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AKA: グラップラー刃牙
Genre: Martial arts action
Length: OAV, 45 minutes
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from US Manga Corps out of print.
Content Rating: PG-13 (violence)
Related Series: Baki the Grappler TV, Baki the Grappler TV Season 2, Baki Hanma (season 3)
Also Recommended: I can't imagine the Grappler Baki TV series could be any worse.
Notes: Based on the manga by Itagaki Keisuke.

Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter


Hanma Baki is a prodigal martial artist who seems to know everything about his opponents in the world of karate, down to the very move they're about to perform. But now, in a secret tournament held deep below the Tokyo Dome, he must, for the first time, face an unknown: the Cord Cutter, Shinogi, whose technique is to sever vital nerves with his fingers. Will Baki finally meet his match? Or will he prevail yet again again incredible odds?


Grappler Baki is a stunning example of anime mediocrity. With standard animation, stock characters, and an opponent whose premise is, well, impractical, to say the least (more on that in a moment!), this title is, for all practices, the animated version of a really bad chop-socky flick. Baki himself is all too reminiscent of Goku from Dragon Ball Z: blindly optimistic about the next fight, and really without much else of a personality. The only other character trait he has is that he drinks his Coke sans fizz. Whoop-de-frickin'-do. Other characters are decidedly caricaturish and really without even two-sided personalities of their own.

As far as animation and plot, Grappler Baki stays pretty uneventful. Fights are choreographed ... decently, but not memorably, kinda like the fights in one of the umpteen clones of Bloodsport. What could really be even mildly entertaining just falls flat, and the dubbed voices don't seem particularly interested in what they're doing. Oscar fodder this is not.

Worse off, the creators don't seem to have any knowledge of basic human anatomy. Since when does the optic nerve run through the side of the neck?!? Excuse me? Are you insulting my limits of willing suspension of disbelief? Why, yes, you are. Therefore, the fight with Shinogi is a good deal more hilarious than it has any right to be ("he poked my neck, I can't *SEE*!").

Grappler Baki is far from the ultimate martial arts anime ... and as such, is one of those OAVs best left on the shelf, as it is absolutely unremarkable in every conceivable way. Really, it just goes to show that martial arts is one genre that, even done badly, is more impressive in live-action that in anime. For a better bang for your rental buck, try a Jackie Chan flick, or something like Ranma 1/2. Surely there's more enjoyment and infinitely more humor to be found in those titles than in this boring, predictable anime.

Grappler Baki: It's Ultimately Stupid.Carlos/Giancarla Ross

Recommended Audience: Too violent for children, as the fights do get rather bloody. Not that I'd recommend this fare to even the most forgiving anime aficionado.

Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Grappler Baki: The Ultimate Fighter © 1994 Keisuke Itagaki / Akita Publishing / Knack
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