Baki the Grappler is one of the most enduring series around, but what are some other fighting anime fans can turn to?
Baki Hanma season two is currently in development but there’s no release date confirmed as of yet. Even the most optimistic projections for its release would land around the holiday season or early 2023.
For anime fans looking to scratch the face-punching itch of Baki, there are other series worth watching. Here are five of the best options there are, including ones you’re not necessarily familiar with.
Five fighting anime to watch if you like Baki
Baki walks a strange tightrope as a series that is both fantastical and realistic. There’s no shortage of anime out there that are fantastical and packed with action. There are likely few Baki fans out there who haven’t taken a look at One-Punch Man, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, or Dragon Ball Z at some point.
But what series are out there that Baki fans haven’t checked out yet? And what about series that are rooted in martial arts action, rather than super-powered aliens and magical powers? Here are the top five fighting anime to watch if you like Baki.
5. Ashita no Joe (1970)
The original fighting anime is arguably Ashita no Joe. The series is an absolute classic and stands as a major influence across manga, video games, and basically every other form of media. Main character Joe Yabuki is an icon of the era, standing as the original underdog on a path to the top.
Though Joe is the inspiration for characters like Naruto, Ashita no Joe is firmly grounded in realism. While trying to establish himself as a boxer, he struggles with classism, weight cutting, shady promoters, and the physical toll of competition. Though some might look the other way due to the fact that the anime is over 50 years old at this point, it holds up as an exceptional anime. There is some filler to work around, but this anime has still held up well.
The series is old and never received an official western release. Committed viewers can look for fansubs instead.
4. Megalobox (2018)
If Ashita no Joe sounds appealing but the dated animation is a deal-breaker, Megalobox is the clear alternative. The 2018 series is a spiritual successor of Ashita no Joe, with a futuristic, sci-fi slant to the original.
The series is conveniently available on Netflix alongside Baki and Baki Hanma, making it an easy pivot for fighting anime fans. It has a style similar to Cowboy Bebop, but retains the focus on sports. Megalobox’s setting leaves it packing less of a punch and it doesn’t grapple with the same sorts of relatable issues, but it’s worth checking out.
3. Kengan Ashura (2019)
Alongside Megalobox, anyone that’s even glanced at Baki on Netflix has been pointed towards Kengan Ashura. That’s appropriate since there are loads of similarities between the two series.
Kengan Ashura and Baki both revolve around underground fighting circuits that date back to feudal Japan. This sees fighters come together for bloody, violent, hand-to-hand fights. While similar to Baki, the key difference between the two is the presentation of the main character. Kengan Ashura invests more time in establishing the backstory of main character Tokita Ohma, exploring why he winds up in underground deathmatches and why he’s so committed to the Kengan.
2. Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl! (1989)
Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl! doesn’t have the brutal edge or intense action of Baki, but it’s one of the few pure martial arts-themed sports anime. Yawara is a high school girl whose family forces her into judo training. Under high expectations, she’s frustratingly saddled with qualifying for the real-life 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. These were the first to feature women’s judo as a medal event.
The series is officially a comedy but it’s firmly rooted in the realm of martial arts. There’s something in this series for everyone, even if it lacks the slow-motion knuckle-breaking sequences of Baki.
1. Hajime no Ippo (2000)
Hajime no Ippo is one of the most iconic sports series to come out of Japan. In addition, it’s also one of the best fighting anime to watch for fans who like Baki.
While most of the anime on this list are about characters who are natural talents in the realm of combat sports, that’s not the case in Hajime no Ippo. Ippo Makunochi winds up in the realm of boxing after an established pro saves him from bullies. Though talented, the sport doesn’t come naturally to him. He perseveres in his training and begins a climb to the top that sees him come across other developed characters.
Hajime no Ippo has had multiple anime series, the original of which received multiple western releases under different names. Thankfully, the series is available on Crunchyroll.