Hajime No Ippo – Rising
Episode 1 – Greatest Challenger
The Fall/Autumn Anime Season has just started and, for the most part, I’ve been really excited for Hajime No Ippo – Rising, considering I watched the season that came before it during my high-school days you can probably understand that nostalgia plays a big part in me wanting to return to this franchise. Before I go on into a long-winded explanation I just have to mention that I’m incredibly happy that they’ve decided to make a third Anime season for the series, the Manga has been going on for a long time and is still going so I guess it didn’t really come as a surprise. Let’s get to it shall we?
The episode/season begins with a flashback to Ippo’s Makunoichi (The Main Character) past. It shows him as a child who, much like all other children, looks up to his father who’s work on a fishing trawler is quite dangerous. Unfortunately Ippo’s dad is killed by a freak storm that hit the ship he was working on, he managed to save the rest of the crew though so he’s considered a hero to the small ocean-side community, Ippo must now grow up fatherless and I hope this particular part of the episode hit the hearts of the masses as much as it hit mine because it really shows where Ippo’s “Fighting Spirit” comes from. Just an addition to the starting statement of “The episode/season begins with a flashback “, just before the actual story within the episode begins there is a short recap of Ippo’s fights from the past season which show not only how different he was but also how the animation is better and I found that to be a nice little comparison between the two seasons.
Ippo doesn’t give up on his father though because papa Makunoichi promised his son that he would return just like every other time he had gone out for work, Ippo spends a lot of his time at the pier as his mother, understandably, slides into depression. I actually loved this half of the episode more than the later half, the friends and co-workers of Ippo’s father continuously kept an eye on him and his mother after the unfortunate death and even helped them through the mourning process and, eventually, helped them get back up on their feet. The symbolism of Ippo as a child teaching himself to tie a bowline knot much like his father would’ve shows the determination of this kid and foreshadows his determination and hard work within the boxing ring.
Now the second half of the episode takes a real change in pace as we’re thrown back into the present day and into the ring. We’re reintroduced to all of Ippo’s friends and fellow boxers like Takamura who had the spotlight for the last half of the last season of Hajime No Ippo yet it didn’t really focus on them for too long because they also introduced the first threat to Ippo: Shimabukuro, a fisherman who has openly announced that he knows the secret to overcoming Ippo Makunoichi’s signiture “Dempsey Roll” which is a monster of a statement that would make fans of the series like me automatically dislike this guy. The episode ended with the beginning of their official match and I think it was ended perfectly because I was left in anticipation for the episodes to come.
I have to say though, my favourite part of the episode happens in the last, let’s say, 30 seconds where Ippo seems to have his back against the wall, metaphorically and physically, and his coach realises that he’s showing the symptoms of someone with Cyanosis (Hypoxia) – where the colour of the skin for a human turns blue or purple when they are low on oxygen – to which Shimabukura, the fisherman, says “Welcome to the Ocean Floor”. That gave me shivers not only because it was a great line that was well-timed but because both fighters, in some way or another, have ties to the ocean; Ippo having his father die at sea and Shimabukura being a fisherman himself. The pair-up is just perfect and it oozes symbolism which is something I really enjoy.
The episode was fantastic because it still kept the same rhythm and style as the other series’, the animation is fantastic – the voice-acting work is even better and the workers over at Studio Madhouse really know what they are doing, you can feel it. This series has gotten me excited and I’m ready to see what is to come in the weeks ahead. I can already say that this anime is going to kick all kinds of arse! Check out more Hajime No Ippo – Rising Impressions HERE.