Hajime No Ippo is a Japanese Manga series by George Morikawa. It has been running since 1989, but the television series first aired in 2000.
The television series was adapted from the Manga by Madhouse Studios, who have also created anime shows such as ‘Wicked city’, ‘Ninja Scroll’, ‘Perfect Blue’ and ‘Vampire Hunter D’.
It has a sporty theme and tells the story of a teenager who begins a career in boxing, and follows his progress as he trains and comes up against various opponents.
This series has become popular with a wide audience of anime fans. Whilst it is based on sports, it also appeals to people who don’t follow boxing because of the wholesome and inspiring storylines.
The English title for the series is ‘fighting Spirit’, and this really sums up the overall feel of the show. The series focuses on human strength and will power rather than supernatural or magical powers, which makes it very relatable to its fans.
Hajime No Ippo has been praised for its well developed characters, the exquisite choreography of the fight scenes and detailed animation. The Manga series won several awards and was rated as one of the top 100 Manga series of all time.
The television show has also received critical acclaim and impressive reviews.
When the audience is first introduced to the main character, Ippo Makunouchi, he has poor self esteem and very low confidence. He is being bullied at school and is not able to stand up for himself.
But he has an inner strength of character, demonstrated by his commitment to his family. He helps his mother with her business after school, leaving no time for him to socialise and enjoy being young.
One day, after he has been beaten by his bullies, he meets a pro boxer called Takamura. Takamura takes him to the gym to tend to his injuries. This is Ippo’s first introduction into the world of boxing, and he is captivated by it.
After a period of reflection and overcoming several obstacles in his way, Ippo decides to take up boxing as a way to build up his strength and his confidence.
The television series has three seasons, along with various special episodes. It is recommended to watch the series in chronological order, which is also the same order that the episodes were released. They were released over a period of 14 years.
Hajime No Ippo Season 1 – 2000 – 2002
Hajime No Ippo: Boxer No Kobushi – 2003 – Special
Hajime No Ippo: Champion Road – 2003 – Special
Hajime No Ippo: Mashiba vs Kimura – 2003 – OVA
Hajime No Ippo Season 2: New Challenger – 2009
Hajime No Ippo Season 3: Rising – 2013 – 2014
Some anime series are complex to follow with fillers and flashbacks which can make choosing the right watch order quite difficult.
Whilst there are over one hundred episodes of Hajime No Ippo, there are virtually no fillers and each episode is relevant to the development of the characters and the unfolding of the story.
This means that you should watch each episode in full, watch them in order, not skip any sections and make sure you watch the special episodes as well. This will give you the best possible watching experience.
Some people have watched the three seasons without watching the special episodes.
Whilst it is possible to do this, you will miss out on some epic fights and some important parts of the story. It will make the overall experience less immersive and enjoyable, so it is not recommended.
You might wonder how the storyline could remain that engaging across so many episodes, but it does not focus solely on the main character. Perseverance and resilience are key themes of this anime, and this is demonstrated across all the different characters.
Each boxer has their own personal motivations for why they fight, and how they keep themselves going when it gets tough.
Each back story is gripping and as the characters interact and their lives interweave, a rich world is created that the audience can really get lost in.
Many fans of anime really enjoy the music and soundtracks that go along with the film or the television series. The music for season one was composed by Tsuneo Imahori. He was in a band in the 90s that took inspiration from Jazz and British Folk Music.
He has also composed the music for ‘Gungrave’ the anime and the Playstation game. The music for the second series of Hajime No Ippo was composed by Hideki Taniuchi who has also composed for other anime television shows like ‘death note’ and ‘real drive’.
Yoshihisa Hirano is credited alongside Tsuneo Imahori for the music of season three.
If you are a fan of gaming as well as watching anime and reading Manga then Hajime No Ippo is a great series to get into. If you keep your old consoles then you will be able to have a go at the Playstation or Playstation 2 games.
There were also games based on the anime released for the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo Wii. The story modes of all the games closely follow the story of the Manga and the anime series.
‘Hajime No Ippo: Victorious Boxers’ was nominated for several awards when it was released in 2001, but narrowly missed out to ‘Dead or Alive 3’ for Xbox.
If you are still unsure as to whether you want to watch Hajime No Ippo, you should definitely give it a try. It is highly recommended by many anime fans, and its longevity and popularity speak for itself.
You will get drawn into the personal struggles of the characters and will feel every win and every defeat alongside them.
Whether you like sports and regularly watch boxing matches or not, you will be inspired by the determination of Ippo and his opponents and the passion that they bring with them to their training and into the ring.
Hopefully this guide will be useful and will help you to get the most out of your watching experience.