Tag Archives: boxing

Anime Theater: Hajime no Ippo pt. 2 (New Challenger)

This image is obviously symbolic of Ippo's desire to see the true face of God...and punch him in the friggin' head.

This image is obviously symbolic of Ippo’s desire to see the true face of God…and punch him in the friggin’ head.

  • Title: Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
  • Year: 2009
  • American Distributor: None to date, due to the underwhelming performance of the first season here in the states. A release seems unlikely, so get thee to Google…

They say that there’s nowhere to go but down when you reach the top. Having hit the apex of your intention, gotten everything your sick little heart desires, there’s really nothing left for you but the crashing low of disappointment and eventual loss. I don’t believe in that, I actually believe that one simply need sit in their top position, and if that’s not possible, find another ladder to climb. Apparently, that latter proposition gives me a lot in common with Makunouchi Ippo.

Yup, that clumsy-ass lead in was all to get us back into the world of professional boxing and the Japanese athletes, goofballs and general eccentrics that occupy it. After Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting ended in 2002, we had to wait a full SEVEN YEARS for the sequel series. Although the TV movie and the OVA in between provided substantial morsels to snack upon, a true series was what we wanted. And we got it with gusto, with 2009’s Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger, a show that although lacking some important pieces of the perfection of its predecessor, is still a top-notch, non-stop hit parade of humor, heart and hardcore boxing shenanigans.

Also, more Aoki, such as this scene where he appears to be cosplaying as Elliot Gould...

Also, more Aoki antics, such as this scene where he appears to be cosplaying as Elliot Gould…

Continue reading

FSW: Anime Theater: Hajime no Ippo pt. 1

Ippo will punch your expectations in the FACE...and then apologize profusely. He's THAT kind of guy...

Ippo will punch your expectations in the FACE…and then apologize profusely. He’s THAT kind of guy…

  • Title: Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting (aka “Fighting Spirit” in its US release)
  • Year: 2000
  • American Distribution: Geneon put out the entire series under the “Fighting Spirit” title, dubbed and all, and most volumes are easily found on Amazon or similar sites. Prices range from 10-20 bucks per 4-episode volume.

Anime is wonderful for a variety of reasons. It’s fun, challenging, surprising, silly, deep, creative, horrifying, mind blowing and very, very varied. Animation here in the US is wonderful and varied as well, this is true, but in Japan, the art form is used to tell stories not just aimed at kids or adults, but of all genres and depths. The anime industry is as wide as the film industry, at the very least, and twice as creative.

So sometimes, when you’re watching the cosmic beast being fought by the young warrior with daddy issues, or the metaphysically challenging ending of a space opera-style show, or seeing a buff dude get punched through a mountain, you forget anime, and by extension, manga’s, talent for simply telling a story. For like all media, any show or story is only as good as the people making it.

And nowhere is this more exemplified than in Hajime no Ippo, George Morikawa’s masterclass in well-rounded, yet accessible and fun storytelling, set to the very terrestrial sport of boxing. A masterclass in great character design, interesting plots and how one uses such a broad, creative artform to tell a constrained, character-based story. Continue reading

Announcing: First Step Week (FSW), Celebrating Hajime no Ippo

So much MANLINESS...and eyebrows. Also eyebrows.

So much MANLINESS…and eyebrows. Also eyebrows.

Well, that about says it, doesn’t it? Yes, to celebrate the…well, no occasion really, just to celebrate, we will be taking a week to look at the long running manga and anime classic, Hajime no Ippo.

“But Hachi, you divine morsel you, what exactly is Hajime no Ippo?” Good question! Hajime no Ippo is a boxing manga created by Joji Morikawa back in 1989, and is still running today. And…that’s it. No bells, no whistles. It’s a boxing story, about boxers and the boxing they do. There is naught a magical girl or a energy beam to be found, and no one will be killing anyone’s family member in revenge for a past slight, or seeking to save the world. It simply chronicles the adventures of one Makunouchi Ippo, as he endeavors to improve himself through the path of boxing, and to find out for himself what true strength is.

Well, of course, there are the occasional techniques and training montages that strain credulity, at best. And the characters are as broad and eccentric as any manga you’ll ever find. But that is all the surface dressing to what is easily one of the best stories, and particularly one of the best anime, you will ever find.

They reaaaaallllyyyy strain credulity some times...

As previously stated, they reaaaaallllyyyy strain credulity some times…

Hajime no Ippo is a triumph of great storytelling, great character development, amazing humor and heart, and of course, amazing fights. However, it is…well, not terribly well-known here in the states. Oh, it has a fanbase, of course. A small, fiercely dedicated one at that, and I and several of my friends count ourselves in said circle. But ask any ten anime fans about it, and you’ll be lucky to find one or two who know what the hell you are talking about.

Which is a shame. Almost without exception, this is anime at its finest. Not its most bombastic, or its most over-the-top. But just…finest. Doing what anime should do; tell a story in a compelling, fun and occasionally gonzo way.

So, to wit, this week will be to educate you. There will be articles galore! Lists! General discussion! And reviews of both the anime series’ that have come out based on the show! It’ll be a good time, and if  I do my job, you’ll be poised to get into one of the best stories in the art form.

We begin tomorrow! Bring your gloves…