Hajime No Ippo Review
The shining jewel of Morikawa Jyoji is a boxing series (yes a sports manga, but an actual good one). This was actually one of the first manga series I ever read, in some old Shonen Jump my brother had ‘acquired’ from somewhere I read a random chapter that had the tail end of one of the fights.
This was such an odd experience, I hadn’t really read any manga and only seen some anime on tv or vhs, it was like an awakening to the way movement can be drawn. Years later I got not only access to a pc and the right sites but found plenty of stores I could camp out and read at. This series has been going strong since it debuted in 1989. This means it has had a continuing plot and character development and growth, not to mention some kick butt fights, for over a quarter of a century. It actually feels weird to say it’s as old as my girlfriend…
“Throughout his childhood, Makunouchi Ippo has always been picked on by his fellow classmates. Long hours helping his mother run their family business, a fishing boat store, has left him without the time to make friends and so he remains an introverted loner, doomed to be beaten day in and day out. Although he hates being bullied, he hates himself even more for not being able to fight back against his tormentors.
“What is it like to be strong?” he asks himself as he stares at his clenched fist. “I want to be strong.” His encounter with Takamura Mamoru, a professional boxer, leads to the discovery of a dynamite punch that opens up the doorway to a whole new world where that dream can become a reality. At the Kamogawa Gym, Ippo now trains with the aspirations of becoming a professional boxer and discovering what it means to be strong.”
The main character Ippo is a bullied kid who after seeing the boxer Takamura decides to just see how boxing is like. His trip to the gym is also his first spar/fight where he actually uses the peek-a-boo style Mike Tyson used before. The series is actually full of little nods to many professional boxers and fights, whether it’s from the move used to the style of fighting, like the use of the Detroit Style and its Flicker jabs to the main characters go to finisher the Dempsey Roll.
One of the good things is that the series teaches as well as entertains; it lets you see the training performed by characters and the reasons for their styles and moves. It also helps those new to the sport understand it better as well, while keeping you laughing as well as excited. You get to see several characters grow in skill level and power, a bit of romance develop and unlike some series (*cough* yu gi oh *cough*) where the main character never loses, everyone in this series has their ups and downs.
I’ve been keeping up to date in this series ever since I could and I never grow tired of reading it. The fights are fast paced and mostly realistic as well. Most sport series have exaggerated moves and actions, like Inazuma eleven with its soccer moves that look like they can take out a DBZ character. Some of the bigger fights can seem rather long, some taking like 20+ chapters, but they are always an addictive read. Otherwise it wouldn’t be over a thousand chapters and still going.
Souless gives Hajime No Ippo series a 5 out of 5~
Side note: I most enjoy Takamura Mamoru’s fights, big heavy hits and a big goal ahead of him, plus everyone he fights has an animal last name. From beating up Ronald Duck to taking out Rickey Mouse.