As the failure of Birds of Prey shows, the entertainment industry is churning out belittling pieces that have no support from the grassroots. Wokeness is a dying cause, but Hollywood doesn’t realize it yet. Unfortunately, you have to live with the glut in entertainment in the meantime, a glut I’ll be filling, particularly over at my Patreon, but where else can you go?
I recommend watching Hajime no Ippo, known as “Fighting Spirit” in English. Based on the still-ongoing manga by George Morikawa (which you should read), the story follows the life of Ippo Makunouchi, a once-bullied youth who turns his life around by becoming a professional boxer. With 96 million copies sold, it’s one of the most popular manga series worldwide. Clearly, it speaks to people. I’m about to show you why in this review.
Hajime no Ippo – The Fighting!
This is actually the title of the first animated series, which spanned 76 episodes. That might sound long, but I found myself going through several at a time, one of the rare series I actually wound up “binging.” One of the reasons for this is because the title was apt – the fighting in Hajime no Ippo is some of the most intense you’ll ever see. For example, here’s the final fight, the title match between Ippo Makunouchi and Takeshi Sendo.
This was one of the best fights I’ve seen in an animated setting and it’s far from the only one. Hajime no Ippo is filled to the brim with them from beginning to end and into the next two series – New Challenger and Rising. You really feel the desires and struggle of both of the fighters in the ring. Like a Homeric epic, neither fighter can be easily cast aside as “good” or “bad,” with the exception of Bryan Hawk in New Challenger and Ryuuhei Sawamura in Rising. These two played impeccable villains, like any good professional wrestling heel. Here you see Hawk in action, insulting an entire country.
The reason why this scene was so good was because Hawk (the one with the light hair), demeaned the masculinity of the country he was in and claimed the women for himself. That’s one of the most powerful ways to ensure hostility from the tribe.
And the fight between these two in the aftermath delivered.
Hajime no Ippo builds its fights magnificently. Almost all of them feel like a big deal, adding to the sense of urgency that you see. It’s not just about the moves and the choreography. Every move feels like it’s part of a vital story, sucking you into the narrative.
When a fight has good choreography, you enjoy the action, but when it’s built up psychologically, it reaches rare territory. Hajime no Ippo does this routinely, which is one reason why you should watch it.
A Thrilling Hero’s Journey
But, as Aristotle remarked in the Poetics, plot is central to a tragedy. Hajime no Ippo isn’t a tragedy, but I find Aristotle’s maxim applies to most other genres. If you don’t have a good plot, the action scenes are just a bunch of moves. Fortunately, this series has a strong one, particularly conducive to masculine fiction. If masculine energy is about breaking through barriers and overcoming obstacles on the path to strength and glory, Hajime no Ippo has it all.
As mentioned, the story begins with Ippo being an outcast, the lowest rung on the social totem pole. Here we see him being chased and beaten under a bridge by bullies.
This incident represents a nadir in his life, a katabasis, if you will. Fortunately, he’s helped by Mamoru Takamura, brought to a boxing gym, and gets immediately hooked. Surprisingly, Ippo can punch hard, thanks to his experience lifting heavy items at his mother’s fishing boat business. Here, we see the importance of physical fitness before the journey even begins. It acts as a foundation for everything the hero sets out to do.
He asks himself, right then and there, “what does it mean to be strong?” His entire boxing career is devoted to answering that question.
From here, you see Ippo unexpectedly rise through the ranks of the boxing world. He’s the underdog all the time, but through his willingness to take punishment and his incredible punching power, you see him win time and time again in thrilling fights that go down to the wire.
But his journey isn’t a smooth one. Just when success appears to be piling, he takes a tough, heartbreaking loss in his first title match – fighting for the title is a much different thing than a normal match, he finds out!
Throughout the first season of Hajime no Ippo, you see the title character’s long, grueling journey from outcast to champion. You see his life transform in the process. As he gets physically stronger, he gets more socially adept. Those bullies actually become his friends because he has won their respect.
There is a word of warning, though, Ippo’s relations with women are hard to watch at times. His “game” is cringeworthy. Even when the women involved already like him, he’s a panzy. Most of his scenes with his “girlfriend” (if one can call her that), Kumi, are downright sad.
But we all have our flaws.
In all, you see a great story of life’s successes and failures, and one relatable to the common man. We can all see a bit of ourselves in Ippo’s journey, and that’s really the kicker to the series. I hope this review inspires you to watch it. You won’t waste your time.
And if you’re looking for other masculine fiction like Hajime no Ippo, you might be interested in my Patreon. My supporter this week is a name that might be familiar to you – Jared at Legends of Men. This is for you SGT Ames; climb the highest mountain, punch the face of God!
If you want to help support the site and what I do, join me at Pareon and you’ll get access to all of my upcoming short stories, and a lot of other benefits besides. If you’re one of the first 25 patrons, you’ll get an automatic shoutout (a tier 3 benefit that’s good for SEO), regardless of the tier you sign up for. Check it out and see if it’s to your liking!