Japanese Featherweight Champion Ippo Makunouchi has successfully defended and retained his title. Meanwhile, his rival, Ichirou Miyata, has resurfaced in Japan, aiming for his own Featherweight belt in the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation. When the rest of the world comes knocking, however, will Japan's best fighters rise to the challenge and achieve glory at the top? Or will the small island nation be crushed under the weight of greater entities? This time, champions will become challengers issuing a call to the rest of the world and ready to show off their fighting spirit!
You know, I've always loved boxing. Yet i never imagined that anime series about boxing could be much more interesting than the "real thing". Well, actually, It's not!
In this anime you don't just have pure fight, action non-stop. NO!
You get to know each one of the characters in the series. It's like you're one part of this anime. I don't know, I've never felt it before. The "gang"...It always looked like I am part of it, laughing and sorrowing with them. Watching them get beat up and yet stand again.
I know this review sounds like shit, and there are 100% lot better reviews then this,
but I'm sorry, i can't write review about this series and not get my emotions here. You know, reviews are about scores, studying all segments of series, but this anime HAS SOUL.
The characters are so vivid, and real. You have so many different people here, each one better than another, all unique in some sort of way. It blows you off. It sucks you in.
This anime shows that there is no just "brute force" in boxing. Those boxers have something that keeps them on surface, not letting them sink. And it actually shows you that this is not impossible. This is not an anime about some superhero. You can be just one of these people. With your friends, your guts, your will, will of steel. It shows you that there is nothing, NOTHING more important, NOTHING more valuable than FRIENDSHIP. It seems stupid, but that's the thing that can push you up when you feel like dying.
And you know what? Forget crap like marks. I cannot grade it. It doesn't deserve any number.
Because when you put one part of your soul in something, you cannot give it any limitations.
I started up, thinking this review is gonna be very short. But... When you are touched by something, you just cannot stop. And now i'm feeling a bit lighter, because I've shared this with you. I don't care if this was helpful or not. When this anime ended, I've lost part of my soul with it, but yet i learned something that cannot be learned in any school.
-I've learned what is the thing that makes man GREAT.
I will never forget about this one. Enjoy you guys...
To start things off, I can say is that it’s about damn time that a new anime installment of Hajime no Ippo came under way. Even though the first anime series was 70 plus episodes, I felt I didn’t get enough by the time I finished watching it. To me, Ippo vs Sendo 2 was actually the beginning!!! Since then, I decided to read the manga and currently up to date on it which is now nearly 90 volumes, and I’ll say I still haven’t gotten enough!!! But moving on, to a certain extent, New Challenger for what it covers is faithful to the manga
about 85% of the time though a few things are omitted. For example in the Date/Martinez fight, Okita fought in the undercard in the manga, but for some reason they cut it out in the anime and yet, they dedicate half of an episode to recapping Ippo’s fight with Date in the first season when they could have done something more productive instead. And I can’t deny the cut of the Kamogawa and Nekota flashback story arc. I feel I can forgive that because I think it deserves it’s own OAV or TV movie, especially under Nishimura Satoshi’s direction (which I heard is now confirmed). But for those not familiar with the manga, the first season had some cuts as well such as Mike Tyson’s story inspiring Ippo to box and Aoki painting himself black to get Ippo ready for Jason Ozuma, so omissions in this version I find aren’t too surprising as well in retrospect, but I felt the omissions were still bad ideas since those scenes did contribute something to the establishment and progression of those sections of the stories.
Next, I felt at times the pacing was unbalanced. Sometimes things were too fast due to those omissions, sometimes things were too slow just to concentrate on certain dialogs, and there are times it was just right. But I think they did the story arcs of the Martinez and Date fight and Ippo’s fight with Hammer Nao justice. In the end, rather than cutting out some parts of the manga and having been a little reliant on some unnecessary recaps, I give the story and characters.
The resolution and the depths to the color are a step up from the first installment. The art isn’t as sketchy looking with the bodies, but the designs are captured wel. The fights are also faithful to the manga, but at times, I did feel it did cut some corners which I felt wasn’t as abused in the first season. I thought the corner cutting and still shots were abused in the final fight a bit more, but really didn’t overall negate my enjoyment of the fight (though I'll admit I've conjured better quality fights playing the games). I felt anime wise, the Hawk and Takamura fight didn’t live up to how Ippo vs Sendo 2 played out for those reason since Ippo vs Sendo 2 didn’t really abuse it, and brought it’s own distinction from the manga fight.
But the action in general is still pretty awesome and I felt the anime captured the fighting styles of some of the characters very well, especially with Itagaki and Miyata. I felt the Martinez and Date fight was breathtaking and used very excellent angles in portraying Martinez’s brutal power and crisp technique.
One of my main concerns is that I did not like the color schemes for some of the characters. I have played all of the Hajime no Ippo games on PS2, PSP, PSOne Wii, and DS (yeah, laugh and point and call me a fan boy) and I liked some of the color schemes given to the characters in the games. I thought the color schemes for some of the characters such as Arnie’s red and black trunks and Itagaki’s brownish-redish trunks were pretty cool, reflected their personalities, and overall just seemed to fit. While in New Challenger, they are both given blue color schemes and I feel blue as the color of trunks is kind of an abused and redundant color in Hajime no Ippo. I thought the red with Arnie really reflected his aggressive style and blue tends to be a cliché symbol that you’re level headed, I just thought it didn’t feel right.
Before I get into the best quality of this season, I’ll take about the most controversial and that is the music. In addition to a new director, this anime has a new composer for the background music, Deathnote’s very own Hirano Yoshihisa. With the omission of Imahori Tsuneo’s acoustics and techno, Hirano implements his more grand orchestrated and piano style though at times he will use electric guitars but I’ll get into that a little later. If I were to put the controversy of this situation in a nutshell I would say that I have seen the protests and objections to Hirano’s style and the wanting of Imahori to return gone near the levels of the Ryan Drummond fans amongst the Sonic base. I’ll admit I was taken by surprise by the new style of music. At times it works and at other times, it totally misses. I’ll agree that Hirano’s composition isn’t as good as Imahori’s nor does it live up to how he made the Deathnote soundtrack, but I always believed in the saying if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it and I felt the BGM as a whole in Hajime no Ippo was kind of done here.
The worst quality of the music was when Nekota and the Kamogawa crew were crying during the Takamura and Hawk fight and it was playing this lame piano music that felt really stupid. The best parts are his uses of electric guitar that sound more like something out of punch out. But yeah, I do want Imahori Tsuneo back, and this situation now makes me sympathize with the Ryan Drummond fan boys. However, Hekireki and 8AM, the respective opening and ending themes I really like a lot though not as good as 360, Inner Light, or Yuuzora no Kamihikouki, but I think they capture the spirit of Hajime no Ippo very well.
Now time to conclude this part with the voice acting which consists of Gundam and Metal Gear Solid alumnus alike. With the exception of Kobayashi Sanae reprising the role of Mashiba Kumi, the cast from the first season is back. And the voice actor who got me most was Sakaguchi Daisuke who debuted as Uso Evin in V Gundam as Hammer Nao. I felt without him, the character would fall apart. Despite how much his appearance changed from the last time we saw him, I always thought that he was still that insecure individual as portrayed in the original manga but thanks to Sakaguchi’s acting, it captures something beyond my expectations and made him more likable in comparison to how I saw him in the manga as more of an asshole. Now I want to talk about Kumi’s new voice actor Hirata Yuka. I thought she sounded too energetic and the pitch was too seductive for the character. I always thought of her as pretty much shy and her original seiyuu captured that. Hopefully they’ll bring her back in the next installment. Another actor I enjoyed was Sugahara Masashi as Martinez. Even though he doesn’t have many lines, he sounded very intimidating, charismatic and authoritive. In a way he felt like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.
And I’ll admit I was surprised that Ohtsuka Akio, the voice of Batou from Ghost in the Shell, Gato from Gundam 0083, as well as Solid Snake, Solidus, and Naked Snake in the Metal Gear Solid franchise as Brian Hawk who is the anti-thesis of those characters who are disciplined and formal while Hawk is pretty much an American version of Takamura. I wasn’t sure how he’d pull it off considering my familiarity with his performances as those characters so I was paying attention to how he’d do it. But after recently re-watching Rurouni Kenshin and seeing his performance as Jin-E, I felt he could do it. I think the performance that solidified him as Hawk was when he made his speech that he wanted to impregnate all the women in Japan. He was able to bring the charisma he had as those characters as Hawk in that scene, but in a comedic, disturbing, cynical and frightening fashion all at the same time. And in another scene I felt he had to define Hawk was when he meets his trainer in the flashback and asks for his license to kill and I thought he was able to bring Hawk’s qualities to life in that as well. Still, go on Anime News Network’s or this site's section on New Challenger and you’d be surprised how these voice actors have been in both Gundam and Metal Gear Solid franchises.
Thankfully they are making another installment according to Koyama Rikiya, the voice of Takamura. At first, I was pissed as fuck about the initial announcement of 26 episodes considering how much more manga material there is to cover, so I’m pretty excited since after this installment there are more of my personal favorite fights such as Ippo vs Sawamura and Miyata vs Medgoen Dachboy. In addition to pretty much seriously serialize the series, I want Nishimura and Imahori to come back.
Time to review something that actually DOESN'T suck! Hajime no Ippo is back with a vengeance!
The sequel to Hajime no Ippo continues the tale of Ippo's rise to the top of the boxing world. While the first Ippo series started as a coming of age story in which a bullied young man must learn to stand up for himself and achieve his dreams, the sequel starts right at the action and comes out swinging furiously. However, unlike the Rocky sequels, Ippo actually manages to keep the character development, pacing, and quality storytelling that made the first Ippo good. The opponents don't simply devolve into cartoon
caricature bad guys that our hero must smash...well besides Bryan Hawk. At least Hawk is hilariously goofy and fun to hate though. Also his eyebrows are only rivaled by that guy in FLCL!
While the first Ippo series boasted a wide cast of likeable characters, the second Ippo series manages to even better flesh out the side characters by giving them more of their own episodes. That means I get to see more of my man Takamura! The pompadour sporting badass who is so fucking manly he punches out a bear...then cries when he realized he orphaned the bear's cubs. The only character I missed in part 2 was Alexander Volg Zangief, because I love that dude and unfortunately he isn't in part 2.
The animation and technical aspects of the series are clearly improved since part 1. Ippo was already a good looking anime in part 1, but in part 2 the movement is even more fluid and this actually means something when you are talking about a sports anime. If an anime revolves around high stakes gambling and playing card games, you don't need to have the most fluid motion in the world. It doesn't make any impact on how enjoyable the show is. For example, Spice and Wolf the anime about trade and economics had horrible animation and it didn't matter at all. However, in a boxing anime this improved animation was perfect cherry on top of the ice cream.
One thing I love about the Ippo franchise is its ability to mix comedy, emotional moments, and pulse pounding action so seamlessly together. Very few anime are able to combine these elements together quite so perfectly. Hajime no Ippo isn't some highbrow attempt at being an artistic masterpiece, so don't go into it expecting Mushishi or Tatami Galaxy. However, it is a VERY fun to watch anime and overall very well made. I would recommend this anime highly to anyone even remotely interested in sports anime.
The arcs that Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger covered in the 26 episodes it was given were outstanding. I can see why it was named "New Challenger" because literally almost if not every fight had to do with a Challenger going up against a title holding Champion and one would think that it would get repetitive when this is said but every single fight lives up to the build up of the setup and background story around each match arc just was well as the 75 episode season 1.
Art and Animation (9/10) Great
More Specifically (9.75/10)
With the previous season I feel having a having a bit better animation quality than this one and that one being far older than this one and almost 50 episodes longer, I would have assume that this one would have had a better animation but sadly i did not feel it it. Although it was great I did not feel it was outstanding like season 1 same thing can be said about art style. By the time I got to the final big fight of New Challenger I decided to read the manga as I watched the fight side by side and I was right. Although this may have been the case with the previous season it didn't bother me to the point where I wanted to pull up the manga and experience the fights side by side. And at first I just wanted to make sure it was being adapted well and it was but then the scenes that did have a bit of weird animation or sub-par art style I did realize that the manga did trump the anime in majority of those scenes. And I'm talking about scenes where it is a stand still shot of a punch someone may have done to their opponent so no animation behind it i felt those certain scenes could have been handled to a bit higher quality of art style since no animation is behind it and sometimes it was but about 45% of the time it was not and like I said I was reading the manga side by side and sadly I felt it wasn't done 100% justice. Now I know it may be a super nitpick and this may have been the case for the previous season like I stated before but once again like I said I felt certain scenes in both the animation and art style department was of a lower quality that I am used to from both Hajime No Ippo's previous animated season and movies and the animation studio Mad House themselves. Nonetheless I still this it's great, just not outstanding like I'm used to.
Sound (10/10) Perfect
Everything that had sound in Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger was perfect. All voice acting, background music and sound effects during punches and blows were spot on and is the reason why manga readers will go back and watch the anime since they can't get this in the manga.
Characters (10/10) Outstanding
All the characters are outstanding, for a anime just about boxing we get so much great characterization and development before and even during the fights given to us in Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger. Whether it's Ippo himself or not I thought every fight challenger and champion was given good amount attention for me to care for both sides even if I may have hated one of the fighters they didn't feel like a uninteresting character, the only character during fights that you could debate that about is probably Ricardo Martinez since he barely showed any emotion and he barely got to see any background characterization about him but he served the purpose of being the representation of a character that is better than you simple as that which is realistic, sadly there's always someone better out there than you and that is was Ricardo represented so I can personally give him a pass for not showing too much character hopefully I see him in the future but I wouldn't be too mad if I didn't.
Enjoyment (10/10) Outstanding
My Enjoyment at the very start was great, I would say by the end I felt I was definitely satisfied with Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger and it definitely proved to me that my enjoyment for Hajime no Ippo wasn't just a one-hit-wonder.
Overall (9/10) Great
More Specifically (9.95/10) Great+
Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger has proved that Hajime no Ippo is still my favorite sports anime/manga that I've experience yet. And before going into this season I knew that the manga has literally over 1000 chapters and in my head I told myself "never will i ever read all of that" and now by the time I picked up the manga just to read it while watching the final Takamura vs Hawk fight I thought to myself "hmmm well after I finish Hajime no Ippo: Rising I can see myself reading it.. binge read!? probably not but I can see myself reading it in the future especailly if Mad House keeps playing around with us and not giving use another season for it I can definitely see myself in the distant future reading pass Rising. Anyway Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger is a fucking great season.
Anime openings are extremely important. They introduce the production staff, unveil the style of the animation, and set the tone for the rest of the viewing experience. Let's take a look at the Hajime no Ippo openings and how they inform the audience and set expectations.