Not Psychotic here once again!
It’s safe to say I love violence in media. Everything from how it’s made to how it’s portrayed and how it can convey the tone of the story or change it in an instant. One of the most fascinating examples of this in my opinion is the anime BAKI.
BAKI is a long running manga and anime series about a high school student named Hanma Baki whose goal is to become the strongest fighter in the world by beating his insanely powerful and psychotic father. It’s a show, that at first glance, seems like your average 80’s martial arts/power fantasy about insane ripped men doing insane shit and while for the most part that’s true…there’s so much more to it. Hanma Baki ties this series together as the protagonist. BAKI is very much like his father in a sense. The audience knows that he is abnormally strong and enjoys fighting as much as his dad, but what makes him so endearing is the fact that he is kind/loving despite his fathers numerous attempts to beat those attributes out of him. What makes his character even better is the fact that Itagaki pulls this off through a harrowing portrayal of a human love and lust for violence in his characters. BAKI isn’t just about martial arts. It’s about violence and how human’s get a primal enjoyment of it. From the average people who inhabit the underground fighting arena, to the protagonist who fights not for some grandiose sense of honor, but simply because he loves doing it. Violence within the series is viewed as an “efficient means of indulging that human capacity for violence to it’s very limits.”
You can tell that the series author, Itagaki, absolutely loves diverse forms of martial arts. This love affair for martial arts shines through in the incredible amount of detail in the fight scenes. We see this in the preparation for a match, to the different finger positions in a boxer’s punch. Itagaki achieves all of this while acknowledging the limitations fighters face with each match. It is pretty common knowledge that being a black belt doesn’t mean shit in a fistfight and this is reflected in BAKI tenfold.
The strongest fighters in this world have all achieved fighting success by finding a way to push their respective martial arts beyond the borders of their dojos. To paraphrase the man eater Orochi, “Your fighting style means nothing if you can’t use it in a real fight. That is the meaning of true martial arts.” No where is this theme more realized than in it’s main antagonist Yujiro Hanma. Hanma is a man driven by an undying thirst for violence and carnage. A man who has mastered every martial arts form under the sun. Hanma has mixed and pushed each art to near godlike proportions. Hanma lives to inflict pain that is deep and primal. He wants to instill fear into everyone who enters his line of sight. A theme that is reoccurring throughout this series. This is what I think makes BAKI unique and special. The BAKI series as a whole has exceeded the bounds of the zeitgeist it was born within and this is why BAKI still dominates as a series to this day.
Make sure to check out the series BAKI if you haven’t yet. I HIGHLY recommend it if you love martial arts and violence…quite like myself. Thank you for joining me once again today. I will see you all next Wednesday with my newest post.
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