Hajime no Ippo
The positive side is that we are beginning to get a wider selection of anime available. Including such material as `sports' anime, of which this is an example. The negative part is that all sports anime seems to follow a single formula. Even so, it's still enough to keep you entertained.
The setting is a Japanese high school, and more specifically a young male student. He's getting to sample some of the pleasures of such, namely too much school work, family duties and a healthy serve of getting the crap punched out of him by bullies. His mother seems to run a charter boat for anglers, not a high status profession and enough to get him beaten up for smelling of fish since any excuse will do. The strange thing is that he's actually quite strong, it's just he spends his time being surprised at people being like this.
Fortunately Japan also seems to have a fair share of people who might intervene in an extreme case of bullying. In this case one of Japan's brightest young lights in boxing who is out for a training run. Having scared off the bullies he tries to convince the kid, by taking him back to the gym, that he can defend himself. What he doesn't expect is that the event has a resounding effect on the boy thrilling him with the concept of becoming strong and skilled. And while the boxer doesn't believe it at first it just may be that the kid has the strength of will, and abilities, to become a champion.
There's a guy called Mitsuru Adachi who combines sport and romance to form the heart of his anime. But this is the pure version, and the story feels so traditional it's not funny. The somewhat shy and reserved kid finding confidence through sport, and learning to oppose those who would bully him. Meanwhile making friends, and growing as a person, as he masters the technical skills of boxing. And, whenever times get tough, falling back on raw guts and determination to get him through. With the conclusion being his slow climb to boxing fame and achievement.
There's got to be a billion and one stories that sound a lot like this. Regardless of the sport, or martial art, you will feel like you've seen it before. And if the whole `guts is everything' sports philosophy thing doesn't grab you then you're probably not going to enjoy the trip much. Likewise you had better be able to enjoy lots of scenes of training and quite a few shots of people punching each other into a coma. The boxing looks to be carefully observed and the fights are quite brutal.
On the positive side the formula does have a distressing degree of addictive potential. It set's the guy up so well, a friendly guy somewhat lacking in confidence and social graces. Part of the reason being that he must spend so much time supporting his single parent mother, which incidentally means hauling heavy stuff around thus making him quite strong. His personality seems a million miles away from that of a professional fighter, but once he discovers his calling his will power and talent start to come to the surface. And he's dedicated, set a challenge he will train and work hard to overcome it. And what's more it feels good to watch him grow, and mature, as the story goes. And likewise the setting of a boxing gym brings all sorts of other characters, albeit many traditional ones, into his life. It's more watchable than you might think.
The animation is definitely nothing to write home about. Practical and somewhat plain but sufficient to carry the story. The character design is a little bit unusual which makes me wonder if it is keeping the look of the manga to an extent. The techniques and environment of boxing is well observed, and the fights are entertaining enough. Some abstractions, such as being focused close to the action and using still frames, do exist to keep the animation complexity under control. The techniques and environment of boxing seem believable and well observed. Not too much in the way of music and the voices are quite reasonable.
None of my regular sources have a review of this title.