First Impressions: Hajime no Ippo: Rising [with Opening Sequence Video]

Oh look, Ippo’s back. Hajime no Ippo: Rising, the third anime season of the long-running and uber-popular boxing-themed manga by George Morikawa, recently aired its first episode.


I didn’t lament the loss of a weekly Shingeki no Kyojin dose for long. I’ve known for about two weeks that Ippo, Takamura, Aoki, Kimura and the rest of the Kamogawa Boxing Gym will be filling in the gaping loneliness left by a lack of Titans on my Sundays. My Sunday lineup had been One Piece, Hunter X Hunter 2011, and Shingeki No Kyojin for a couple of months now, but after Shingeki’s 25th and last season 1 episode, I knew it would take some time for the series to crank back up (the manga releases monthly). Luckily, Ippo had my back.

Season 3 of Hajime no Ippo features quite a few memorable fights: from Ippo’s own title defenses to Takamura’s attempt to conquer several weight classes, and even a surprisingly brilliant, if inevitably ridiculous, title match for funny fighter Aoki. Itagaki is built up during this season too as a character definitive to the Japanese featherweight scene. Lots of things to look forward to So how did the first episode go?

How soon do you bet this video will be taken off Youtube?

If the opening sequence is any indication, season 3 seems to be pretty good. A mixture of season 2 New Challenger‘s flashy CGI with season 1’s basic animation gives off a unique feel — like an acquired taste that gets better every time you try it. As for the story line, Rising deals more with Ippo’s inner development in the first episode, starting off with flashbacks to his younger days, when he admired his fisherman father. As his own embodiment of strength, Ippo constantly sharpens his boxing style to know “what it means to be strong” — what it means to be like his father.

The pace of the first episode is insanely fast compared to season 1 and 2. I expected the episode to end before Ippo’s title defense started, with thew focus being on his past and his motivations for boxing. The manga (and the first two seasons, plus the specials in between) is notorious for infamous cliffhangers and pacing that can take literally take a publishing year to finish. Hajime no Ippo: Rising’s effort to speed up the pace is both refreshing and heartening ; that just means we get more content for the entire season. They need to cram as much as possible into season 3 after all, since we also get to see Coach Kamogawa’s past as a prize fighter.

All in all, I can say that Ippo is indeed back. Fans of the series might note the change to Coach Kamogawa and Takamura’s voice actors, though for the most part it’s not noticeable enough to be an issue. Followers of the manga know they’re going to have a last with several fights this season, notably Takamura Vs. Eagle and Ippo Vs. Sawamura. If you haven’t delved into any of the Hajime no Ippo anime seasons yet, now is a good time to catch up — the manga is (finally) starting to reach its final phases too. After two decades.