Monday, August 30, 2010
Hajime No Ippo.
Another "fighting" review folks, here we go.
I'll start this out by saying bluntly that Hajime no Ippo is, without a doubt, top knotch in a genre filled with countless "brawlers"
Hajime No Ippo begins in a way akin to "Kenichi: History's Strongest Diciple" in that at the beginning "Ippo", who is our main character, is a wimp, bullied and outright mentally weak. However, unlike Kenichi, Ippo actually has vast untapped potential in that his physical strength is absurd. This is made clear through the story as we come to find that since a child he, after the loss of his father, was forced to help his mother run the family business of running a fishing boat. As you might guess, running a business such as that requires a hefty amount of physical exercise such as lifting ice chests full of fish and water, day in and day out.
After school one day, Ippo heads home on the usual route over an embankment, and just as common is the fact that he gets bullied on his way. After some scenes of him taking the abuse, we see a figure running along the top of the aforementioned embankment. In an instant the stranger fends off the bullies as if they were flies.
Impressed and ever thankful Ippo begins to talk to this man. Through the course of the conversation Ippo brings up his desire to be strong, to know what it means to be the strong one. We come to find that this strange man is a boxer from a local gym. The boxer, thinking nothing of his encounter tells Ippo if he can accomplish the small task of catching 10 falling leaves from a tree, he'll take him to his gym. From here begins the real story of Hajime No Ippo.
Ippo gains the motivation to box and begins a series of training and fighting. Interspersed throughout are bits and pieces of his home life and interactions with his opponents. This is what brings out feeling, character depth and caring for what happens in the show. The characters are incredibly well-fleshed out in a short period of time; their side of the story is presented well, and this caring on both sides of the boxing card is what draws you into the show.
The animation and art are both fine, on par with other current anime. The music used for this series is absolutely top knotch, so much so that I had to get the mp3s just to listen to it myself. All of the opening and closing themes are used well. Snippets of the themes are often played during key fight sequences and really give a nice punch, adding to the excitement of the match. The in-ring action features a nice blend of realism and anime-style boxing. These range from facial expressions to explosive specialty punches that leave an air trail through the sky
Hajime No Ippo doesn't solely revolve around Ippo, the cast you will encounter at the gym are extremely well flushed out characters. You will follow their fights as well. This doesn't come off as a hinderence, as some of these fights are the absolute best in the series. Often you will see Ippo in the crowd with his gym mates cheering on and adding commentary to a fight going on between a character from his gym.
It isn't all lollipops and candycanes though as HNI has a bad habit of implementing what some will see as "bad guy of the week". New challengers do appear often, this much is true. However, while some may see this in a negative light, others will feel each and every match to be extremely important as it shows his rise through the boxing ranks, attempting to earn himself title shots, key matches and the like.
Anyone interested in boxing and anime will absolutely want to give this a look. Those interested in fighters will also want to give it a once or maybe twice over. Those who find themselves lusting for more after two seasons will be glad to know that Hajime No Ippo is ongoing, in manga form, and shows no signs of slowing down after it's over-a-decade long run.
Story Telling: 7/10
Character Development: 8/10
Musical Score: 10/10