Welcome back to Ulty reviews things people don't care about,where I attempt to either make you care about them or hope you stay uncaring. Either way today we're looking at Baki the Grappler's first season. I would comment on the manga which is completed or the second season but I haven't read/watch those so I won't till I do.
Moving on Baki the Grappler is a Shonen fighting show about Baki ,a kid who would creep out Oedipus, and his attempts to become the strongest man in the world by beating the strongest man in the world. Said man happens to be his father,Yujiro, and most of the show is him either fighting things much bigger than him or learning things that never come up again. It has two basic arcs: the first being him training to beat Yujiro and after that fails miserably, a tournament arc. That's enough general details so lets get down to the nitty gritty starting with the characters.
The character design swings between very good and what the hell on one hand there is Baki who pre-timeskip looks like someone put an orange on an up turned love seat but then post time skip Baki grows his hair out,has decent proportions and is fun to look at. The worst offender is Hanayama who looks like this
and is apparently 15...yeah. So the artist has a love for muscles bordering on the fetishistic, but he usually remember proportions,so it's not too bad.So lets actual start talking about the characters
This is where Baki really falls short,most have very simplistic reasons to fight which all tend to boil down to being strong. A weird thing though is the first half builds up always these side characters as being Baki's timeless friends then they get dropped in the second half. There not really unlikable but at the same time I never gave a shit about them, The only really decent characters are Baki, his mother,Emi, and Yujiro. They all have very screwed up relationships with each other and the show really does explore them to some extent. It really makes the first half non-fights watchable. They sort of drop it in the second half of the show but by that time the shows turned off the part it's brain that isn't pertaining to cool fights,so it's not too noticeable. So if the characters are pretty poor then I guess the story will make up for it...well lets talk about it, I guess.
This is where Baki is mediocre/excellent ,the first half again deals with Baki training to fight Yujiro by following his father's path interlaced with scenes of others fighting or Yujiro doing some over the top. Like I mentioned above when the show does look into Baki and his parents it does get interesting but other than that it's kind of slow which the show sort of realizes and draws out it's fights(most covering 2-3 episodes).While the 3 big fights are good they just go on for too long. It also has this habit of explaining these fighting concepts(moving unconsciously,endorphin release) which come of as not knowing what they're talking about and after that fight are never mentioned again. This all culminates in at the halfway point which gives us a massive Wham episode that nicely ends the first half. You can tell the series wants to be serious but every time it tries Yujiro steps in and does something goofy like stopping an earthquake by punching the ground. So the first half is slow,boring and a bit silly,then what justifies the word excellent. Well reader let me tell you,it's called tournament arc.
But Allie your saying what's so great about a tournament arc,every fighting show has that. Well it's because this one is where Baki the Grappler gets to just let loose and have fun. The pacing here becomes brisk and exciting. All the fights follow suit,never out staying their welcome and Yujiro isn't in it half the time. The story in here is even more simplistic than the first half: Baki is going to bait his father by winning an underground fighting tournament with really strong people. Then he does just that and it sort of works. Like I just mentioned what makes this part work is that it's just fun fight after fun fight and when there isn't fighting it's talking about fighting. It's so good that it even made the fights with Yujiro fun by giving him an opponent that is more on his level. The fights that Baki has are on his level while still being tense. Plus every fight has a new fighting style which may or may not be based on an actual style. The downside is that Baki's style or lack there of that is kind of boring as it's never really creative as say Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. It more just has him win through more improbable odds. The only other problem is that it just ends with a little teaser for the second season. It's really abrupt: Baki fights a tough opponent and that's the end , which is okay because it again teases the next part of the show,but it's sort of a weird way to end things.
So we come down to the final paragraph where I tell you if I think it's worth a look. With Baki it really depends on your opinion of shonen fighting shows, if you dig them then this is the show for you, if your okay with them then you should probably watch this...eventually,and if you aren't a fan of dudes beating the crap out of each other,then give it a pass.
As usual feedback,comments and death threats are welcome and appreciated.