Baki Hanma, the eponymous protagonist of the franchise created by Keisuke Itagaki in the 90s, has returned to the fore again thanks to the new season of the anime available on Netflix, the well-known online streaming platform now a great reference point also with regard to Japanese animation (here the review of Baki Season 1). Below, as usual, we will try to analyze the first episode of the new season (as the full review that will be available in the next few days) to try to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of the entire project together.
The strongest in the world
The anime, since the first season, has never hidden its entertainment nature, leaving aside any type of psychological deepening in favor of high-adrenaline sequences focused on deadly fights.
The plot, in some ways minimal, puts the young Baki Hanma at the center of the scene, a warrior with a formidable force intent more than ever to defeat his father – the strongest living being on the planet – to in turn reach the status of a fighter most skilled in the world. Although in the second part of the first season the authors tried to focus slightly more markedly on introspection, it is however undeniable to see how the anime face of theaction in itself its true backbone.
The characters on the pitch thus take on the value of semi divinity with which ordinary men can not deal in any way, describing the same protagonist as the strongest of the strong in a war suitable only for a select few.
Even if therefore the whole work has not presented great twists or considerable changes of face, the unexpected poisoning of the protagonist has managed – in the end of the previous episode round – to slightly change the cards on the table, giving the whole narrative system a fairly marked degree of unpredictability.
The great saga of the Raitai tournament begins right after the end of the previous season, with a protagonist tired and worn out but still eager to participate in the most important fight event of the last hundred years. The first episode of this new season, however, decides to focus more on some supporting actors rather than on the protagonist, showing the viewer first of all the great athletic progress made by Mohammad Alai Jr., who decides to even clash with the very dangerous Yujiro Hanma.
The rhythm of the events, which immediately stands at excellent levels, he managed to involve us very well, especially for the great emphasis given to the martial arts tournament, a competition open only to the strongest warriors of all time.
Leaving aside for the moment the idea of focusing on introspection, the authors wanted to step back on the fights, using the frame of the tournament to allow the numerous wrestlers on the stage to confront each other directly without half measures.
Beyond the limit
The most interesting narrative element at the moment is just right the precarious health condition in which the protagonist is found who, although struggling with the most important and prestigious event of struggle ever, will have to fight first of all against himself and his stubbornness in order not to worsen the already difficult situation in which he finds himself.
Seeing Baki in a non-optimal physical condition is certainly an element capable of eliminating in some ways the aura of (almost) invulnerability that has characterized him for the whole first part of the anime, a detail capable of making each fight more unpredictable than in the past .
Obviously we will have to see how this element will be managed with the continuation of the story, especially as regards the subsequent episodes.
A sudden recovery of the protagonist (without any kind of aftermath during the rest of the series) could actually bring the whole anime back on the tracks of repetition, although obviously we hope that this will not happen.
This first episode, however, did its job of presenting the wrestlers very well, laying the foundations for the various subsequent episodes, in which new techniques that are forbidden as well as deadly will surely appear.
As for the fights, at least for this first episode, we can be satisfied, thanks to once again fluid and clear animations, capable of maximizing the strong sense of physicality of the various impacts.
The blood rate is always high, although obviously for the bloodiest and most brutal sequences we will have to wait for the continuation of the story.