The anime Baki the Grappler has a patchy history when it comes to anime, and the story behind its manga is even harder to pin down. Because of this, the reading order for the Baki manga may make fans scratch their heads.
Baki the Grappler made its western debut in 2002, eight years after its initial release in Japan. The series has been licensed for publication by Gutsoon! Entertainment, but the company went under not long after the series was licensed. Only 46 of Baki the Grappler’s more than 350 chapters were translated by the company before its closure.
Since then, the entire franchise has largely remained in limbo. Fans have taken it upon themselves to translate the series, although in theory publishers should scramble to get the rights to the manga behind Netflix’s popular anime series. Most of the time, these unofficial translations are the only way to read most of the Baki manga.
But in what order should you read the different Baki series? And what happens in each book?
Baki manga reading order
As of this writing, there are five Baki manga series with a long list of spinoffs. The five Baki manga series are all direct sequels to each other, with some being picked up just days after the previous series ended. Here is the order in which you should read the Baki manga series.
1. Baki the Grappler (1991)
The original Baki the Grappler series began in an underwhelming way 30 years ago. Although the franchise is iconic at the time, the series started out somewhat derived from other popular manga and anime of the time.
His art style was heavily inspired by major manga releases of the 1980s and drew on homages to real life martial artists. Most notably, the Baki Hanma character was more of a generic peppy protagonist than the quiet and intimidating character fans are familiar with today. An extended flashback effectively fixes these issues, completely reinventing the character and darkening the tone of the series.
There are three arcs to the Baki the Grappler manga. It starts with the Underground Arena Arc, followed by the Kid Baki Arc before ending with the Maximum Tournament. The manga was adapted into an anime of the same name in 2001.
2. Baki (1999)
Although officially titled New Grappler Baki: In Search of Our Strongest Hero, for the most part, the second series is referred to simply as “Baki.” This is the starting point for most fans of the series thanks to the 2018 Netflix anime.
The series deviates from the grounded martial arts feel of Baki the Grappler in favor of over-the-top action. It also has a very different presentation from the rest of the series. Rather than following Baki, it pursues other characters before effectively making Muhammad Alai Jr. the main character for the final stretch.
Baki is the only series to have received an official English language release in its entirety. Media Do International offers all 31 volumes in digital form for sale on Amazon.
3. Baki Hanma (2005)
Romanized as Baki Hanma: Son of Ogre, this series follows the title character’s preparation for a fight with his father, Yujiro Hanma. It effectively has four arcs, beginning with Baki’s fight with Biscuit Oliva in the Arizona State Penitentiary before moving on to the “Prehistoric Menace” Pickle. There is then a filler arc before the decisive fight between Baki and Yujiro.
The series doesn’t have an official manga release yet, but it might get one in the future. The Netflix anime adaptation of Baki Hanma was released in September 2021 and a second season has already been confirmed.
4. Baki Dou (2014)
Baki-Dou begins weeks after Yujiro and Baki’s fight, with the characters being plagued by an inevitable boredom. Things pick up speed for her in a surprising way with the resurrection of legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.
The characters are mesmerized and excited by Musashi’s performance. Things take a scary turn when they come across someone who really emphasizes the “combat” aspect of martial arts.
5. Baki Dou (2018)
Baki-Dou was technically relaunched in 2018 under a slightly different name, with “Baki” being written in katakana instead of kanji. The series continues after Musashi’s story ends and sees Baki and the other main characters shift their focus to another legend in Japanese history.
In the end, the gang’s paths cross with Nomi no Sukune II, a man with the skills and power of the creator of sumo wrestling. This affects much of the proceedings with a shift in focus to sumo and how it fits into the baki world.
How many Baki manga are there?
There are five Baki manga series with over 140 volumes collected.
In addition to the five manga series, there are a number of shorter spin-offs ranging from one to eight volumes. These spin-offs differ greatly in terms of subject matter and quality. The best known is Baki: Revenge Tokyo. This one-volume story was adapted into the final installment of the Baki anime and serves as an epilogue to the five doomed.
Some of the Baki spin-offs are relevant to larger story beats, such as a deep dive into Doppo Orochi’s past. Some are just insane, like Kaio Retsu, who is transported to a high-fantasy world. Baki fans don’t need to seek them out to get the full story and can just read the five main manga series instead.