When I first learned about Hajime no Ippo, I wasn’t that eager to check it out. Heck, I had no interest in sports, and it’s one of those shows that has a premise that you just can’t explain without making it sound like some sort of Dragonball Z knock-off:
“So yeah this show is about a guy and he trains to become a boxer and then they fight and he gets beaten and beaten and then he manages to find his inner strength to win from his opponents!!1!1!1”.
It’s true that this show is formulaic, but it’s also SO INCREDIBLY ADDICTIVE. The sheer intensity of the boxing matches is nearly unrivalled, and the only way you can really get an idea of how incredibly good this show is is by watching it yourself. This series knows exactly how to pull the right strings during the boxing matches, and even though most boxing matches take up multiple episodes, they just keep you glued to the screen and only make you want more.
New Challenger forms an excellent introduction to the franchise for those who find the 75 episodes of the first season a bit too much of a commitment. It’s an excellent standalone series to watch. I myself watched nothing of the first series and yet I was perfectly able to follow it; some of the references to the first season that it made were perfectly explained for those new to the franchise, and the characters were already strong enough to carry the show on their own.
What’s also interesting about this new season is that while you might expect this show to be mostly about the titular Makunouchi Ippo, it’s actually one of those series that doesn’t have a clear main character. Instead, we get a bunch of arcs that each focus on a different character, and Ippo only plays the central role in one of them (that arc, by the way, also was arguably the weakest of the bunch; the thing with Ippo is that he’s by no means a bad character, but he is one of the least interesting members of the cast). Especially the Brian Hawk-arc was absolutely epic.
So yeah, Hajime no Ippo stands out in its simplicity; for every arc you know exactly what you’re going to get: an incredibly intense boxing match with sympathetic and strong characters and awesome graphics. And it never gets old. It’s the perfect series for if you want to blow off some steam.