FSW List 76: Top 8 Hajime no Ippo Fights

# 2 TAKAMURA MAMORU vs. BRYAN HAWK (Series 2)

I’ve made a hoot and a half about how evenly handled all the characters in this show are. How they’re all three-dimensional and sympathetic, but every now and then, you want someone who’s just a fucking asshole. Someone you can hate without hesitation, someone you can point at and say “Him, yes him! He’s the bad guy!”. And Hajime no Ippo does, on occasion, have those. But the one who may be the worst of them all is…

...Dennis Rodman?

…Dennis Rodman?

Bryan Hawk! Holy shit, this guy. He’s cruel, condescending, more than a little racist, and most importantly, a complete sack of hammers. This guy is a bloody psychopath, a man who derives intense pleasure (not-so-subtly implied to be sexual) from committing intense violence against other human beings. Unfortunately, he’s also an exceedingly gifted brawler, and is horrendously strong.

So, given such a beast, it’s finally time to wheel out resident God-tier character Takamura. Throughout the entire show, we’ve seen Takamura take down his opponents in mere MINUTES in all his matches, but they’ve always seemed rather…well, unimpressive. Whether this is because Takamura is too broken is never addressed, the point is, we’ve never really seen him go full keel. And against the world Junior Middleweight champion, we finally got our match.

The lead in is key here. Takamura’s entire goal is to utterly dominate all the weight classes he can. To compete in JM-level tournaments, he needs to keep himself down to a certain weight. And we see, in agonizing detail, just what Takamura has to do, basically starving and dehydrating himself to keep his naturally bulky form down to snuff. It’s one of the more intense “lead-in” plots, and one that really hits home that, although he may be a tremendous d-bag, Takamura puts in work for his sport.

We also get a look at the genesis of Takamura’s relationship with Kamogawa, how the old coach found a gifted but directionless young ruffian and gave him a direction to put his frustration and aggresion toward. It hits home that, although we see more of Ippo and the coach, his relationship with Takamura is no less deep and involved. So when Hawk casually BACKHANDS the coach at a press conference, shit gets real personal real quick.

So, after one of the more involved lead-ins the series has had, and some good character development, the chosen day arrives. A slightly malnourished Takamura vs. the lunatic brawler from New York. The first thing you notice about the fight is that this is high-level fighting we’re looking at. The series has always been good at delineating the battles of the elite from the battles of the amateurs, not that this makes the others seem less amazing, but there’s a different quality here. There’s an obvious weight to the fight; this is the world stage, this is the real shit, and there’s a lot at stake here.

The second advantage is that, aside from his personality defects, Hawk is an…unusual opponent. You may have noticed that I have not referred to Hawk as a “boxer” so far. That’s because he isn’t. Hawk uses some weird-ass style that utilizes his ludicrous upper body strength and flexibility to literally bend himself backwards and side-to-side to avoid shots. Even weirder, his abnormally long arms allow him to punch from these strange angles, leading to Takamura having to be on the defensive not just from ahead, but from below, above, the far right…

It contrasts nicely with Takamura’s extremely efficient, highly-trained technique, which brings another layer to the fight; the importance of training. Takamura, as mentioned, bangs himself sideways to get ready, to be at his best. Hawk doesn’t do anything at all, no training, no nothing. He relies on his raw instinct and brutality to get him through. To quote Hawk’s own trainer, Hawk doesn’t use boxing, his style is simply “pure violence”

Side effects of "Pure Violence" include pomposity, sadism and BEING POSSESSED BY FUCKING ASMODEUS.

Apparently, side-effects of “Pure Violence” include pomposity, sadism and BEING POSSESSED BY FUCKING ASMODEUS.

The fight is a real doozy in every way. Seeing Takamura deal with the bizarre aspects of Hawk’s style, as well as Hawk steadily becoming more desperate, really gives the fight a visceral edge that even other fights in this very show can’t match. There’s a sense of two titans trying to kill eachother that gets more prevalent as the fight goes on, but like the Kimura-Mashiba example above, there is a moment when the fight goes from simply amazing to absolutely shattering.

That moment comes when, after a combined 100-plus episodes of seeing this character be the joker mentor, Takamura finally frees the beast, and basically declares war on Hawk’s ENTIRE. EXISTENCE.

I am become death...

I am become death…

Holy. Fuck. Takamura, being on the lower foot in this fight due to the sheer unorthodox nature of Hawk’s style and his own weakened health, basically goes into a fugue state and let’s his pure boxing instincts take over, turning him into a horrifying beast of precision and rage. I mentioned above that the difference between the two is their attitudes toward their sport; Takamura’s being one devotion and passion, and Hawk’s being one of crass disdain. And it is in this gap that the difference emerges. The difference between a gifted, highly skilled and instinctual fighter like Hawk…and a God.

The subtitles are, unfortunately, in Spanish, but what is being said during that scene is that, in his blank state, Takamura’s shots have become dangerously precise, striking at vital areas all over Hawk’s body. In short, even Hawk realizes that Takamura is out to kill, and that his life is in danger. I won’t spoil the rest of the fight for you, but needless to say, the energy only gets higher and higher after that. Sweet Jesus, what a spectacle…

But for all that, for all the amazing that this fight gives, basically being the grand finale for the whole anime series so far (since it’s the last fight of season 2), there is one fight that surpasses it in intensity and energy. In meaning and depth…

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