I never thought I could become a big fan of a sports manga, much less a boxing manga, but here I am trying to burn through 800+ chapters of Hajime no Ippo.
I would like you to imagine my friend. This friend of mine is tall, burly, and if that isn’t manly enough for you, sports a rugged beard. He enjoys anime like the rest of us here, but is especially well-known for his great devotion to all things manly and gar. So when he first introduced Hajime no Ippo to me, I imagined testosterone-filled slugfests with sweaty men and quite a few crude jokes.
And boy, was I right! (Well, not as many crude jokes as I thought, but they’re there.)
But it really is a lot more than that. As with all long-running series, the manga has a huge cast, and the way the whole cast interacts is wonderful and charming. The manly slugfests aren’t simply people duking it out in the ring, but involves quite a bit of strategy and tactics. I don’t know much about boxing, so I don’t know how accurate the depiction is…but I’ve certainly learned quite a few boxing terms. And the matches at the beginning start off pretty good, but the fights get intensely EPIC later on in the series. My heart can’t help but beat faster when I imagine the boxing ring, the gong ringing, and the cheers of a gigantic audience.
The manga’s not perfect, of course. In certain fights, the referee is oblivious to blatant fouls that everyone else seems to notice. (Oh well, the characters get over it pretty easily anyway.) The main character suffers from the standard shounen ailment of having a love interest but never actually GETTING anywhere with her. And at some points, it’s all too easy to predict the storyline. (But, the manga would be dumb if the main character kept losing matches, right?) Of course, it’s never predictable enough to get me bored–there are quite a few plot twists during fights and each fight has something unique. Even if I go in thinking “Ippo’s going to win this fight,” I can’t help but be on edge through the entire thing. The manga-ka really does have a way of making me feel like I’m watching an actual sport. In the end, Hajime no Ippo tells a very enjoyable story. Check it out if you like getting pumped up.
Maybe I should read more sports manga now. I’ll grow a rugged beard while I’m at it–wouldn’t mind feeling a little manlier.
~eNamorD (by the thrill of a comeback KO)