Creator: Jyoji Morikawa
Length: 78+ Volumes
Preview Series Here
+ Fantastic characters
+ Absolutely hilarious at times
+ Intense fight sequences
+ Incredible length and still going!
4 out of 5 · Highly Recommended
Hajime no Ippo Manga Review
Written by: Karthon
Makunouchi Ippo is a high school student who helps his mother with her fishing boat company. Because of the time commitment, he's never free to partake in social activities, which leads him to get bullied. One day, while he's being beaten up, Takamura Mamorou saves him. Since he's fallen unconscious, Takamura brings him back to the gym. It turns out that Takamura is a highly talented professional boxer, who's dream it is to become the world champion. Inspired by Takamura's strength, and despising his current weakness, Ippo resolves to be “reborn” as a professional boxer.
Unfortunately, Ippo has absolutely no talent for boxing, outside of his persistence and love for the sport. It's now up to the coach and the other members of the gym to whip him into shape so that he can earn his professional license. But even though he's able to pass the test, can someone with no talent and limited sparring-experience succeed in the pro-boxing ring? Is heart sufficient to conquer all obstacles?
This is a story about a young man's path to greatness through hard work and discipline. Like many other Shounen manga, this series follows the tried and true template of constantly fighting stronger opponents in an effort to improve one's abilities. Yet the major difference between this and many of its peers is the humble human element of the story. Though Hajime no Ippo is filled with many boxing matches, the series truly shines between the matches, where the readers get to delve into the elaborate backstory of Ippo and his fellow boxers from the gym.
The characters are very well developed, each with their own back story which ties in nicely with current events. Furthermore, the series does not only focus on Ippo's matches, it also shows select fights from the other boxers in the gym. By doing so, the reader establishes a stronger tie to the supporting characters. I've only found a couple series where you get such an in-depth look someone other than the main character. At some points the characters' attitudes are a little over-the-top (Ippo's thoughts while getting off the mat gets a little old after he's been knocked down for the umpteenth time). Yet overall, the characters are a joy to follow.
The art evolves a lot from the beginning to its current place. That's to be expected given that there are over 70 volumes out at the moment. The initial art is inconsistent, with characters changing quite a bit. The background art is also fairly lacking. But as Hajime no Ippo goes on, the art stabilizes out and the amount of detail (especially in the backgrounds) goes up. There are plenty of beautiful two-page fight scenes in the later volumes. Overall, I found Hajime no Ippo to have a decent plot and highly enjoyable characters. It takes a bit of time to get started but once it does, you're in for a fun ride.
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