Is Baki (2018) Worth the Watch?

Baki.png

It’s the year for reboots with Netflix and anime and up on the roster to come this fall for all viewers outside of Japan is the semi-oldie Baki. Animated by TMS Entertainment, the same studio that brought us Megalo Box earlier this year, Baki 2018 is bringing a new visual direction to the series since its initial premiere in animated form 17 years ago. Here’s my take after seeing 3 episodes into the 26-episode series.

Though I have yet to read Baki in all of its entirety, I did have some trouble getting into it when I made my initial attempt earlier last year: Itagaki’s style is a bit… jarring for me. The goofiness of the faces combined with the twists and turns of characters’ limbs and muscles proved to be relatively distracting to me. That said though, considering that it is a martial arts series and such a practice can get rather loose and unpredictable, it fits the nature of the story.

  Cool, yet hella strange anatomy and poses.

Cool, yet hella strange anatomy and poses.

As far as sound direction, there’s more to be desired. The score during the show isn’t entirely memorable and the opening and ending songs don’t necessarily resonate too well. They’re sounds that may cater more to the nostalgia of the era the series was created more so than adapting to the times like Devilman: Crybaby did with its epic, synth and hip-hop filled soundtrack. But again, I’m only 3 episodes in so I’m still open to there being more to offer.

I get picky with my anime critiques, but I am optimistic that the entirety of Baki when it drops in the fall will be a gory delight for shonen and martial arts anime fans. Despite my nitpicking, it is a visual delight to take in and I’m hopeful that it will get me invested in giving the manga and its subsequent sequels a try.

Let’s hope that the internet continues to serve me well and I’ll do a follow-up around episode 10! Thank you for reading and if you’ve already seen some of Baki 2018 and/or you’re a devout fan, leave some thoughts below.

TMS Entertainment has managed to maintain a connection to the manga despite the daring color sense and clean line quality of the current anime. To some degree, the look of it merely enhances the mangaka Itagaki Keisuke’s rather exaggerated expressions and human anatomy.

  2018 anime Yanagi, one of the Death Row Inmates, looking ganky af.

2018 anime Yanagi, one of the Death Row Inmates, looking ganky af.

That said, I’m still somewhat conflicted about the “cleanliness” of the anime because the story of Baki gets pretty damn messy. I can’t say that I was particularly shocked by the bloody violence that took place in the 3 episodes I managed to get access to, but an initial thought is that it suffers from the same visual issues as Berserk.

Discounting the shitty 3D anime, the Berserk films fail to capture the grittiness of the manga, especially with action sequences: it takes away from immersing viewers (or at least me) in the story. I feel the same holds true to some degree with Baki thus far. As amusing as it was to see a dude get duffed in the face so hard that his features sink in or to see Yanagi literally blow a guy’s brains out through his ear, it just didn’t feel like… enough.

Perhaps this will change for me with more episodes, but at this point in my anime-viewing career, I need more visceral visuals to accompany violent moments like that. These scenes are meant to highlight the monstrous abilities of the death row criminals who plan to face Baki afterall.

  In Doyle’s defense, I might want to cave a CO’s face in too if the electric chair didn’t work for me.

In Doyle’s defense, I might want to cave a CO’s face in too if the electric chair didn’t work for me.

As far as sound direction, there’s more to be desired. The score during the show isn’t entirely memorable and the opening and ending songs don’t necessarily resonate too well. They’re sounds that may cater more to the nostalgia of the era the series was created more so than adapting to the times like Devilman: Crybaby did with its epic, synth and hip-hop filled soundtrack. But again, I’m only 3 episodes in so I’m still open to there being more to offer.

 

I get picky with my anime critiques, but I am optimistic that the entirety of Baki when it drops in the fall will be a gory delight for shonen and martial arts anime fans. Despite my nitpicking, it is a visual delight to take in and I’m hopeful that it will get me invested in giving the manga and its subsequent sequels a try.

Let’s hope that the internet continues to serve me well and I’ll do a follow-up around episode 10! Thank you for reading and if you’ve already seen some of Baki 2018 and/or you’re a devout fan, leave some thoughts below.

Noir Caesar Entertainment

The page of the world's fastest growing manga, anime, and media company.