Yujiro Hanma is the main villain of the Baki franchise, and the big question has always been who will beat him and when he will be defeated.
To this point, nobody has really gotten close. Yujiro has taken a few hits in his fights over the years, but when he decides a fight is over, it’s over. That might come via a literal face-off with Kaio Ryu or simply killing his opponent as he did with Doppo Orochi.
But in all of fiction, villains exist to be defeated by the heroes. Baki creator Keisuke Itagaki has made it clear that this is the direction things are heading in. So which hero is going to be the one to beat Yujiro Hanma? And which characters could hypothetically be up to the challenge in the future? Here are five candidates.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Baki Hanma could be the one to beat Yujiro Hanma
This kind of goes without saying, but the character that should be the first to defeat Yujiro Hanma will be his son Baki.
That’s the entire point of the series. Almost every plot point throughout the 30-year history of the Baki franchise has been within the context of how it helps Baki move towards defeating Yujiro. Yujiro has been very carefully protected over the years to the point where not only is he unbeaten, he has barely even been challenged.
There have been some creative ways to achieve this end, but at this point it’s clear what direction the series is going in. Baki will one day defeat Yujiro and that may or may not come as the final moment in the entire Baki franchise.
Pickle vs. Yujiro is Baki’s biggest fight that hasn’t happened
Pickle has a deceptively strong chance of beating Yujiro Hanma in a fight.
The character is coming off a loss to Miyamoto Musashi, but he inhabits a unique space within the Baki franchise. Pickle is presumably the only character that is physically stronger than Yujiro, something that Baki specifically notes ahead of their fight. The Pickle introduced in Baki Hanma is definitively not a fighter on par with Yujiro, but Itagaki left Pickle’s fighting potential open to interpretation.
He starts off as one of the best fighters sheerly through his physicality and physique. There are subtle teases that he’s learning actual martial arts techniques through his exposure to other fighters. A Pickle with real fighting skills to go along with his raw strength would potentially be the strongest character in the entire franchise. Fans can look forward to their first taste of Pickle in Baki Hanma season two, which was recently confirmed.
Jack Hanma actually has a good chance to beat Yujiro
Jack Hanma actually has a good chance of potentially beating Yujiro if they fought. This might sound ludicrous at face value, but the reality is that Jack is actually the most-protected character behind Yujiro in the series.
This isn’t to say Jack wins all the time. On the contrary, he was actually on a disastrous losing streak until fairly recently. The key difference between Jack and pretty much every other character in the series is the fact that every loss on Jack’s record comes with an asterisk next to it.
It’s strongly implied that Jack could have beaten Baki in the finals of the Maximum Tournament if he didn’t suffer complications from his PED usage during the fight. He could have beaten Izou Motobe in Baki Dou if Motobe wasn’t using weapons and had perfectly prepared to fight Jack. It was even shown that he could have potentially beaten Pickle if the caveman had gone in for the kill after delivering his fight-ending combination.
Put those asterisks together with the fact that Jack recently defeated Nomi No Sukune II, and it’s clear that Jack is finally meant to be a definitive top-tier fighter in the series. With a demon back reveal still up his sleeve, fans should be feeling great about how Jack stacks up in the grand scheme of things.
Miyamoto Musashi was in position to beat Yujiro Hanma already
Miyamoto Musashi squares off with Yujiro Hanma fairly early on after his introduction in the series. Their fight doesn’t have a definitive conclusion with Izou Motobe interrupting, but it was teased that the big bad of Baki Dou may have been able to beat and even kill Yujiro.
The resurrected samurai was the perfect foil to the established Baki cast. Not only did he primarily use weapons, but he was also someone who approached each fight with the intent to kill his opponent. The fact that he ran counter to every norm established in the series makes him a logical contender to beat the seemingly unbeatable Yujiro.
It was shown early on that Musashi didn’t know how to handle modern martial arts, but that changes during his run in the series. By the end, he was familiar with how to counter most techniques and likely would’ve been an even greater threat to Yujiro.
Kaoru Hanayama has top-tier potential
Though it was relatively subtle, one of the main subplots of the first Baki Dou series was cementing Kaoru Hanayama as one of the best fighters in the franchise.
Early on, Gouki Shibukawa discusses Hanayama’s complacency relative to other characters, suggesting he’d fallen behind the main cast. Initially it seems like Shibukawa was right. Yujiro and Hanayama have a very brief fight, with Yujiro beating Hanayama with just one hit.
What makes this fight ultimately work in Hanayama’s favor is the fact that Itagaki is very explicit regarding why Hanayama lost. It’s not that he isn’t strong enough to beat Yujiro, it’s that he’s traumatized from their first meeting in Baki the Grappler.
This isn’t a new concept. Hanayama being shaken by his encounter with Yujiro several years earlier was alluded to in Hanayama’s fight with Spec in Baki. The actual impact wasn’t made clear until Baki Dou. Both Mitsunari Tokugawa and Yujiro himself discuss how Hanayama is held back by the fact that he’s still wrestling with that memory.
This marks a turning point for Hanayama’s fighting prowess. His next appearance sees him give Musashi his toughest fight to that point, with the buildup honing in on the fact that he’s made stronger by his lack of familiarity with the legendary samurai. He returns in the second Baki Dou series’ competition between the Underground Arena and Grand Sumo. Alongside Nomi no Sukune II, Hanayama is the only one to score a lopsided victory.
Not many characters have their stock rising in the Baki series, but Hanayama is one of them. Though he likely won’t be the one to beat Yujiro, it’s suggested that Hanayama does have it in him to catch up to Baki.