>> I haven’t seen the entire series yet. ^^’ Just three DVDs and other random episodes. Please don’t hurt me!
*Click on images to enlarge
Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo)
English Title: Fighting Spirit
Japanese Title: Hajime no Ippo
Director: Satoshi Nishimura (also the director of Trigun)
“What does it mean to be strong? How does it feel to be strong?”
Makunouchi Ippo is a High School boy with a good heart. He spends most of his time helping his widowed, hard working mother run their fishing business. Because of lack of time for activities and his kind heart, poor Ippo is your schoolboy loner. He’s a pushover, a target for bullies at school, cowardly, insecure, and friendless. One day, while walking home from school, Ippo runs into a few bullies who (for lack of a better explanation) beat the crap out of him. He is saved by a passerby pro boxer named Takamura. Strong-willed and confident, Takamura is everything Ippo wishes he could be. Meeting this famed-out boxer inspires Ippo to become a boxer himself. From this moment, a new life and a change happens for Ippo as he pursues his dream to become a top ranking professional boxer.
Personally, I am not a sports fan. Boxing, wrestling, any sort of fighting sport really just doesn’t interest me. But, I’m definitely hooked to Fighting Spirit. Yeah, yeah… it’s a series about boxing, but Fighting Spirit more than just sticking two guys in a ring to perform some neat random fight knock out the other person! Fighting Spirit surprisingly does well to not only hook fans of boxing, but also those who are not through its addictive characters and humor.
Although the main story of Fighting Spirit is straightforward—become a strong and adored professional boxer—the characters of the series is what will hold your interest. There is a lot of character development in the series, especially for the protagonist Ippo. The viewer will be pretty much expecting a change from Ippo, but it’s how these changes happen is what makes Fighting Spirit so interesting. Ippo is the protagonist, but he won’t always hog the spotlight in the series. The audience will also get to know the characters around him. His friends at the gym are just a few. You’ll learn who they are, what their reasons for boxing are, and how much passion they have for it. Ippo’s companions are hilarious together. Each one’s personality and their companionship with Ippo feel so fun and down-to-earth that it’s just so natural to like them. As for Ippo’s rivals and his enemies… they are not just picked out of the blue and stuck into the ring to simply to just challenge Ippo or any other major character, might I add, but you’ll also get to know a bit about them. Know enough about them anyway to know if you really want to cheer for them or against them.
The humor in Fighting Spirit really surprised me. It pops up when you least expect it. There are moments when the mood is really serious then something so off the wall, yet totally understandable happens. It may be simply Ippo being clumsy or Ippo and his friends acting like a bunch of goof-off guys. The series does well to add fun and amusing moments without overdoing it.
Tsuneo Imahori does the music for Fighting Spirit. He did a bit of music with Yoko Kanno in Jin-Roh and played the guitar for the series Wolf’s Rain. The music in Fighting Spirit can have its good and bad moments. Character and action themes are well done. They are catchy, dynamic, and fit the series well. The first opening them is fast paced and lively. However, the lyrics are a total mystery to me. Unlike its opening, the ending song is a bit softer. It’s calm, steady, and sounds real hopeful. Personally, I find the theme song annoying and I have some mixed feelings about the closing theme. I think that if someone with a nicer voice had done the themes then maybe I would have a bit more respect for the songs.
Some may find the animation of Fighting Spirit simple. Well, it can be… outside of the ring. The boxing animations are excellent. Even though drawn, the animation shows how quick and fierce the character’s boxing moves are. It even does a good job at showing how much force is put into each move. The audience can see how much emphasis is put into these matches. I was even on the edge of my seat about the matches, ,especially in Ippo’s second boxing match on the second DVD. Outside of the boxing ring the animation is not anything special. I’ll give the character’s facial expressions a plus though. It’s obvious what the character is thinking or feeling by the expressions. And you’ll love their quirky faces. It just adds to Fighting Spirit’s humor.
You don’t have to be a boxing fan, nor a sports fan to enjoy to enjoy this series. I would highly recommend this to anyone honestly. No magical girls, no super sexy bishounen, and none of this saving the world crap. Fighting Spirit is just a simple story about a boy’s struggle for self-improvement and some down-to-earth fun.
+ Wonderful, smooth boxing animation
+ Insanely likeable characters
+ Nice character development
There are a lot of characters in the series. I’ll just start ya off with a few of the major ones right now:
Makunouchi Ippo: I pretty much explained what he’s like above. Here’s a snapshot of him.
Mamoru Takamura: Takamura is the guy who inspires Ippo to become a boxer. He’s strong and cocky. He’s a good friend of Ippo, and perhaps his first real friend, too. He’s a big joker, but is serious about boxing and loves his career with a passion.
Aoki and Kimura: Two pros who attend the same gym as Ippo. They’re pranksters and enjoy picking on gullible Ippo, but the three of them are still good buds.
Coach Kamogawa: This is Ippo’s boxing instructor. Old, cranky, but very experienced in boxing.
I believe there are 76 episodes for this series and 2 OVAs. Here is what is out on DVD as of December 30th 2004:
DVD 1: The First Step
Round 1: The First Step
Round 2: Fruits of Labor
Round 3: Tears of Joy
Round 4: Shadow Boxing
Round 5: 3 Months to Counter
DVD 2: Debut Match
Round 6: The Opening Bell of the Rematch
Round 7: The Destructive Force of 1cm
Round 8: Promise to Meet Again
Round 9: C Class License
Round 10: Debut Match!
DVD 3: Test of Endurance
Round 11: Obsession for Victory
Round 12: Becoming a Bully’s Buddy
Round 13: THe Easter Japan Rookie Championship Tournament Begins
Round 14: Powerful Arms! Hook vs. Uppercut!
Round 15: Test of Endurance
Geneon Pioneer included 5-minute reel with “bloopers.” I still do not understand why they decided to add this in. This “blooper reel” is lame. Really lame. I’ll spell it out for you: L-A-M-E. Don’t get excited over the extra. It’s lame. In the second DVD, the English voice actors made farting noises, which just wasn’t funny at all. On top of that, there is just plain stupid adlib over the original scenes. Skip this. It’s not funny.
As for the dubbing… The audio available on the DVD can be in English, Japanese, and Spanish. The dubbing for English sound pretty pathetic and fake, and the dub translations are, at times, off the wall. Some of the jokes are not even half funny because of the odd English voiceovers and translations. I’d recommend Japanese audio with English subtitles. There just isn’t enough feeling in their voices for the dub. Heck, do Spanish audio with English subtitles if you wish. They sound better than the English dub. Unfortunately I don’t think the Spanish audio is in stereo.
By Bounty Huntress