Hajime no Ippo
A series by George Morikawa started back in 1989 and is still in production today. With the manga spanning 84 volumes, no thats not a typo, eighty four volumes with over 869 chapters. Not to mention the 76 eppisode anime.
Makunochi Ippo’s father passed away at a young age causing Ippo to spend all of his free time helping his mother by working on a small fishing charter. Working in the family business leaves Ippo with out any time for friends and a target for constant bullying. One day while taking a pretty sever beating Ippo is saved by Mamoru Takamura, a local pro boxer, and taken in to Kamogawa Gym to recover. After waking up at the gym Takamura lets Ippo take out some of his frustrations by hitting a sand bag and is supprised by Ippo’s talent. Takamura also tells Ippo a story about how Mike Tyson was also bullied as a child and grew up to be a champ (he left out the parts where Tyson went nuts trying to eat Holyfield and ending up in a Vegas comedy) This inspired Ippo to be “reborn” as a pro boxer and also starts is path to becoming Japanese champion. From bullied target, to amateur boxer, to Japanese champ, to still being bullied…
A colorful collection of characters also adds much to this series. Masaru Aoki and Tatsuya Kimura are two of Ippo’s gym sempai. The offer some good advice and are regular sparring partners but overall they end up being comic relief.
Then there’s Ippo’s savior Mamoru Takamura. He can be described in one word… A-hole. He has a good heart but overall he’s a jerk but as big of a jerk as he may be, he’s an even better fighter. Honestly Takamura’s Boxing career is as interesting as Ippo’s. Some times even more so. The man even took on a bear with his boxing… and won!
The anime series follows the manga pretty closely following Ippo’s story from beginning to his championship bout. The art in the anime is good, character models stick to the manga but where the show shines is in the fights themselves. the animation quality is great.
With a series spanning soo long you’d think it would get stagnant. I mean once your the Japanese champ… then what, but Hajime no Ippo has a way of finding new things to peak your interest. Like is he going to stay the Japanese champ or will he take on the world. Will Aoki and Kimura ever win a belt of their own, or will Ippo finally ask out that girl he’s been crushing on for 50 chapters!? If you have some free time… a lot of free time, give Hajime no Ippo a go.