Makunouchi Ippo has been bullied his entire life. Constantly running errands and being beaten up by his classmates, Ippo has always dreamed of changing himself, but never has the passion to act upon it. One day, in the midst of yet another bullying, Ippo is saved by Takamura Mamoru, who happens to be a boxer. Ippo faints from his injuries and is brought to the Kamogawa boxing gym to recover. As he regains consciousness, he is awed and amazed at his new surroundings in the gym, though lacks confidence to attempt anything. Takamura places a photo of Ippo's classmate on a punching bag and forces him to punch it. It is only then that Ippo feels something stir inside him and eventually asks Takamura to train him in boxing. Thinking that Ippo does not have what it takes, Takamura gives him a task deemed impossible and gives him a one week time limit. With a sudden desire to get stronger, for himself and his hard working mother, Ippo trains relentlessly to accomplish the task within the time limit. Thus Ippo's journey to the top of the boxing world begins.
First, let me say that I\'m not a fan of boxing. In fact, I pretty much hate the sport. Honestly, who likes seeing people getting their head beat in every day?
With that being said, this series is brilliantly done. There\'s comedy, romance, and plenty, plenty, plenty of plot. Follow Ippo as he grows as a person and as a professional boxer. You\'ll laugh, and you\'ll probably cry here or there. The fact that I don\'t even like boxing never came in to play. You\'ll probably find yourself doing some jabs here and there while watching the show too. It\'s that captivating.
The supporting characters are awesome. Takamura, Kimura and Aoki are all equally hilarious. Each has a distinct personality that make them all very lovable. They also support Ippo as he meets his trials of boxing and life.
Definitely give this series a try. You won\'t be disappointed with the 76 episodes. In fact, you\'ll probably end up reading the manga because you don\'t want it to stop!read more
"What? 76 episodes of… boxing? 76 episodes set in a small square ring? Yeah, right."
I had no idea.
What makes this anime special is undoubtedly the characters. How each character is so likeable, so original, and so fully developed that you end up understanding, caring, and rooting for them in the end. How even the ones that only last an episode, even Ippo's opponents can be given such plausible and staggering backstories that you might actually find yourself siding against the main hero for a match or two. And how these characters are just so serious with their lives that you really feel it, and you end up believing that such a world could actually exist out there.
You know you love an anime when it drives you to shout, to hold your breath, and to jump right out of your seat. You know you love an anime when the thrill makes your spine tingle so much that you actively root and cheer and punch the air in victory as if you were right there ringside. You know you love it when you marathon through 15 episodes one night, and wake the next morning only to continue watching. And even after 76 episodes and two bonuses, you can't let go. They've already wrapped you up in that world, those characters, their lives, their ambitions, and suddenly… suddenly you're expected to just leave?
You know you love an anime when, trying to show it to a friend, you somehow end up watching the entire thing again with him/her. And you still shout, you still laugh, you still find yourself out of your seat punching the air the second, the third, the sixth time you've seen it.
And you can't stop smiling. Because you get to live in their world again. read more
The anime makes use of every character it introduces and develops them very convincingly and you can really connect to them. Such as Ippo in gaining more confidence and motivation, Takamura in wanting to become a champion and a hero, and Miyata wanting to prove that his father’s boxing style is the best. The characters all have back-stories of why they became fighters but they still live lives in certain ways you can still relate to them and they all have every day issues as real boxers would have such as Takamura’s weight control. As for the pacing, yes, the anime is long and the manga is 10 times longer, but still evenly paced and I feel the intention after getting to a certain point is that Morikawa-sensei wants to tell a life story in the same way Araki-sensei does with Jojo and you really start to feel that and you really feel the character’s grow and there are times you can emotionally react or care what could happen to that character.
The art style is very faithful to that of the style of the manga, except I felt that the bodies looked blockier and more massive than they needed to be in comparison to it. Plus, the venues such as Kourakuen Hall and the surrounding environments are well accurately represented because I’ve been there before on a number of occasions and fought in a judo tournament there so I thought that was pretty cool. I really love the training sequences with Ippo and he comes up with crazy methods and is an animal. The only real life athlete I can think of that compares to Ippo’s training ethic and regime is UFC fighter Sean Sherk.
And now lets get down to the heart and soul of this anime, and that is the fights. As someone who can’t stand the trendy over the top repetitive action you see in some animes today, this is definitely a liberation. This anime proves you don’t need fire balls or bullet time or any of that trendy bullshit to make a great fight. This is an anime that truly accurately portrays the technique, excitement, and intensity of the real sport of boxing by implementing all these real life moves and fighting styles. 1st example is Ippo. He is based on a prime Mike Tyson who uses the peek a boo stance, worked the body, and had an effective jab once he got on the inside. Sendo Takeshi is based on Razor Ruddock with his smash punch which is a mix between a hook and an uppercut. And Mashiba is based on Thomas Hearns where he uses his freakish reach to use a crazy jabbing system. And Hayami, you think his shotgun is unrealistic? Before Ali got suspended, he had incredible speed, 10x faster than the Ali who came back who was still pretty fast. There’s a video of Ali out there where he landed 15 punches in 3 seconds. And you know the old saying of how styles make fights? Well, that saying is applied very well in this anime and applies it very well and is just poetry in motion.
The dub seriously sucks. Takamura sounds like Adam Carolla. Ippo just doesn’t fit. Miyata sounds like a chain smoker. And the sound quality and the overall execution is just as bad as GTO’s dub where it sounded like they hired 5 voice actors. Avoid the dub at all cost. But once again, time to give you more info on the seiyuu cast. It’s very interesting to note that the voice of Kaoru from Prince of Tennis, Kiyasu Kohei plays Ippo himself. Despite that deep and hissing voice is the nerdy and assuming Ippo. And one of my personal favorites Tomokazu Seki plays my favorite character Miyata. He does a great job of being that lone wolf kind of character and knows how to keep his cool. And I truly felt that Takagi Wataru, the voice of Onizuka from GTO was born to play Aoki. And Onosaka Masaya the voice of Momoshiro in Prince of Tennis and Vash the Stampede from Trigun was also born to play Sendo. If anything, this is an anime that is truly meant to be watched in Japanese.
The music is also pretty awesome and a quality you can’t deny which you can’t get in manga obviously. The opening themes Under Star and Inner Light have a heavy intense feel to it where you can really emotionally react to the clips in the opening theme and to the scenes whenever presented as a background song in the anime itself. And I like how the ending themes 360 and Yuuzora no Kamihikouki gives a different kind of emotional reaction where it’s more about relating to the characters and the hardships they go through, but yet there’s this huge reward waiting for them at the end.
The only significant flaw I would say is that they ended this anime where the excitement truly begins in the manga. I say Ippo conquering Japan is just only the beginning because after that, the other characters get more focused and the development gets deeper and the fights get better. But overall, this anime has excellent themes in finding something you’re good at, and sticking to it and always keep believing. The good news is, you really don’t have to be a boxing fan or have any knowledge of boxing to really get into this anime. This anime will probably do it for you. After awhile, you start saying to yourself, how would Ippo do against Manny Pacquiao, or how would Takamura do against Roy Jones, Jr. So it really sparks interest in that kind of way from what I’ve experienced. Also, this anime truly accurately represents the Japanese feel of boxing itself. If you ever watch Japanese fighters, they are very exciting to watch. They love to go at it and fight with every last ounce of breath. I really have no experience competing in actual boxing since I’m more of a traditional martial arts kind of guy, but I only took up boxing for awhile just to improve my hands and when you’re training, you just got that tempting feeling to do the moves from the series and even train like Ippo because the things he does, you can go out and try for yourself for real since you can’t fly or shoot fire balls. I say that alone is magically captivating. If you want an anime free of virtually every stereotype and cliché, this one is for you. read more
Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit) is a fantastic Shounen, Sports, Comedy, Action anime produced by one of the greatest studios ever (Madhouse). Even though it doesn’t tell the entire story, the story it does tell is truly amazing, with all its manliness.
It’s about your classic teenage underdog (Ippo Makunoichi) who’s pretty shy and gets bullied and looked down upon, by some of his peers. Then one fateful day he comes across a boxing gym, with a great pro boxer, and soon attains the desire to become a boxer. Sure this set-up sounds very typical for a shounen sports drama but I personally enjoyed this story about the underdog overcoming continual obstacles. This formula does get pretty repetitive after a while but the flow during and between matches; helps set the steady pace of the developing story. Shame it had to end though.
Ippo is the character that this entire series revolves around and that is good because he’s a very likable character for the average viewer. It is easy for some viewers including myself to relate to his desire to be reborn and what’s more is that viewers can watch him develop and struggle to achieve his goal. What’s also great is that plenty of time is spent introducing and giving some back-story behind Ippo’s opponent, before the match, which makes things more interesting when his opponent also has a valid reason to win. Furthermore there are quite a few supporting characters to enjoy as well, because some are just truly hilarious.
The quality of the animation may be dated but thanks to Madhouse’s expert animators, it suits this anime adaptation perfectly. There’s even quite a fair bit of detail put into the surroundings. Sure the character designs are very unappealing but what matters in this manly show is the actual boxing, which is animated perfectly. The characters move fluidly but sadly there are quite a few corners cut, especially when it comes to recycling scenes.
The quality of the sound is awesome; above all when it comes to the fighting with powerful SFX for the punches and a thumping soundtrack to go with it. There are also quite a few mellow tunes to go with the everyday goings on but some of them are inferior compared to others.
Overall Hajime no Ippo is a highly entertaining anime series that is able to capture the pure essence of boxing, with some truly memorable bouts. Even though the whole “overcome any obstacle with hard work” thing is getting a bit played out in the shounen genre, it still proved to be an effective plot device in this series. Some may be daunted by the sheer length of this series (76 episodes); nevertheless if you the type of person who enjoys this type of combat shounen anime, then without a doubt you’ll enjoy the experience.
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