//Somewhat spoilers ahead, be caution
//Also, I wouldn't say this is a proper review, but just some thoughts I needed to get down somewhere.
Some of my favorite quotes from final chapter are: "Is Joe Tabuki not afraid at all of dying or becoming crippled? Does he have no one... to weep for him?" and "I haven't turned completely white yet."
I love Yabuki Joe. His tenacity, stubbornness, his selfishness, his character design, and plot armor (lol) all made for an incredible combo. His dialogue was always on point. His actions made sense for his character. His personality, despite some changes, was so natural and suitable for a man who grew up without a family and without being loved until the end of his life. It was never a front, and he never truly made a 180 in his personality, so it was as though we truly grew up with Joe. He overcame his struggles in his own, clever way. He shone bright for those just like him- those who are low class yet determined.
The themes in the story I would say aged pretty well. I don't care about the misogyny or the racism of characters, like Joe and Jose.. those subjects definitely suit that time period, but it was so fitting and funny in its own way that I don't really care. Some progressive thought processes I would say were the discussions of how people handle trauma and illnesses (like CTE, or punch drunk syndrome). The companionship of the men in the series was topnotch and the way some characters gradually come and go was clever, too. Other things, but I appreciate the lack of romance. The series was pretty straight to the point and the pacing was, I would say, 93% perfect.
One other thing regarding the theme of the series, but dear god, that "master finds a student that can fulfill his dreams" trope is godlike. It's my favorite of all time. The dynamic is so accurate and it's dreamlike. The old man does get a little annoying in part 2, but it's fine because it had all become about Joe sooner than later.
One plot hole I noticed is that everyone was practically cheering for Joe when he came out of jail. Wasn't he causing ruckus in the town and being a bad influence to the kids, wtf? The neighborhood really doesn't have anything better to do.
I personally thought part 1 was a definite 8/10 while part 2 was an 9.5/10. I thought there were a few faults in the story. I believe the kids should have grown in a five year period. I also don't find fart jokes to be all that funny... Secondly, at some point I would have given Harimau a penalty, especially because he jumped on Yabuki's head and did close to a rabbit punch on his head too. He is basically subhuman to tell you the truth. Lastly, and not to nitpick because it is the 1960s after all, but the weight loss regime Joe and Riikishi were on at first was seemingly incorrect. Dehydrating yourself isn't the ultimate way of lose weight but whatever.
To tell you the truth, I really hate Youko. I disliked her from the moment I saw her. I understood her intentions pretty late into the series, I admit, but dear lord. I don't hate who she stands for (the person who guides Joe in and out of the boxing world), but her selfishness boils my blood! She was so set on her goals and didn't take into consideration the feelings of the person she "loved".. meaning, she was proactive in some aspects and not in others, and now she feels guilty for the trap she set her goals up for. I don't even know if that makes sense. I just hate her. ); I don't even think she loves Yabuki, but loved what she could do to Joe as her talented money-making suicide machine! Even though Joe had approached her once or twice, she truly is the devil in the shape of an angel.
Anyway, go read this series if you haven't, thanks.