Hajime no Ippo is a Japanese boxing-themed manga series written and drawn by George Morikawa. Kodansha has been serializing it in Weekly Shnen Magazine since October 1989, and it has been compiled into 133 tankbon volumes as of March 2022. It tells the narrative of Makunouchi Ippo, a high school student who starts a boxing career and eventually wins numerous championships and beats many opponents.
From October 2000 until March 2002, Nippon TV broadcast a 76-episode anime adaptation created by Madhouse. In 2003, a television movie and an original video animation (OVA) were released. From January to June 2009, a second series called Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger aired. Hajime no Ippo: Rising, a third series, broadcast from October 2013 to March 2014.
In North America, the first series, including the television feature, was licensed by Geneon in 2003 and distributed under the name Fighting Spirit. Discotek Media re-licensed it in 2020, including the television film and OVA.
Hajime No Ippo: Storyline
Ippo Makunouchi was a quiet high school student who couldn’t make friends since he was usually busy helping his mother manage their family fishing charter company. Because he stayed to himself, a gang of bullies led by Umezawa developed a practice of picking on him. When these bullies gave him a nasty beating one day, a middleweight professional boxer passing by stopped them and brought the wounded Ippo to the Kamogawa Gym, owned by former boxer Genji Kamogawa, to be treated. When Ippo awakened to the sounds of boxers practicing, the boxer who had rescued him, Mamoru Takamura, attempted to cheer him up by allowing him to express his anger on a sandbag.
They got their first taste of Ippo’s boxing ability at that point. After reflecting on the event, Ippo decided to pursue a career as a professional boxer. When he communicates this message to Mamoru Takamura, he is verbally reprimanded: Takamura believed Ippo was taking professional boxing too lightly. Takamura, on the other hand, felt he couldn’t deny Ippo outright, particularly given his accomplishment of hitting the sandbag far harder than everyone else in the gym (except for Takamura). While a result, Takamura dares Ippo to grab 10 falling leaves from a tree at the same time after a week of training. Fully sure that Ippo would fail, Takamura jogs away as he continues his roadwork.
However, after a week of intense training that included nighttime hours, Ippo mastered the method just in time. He waits for the jogging Takamura to pass by his customary route and shocks him by capturing all ten of the falling leaves with his left hand alone. Takamura is impressed, and he tells Ippo that the motion necessary to grab all ten leaves is known as a boxing jab. Takamura invites Ippo back to the boxing gym for introductions.
Season 1 Recap
Ippo Makunouchi, a Shiritsu Zshirushi High School student whose employment at his family’s fishing boat business limits his social connections with classmates, declines a suggestion to attend the movies after school (much to his classmate’s chagrin) owing to his night shift at work.
Ippo starts going home but is soon stopped by school bully Masahiko Umezawa and his cronies, who taunt a subservient Ippo in order to elicit a response from him. Unsuccessful in their efforts, they insult his mother, Hiroko Makunouchi, causing him to get enraged, but he refrains from violent action and is pummelling into submission. The three are shortly halted by a running Mamoru Takamura, who, with an excellent show of evasive skill that intimidates the bullies, compels them to flee. Initially skeptical, he transports the unconscious Ippo to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym.
Ippo awakens to find Takamura next to him, who professes his dislike towards bullies and weak people before instructing him to go when he feels better. Seeing that Ippo is angry, he lets him do something “fun” by attaching a badly drawn portrait of Umezawa to the sandbag. He then instructs Ippo to hit the bag with all of his vigours. After a few fruitless efforts and a lesson on follow-up motions for a straight, he strikes the bag with all his energy, causing it to fly backward, stunning everyone. Ippo is so delighted after pounding the sandbag that he doesn’t see the flesh on his knuckles has ripped off his fist. Takamura leads him to the medical room, where he bandages his hand and examines his well-built muscles.
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He proposes seeking vengeance against the bullies, but upon witnessing Ippo’s subservient demeanor, he offers him a pair of cassettes of Mike Tyson’s best knockouts and tells him a narrative about how the champion was tormented before realizing his true potential. Hearing this, Ippo feels reinvigorated and gets enthralled with boxing. Takamura observes the time and goes for roadwork, so Ippo returns home.
When Ippo returns home, he assists his mother with her business, surprising the clients with his power. After witnessing his injuries, she insists that at his age, he should concentrate on his personal life and leave the business to her. After seeing the customers off, Ippo watches a video of Tyson in admiration, which motivates him to take up boxing as he wonders, “How does it feel to be strong?”
Determined to study boxing, he encounters a jogging Takamura, who asks how Ippo knows his name; the latter responds by displaying a magazine in which Takamura can be seen as a Rookie King. Takamura learns that Ippo aspires to be a professional boxer. Takamura, concerned by the concept of boxing being taken lightly, furiously begs him not to underestimate it and not to compare himself to Tyson. Takamura challenges Ippo to capture 10 falling leaves with a succession of fast punches in seven days after hearing his true sentiments. Takamura will agree to coach him if he is successful.