This post is about Hajime no Ippo, it really is. Mostly.

This is going to be a really long post. So, here’s an executive summary for you: Hajime no Ippo is one of the best animes I’ve ever seen. Now look at the pretty pictures and then go watch Hajime no Ippo. Oh yeah, also, you should watch Haikyuu!

I’ve been watching anime since 2004. I’ve chosen this year somewhat arbitrarily because it’s the year I’ve started to differentiate anime from other forms of animation. In 2004 I’ve seen the ever amazing Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Rurouni Kenshin Reminiscence and Berserk. These five are still  my favourites.

I’ve dabbled in most genres, but I have never ever made an attempt at sports anime. The idea of watching +25 episodes in which dudes reach bankai in football or tennis sounded as appealing as, well, as this:

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However, I’m not hardcore (in some cases this is bad, in this case it’s good). So, under the influence of Tumblr people, once it came to choosing a sports anime to watch (not my idea), I’ve suggested Kuroko no Basuke, which turned out to be your typical shounen ai with “level-up” available in almost every episode.

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It was cute and fun to watch, even though it was too intense (yes, there is such a thing). The fact that a single game spanned through four or five episodes was really just a little too much.

The real epiphany hit with Hajime no Ippo which is now a proud member of “The 2004 Club” (it’s my club, it does not need to make sense to you). The idea that an anime about boxing could even apply for membership has never crossed my mind. But the perfection of Hajime no Ippo is indisputable.

It kept me at the edge of my seat during every single match. At one point I was yelling angrily at the television and Ippo. Ok, more like at ten points, and more like at Ippo, Takamura, Kimura, Miyata and Date. Even Aoki.

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I loved every single character and the fact that each one gets enough screen time and attention. The relationships between them are developed with care and love. There are no fillers, and once the fight is announced it happens within an episode or two. What you would call a filler in a “normal” anime cannot be called a filler in Hajime no Ippo, because trust me – you’ll watch it with the same interest and be as engaged as if you were watching the main event.

Yes, they do defy the laws of physics but somehow the fact that everything gets explained on the sidelines makes the gravity-defying fighting spirit – convincing.

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Hajime no Ippo is like every other anime, but yet it is unlike most. It takes all your usual tenets like the importance of friends and family, dedication, practice and spirit but it never goes too far. It doesn’t even go near the edge – it doesn’t really need to because it’s got you on the edge.

Now let’s review some stellar moments in Hajime no Ippo which are only marginally related to boxing.

Like crazy karaoke.

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Encouragement through di*k references.

Oh this is truly a pun contest.

Fishy talk.

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Now, you thought that was it, did you? Well, if you’ve come this far, kouhai, let’s touch upon yet another sports anime which I heartily recommend (as heartily as I recommended Hajime no Ippo).

This time it’s Haikyuu! an anime about volleyball.

Yes, I know. Who cares, right? Well you should. Because this one comes very close to Hajime no Ippo with animation, character development and plot.

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I loved the fact that, even more than Hajime no Ippo, Haikyuu is not an anime about one talented person with god-like tenacity and dedication. It is not even about the members of one team, it is primarily about volleyball, about the importance of team work and about how a team can become more than the sum of its members’ strengths and weaknesses.

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Even though Hajime no Ippo is without a doubt superior, Haikyuu! resonated with me more because growing up I loved team sports, and I have dabbled in handball for five or so years. I was reminded of the sense of purpose and focus you have as a part of a team working to achieve a common goal. Being prepared to shed and spill blood, with wanton disregard of personal well-being – only to get there. I also remembered the unequivocal and heartbreaking realisation that, sometimes, all you’ve got is not enough when faced with a superior opponent. However, you sure can have a lot of fun trying.

One of the reasons I loved Haikyuu! is because the character development is awesome, and it resulted in one of my favourite anime scenes ever – and this is a side-character we’re talking about.

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P.S. Neither Hajime no Ippo nor Haikyuu! are completed and the fact that they are awesome nonetheless speaks volumes.

Sorry for this crazy post. It’s been more than two years since I’ve last written a post about anime (or manga), which means that it has been two years since I’ve have been enthusiastic about an anime (or manga).

I thought about condensing the post and making it readable to someone other than me, but when it comes to anime and my emotional response to it, it’s almost impossible to control.