There’s no doubt Hajime no Ippo, between its length, consistent sales figures, and zesty-rich iconic cast that delivered an amazing quality of story. But that story’s quality level is averaged over a long run, and recently the manga’s been hampered by some baggage; blatantly unrealistic fights, predictable endings to said fights, and some questionable arc decisions.It got so bad that I didn’t trust George Morikawa to fix it, which is why I dropped the series for over a year, but fix it he did. Chapter 1029, making a centerpiece of the defeat of the previously stupidly invincible Itagaki Manabu, is just the latest in a long line of franchise-correcting tight corners.
Some time ago, I ragequit on George Morikawa’s long-running boxing series Hajime no Ippo. It had been on a low streak for a long time, and my favorite character of the series had just gotten cold-cocked in just about the cruelest way possible. I was angry, and, more importantly, kind of just tired. So I closed the book on what was then one of my 5 favorite manga.*
Recently, with the announcement of a third season for the anime, I resolved to get back to it. Last night, I actually did. Suffice to say it was a 45-chapter marathon session that left me eff-all motivated. Chapter 1008 was the high point of that session, reminding me why I like the main character of this series as much as I do.
One of the big appeals of this marathon is that I got to watch an intense title fight by Vorg Zangief, while watching the main character Ippo and rival Sendo get worked up over it. That’s where the picture above comes from. Now, chapter 1008 picks up after the fight is done and Vorg has taken the title with some very impressive heroics. So what do Ippo and Sendo do to cool off? If you guessed “fisticuffs”, you’d be on-target.
There’s just something really appealing about guys who love what they do enough that watching something exciting motivates them to get right to work. Welcome back to my weekly lineup, HnI.
*Since then, Natsu no Zenjitsu pushed it just out of my top five. It’s still a fantastic manga.