Everyone that ever laced up their gloves and stepped into the boxing ring had a reason for it. Ippo’s story unfolded in front of everyone’s eyes, Kimura and Aoki had a chance to tell how their paths led to boxing and finally the spotlight turns to Takamura. From his pre-boxing days to his in-ring debut, witness the rise of a powerhouse boxer as Takamura spins his tale for all to hear.
summary by Mugs
Highs: More Hajime no Ippo goodness
Lows: Nothing new
First of all, there is no reason at all to watch this anime until you’ve watched the entire Hajime no Ippo series.
Having said that, with Ippo’s story reaching a new plateau in the series’ finale, this special chooses to spend an episode on Takamura and make us wait for more OVAs and the movie to continue the main story line. This anime plays out very much like the Kimura/Aoki flashback episodes in the series.
Hajime no Ippo: Boxer’s Fist is more of a tide-over to the OVA and movie than anything else. We’re presented with Takamura’s background, and it plays out well. But since it’s so similar to the Kimura/Aoki episodes, this story feels a little unnecessary. The episode would have just felt more worth it if they did something a little more different this time around. That being said what remains is a solid and enjoyable episode of Ippo. The standard humor, action and great characters are there… just far more self-contained than normal.
Well, there you have it: another solid filler episode in the growing after-series-episode tradition of Love Hina Episode 25 and the Hand Maid May Special. If you liked the series, you were probably already interested in checking this anime out. And if you didn’t like the series, this won’t change your mind in the slightest.
Highs: Great development for Takamura; more vivid visuals than in the series
Lows: Could be deeper
As one of my favorite characters in the series, I did feel Takamura’s background was not as extensively portrayed as the others. This OVA, however, fixes everything. It only picks things up when Coach Kamogawa first meets Takamura and could have started further back, but then again, it is the interaction between those two characters that made Hajime no Ippo: Boxer’s Fist such a blast. I could even go for a sequel of this prequel showing how Takamura perfected his training, but that is not much of a reference since I would take anything Ippo-related at this point.
Boxer’s Fist does not lose itself because it is only a flashback with a few original characters. It keeps the same essence, the same Hajime no Ippo touch because of its long-established, strong bond between characters and the viewer and because it never tries to wrap things up quickly. The art and animation is also much like the first seventy-five episodes but with a few more Yen in it (mainly since it is an OVA); the character designs are thankfully just the same, but everything is smoother and clearer than in the television series. I had very few complaints about Hajime no Ippo‘s art in the first place, so Boxer’s Fist takes the cake.
Sure, it is just another episode, after all. But why overdo it when simplicity works so well? Strengthening the partiality for Takamura is a good thing to do before we can watch him take over the world in a hopefully near future.
Highs: Hajime no Ippo with better art and animation; Takamura becomes more fleshed out
Lows: Absence or unimportance of some characters
Boxer’s Fist is often mistaken to be the seventy-sixth episode of the television series, but in fact is entirely separate and self-contained. While it does not possess any spoilers for the series, it is still far more enjoyable if you understand some of the importance behind Takamura and Kamogawa.
An obvious improvement over Hajime no Ippo is the animation; gone are the semi-excessive use of stills and loops, and we are treated to some smooth animation. Studio Madhouse also bumped up the quality of the art, making this short OVA much more pleasing to the eye. More importantly, Takamura finally receives solid character development, and while he had some throughout the series, it was lacking in comparison to Aoki or Kimura. From his high school brawling days to his first match in a boxing ring, he is solidified, and we finally know just how much of a beast he was before he even got into boxing. This does not necessarily make his character more fun than he was in the series, but he is fleshed out more. Strangely enough, this OVA feels very similar to Love Hina Episode 25 where some extra character development is tacked on to the end of the series in a way that does not necessarily flow with the main story. However, character development is never a bad thing.
This OVA focuses on Takamura and, to a lesser extent, Kamogawa, but the rest of the television series’ cast is reduced to token characters at best and are non-existent at worse. This certainly does take away some of the enjoyment because a lot of fun was had whenever the cast interacted with one another, whether it was because they were sparring or joking around. Ippo managed to make a cameo, but it was merely for a chuckle and nothing more.
If you liked Hajime no Ippo, then checking out Boxer’s Fist is suggested but not necessary; if you have not seen the series, then do not worry about this OVA. Takamura gets his chance to shine well here… then again, when does he not shine in the television series?
Highs: All about Takamura; improved animation; as funny as ever
Lows: Very brief
Some of the most entertaining scenes in Hajime no Ippo are Takamura’s matches. In these fights, it was never a matter of whether or not Takamura would win; rather, the only question was how badly he would beat his opponents. While this made for some very amusing matches, Takamura never received much character development. This OVA reveals a bit more about the boxing powerhouse’s past and helps to flesh out his character.
Without a doubt, the best aspect of this OVA is getting to learn more about Takamura. Starting with his days as a thug on the street, viewers will finally get a chance to see how he got interested in boxing and ended up joining Kamogawa Gym. It adds some much-needed development to one of the series’ main characters by further exploring his reasons for boxing. In addition to depicting the beginning of Takamura’s boxing career, the anime also develops the relationship he has with Coach Kamogawa. The relationship between these two characters is hilarious, but it also provides a rare glimpse beyond Kamogawa’s angry exterior.
While Hajime no Ippo: Boxer’s Fist does a good job of developing Takamura, after it ends, he still is not as well-formed as other side characters, such as Aoki or Kimura. The OVA is the length of a normal episode and could definitely have benefited from being a little bit longer. However, it still manages to give a good (although brief) look at his past.
With improved animation and a closer look at one of the series’ main characters, Hajime no Ippo: Boxer’s Fist is something every fan of Hajime no Ippo should see. It is a worthy follow up to the amazing television series.
Hajime no Ippo: Boxer’s Fist can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.