Welcome back to another exciting cartoon recap! Today, we’ll begin Part 2 of Season 1 of Baki on Netflix which – to simplify things – I’m just calling “Episode 14” since there’s really no line of demarcation between Parts 1 and 2.
Yesterday, we met Mr. Oliver: an American convict who doubles as a mercenary for hire who is more than happy to assist the government with capturing some of their more high profile suspects so long as he is provided with certain fringe benefits. As Tokyo police are trying to find a way to stop the madness currently taking place on their streets, it is suggested to them to bring in Mr. Oliver to round up the three remaining death row escapees still on the loose: Doyle, Yanagi and Sikorsky.
Speaking of Sikorsky, he’s started some static with Baki and even took Kozue, Baki’s love interest, as a hostage to spur Baki to come get some. Good plan in theory, but something tells me Sikorsky will look back one day and chalk this up as an egregious error in judgment.
With that said, we begin Part 2.
Season 1, Part 2, Episode 14: Ungranted Freedom
We pick up where we left off yesterday: with Oliver having killed Jeff Markson, a former dirty cop who Oliver put away once before. Markson had caused an explosion which killed a bunch of people while also taking hostages and requested Oliver be the one to come in thinking he could get some manner of revenge on him. He did not.
Oliver and Sonoda head back to Oliver’s luxury lair at the prison and Sonoda still doesn’t like having to trust a criminal. Oliver pulls Sonoda into his personal library and finally explains his motivations: he hunts criminals because he refuses to let people like the death row escapees live with more freedom than he has. The two board a plane and head to Tokyo.
Sikorsky is shown, still with Kozue captured talking to another person who put him up to capturing Baki’s gal. Sikorsky says that he’s done as asked, but he’s getting kind of annoyed by the girl. Uhg…women. After a brief hold, it’s revealed that the one who was behind this the whole time was Yujiro Hanma, Baki’s father.
Sikorsky gets little frisky and says he shouldn’t even worry about Baki when the supposed “strongest creature in the universe” is sitting right in front of him. It looks as if we’re going to see Yujiro and Sikorsky throw down, but as Sikorsky cocks his arm to throw a punch, it’s grabbed from behind from someone completely different: Mr. Oliver. It appears as if Oliver and Yujiro have some kind of past. As the very least, this isn’t their first meeting.
Baki enlists the help of Katsumi Orochi to help him track down Kozue and, using all his connections within Shinshinkai, they’re able to do just that, fully aware that it’s Yujiro behind this. They head for what I guess is Yujiro’s apartment complex. I guess when you’re known as the strongest creature you don’t really necessitate a traditional hideout. At the same time, though, I wouldn’t want people just barging into my place of residence to attack me for all the bad things I’ve done and ruining my stuff, ya know?
Baki and Katsumi barge into the room and Baki goes fucking berserk immediately. He beats the living shit out of Sikorsky and punches him clear out a 27th floor window. Sikorsky didn’t have a chance.
Oliver tells Baki that killing a man with his bare hands is a good day’s work and Baki is so offended by that that he goes after him as well. But as he squares off with Oliver, he’s met from behind by…Sikorsky who didn’t fall all 27 floors, only 26 before catching himself on the side of the building.
This time, Sikorsky offers more of a fight before Detective Sonoda and some local cops come busting in the room as if they were going to make some arrests. Instead they just get everyone to pipe down and clear the room.
What I suppose is later in the day, Sikorsky is toweling off after a shower when Baki comes walking in wearing his fight shorts throwing down the challenge for round three. Sikorsky obviously isn’t allowed to turn down the fight so he grabs his shorts, but Baki says nobody told him he could put his shorts on.
At this point, Sikorsky drops the best fucking one-liner in the series to date:
“I never lose regulation matches bare-handed or bare-assed.”
Baki absolutely pummels Sikorsky and coming in to collect him, of course, is Mr. Oliver because god forbid anybody get some privacy in this shower room. Baki tries taking a shot at Oliver, but it does nothing. Sikorsky, back to his feet, goes after Oliver after hearing that he’s being hunted. This is a less than ingenious idea as Sikorsky’s blows do nothing to Oliver.
Baki watches in astonishment as Sikorsky hits Oliver with everything he has, but doesn’t even leave a mark. Oliver finally says it’s his turn and unleashes a howitzer of a punch to Sikorsky which once again sends our Russian friend through a window although this time he does indeed hit the ground.
This episode didn’t really do it for me. We’ve gotten so far away from the original idea of what was essentially a street fighting tournament and now it’s cops and mercenaries and kidnapping girlfriends that – even though those tropes can be used effectively – it’s given the series a kind of personality conflict.
I am fully aware that this whole thing is based on a comic, but this episode was just such a mishmash of things that it felt as if the writers couldn’t figure out what to do or focus on so they just did everything they could think of.
Very well may be the worst episode to date and I certainly hope the remainder of the series does follow the lead of this episode.
I thought they could have done more with Sikorsky/Baki after the Kozue kidnapping, but they passed that on to a “higher power” turning Sikorsky into just a middling sidekick who had his shit pushed in like eleven different times in this one episode.
I assume this is how they begin building up Yujiro to become the big bad of the series, but they haven’t even done a good job of building Baki as a protagonist thus far so this all comes off as a clusterfuck of ideas with no endgame.
Before this, the overriding entertainment value came from the fight scenes which have been terrific, but today, we got something very generic and sterile that was then layered with Mr. Oliver who fears no man and feels no pain.
It’s one bad episode. I’m not giving up on the show or anything, but I’d hope that tomorrow comes back with something stronger because today felt so completely rudderless that I sat here wondering if we’ve already jumped the shark. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out.
Until next time.