Rikitaro is a musician whose dream is to become a rock star just like Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison, but at the age of 27 that dream is fading away rapidly. Ooishi is a 3 time world boxing champion who recently retired and is now in the entertainment world, shooting a boxing reality show. These two unlikeliest of people cross paths one day but both of them think nothing of it until weeks later. Rikitaro is given one last shot by a record label to sign a deal but before that, they need him to get into better shape so that he is easier to sell. He stumbles upon a boxing gym which also happens to be the same gym Ooishi is filming his show. As fate’s wheels start to turn, neither man realizes that they will work together to train the best boxer ever, even better than Ooishi himself.
It's less about the physical training, in the end, than it is about the mental preparation: boxing is a chess game. You have to be skilled enough and have trained hard enough to know how many different ways you can counterattack in any situation, at any moment.
Looking at boxing, this sport is ruthless. The amount of training put in by each athlete is astonishing and all of it culminates when they step out into that ring. Though many people unfamiliar with the sport say that boxing is barbaric and the only point to it is to beat up the other guy, it's more sophisticated
than that. Sure instinct plays into it and determination, but its the strategy and learning about your foe that decides the fight.
RRR is a great boxing manga in every respect. It flows really nicely with every bit of story, eventually adding a nice touch to the ending despite it cutting off too short for my tastes. The real reason why this caught my intention was the story and how much enjoyment and tension you receive from every fight.
Looking back on this entire manga after reading it, you gain a respect for it. The first time I read it, it was purely for enjoyment. The second time was to see the originality of the story and characters. The third and final time was to look over the boxing of the manga. This is one of those manga's that you shouldn't take everything in the first time and try to cramp all that information into your brain, it's one to take your time and digest everything.
The story of RRR is a beautifully compelling one that although may seem corny to some, due to its need to constantly drive the sappy part home some times, it has a generally unique feel. It does feel linear when Rikitarou reaches the ring, but the overall feel of the love shared between Rikitarou and Aozora is quite genuine enough.
This one is strange in the sense that a lot of these things really wouldn't come happen in all your years of living but that's the beauty of it. It brings you into the world of this man when he is at his lowest, only to be brought back to life by a child. Touching to say the least.
The intensity found within the story at points is overwhelming at times. When I read some parts I just couldn't stop reading, it felt like the build up to later events just fell into place perfectly. The fight scenes were probably the scenes I looked forward to the most in this manga. The story was integrated into every fight and gave them meaning rather than just throwing in fights for the hell of it.
The details in boxing are nicely spaced and evened out throughout the manga. They don't usually go through one long page of boxing terminology, but allow you to absorb it in waves. They may mention something then go into further detail of it later as to not overwhelm you. Even the references to boxing sometimes is subtle, but if you get it then you understand what they are saying more which is both helpful and possibly detrimental if the reference just flies over the person's head. The good thing is that references like that are sparse and really don't take away from anything if you don't get them.
The end had a nice wrap up despite the shortness of the series. It felt like everything came together leaving nothing out from the beginning. It gives the reader a sense of finality from what the story started with mixed in with the culmination of the relationship between Aozora and Rikitarou.
Personally, I find that unless the art is just beautiful in every regard I just don't pay it much mind and I don't review it as much as I would other sections. If you want to skip this paragraph, please feel free, I'm just going to state what I found good or unique about the art. The art of the manga really wasn't anything groundbreaking to say the least. They knew when to make sure that a character would get a portrait, and put ample detail into the shading and the facial characteristics to make you notice that "this is an important panel".
Characters are probably the most pivotal point to a manga like this. Sure you could pull off the fight scenes if your art is good enough, but that won't bring in the readers. The characters and story are the main driving points.
Now the characters in this manga were not the most unique, but they melded together quite beautifully. Rikitarou is your "lost hero" in a sense where he needs to find out who he is in order to rise from the ashes so to speak. Though he is generic, his change in character throughout the manga is fitting. He, although staying immature to the end, feels that he has a sense of responsibility and grows from it.
Aozora is the little child of the manga, who frankly to me doesn't do much. I mean sure he is one of the driving points of the manga, but he doesn't stand out unless he is with Rikitarou. His relationship with Rikitarou is probably the reason why I like his character at all since he seems to be Rikitarou's moral compass.
The rest of the cast is also slightly generic. You've got the overbearing coach who trains the protagonist harder than the usual person in order to make him/her succeed to greatness. Then you've got the wise old man who assists the protagonist in what he/she does giving both comedic relief and actual advice. You've got the cocky rival who is nice at heart. The evil villain who brings out the darker side in our protagonist. The daughter of the wise older man who constantly keeps him in line.
Despite these generic character designs, its their ability to meld well with both Aozora and Rikitarou that allows them to stand out as strongly as they do. The relationships they share with the main cast is what gives them memorability. I would never have cared for the rival if he did not foil Rikitarou, or even passed a glance at the wise old man if he was not adding comedic elements to what Rikitarou was doing and meld well with his personality.
Now I did really enjoy this manga and would give it two thumbs up all the way, if not for some boring parts to the story. Midst all the development of relationships, some scenes give you the impression of "obvious filler" which I don't mind time to time like most people. The problem was that with some characters that is all they are, filler. Aozora, if he's with or without Rikitarou, feels like they are adding filler with either a few sentences to a page of story within the conversation. It saddens me because I truly did love the story elements with that filler too.
This is probably my favorite sports manga. With a story that could hold its own and an amazing cast of characters, RRR is definitely one of my favorite reads in a long time. If your looking for a sports manga that has an interesting story that does nothing to compromise the action then RRR is for you.
A manga that captivated me enough to read 70 chapters in an afternoon.
STORY (10) CHARACTERS (9) ART (10)
RRR is a seinen, shounen-like, drama boxing manga. Rikitarou is RRR's protagonist--a 27 year old aspiring rockstar. After a tragedy happens relating to his sister, Riki takes on the responsibility of raising his sister's son.
Before Riki choose to take in his nephew, his life was a constant endeavor to get a record deal. The synopsis on this MAL page isn't accurate, because Riki wasn't a "...failed musician". He eventually gets a record deal, but on one exception; get in shape.
Rikitarou does "Boxercising" to get his workout in. He joined a boxing gym that had a previous world title boxer, Ooishi. Ooishi realizes Riki's strengths and begins training Riki to become a professional boxer, even though Riki is almost too old to train.
The art is fantastic. The panels are filled with grit, dirt, blood, hair, and bruises. Seeing through the eyes of Riki when he's in a state of unconsciousness and brawling through the match is a visual we rarely see in manga. Tunneled vision, thinking only in primal thoughts.
The scenery was surprisingly good. It's art is almost incomparable to other sports manga and boxing. The artist didn't sacrifice a moment in any panel. There's no exaggeration of anything in the environments in RRR.
The character progression throughout RRR is outstanding and I could really feel the tension between characters. The growth of a fighter going through the ranks of the Japanese boxing world was portrayed on a gradual and realistic scale.
The fear, anxiety, joy, despair, psychological, and physical strain you would feel in the boxing profession is chilling, and that's what kept me so interested in RRR. What it took for his friends to become the Japanese title holder for their weight class, and how you relied on yourself, relied on the effort you put in to hone your skill, and the reasons you've trained.
The reason I give RRR a 9.5 instead of a 10; the last ark was ridiculous, and I honesty laughed when I read it, "Are you serious?". Besides the ending ark, the last chapter was great and served to reground the series back to its humble, charming, simple roots. ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED MANGAS!
First of all, since this is my review it's probably not going to be very deep or anything so don't expect a Roger Ebert level review incoming. This is just some losers thoughts about a manga that he read.
Secondly I'd like to mention that the only reason I started reading this was because there weren't any new Hajime no Ippo chapters at the moment and I thought this would be good filler for the mean time. I tried to judge it as fairly as I could while reading but HNI sets a pretty high standard for boxing manga.
The biggest problem with the manga is
the ending. About 50 chapters in you realize that the manga is progressing at a considerably low pace. This is good because boxing stories need time slowly showing the character develop his abilities. The very bad thing about this is that the manga is only 106 chapters long. So if it took our main character (Rikitarou Iwamaki) 60 chapters to get to his debut match, it would be downright silly to think that he could become the Japanese champ in the remaining 40. The final fight in the manga is obviously very rushed as it skips many of his not so important fights and training sequences - something that so far had been the main source of intense sensations. The ending itself is very anticlimactic and dull, especially for a boxing manga.
This is a real shame since the first half was very promising. Riki was put in a very stressful situation and seeing a person who up until now was characterized by being very easy-going and evasive of his problems slowly develop a sense of responsibility was very intriguing.
The worst part is that it probably isn't even the fault of the artist. Sadly a lot of great and underrated manga just have to rush out an ending because they don't have the funds to continue through with a project. This seems to be the case with RRR (or the mangaka just got lazy).
The art is okay I guess. The mix of realistic bodies and simple shounen style faces doesn't look good. But still,overall it looks pretty good.
That's all folks.
The characters in this manga are... not very good. Almost everybody except for the main character is a regular cookie-cutter manga stereotype that you'd expect from some awful B-rate manga. The villain, Asahina, has a big ego and treats people badly. His whole character ark is that he does a lot of bad things. Aozora (Riki's Nephew) is just annoying. He constantly does illogical, cringeworthy things. The author tries to develop him into a likeable character and fails horribly. There are some characters that do sometimes have something interesting to say or do but almost only when interacting with Riki. Riki himself is a great character and the biggest redeeming factor in this manga... up until the end of course when he suddenly starts acting the complete opposite of his character. He starts putting his own ambitions ahead of Aozora's, something that at this point we know he'd never do.
HNI(and Holyland to some extent) show that boxing manga can only be as great as its characters. It's amazing how I could still enjoy this manga as much as I did with such lazy writing. Speaking of which...
Might be hard to believe considering how much I just "shat" on it but I actually did have a very good time reading this manga. Riki's character just emits such enthusiasm that it's hard not to be invested in the story. I was capable of reading through 10 chapters in a row an still have the appetite for more. That might not seem like a lot to some but I can't even read through a single chapter of some Dragon Ball volumes without catching agonizing boredom. The fight scenes might get a bit silly but it contains action that might give you an adrenaline overdose. I'm a fan of any fictional media of boxing at all, Rocky is my favorite movie after all. I love underdog stories. I was totally hooked the whole time until the end came around. I flipped through the last few chapters as quickly as I could.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of HNI or other boxing manga I recommend this to you because it will be a satisfying read for the most part. If you don't much care for them and are looking for a great seinen drama don't get your hopes up.