I want to tell you about the anime I’m watching now, my new shiny. It’s got everything -- humor, drama, suspense, excellent character development, yaoi hints *and* kindasorta canon het.
It’s called Hajime no Ippo, or, in the version that’s been commercially released by Geneon, Fighting Spirit.
Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. This anime is all but invisible in America, despite the fact that the manga version of it is something of a minor institution in Japan -- it’s been running continuously since the late ‘80s. The only reason I heard of it was because mistr3ssquickly saw it in her anime club, fell in love with it and sent me the files.
So what is it about? The plot concerns a sweet Japanese schoolboy, Makanaouchi Ippo, who continuously gets picked on by bullies -- until the day his butt is saved by a passing boxer, Takemura. From that moment on, Ippo is determined to become a boxer himself, and the story follows his progress, from his first clumsy sparring match against a boxing prodigy to his pursuit of championship dreams.
You may be turned off at first at the idea of a boxing anime, but . . . Hajime no Ippo is about boxing the way Hikaru no Go is about an ancient board game. Boxing is merely the framework. The anime is about *people.* Not only are Ippo and his immediate circle of friends developed as characters, you also get to know all the opponents Ippo meets in the ring -- and there are *no* heroes and villains here. There’s just human beings, with their own ambitions, their own hangups, their own reasons for doing what they’re doing. There’s fights where you don’t want *anybody* to lose, because you’ve gotten to know both characters so well.
This anime takes you through an entire spectrum of emotions, the way HikaGo and Fullmetal Alchemist do. One moment you’re laughing your butt off, the next, your heart’s in your throat. The pacing is impeccable, too -- light episodes are used to help the audience “come down” from the most intense ones.
Oh, and did I mention the . . . .
. . . yaoi subtext? There's canon fanboying going on all over the place, and Ippo's relationship with the first boxer he faces, the
But don't just take my word for it. Here are some reviews of the series from the Anime Academy site that spell out just about everything I love about the series, and then some.
If you liked Hikaru no Go, if you like any kind of sports anime, if character development is the first thing you look for in your anime, or if you just want something with some *substance* instead of just explosions and fanservice, you *owe it to yourself* to check out this anime.
(BTW, if you have Netflix, Fighting Spirit is definitely available through them -- and according to dragonscholar, every single person on that site who reviewed the series gave it five stars.)