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Makunouchi Ippo is an ordinary high school student in Japan. Since he spends most of his time away from school helping his mother run the family business, he doesn't get to enjoy his younger years like most teenagers. Always a target for bullying at school (the family fishing business grants him a distinct odor), Ippo's life is one of hardship. One of these after-school bullying sessions turns Ippo's life around for the better, as he is saved by a boxer named Takamura. He decides to follow in Takamura's footsteps and train to become a boxer, giving his life direction and purpose. Ippo's path to perfecting his pugilistic prowess is just beginning. Written by
Adrenaline rushing, bone cracking, jaw dropping masterpiece. Knocks all other sports anime out of the ring. 10/10!
Where do I begin? I have seen the first season twice already and its still stupendous. Within the anime sports genre, this one takes the biscuit. Admittedly, I have not seen many sports anime and have missed out on some anime such as Slam Dunk and Prince of Tennis but I can assure you, based on my judgement and combining this with other people's opinions ( it is a very popular anime and widely discussed), this anime transcends the competitors. However, I have seen sports anime such as Cross Game (baseball) and Kurko no Basket (basketball). The latter is current and much talked about in the anime World. Regardless, Hajime no Ippo has greater characters, more technical insight and more credible sporting feats than Kuroko no Basket. Cross Game was a work of art and is the only sports type anime that comes close to this beauty.
So why is this anime so great and deserves my praise and on top of that 10/10? The answer is somewhat complex but bare with me.
Firstly,all great sports anime should sell the sport it represents and make it somewhat appealing even to somebody who has not invested much interest into the sport. I was not into boxing but after watching Hajime no Ippo, I felt energised and ready for action. I threw jabs in the air and was shadow-boxing. On top of that,this anime taught me about the rules of boxing and provided me with some technical knowledge. Bravo to this anime for getting me hooked on something I never previously considered.
Furthermore, the boxing matches in this anime always bring novelty to the table and are mostly technically sound. The mangaka (manga artist) is a passionate boxing fan and does rigorous research about boxing and bases some of his characters on real life boxers such as Mike Tyson. Real life technical ( not basic) boxing techniques are also mentioned and shown.
Secondly, a great anime should have elements to it that go beyond its main genre to keep other niche audiences satisfied. This anime has great comedy. Kamogawa gym members, Aoki, Kimura and Takamura bring so much life and humour to this incredible action packed show. The interaction of Takamura and Aoki is beyond funny. It is the execution of these extra elements that separates the great from the mediocre.
Thirdly, a great anime, in particular a masterpiece, should have MANY characters that are well developed, have great depth and add an extra dimension to the anime. After all, what is the point in watching anime with great visuals, sound tracks etc when there is poor dialogue or plain, predictable and annoying characters. Anime that lack great characters do not stimulate the brain. This anime nails it. The protagonist Ippo is naive and not blessed with genius fighting skills. Regardless, he learns from his peers and through perseverance, his indomitable fighting spirit and unwavering concentration, is able to progress as a boxer and more importantly a human being.
This anime has many great boxers and great dialogue. Eiji Datte's reference to Ippo's "light" fists, Takamura's great boxing advice and feats as well as Ippo's venerable coach's perspicacious boxing advice, are some of the elements this anime presents, that inspire and guide Ippo. The great dialogues and character interactions allow Ippo to mature and blossom into the wonderful boxer he is to become.
I am going to stop with the numbering now. In short, a great anime, not just a sports anime, should have: characters with depth; interesting dialogue; good voice actors; fun and/or intricate plot; good art style; extra elements such as comedy and so forth. The only criticism that I can immediately think of about this anime is the slightly dated art style. It is an old anime and therefore lacks the visual clarity and definition. However, some episodes such as episode 74 have so much detail and perfection, despite the dated animation screen quality, that one still gets totally drawn in and absorbed by the unfolding high level brawl that is presented.
Episode 74's dialogue, pacing, music, fighting choreography etc is otherworldly. Given that there are 76 episodes in the first season, this anime ends on a positive note and packs a punch. The other episodes are vital for character development and are also incredibly fun to watch. The boxing is captivating. The training and normal life of Ippo and the others are also refreshing and makes us hunger for the next big fight.
Having seen many renown anime I can safely say that this anime deserves to be ranked with the best and deserves the praise and attention it has and is been receiving.
On top of all this, this anime has great soundtracks and offers above average opening songs/credits. There is not much more one can ask for. It was an exhilarating watch. Please give this anime a go. For an anime lover, it should be a must. Oh and by the way, watch this, and any anime, with your native subtitles whenever possible (avoid dubbed versions). I find English dubbing horrendous. Japan's voice artists are usually on point and are PROPERLY trained in the arts of speaking. The voice intonation in Japanese suits the characters and is more natural.
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