“Begin! The Centennial Tournament” gets all its ducks in a row, as each fighter assembles, and the opening match results in an impromptu facelift.
This recap of Baki season 3, episode 1, “Begin! The Centennial Tournament”, contains spoilers.
After a brief recap of previous events, including the titular Baki’s poisoning, the premiere episode of “The Great Ratai Tournament Saga” opens with Yujiro speaking with Muhammad Alai Jr. about his father. The son believes he has perfected the style of his father; a kind of proto-MMA based around speed and footwork. Yojiro references Muhammad Alai Sr. having lost his footwork after dodging the draft, and then makes explicit mention of the infamous mixed-style match in 1976 when Ali fought against Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki. The young Alai doesn’t take the bait, which infuriates Yujiro. He isn’t particularly well-adjusted, after all.
“Begin! The Centennial Tournament” quickly jumps back into a (skippable) recap explaining the ins and outs of The Great Ratai Tournament, held every 100 years in China. Nobody wants Baki to fight since he’s severely compromised, but he’s persuaded by the presence of a special fighter this time — Yojiro.
Speaking of which, Mohammad Alai Jr also wants in on the tournament, but for non-Chinese fighters to enter, they have to prove their strength. Alai Jr’s opponent also mimics the Inoki move, but to no success. Alai Jr’s speed wins him the fight easily. Kaioh Ryu is suitably impressed by the Mohammad Alai Mixed Martial Arts, the apparently perfected style, and says he’s looking forward to seeing it in action.
The tournament begins in Baki season 3, episode 1 after some spiel about the lofty legacy of the centennial tournament and an introduction to the twelve competitors and their fighting styles: Sea King Ryu, Sea King Retsu, Sea King Son, Sea King Yoh, Sea King Chin, Sea King Jo, Sea King Moh, Sea King Samwan, Sea King Li, Sea King Han, Sea King Dorian, and Sea King Jaku are the original twelve, but there are more. The 146-year-old former Great Ratai Tournament Champion, Sea Emperor Kaku, and three last-minute guests: Mohammad Alai Jr., Yujiro, and Baki himself. Sixteen participants in total for a once-in-a-century one-day tournament.
Each match is going to be revealed one at a time — the only two names in the bracket so far are Sea King Ryu and Yujiro. The ministry wants a test of Yujiro’s worthiness to ensure that he’s capable of sharing the stage with the pride of the country, Ryu — he’s to break a stack of 40 roofing tiles, which he obviously does easily. The fight begins, and after some posturing, Yujiro just rips Ryu’s face clean off and throws it into the crowd.
Retsu confronts Yujiro, obviously fuming, but Ryu asks if he’s trying to insult him by intervening? He isn’t finished quite yet. Except… well, he is, since his second attempt at striking Yujiro results in him being kicked clean unconscious. Disappointingly, the state of his face remains tastefully obscured, and the episode ends with a towel covering it as Ryu lays motionless on his back. The tournament is nicely underway.