May 27, 2014
THEAnimeHERO (All reviews)
Also known as New Grappler Baki: this is part 2 of the Baki series taking place after the Maximum Tournament Arc.

Part 2 of Baki is where fights begin to become gritty & its artstyle develops its current detailed style. There consists a total of 3 arcs in New Grappler being told in more detail below.

5 Convicts Arc Chapters 1-169
As the title suggests, 5 convicts who survive their death penalties break out of their prisons to battle the previous contestants of Maximum Tournament being Baki, Hanyama, Retsu Kaioh, Doppo Orochi,& Shibukawa however even Kato,Olivia Biscuit, Jack Hammer & Yujiro Hanma take part in the battles. This arc isn't a tournament but instead combatants must look for each other & fight on contact. Most of the battles in this arc are taken to higher levels of power as we see people take gunshots, cutting of limbs, damaging the statue of liberty & obviously broken bones. However towards the end of the arc some of the convicts get beaten too easily.

Kaioh Tournament Chapters 170-240
This time around Baki needs some recovery so Retsu Kaioh suggests participating in the Chinese Kaioh Tournament where the best fighters of Kaioh reside. Towards the middle of the arc it becomes a 5 vs 5 battle with the Kaiohs on side and on the other being Baki, Yujiro, Olivia, Muhammad Ali Jr, & other guy not worth mentioning. This arc offers a more insight in the top tier characters such as Yujiro & Olivia while delivering a small confrontation with Baki with his father. At the same time you see how much Baki cares for Kozue & vice versa.

Boxing VS MMA Chapters 241-276
Muhammad Ali Jr wants Kozue for himself so he challenges Baki for the right to marry her. As interesting a setup this is, it fails miserably. This is one of the few hints that I speculate that Itagaki has this grudge against boxers & really takes it on Muhammad Ali Jr being the son of the real life Muhammad Ali. The arc is poorly written as it set ups Jr to being a miserable person where it makes the readers believe he'll have a great fight with Baki but ends being a low bow to the boxing community. This is further established when Yujiro Hanma is a fan of Muhammad Ali & would often spar with his son. As a whole this arc is skippable & just comes off as an angry rant on MMA being superior to boxing. It's very offensive whether you're a boxing fan or not as it ruins the progression & develops inconsistent personalities of some characters.

Overall the fights in this part are better executed than its previous arc but due to the sloppy events occurring in the final arc is a major con to the point where I wondered why it even exists. The following arc takes place in the Pickle Gaiden & Baki Son Of Ogre aka Hanma Baki where a caveman named Pickle is revived from the Jurassic Period & Baki Vs Yujiro finally happens.