Genres: Comedy, Sports, Drama, Shounen
It’s a bit late review, but I guess I just can’t let that one go, considering that there still are some people who never watched it because it’s sports kind of anime, and truth is – most of them would really love it. First off, some details:
Perhaps the first thought that comes to your mind when you see Ippo above is ‘Wow, that must be boring’ – That’s what I thought anyway. At this point you should know though, how different is boxing in the anime to the real one. But before I encourage you to it, you should know that there is a lot happening next to the boxing ring also. Comedy and drama parts are what made me like it in the first place.
Makunouchi Ippo is a high school student, who has no ambitions or future plans whatsoever. He’s often getting bullied, and because of that his will to change keeps growing stronger. One day, while he was getting beaten up by his classmates, he’s saved by Takamura Mamoru, a professional Boxer. Ippo lost conciousness so Takamura takes him to the Boxing Gym. When he wakes up, he’s amazed and impressed by the whole training boxers are going through, yet he’s not determined to try himself. In answer to that, Takamura draws a picture of Ippo’s classmate and puts it on the sandbag. Ippo hit the thing with his whole might, causing a bit of hand damage and surprising everyone around with his strength. That’s when he decides to try boxing. Takamura doesn’t have much faith in him though, so he gave him an almost impossible to carry out task, which is catching 10 leaves falling off the tree with one hand. He had one week time to learn to do it and then he was supposed to show the result so Takamura takes him in the gym if he succeeds. That’s when Ippo’s will to change and ambition show up. He’s training hard for day and night trying to figure out how to catch them properly. When the time comes, he catches whole ten surprising Takamura who was sure he wouldn’t do it. Just like promised, Takamura takes Ippo to the gym, and his journey to become a great boxer begins.
The way it affects us
The whole beginning is a trial for Ippo, who has yet to learn everything and most importantly – not to give up. Starting with sparrings, he continues to train day by day to finally get his debut match for a Professional License. That part of anime was my favourite. Learning from the scratch, getting driven by determination and will to become stronger. Surprising is how much of an impact that anime has on people. It wouldn’t be weird at all if you tried using jab while watching it, that’s just how compelling the story is. It also can cause you to try something you’d been unsure about – All thanks to Ippo’s determination during the whole show. The biggest advantage here (next to some of the best fights of course) is the comedy. I haven’t watched anime that made me laugh loudly for a long time, and Ippo just does it over and over. Comedy scenes are subtle and not forced like in some comedy series, that’s why it’s so damn good. I guess situational jokes win after all.
Real boxing vs Anime boxing
Now for the differences between the real boxing and that in anime I meant before: Firstly, hits that you won’t see – Flicks, ‘Shotgun’, ‘Smasher’, ‘Heartbreaker Shot’ and other attacks which are used by some of the boxers in Anime. They make fights exciting and surely less predictable. Of course, basics still exist, just like in real boxing, there are Uppercuts or Right Straight and Hooks, but they don’t have such an important role as few of the finishers mentioned above. Of course it’s not going too far from reality either, even though you won’t see that punch in the TV, it’s still explained in some logical way how they can use it and how to block it. That whole ‘fake realism'(That’s how I am gonna call doing something impossible but causing something real, let’s say throwing a twisting punch in heart to stop it for a few seconds) which makes it thrilling. Secondly, the whole determination to fight and spirit, which give boxers strength to act even though they’re half-dead, that part is quite poetic: Fighting with broken ribs just to fulfil a promise and other stuff like that. But on the other hand there are many connections – Cheating in a ring with elbow or headbutt. It’s worth to mention now, that I don’t like boxing, but in Hajime no Ippo I really like it. Hell, I would love to see Ippo vs Miyata on the pro ring.
But of course, where’s the good comedy, there are good characters. In case of Ippo, there are these gymmates, who were scumbags before and then became Boxers. Takamura, who’s strongest there, makes fun of them and just loves to screw with both. Ippo as a new boxer, has to deal with the company of three over-confident bastards. Being all innocent, silly and nice in the atmosphere of assholishness gives birth to a buch of funny motives. Ippo himself made me laugh a lot, like in the scene when he gets on the pro ring for the first time, he starts running around and bowing to the audience saying ‘Nice to meet you!’. Or his love story, of a girl he saw riding a bicycle, fell in love with her, and then he found out that she’s a sister of the scariest boxer he’d ever met. I’d rewatch it right now just to see all these ridiculous comedy parts! But thanks to youtube there is bunch of funniest to watch online.
But it’s a shounen, when does it go wrong?
But obviously, shounens always have a way to ruin things. I’m afraid Ippo didn’t avoid these destructive waves just like any other anime of that kind. Obviously I’m talking about fights that go beyond ‘fake realism’. I mean, it was just splendid for the first half, then it suddenly got worse. Why? Because exchange of 1000 hits was needed to defeat someone. Not to mention, that the ring bells at really random moments and when someone’s down, 10 seconds countdown is actually 5min(Reminds me of Dragon ball and planet explosion in Freezer vs Goku fight, lol). I get this whole ‘will to fight’ thing, but seriously? There are borders. I liked how some of the Boxers continued fighting with broken bones and stuff like that, but you can’t take 100 hits in your face and still stand. But hey, that’s the case for only a few fights, apart from that, side-plots, comedy and drama parts stayed as good as they were. Plus, in the new serie ‘The New Challenger’ it got all way better. So my recommendation is: just go through it. There will be these 2-3 fights in which you’ll feel like killing Ippo, but the sooner you get over it the better.
Why would you watch almost 10 years old Anime?
*It’s the best shounen serie
*The lineart isn’t really bad, even though it’s old, I liked it.
*Music is actually good
*Comedy is simply awesome
*You can guess some of the plot twists, but still most of them will surprise you (There are no 180degrees changes like in other fighting shounens, therefore you look for reasonable explanations for everything)
*Every fight brings something new and refreshing, after whole bunch of training episodes you just can’t wait to see what Ippo can do, how had he changed etc.
Even if you don’t like sports anime or shounens, believe me, you can get surprised just like I did. Like I said before, there are going to be some downs further in the series, but once you go through them, it’s all great. The most satisfying fact is that once you finish the first serie, there are 2 movies to watch(Which are quite interesting) and then FINALLY you get to watch the second serie, which is really new. I think I’m going to write separate review for it, but for now I can say – It’s godlike. Lineart, music, everything is just epic, that would be too much of a waste not to watch it, as I consider it one of the best Anime series, and surely the best sports one.