Keisuke Itagaki is a Japanese manga artist that creates comic books. His best-known works are his martial arts series Baki the Grappler (1991-1999) and its four sequels, which have sold over 75 million copies combined. He started working on Baku Yumemakura’s original composition Garouden in 1996. He also contributed to the Garouden Boy television series.
Before turning to comics, he spent five years in the 1st Airborne Brigade of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. He practiced amateur boxing throughout his military career and participated in the National Sports Festival. He has studied Shorinji Kempo since he was a teenager and had a degree in it.
About the Baki Series
Keisuke Itagaki is the creator of the manga series Baki the Grappler. From 1991 until 1999, it was published in Weekly Shonen Champion as a serial before being collected into 42 tankoubon volumes. Three sequel series was produced after it: Baki (New Grappler Baki), which ran from 1999 to 2005 as a serial and was later collected into 31 volumes; Hanma Baki (also known as Baki: Son of Ogre), which ran from 2005 to 2012 and was later collected into 37 volumes; and Baki-Dou, which ran from 2014 to 2018 and was later collected into 22 volumes.
On October 4, 2018, a fifth series, similarly titled Baki Dou, but with Baki’s name spelled in katakana rather than kanji and without a dash, debuted. 1994 saw the publication of a 45-minute original video animation (OVA). TV Tokyo broadcast a 24-episode anime between January 8th and June 25th, 2001.
A second 24-episode series that ran from July 22nd to December 24th, 2001, swiftly followed the first one. The original manga series was the second to be licensed and distributed in North America by Gutsoon! Entertainment in 2002 (incomplete), then the OVA by Central Park Media in 1998, and lastly, both anime series, by Funimation Entertainment, in 2005.
The March 2011 series of the same name, which in turn drew inspiration from Grappler Baki, served as the basis for the 2012 comedy film Graffreeter Toki (lit. “Toki the Freelancing Grappler”). In August 2018, Media Do International started distributing the second manga series digitally.
The first four Baki series had more than 75 million collected volumes in print as of 2018. 3.5 million copies of the Baki Gaiden: Scarface spin-off series were in print as of February 2019. Between June 25th and September 24th, 2018, a Netflix Original Net Animation (ONA) was made available, and on June 4th, 2020, a second season of the ONA was made public.
Baki, The Grappler
The enigmatic young martial artist wants to become the strongest creature in the world, like his evil father. The plot follows the young fighter as he grows up in a world filled with some of the most formidable opponents and shows how he overcomes all challenges to one day compete against his father in the ring. Baki Hanma is tested by competitors worldwide in battles in the jungles and an underground martial arts competition.
Baki Hanma has only ever known combat; under his mother, Emi Akezawa, he strengthened every muscle in his body and learned many techniques from various martial arts. He practices getting ready to take on and eventually surpass his father, Yuujirou Hanma, who is regarded as the world’s strongest being and is feared by the populace as the “Ogre.”
Baki, however, decides to become more powerful in his manner when he finds his mother’s methods are no longer sufficient. He keeps developing both his body and soul as time moves closer to the impending confrontation with his father, seeking out formidable opponents and creating unbreakable relationships with them.
Keisuke Itagaki’s intricate and action-packed artwork is featured in this cruel yet masterful work of grim martial arts, which continues to attract readers looking for great martial arts manga.
Baki: New Grappler Baki
Baki Hanma is a usually content student with a peculiar interest: he enjoys fighting. He enjoys competing in a covert martial arts arena where the world’s best warriors are assembled and engaged in a brutal battle. Baki rarely engages in physical combat with opponents who are weaker than him and has no desire to harm any of the thugs who persistently attempt to hurt him.
The New Grappler Baki series picks up where the first one leaves off. He’s typically taking things easy as the new Tournament champion until he hears that five ruthless, lethal martial artists have escaped their jails and are on their way to Japan. Baki and his companions must deal with them before they die themselves. The rivalry between Baki and his father is somewhat resolved in New Grappler Baki, which also features new characters and fighting methods.
Hanma Baki: Son of Ogre
The Baki series’ follow-up is titled Hanma Baki: Son of Ogre. Baki prepares for the inevitable clash with his father. Baki creates a brand-new kind of image training that allows him to construct an opponent to spar with at the start of the narrative. In the second saga, Baki commits a crime on purpose to fight Biscuit Oliva while he is imprisoned.
Pickle, a Jurassic Period caveman, brought into modern society, is the subject of the third saga. Several Baki characters engage in combat with Pickle because, hundreds of years ago, Pickle was able to devour dinosaurs in addition to fighting them occasionally.
In the fourth saga, Kaiou Retsu, who lost a leg in a battle with Pickle, turns to boxing. The long-awaited fight between Baki and Yuujirou is the culmination of the Son of Ogre tale.
After the dramatic battle between father and son is done, Baki Hanma continues to train constantly and fight in the underground arena. Still, he is continuously forced to hold back yawning due to extreme boredom. At this time, he cannot become excited by any stimulation or danger.
Now, a large cloning operation is seeking to replicate Musashi Miyamoto, one of the founding founders of martial arts in Japan, with the participation of the Japanese Prime Minister. Baki is about to engage in another historic battle.
Baki Dou (2018)
Nomi no Sukune is the oldest and most powerful “sumo god” in Japan. Now, more than 2,000 years later, his successor is conceived. Baki will this time take on the true sumo god. The conflict between the main characters and the aforementioned strong fighter is the subject of the television series.
The fight with sumo martial arts is another theme of the show, in addition to Nomi no Sukune of the next generation. The main protagonists have to compete against the best sumo wrestlers in the Underground Arena.
Throughout most of the series, Baki is a typically carefree, laid-back, hard-training, and even belligerent teenage lad. Baki aspires to defeat Yuujirou Hanma, his father and unquestionably the strongest man alive. Baki’s goal is to become strong enough to overcome Yuujirou, not to surpass him as the strongest man alive. This objective springs from a natural desire to surpass his father and exact revenge on Yuujirou for killing his mother, Emi Akezawa.
For those that are close to him, Baki has a great sense of love and respect. It is well known that he guards Kozue Matsumoto, his lover, fiercely. When she is endangered, like when Sikorsky abducted her and Baki pursued him right away to kill him, he can become aggressive. He is revealed to be very attached to his girlfriend during the manga’s second series, who served as a tremendous source of strength for him by showering him with unceasing affection and emotional support.
But as time passed, something changed, and they probably began to see each other less frequently. Mohammad Alai Jr’s efforts to win Kozue’s heart at one time in the manga complicated things in her friendship with Baki. Maybe that’s what brought about this shift.
His intelligence is relatively high regarding his ability to fight, and he is a clever and tactful fighter who employs many fighting philosophies simultaneously when facing opponents. He uses cunning and pragmatist strategies to gain the upper hand on opponents, such as blinding them with his blood. He possesses the ability to strategically punch someone in the chin to rattle their brain successfully.
He is capable of visualizing and, to some extent, directly engaging with mental images of beings and people to create new stances and procedures without requiring their physical presence. In addition, he spends a lot of his official education time napping in class because he spends much of his time training or fighting.
He and his father have a complicated and depressing connection. Nearly often, Baki mentions him with extreme hesitation and rage. At the same time, it’s clear that Baki cares about Yuujirou’s opinion of him. Even though they are fierce rivals, Baki and Yuujirou may work together when necessary (just like during the Great Chinese Tournament).
Even though Baki occasionally addresses his father by name, they both sense an odd family connection, even though they never express it. This may be observed when Baki invites him to dinner or when they unexpectedly begin to act out a scene where they both act like they’re having dinner together while fighting.
Keisuke Itagaki is a highly successful manga artist who has had a long and illustrious career. He is best known for his work on the popular anime and manga series, “Baki the Grappler.”
Itagaki has been responsible for some of the most iconic and memorable moments in the history of the franchise, and his work has had a profound impact on the world of manga and anime.
Itagaki is a true master of his craft, and his work is sure to continue to entertain and inspire readers for many years to come.