

Baki: The Ultimate Fighter is a one-shot anime special that covers the first two fights of the Baki the Grappler manga. It’s largely skippable but it’s a good quick watch.

The Baki Hanma character seen here is very different from the one fans are used to. While Baki is usually shown as somber and serious, the one shown here is much more plucky and silly. Baki creator Keisuke Itagaki radically reimagined him after the first arc of the manga and retellings of those stories have done away with that version of the character.

Though this is officially the first piece of animated media for the Baki franchise, it’s not necessary to seek out. Much of the special was included in the full Baki the Grappler series that came out several years later. Those who are desperate to see it can find it on YouTube.

Baki the Grappler (2001)

Things start in earnest with the original Baki the Grappler anime series, which was released in 2001. It received a dub and limited DVD release from Funimation that has largely been lost since. Thankfully, it’s widely available on the internet and can be found in its entirety on almost any major video streaming site.

It largely follows the events of the manga of the same name, but with some changes. The arcs are rearranged to go in chronological order. It starts with the “Kid Baki” arc that details his childhood and first fight with Yujiro, then moves onto his championship reign in the Tokyo Dome Underground Arena. The original manga starts with Baki as champion, then has an extended flashback with the Kid Baki arc. 

The series also adds some extra scenes that weren’t shown in the manga. These were used to more closely tie together the Baki the Grappler series with the New Grappler Baki manga that was ongoing at the time.

Baki: Most Evil Death Row Convicts Special Anime (2016)

15 years after Baki the Grappler anime ended, a new animated special was released in 2016 to celebrate the franchise’s 25th anniversary. Baki: Most Evil Death Row Convicts shows key moments from the first arc of the New Grappler Baki manga. This includes the eponymous death row convicts escaping and some of their early battles with the main cast.

This special can be ignored by fans. Though it’s interesting to see these scenes in a completely different art style, everything shown here was also done in 2018’s Baki series.

Baki (2018)

2018’s Baki series shows the events of the New Grappler Baki manga. It’s a direct sequel to Baki the Grappler, taking place just days after the conclusion of the Maximum Tournament.

Baki is a radical departure from Baki the Grappler. While Baki the Grappler paid homage to many real-life combat athletes, Baki goes more in the direction of a fantastical kung-fu movie. This starts the ball rolling for the series to move in a progressively more ridiculous direction.

Baki Hanma (2021)

2021’s Baki Hanma is a sequel to 2018’s Baki anime. It follows Baki’s preparation for the fight with Yujiro that was set up in the closing moments of the Baki series.

Though the ending to Baki suggested that a fight with Yujiro was imminent, this isn’t the case. Instead of going directly into a fight with Yujiro, Baki Hanma sees Baki pick fights with some of the other major characters in the series. The first season follows Baki heading to America for a battle with Biscuit Oliva in the Arizona State Prison. The second will see characters challenge an eight-foot-tall caveman who was found frozen in a block of ice. Yes, really.

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