The first part of Baki the Grappler, a long-running martial arts manga series by Keisuke Itagaki. Serialized in Weekly Shōnen Champion in 1991–1999.
A unique battle action manga depicting martial artists who live in the world of mixed martial arts as “vale tudo”, in which anything goes except use of weapons.
Though the story focuses on Baki Hanma, a boy who keeps on training himself and fighting in order to overcome his father Yujiro Hanma, who is “the strongest creature on earth”, it is also an ensemble drama depicting individual martial artists who fight against each other aiming to be the strongest in the bareknuckle fight.
This series is characterized by crazy and bloody battle action, which can never be seen in the real mixed martial arts, and unpredictable storyline. It gives priority to fun (outrageous ideas, physically impossible settings) over reality, so it can be enjoyed as a comedy manga too.
The first part consists of three sagas: “Underground Arena Saga”, “Childhood Saga”, and “Maximum Tournament Saga”.
In “Underground Arena Saga”, 17-year-old Baki Hanma fights as the champion against contenders at a fighting arena in the basement of the Tokyo Dome.
“Childhood Saga” depicts the battle episodes of Baki when he was a junior high school student.
“Maximum Tournament Saga” depicts all the 30 matches of 38 participants from around the world, including Baki, in a tournament.