ANIME & MANGA - Article
16:00 - 11th April 2014, by NEO Staff

Hajime no Ippo: Rising

Largely unknown in the UK, boxing drama Hajime no Ippo is one of the great successes of sports manga and anime. Now in its third season, we take a look at the pugilistic powerhouse as Rising moves its star one step closer to championship gold!

Once, Ippo Makunouchi was a timid boy, often bullied for his introverted nature. That was years ago, though - after meeting professional boxer Mamoru Takamura, Ippo became set on taking up the sport for himself. Proving a natural, with a powerful punch, impressive speed, and incredible stamina, he began training at the Kamogawa Gym, driven to find "the true meaning of strength".

As Rising begins, Ippo is the reigning Featherweight Champion of the Japan Boxing Commission, and about to face his fourth title defence match. Pitted against the fearsome Iwao Shimabukuro, who outclasses him in strength and technique, it's the biggest challenge of Ippo's career. But outside of the ring, it's personal trouble that dominates his life, with rival love interests Kumi Mashiba and Nanako Itagaki competing for his affections, while Ippo's widowed mother tries to support the family's fishing business. Perfectly balancing action and simple human drama, Hajime no Ippo soon becomes unmissable. However, despite being adapted from one of the longest running sports manga in Japan, it almost never existed.

Penned by Jyoji 'George' Morikawa, Ippo first appeared in the pages of an October 1989 issue of Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine. Morikawa was weary though, after his first two series - Kazuya Now (1986), focusing on the eponymous hero's soccer dreams, and Signal Blue (1987), a motorsports manga - were both cancelled early in their runs. Close to throwing in the towel as a creator, he turned to his favourite sport, boxing, for one more try. His passion shone through in the final work - Ippo was a massive hit. Morikawa has been producing the series non-stop ever since, racking up over 1000 chapters, more than 100 collected volumes, and numerous awards for the artist.

With such a vast body of Morikawa's work to adapt, Ippo's quest for glory is set to be a long road. Yet for newcomers, Rising remains accessible, reintroducing characters and their struggles, and even revealing secrets from Ippo's childhood. Hajime no Ippo's emphasis on hard work and perseverance in the face of adversity, both in the ring and in personal life, make it a powerful and heart-warming ode to the human spirit - and a phenomenally addictive rope opera of a sports anime!

Hajime no Ippo: Rising is currently streaming on

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