Posted by psgels on 17 September 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




One of the things that I really learned after I started working full time, is how precious time can be. Because of this, I can understand what a daunting task it must be to check out Hajime no Ippo; the total franchise has a bit more than 100 episodes; that’s not something you just watch in a lazy afternoon. However, that’s the beauty of the second season, New Challenger: it’s a sequel, but perfectly allows newcomers to the franchise to pick it up, and it contains some of the most kickass fights imaginable. For those who do have the time and want the full experience, there is the first season.

The length of 76 episodes has both its advantages and disadvantages, but let me first rave about the technical part: Madhouse did the seemingly impossible by having consistently awesome animation during the entire run. The animation is often smooth, punches are animated with a huge weight behind them, a meticulous amount of research went into how boxers move, ranging from the simple jabs to the flash knock-out punches. Do not get mislead by the simple art style, because this allows the creators a great amount of freedom while animating.

Now, the New Challenger series didn’t really have a main character. The first season however does have a clear one: Ippo. The entire series shows about thirteen matches of his, and even the matches in which he doesn’t appear are either 1) cut short or 2) meant to show how awesome Ippo is. Because of this, this series is very, very shounen: wanting to become the best, lots and lots of training arcs and the underdog are very common themes that just keep returning in this series. However, the fact remains that this is no high school series: right from the start this is about professional boxing.

I don’t just say that because I personally tend to like sports series about professionals more than high school sports clubs (for me, this matters more than whether or not the characters are teenagers or adults), but because this also allows this series to really look into the other aspects of professional boxing other than training and fighting. There are some really good arcs throughout the series that look at the personal life and troubles, injuries, and how boxers sustain themselves to get enough money.

The huge benefit of the length is that this series has plenty of time to flesh everyone out, and it makes full use of it. Ippo perhaps isn’t the most interesting character, but this series just continues to develop and change him. Every single side character is given ample time to tell his story. Nearly every opponent that Ippo fights is given a good and non-cheesy backstory and characterization. The most amazing thing is… that there isn’t really a villain here. Al of the opponents that Ippo fights are just professional boxer themselves. At first sight there does seem to be a stereotypical rival, but even that guy steps out of this rival role as the show goes on.

As for the big downside of the length… well, this is a show with 76 episodes that consist out of nothing but boxing. In the end, I still have to say that Hajime no Ippo’s best matches are in the New Challenger series: that just had four fights, and it did everything it could to make those four stand alone and make them as epic as possible. With Hajime no Ippo, the fights fall into a formula. This series especially loves the pattern of pummeling someone to near-KO, only to have him make a miracle come-back, and it unfortunately pulls this twist a little too often, to the point where you can just predict when it’ll happen. The matches in this series are definitely exciting, but they miss the raw power that I experienced in the New Challenger series.

The new Challenger series was compact and perfect. The first season meanwhile was a lot harder to sit through because of its length and monotonous pacing, even though it never really drags on. If you’ve got the time though, by all means watch it, because it remains an incredibly solid sports series.

Storytelling: 8/10 – This one is really dangling between an 8 and a 9. This series is really well paced, but in the end it does get a bit formulaic with its length and big focus over just Ippo.
Characters: 9/10 – Every single character is interesting to various degrees. No villain whatsoever.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Amazing production values for its length. Smooth and fluid animation and well detailed boxing sequences.
Setting: 8/10 – A bit shounen, yes, but still a very good portrayal of the boxing world.

Suggestions:
Hajime no Ippo – New Challenger
Giant Killing
Hikaru no Go

11 Responses

  1. Asura says:

    Hell yeah! HnI remains one of my favorite sports anime alongside Slam Dunk and Hikaru no Go. Glad to see that you like it.

    One reason I especially like this one because during its run on our local tv, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao career was on the rise in the US. At that time I had no interest in boxing whatsoever. After watching this, I was able to appreciate the sport and made watching Pacquiao’s matches that much more entertaining.

  2. hearthesea says:

    HnI is a great series. It’s a shame that so many people instantly disregard works in the sport genre (or just boxing), because they completely miss the point. The sport is simply the vehicle for the characters, not the other way around — the real point is the relationships the characters have with one another and their own personal journey throughout the series.

    I’d also note that this is the funniest anime I’ve come across to date, and they use this humour to balance out the drama well. The music by Tsuneo Imahori is also lovely and very fitting, full of memorable and impacting tracks. (Something that was sadly missing in ‘New Challenger’.)

  3. redfactor says:

    HnI is a great series! It made me want to see more of this kind of sport series, and i dig very deep…thanks to HnI i discovered Ashita no Joe…that series is at the top of my list as one of the greatest masterpieces ever animated and HnI takes a lot from whan AnJ does.
    I really recommend you to take a look at AnJ.

  4. redfactor says:

    HnI is a great series! It made me want to see more of this kind of sport series, and i dig very deep…thanks to HnI i discovered Ashita no Joe…that series is at the top of my list as one of the greatest masterpieces ever animated and HnI takes a lot from whan AnJ does.
    I really recommend you to take a look at AnJ.

  5. Ghost says:

    Yes!! You finally watched HnI!
    Hajime no Ippo has a charm to it and there’s not many animes where I like every single character even with their flaws. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    This anime almost made me take up boxing, which my teacher strongly disagreed with b/c I’m a girl haha.

  6. rufe says:

    The OVA was the best fight in my mind. I would give that a whirl if you find the time.

  7. Roldan says:

    So are you gonna review the 2 movies to? They’re pretty awesome by first having a sequel movie that does everything right then having a movie focusing on a side-character (Kimura). I really hope they do another one focusing on Aoki’s bout with the japanaese champion. It’s not only hilarious but it gets pretty intense later on.

  8. MAruu says:

    KO is the one of my favorite anime.. i really idolized ippo for his development eeach time he figth and trainings :)

  9. MAruu says:

    KO is the one of my favorite anime.. i really idolized ippo for his development eeach time he figth and trainings :)

  10. Name says:

    The lack of a true antagonist or protagonist does limit the series, often begging the audience to wonder, “So What?” The animation (and character design) isn’t of the highest caliber either; while it’s polished, it still lacks a true personality. Fortunately, the fight scenes are pretty fantastic, but it again suffers from a lack of variation. A very good anime, but a far cry from the greats.

  11. Takamura says:

    This anime is spectacular in my opinion, not only because it got epic fight scenes,but it could teach valuable morals without pulling them off in a cheesy way. The fact that its 76 episodes is what makes it better, because with a lengthy show, you can write out the entire series without it feeling of it being rushed , with that said we can have deeper look at each main characters story and thus more character develepment.
    With the great pacing and the great thought ahead writing the anime had i can’t see as to why having a 76 episode is a disadvantage for this anime.Yet there are more shounen anime that are referred to by mainstream crap lovers as greats like one piece and naruto etc that have more episodes. They just drag on and make it repetetiv and boring compared to hajime no ippo.

    The very thing that sets hajime no ippo apart from the popular shounen anime today is that it can give you epic fight scenes and keep it relatively relistic without crazy power upps and supernatural attacks like in dragonball and the sports anime ‘kuroko no basket’ which heavily relies on superpower moves without any technique development. In Hajime no ippo you see lots of technique development and realistic moves even though it can exaggerate some moves at times, but what the hey its a anime.

    Another thing i like about this anime is that it sticks to its main theme in the series which is ”boxing” thats why its good, because it doesn’t have dumb fillers that just drag the series out. This gives you the feel that each episode builds up the anime to a certain point.

    The anime has a true protagonist(main characther) which is ippo given that the whole series is named after him and that it starts and ends with him. The whole series shows you his development as well as it shows you the personalities and backstories of the other 4 characthers. The fact that even though ippo is the main focus in the anime (Because he is the damn main character ”use logic”)despite that it also takes it time to develop the other characthers, as oppose to in other animes making the side characters bland boring and useless to the main character itself.

    The fact it doesnt have a true antagonist is a Frickin non- factor!!
    Hajime no ippo is anime about boxing ,in other words a frickin sports anime. There are no need to have basic villain in a damn sports anime. All you need are badass opponents and a rival. There are almost no sports anime with a Antagonist , cuz its pretty incommon. How will a Villain fit into a sports anime about professional boxing?. The fact the rival in the series doesn’t recur frequently in the series is becuase of the promise they made in the beginning of the series. Even though the anime manages to track down both ippo and miyatas(rival) prosses and development throughout the show.

    The art and the character designs itself is what makes hajime no ippo unique and different from the rest of the crappy anime out today with all character designs that look the same . With that said how does it lack personality? when its so original?
    lets Face it the animation was probably its biggest default. Despite it being from the late 90s to the early 2000s where the animation technology was improving.

    The other great thing about except for the action is the comedy. This in my own personal opinion is by far one of the funniest anime you will ever see. where the comedy doesnt overshadow or influence the serious parts of the series but also compliments it well.

    After reading your review i can conclude one thing that your in fact a girl. If thats true it means thats its understandable that you thought a little to much shouneh , but what do you expect from an anime about boxing? This anime is probably not suited to you as you are not the animes demographic. The fact that this animes target is indeed male is why its not in your liking, because it lacks romance and a constant female lead which stays troughout the series and other recurring female characters. With thats said it is understandable to why you feel its a bit shounen.

    Without unnecessary nitpicking like everyone else did.
    i give this anime a 10/10

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  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:29 PM)
    @Kaiser Someone who actually still likes Nicholas Cage outside of his internet memes? To me he’s one of those actors who at this point, I can’t visualize playing a role outside of himself. Similar to how I can’t see any of Steve Carrell’s movies without seeing Michael Scott.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:19 PM)
    @Bam Yup, asking for money online is flawed in almost every way from the donor’s point of view, a lot of my former art history degree friends have taken to Patreon in a last ditch effort to float their poor career choice.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 07:46 PM)
    With synecdoche it has the benefit of Hoffman’s performance and to get it you just have to “Feel it”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 07:45 PM)
    Adaptation is one of those films with Nicholas Cage where you really wish he’d do more of, I wasn’t expecting that to go so off the rails near the end.
    Being John Malkovich, I dug the crazily creative premise.
    Anomalisa felt so human that the characters are puppets you can easily forget that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 07:42 PM)
    @Bam: I really want to use Urotsukidouji as my reasoning for why more messed up stuff should be adapted, namely kara no shoujo but the industry will just never be that hardcore anymore.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 10:44 AM)
    In a world where Urotsukidoji gets 3 series of OVAs there is nothing you want to make that is too risqué or edgy that nobody would want to pick up. I get a small startup trying to push their fist film out, but most big Kickstarters are ran by bigname talents that already have a string of hits on their resume. C’mon, just have some faith in your work, it’s just crazy to ask for money upfront.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 10:37 AM)
    SuperMario: I assume you mean Charlie Kaufman’s new film, in which case he already did pretty much whatever he wanted. Have you seen Synecdoche, New York and Adaptation? Now I’m a big ran of the man, but this creative control card gets a bit overplayed. The Under the Dog producers claim the same thing, but looking at their trailer it doesn’t look like anything that Japanese studios don’t already greenlight.
  • SuperMario
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:01 AM)
    for me though, I only pay for projects that I’m certain to watch (and have to pay for it eventually), so I don’t see the point not to “helping” them out. It’s all the same for me.
  • SuperMario
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 08:58 AM)
    @Bam I think the core concept is 1) with Kickstarter, many projects that otherwise never could have made is get supported here and 2) creators have more artistic control over their project. Take Amonalisa for example, big studios was very hesitate to fund the film, because of the commercial failure of his first film, but he insisted to get crowdfund and we have one of the more creative animation output last year.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 08:53 AM)
    A lot of the tech stuff is things you will never use twice; like a smartphone microscope attachment. they’re usually pretty shifty with it too. Yeah I’m sure it takes the price of a house to make a video series about sexism in videogames- right? And it takes almost a million dollars to make a 4 level indie game with three guys- seems legit. Must be pretty nice to basically do business with zero chance of failure.

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