Type: The Sweet Science
Synopsis: Ippo was nobody. But that don’t matter, you know? ‘Cause Ippo was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if he lost a fight. It really didn’t matter if that anime guy opens his head, either. ‘Cause all Ippo wanted do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever went the distance with a boxing show, and if Ippo could go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and Ippo’s still standin’, we’re all gonna know for the first time in our lives, see, that his show weren’t just another bum sport anime from the neighborhood.
Pros: I hate sports anime, but I didn’t hate Hajime No Ippo. I actually really enjoyed it. Ippo’s drive to be the best, the sacrifice he and other boxers make to follow their dreams, the psychology behind each fight in and out of the ring, the clearly corrupt calls, all of it. In a weird way, Hajime No Ippo both glamorizes and bluntly presented the sport of professional boxing. I think why this anime worked better for me than say The Prince of Tennis, is that boxing as a sport is very easy to romanticize. This is why movies like Rocky are more popular than Friday Night Lights and Coach Carter. Baseball stories are a close second, but probably only in America. You can really relate to the effort put into boxing because it mainly deals with one individual vs. another. Each of Ippo’s opponents have a backstory, even if it eventually boils down to trying to be the best. Ippo himself is very charming, as his meek persona outside the ring works well to balance his all-business attitude inside (he also appearently has huge genatelia that everyone makes fun of!). He kinda reminded me of Kenichi, Histories Strongest Desciple to be honest.
Cons: The story is fairly simple. Ippo has to learn a specific lesson or technique before a fight, he fights, then he wins and moves on to the next guy. Rise and repeat. The only variants are the character involved. Some of the fights also starts getting repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably the most intense cinematic boxing you’ll ever see, but that doesn’t mean they’re all masterpieces. What’s interesting about Ippo is that you get a shorthand introduction to the world of boxing, including the business side and economic and health reality for fighters. It’s actually pretty realistic at times, and Ippo himself ages from about 17 to 20, so it was neat to notice the subtle changes in him. I would have liked more scenes with his eventual love interest Kumi, but eh. To be honest, outside of the this being a boxing anime with repetitive story arcs, I can’t thing of any bad things about it (except maybe that his initial rivalry with Miyata goes nowhere).
Watch it?: If you like boxing stories, you’ll love Ippo (4/5)
MVP: Ippo Makunouchi
Him vs Tomorrow Joe, who would win?
Best Episode: Ep. 66 “My Takamura’s Tears” (he fights a bear!)