Baki Hanma Creator Keisuke Itagaki Gave Sylvester Stallone a Gift Even the Biggest Hollywood Stars Can Only Dream of

Keisuke Itagaki's gift to Sylvester Stallone was truly remarkable.

Sylvester Stallone Rambo and Baki Hanma


  • In 2020, Baki the Grappler manga artist Keisuke Itagaki chose to pay tribute to Hollywood's Rambo, Sylvester Stallone.
  • When Rambo: Last Blood received an official release date in Japan, the manga artist created an illustration of the film's poster featuring the actor.
  • However, Itagaki was not the first manga artist to pay tribute to celebrities by sketching images of them or incorporating them into their work.
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In 2020, the manga creator of Baki the Grappler, Keisuke Itagaki, decided to honor the Rambo of Hollywood. When the fifth and final installment of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo movie series, Rambo: Last Blood, got an official release date in Japan, the manga artist drew an illustration of the movie poster featuring the actor.

Baki the Grappler
Baki the Grappler | TMS Entertainment

Rambo: Last Blood has been in the discussion since 2008, and the film finally got a release in 2019. The story revolves around a former soldier who is on a mission to save his niece, Gabriella, who was kidnapped in Mexico and forced into prostitution by the Mexican cartel. However, Rambo is able to save her and destroy the cartel.

While the movie was released in America in September 2019, it took a whole year for the movie to get a release window in Japan. Therefore, to mark this release, Gaga Production reached out to Itagaki to give Stallone a gift that is longed for by many other big Hollywood stars.


Keisuke Itagaki’s Illustration for Rambo: Last Blood

Itagaki’s portrayal of The Expendables actor was spot on with the mixture of the Baki Hanma artistic style.

The illustration focused on a close-up shot of an angry Stallone who kind of resembles Baki’s father, Yujiro Hanma, as both of them have broad muscles that are visible even on the face.


The illustration also worked perfectly in favor of the movie, as it became a decent success in Japan. Additionally, according to Comic Natalie, after watching the movie, Itagaki praised the role of Stallone and commented, “Rage and revenge—as long as there are these two things, Rambo can continue again and again. Because he’s not dead yet, this time too!”

Sylvester Stallone | Wikimedia Commons
Sylvester Stallone | Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

This was indeed a big surprise for Stallone, as he has been following Itagaki’s work for a long time and even got the opportunity to meet the manga creator in 2010.


The actor revealed this through an X (formerly Twitter) post claiming what an honor it was for him to meet the legend in the martial arts genre.

Other Celebrities Who Have Been Honored by Manga Artists

Although Itagaki’s illustration for Rambo: Last Blood and Sylvester Stallone was indeed appreciated, he was not the first manga creator to honor celebrities by drawing illustrations of them or featuring them in their work. There have been multiple other manga creators who have been spotted in popular anime and manga series.

Barack Obama in Yo-Kai Watch | OLM Team Inoue Magic Bus
Barack Obama in Yo-Kai Watch! | OLM Team Inoue Magic Bus

The first one among them is the former President of America, Barack Obama. Obama has been featured in not one but two different anime series. The first one is Mr. Osomatsu, where he made a cameo as Hatabou’s friend, and the second one is Yo-kai Watch!, where he was saved from a bomb threat by Komasan.


Another prominent actor who made it into the anime world was Brad Pitt. The actor was portrayed as Brad Kidd, the founder of the detective firm and the friend of Ryou Kuroyanagi in the popular anime and manga series Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi. There are many other actors and celebrities who have been honored by the anime and manga industry.

You can watch Baki on Netflix.


Written by Tarun Kohli

Articles Published: 1376

Konichiwa! With a Master's Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a 2-year experience in Digital media writing, I am on my way to becoming one of the biggest anime content writers in my country. My passion for writing and Anime has helped me connect with Fandomwire, and share my love and experience with the world.