Hajime no Ippo: Bullied child becomes champion boxer
Based on George Morikawa’s original manga, released in 1990, Hajime no Ippo was adapted for television in the year 2000. The title, literally translated “The First Step”, plays on the name of the main character, Makunouchi Ippo. A high-school student with a low self-esteem, Ippo is constantly bullied and beat on by his classmates. All this changes when, while being bullied after school, he crosses paths with Takamaru Mamoru, who saves him from the bullies. What Ippo doesn’t know is
that this man is a professional boxer, and one of the very best in Japan. With a little goading and pressure from Takamura, (the man doesn’t know the meaning of positive enforcement) Ippo decides to try boxing for himself, in an attempt to turn his life around. What follows is his life in the Kamogawa Gym, where Takamura himself trains, his relationship with his gym-mates, his struggles to learn the art of boxing, and his abilities and practice put to the test in boxing tournaments.
At first glance, Hajime no Ippo seems like another Japanese anime series that the producers could have wrapped up in less than 75 episodes. However, unlike other “too long for their own good” series’ (Dragonball and Inuyasha come to mind), Hajime no Ippo brings the A-game every episode. The fighting animation does get repeated, but for the most part, it doesn’t affect the feel or movement of the series. The plot, for that matter, keeps the viewer on their toes, not setting the protagonists to win every match. This is refreshing in a time when ‘feel-good’ shows have turned into Disney-esque, happy-endings-for-all stories. As expected of an anime series, the boxing moves are quite exaggerated, especially the KO sequences. There are enough characters in this series to make it interesting, even though it becomes a hassle to remember all the names, especially for characters that return later in the series. Humor is a major plus in this series, and every viewer will enjoy a good laugh before having to hold their breaths again for the adrenaline-pumping fights to come.
It’s always difficult to give full marks to an animated series—there always seems to be something lacking—but I really had no serious qualms about this series. A little long, and the drawing style takes some getting used to for the first-time anime viewer, sure, but all in all a fantastic show. If you enjoy this series, take some time and look for the original manga, which chronicles the tales of Ippo and his friends well past the end of the anime.
Why not take a look at the trailer before you decide whether this anime interest you or not !