Ippo continues to defend his Japanese Featherweight title from an ever stronger pool of challengers. Meanwhile, Takamura challenges for his second WBC title in the middleweight class, and Aoki challenges for the Japanese Lightweight title and Coach Kamogawa and Nekota reminisce about their days as prizefighters after WWII.
The Strongest Challenger
The Dempsey Roll Destroyed
A Woman’s Battle
The Goddess of Victory
The Distance Between me and Glory
The Mad Dog and The Red Wolf
A Savage Scenario
The Face of Determination
The Anti-Dempsey Perfected
This series didn't have as much to live up to as New Challenger did, but somehow manages to fall even flatter than that one. Whereas there were good parts to New Challenger, Rising seems rotten to the core, and I have a hard time finding anything to praise it for. The visuals are sharp as ever with the Ippo series, and don't disappoint, unlike everything else. The blasts of air are there, as are all the dramatic lighting and blasts of pressure by the punches. However, the sound design is lifeless. It has become more obvious than the last series, and the actual sounds in the fights is terrible. The punch sounds have hardly any weight to them, and makes it seem like the fighters have strapped pillows to their hands, rather than gloves. The characters and story have taken another dive, with little to no progress being made for any character. The series jumps around between characters, focusing on ippo, takamura, and aoki of all people. Because it jumps around so much, and establishes so little progress with each fight, none of them advance as fighters. Beyond that, the series seems to have completely lost it's ability to be serious at all, as even during fights, it cracks terrible jokes and puns, and between the fights each episode is a veritable mountain of bullshit before the next fight, such as the entire fishing arc. A few episodes, devoted at least 50% to fishing, in your boxing show. I hope you enjoy that. Beyond the stupid jokes and unneeded distractions, two new minor characters are introduced, whose entire role seems to be to piss me off when I see their character design. They look like partially deflated, sweating balloons. It's terrible, in more ways than I have words for. The bottom line is, the show is mostly unwilling to be serious anymore, and the only times it tries, it doesn't deliver a good fight. Takamura's big fight lasts a few episodes, but is hardly set up at all, and is even worse than his crap fight against Eagle in the last series. Aoki's entire arc can be cut out without a second thought. Aoki and Kimura's fights before Takamura's fight are both entirely joke fights, from start to finish, and are more annoying than entertaining in any way. On top of that, two crucial areas make no progress at all. Or rather, backwards progress. Ippo's fighting style continues to be absolutely pigeonholed into "Dempsey Roll or Die", and the fight with Miyata that we have been set up since the last series for.. Doesn't even happen. One last thing of note, the final 4 episodes are entirely flashback, but they are the polar opposite of the series upto that point; That is to say, not garbage. They are excellent, serious, story-driven episodes against a clearly powerful opponent, where it feels as if the characters are fightiing for something. It actually feels like an arc from the very first Ippo series, however the show does not get points for showing that despite all the garbage they've had us sit through, it can still produce a quality arc. No, if it could have done that, put the same care into your entire show, rather than repeated fart-jokes and fishing arcs. 5/10
Taking place where New Challenger leaves off, the series starts from Ippo vs Shimabukuro Iwao to the conclusion of the story of Kamogawa in his youth in Post World War II Japan. Naturally, a new anime installment of Hajime no Ippo did excite me. I mean, with New Challenger ending, the animators have nearly 60 volumes to catch up on as opposed to being 60 volumes ahead unlike a certain Studio Pierrot series which you can easily conclude is. For now, I would mostly like to focus my personal issues with this season as someone who actively reads the manga and is up to date with the current chapters. Even though previous installments have skipped over parts from the manga (such as Aoki’s black face in season 1; omitting Hayami vs Kobashi before Ippo vs Sanada in Championship Road; taking out Okita’s under card fight before Date vs Martinez in New Challenger, etc), but this takes it a whole lot more and so much important information I thought was necessary to the story and the character development were entirely taken out. For example, there is no build up to the Shimabukuro fight and it takes away why is he such a distinct opponent. Plus, in the manga, when Shimabukuro and Ippo meet at the ocean near Ippo’s home, Ippo’s mother actually seems romantically interested in Shimabukuro until he reveals he is actually 22, a year older than Ippo which brought some comedy to their relationship and adds more to how they connect as "men of the sea" with their backgrounds. Two other major issues I have was taking out how Aoki developed the look away and VERY IMPORTANT elements of Sawamura’s back story. There was a story behind how Aoki developed his look away and I thought that was funny and how it was presented in the manga and the cut-scenes from the PS2 games. As for Sawamura, I felt the anime left out two of the more important aspects of his story; how he meets Sendo for the first time along with how deep the relationship between Sawamura and Kawabe goes. When Sendo meets Sawamura in the hospital in the manga, he actually reveals to Sawamura why Kawabe cares about him so much. I was upset that part was taken out because it was the very reason why Kawabe cares so much about Sawamura. For an anime so far behind in the manga, I just find it inexcusable to take all this important material out and rush it. But I am satisfied the series got around to animating the young Kamogawa and Nekota story arc, but I felt the placement made no sense to me not because it takes place much sooner in the manga, but that Anderson is not an appropriate character to compare with to Eagle as opposed to Hawk. Nishimura came back to direct the last four episodes and he did that those episode justice. Nothing was taken out and it really captured the emotion. But I feel this series deserves to be much longer as well. There are other great fights coming up and some shitty ones lol.Well, the quality and resolution is more in tune with New Challenger under Shishido Jun's direction and the fights are still awesome. What impressed me most was Takamura vs Eagle. I didn’t think the fight was that special in the manga but animated, it got me really interested and immersed and changed my mind about it. I felt Eagle’s fear and respect for Takamura and Takamura’s tenacity at the same time while watching it. I think Eagle’s white trunks from the games worked enough for me but the golden color does add the naturally appropriate compliments to his nickname, "Golden." I also loved how they colored his suit in the press conferences making him look like an American GTO in a way. If there is any reason to watch this season, it is most certainly for Ippo vs Sawamura, one of my top 3 favorite fights from the manga. Sawamura’s bullet was handled more realistically than I anticipated to how it is pulled off in the PS2 games despite the red effect. It is well paced and positioned as opposed to awkwardly angled in the games. This is just one of the few fights that I felt that scared me because of Sawamura’s mix of brain and brawn and this is one of the few times that Ippo came close to wanting to kill someone. Hawk may have been a maniac, but Sawamura is a whole different class of beast that crosses a line that Hawk didn’t. The only fight cut significant short is just the Shimabukuro one and I felt an important aspect in respect to the fight that pays some homage to the second Ippo/Miyata spar was taken out. I felt that quality was what would have made the Kazuo story arc, which wasn’t in the manga until after the Sawamura fight, would have been an effective first episode in context to the Shimabukuro fight. Also, the build up and the training was a very good story arc and Ippo builds up his muscles and cardio. I can understand cutting out the weigh-in (which was funny) but the training I thought could have been touched upon as well. Miyata’s fight with Medgoen Dachboy was excellently paced and is faithful to the manga. The fights are just simply still the same quality with the exception of Ippo vs Shimabukuro. And the animation of the Kamogawa arc is just amazing and brings back a certain distinction that Nishimura gave that you can only see in the first season. He brings a distinct sense of crisp and detail to his design and movement and I am glad he was selected to do this and it just brought me back to season 1 in a lot of ways. Well, I would like to open this review by saying that I do miss the performance of Utsumi Kenji as Kamogawa. God or whoever he may be with rest his soul. He was a great voice actor for Kamogawa along with his other iconic roles, most especially as Raoh from Hokuto no Ken. As Kamogawa, he had this great presence and authority in his voice. His new seiyuu, Iizuka Shozo, previously the voice of Miguel in New Challenger and most famous as Ryu Jose in the first Gundam series really captures his gruffness but has a different kind of tone, but works in terms of the character, but Utsumi will always be Kamogawa to me regardless. It is also sad that another seiyuu legend, Nagai Ichiro, who plays Nekota also has passed on but managed to record some lines prior to his passing and I always love how he ends his sentences in “da ni.” And he was also most famous as the voice of Happousai from Ranma 1/2. But my favorite performance this season was that of Miki Shinichiro as Sawamura, who you may know as the voice of Takumi from Initial D. I am used to Miki Shinichiro as a good guy, but as a bad guy he is excellent. Prior to this series, Hiyama Nobuyuki, the voice of Hiei from Yuu Yuu Hakusho was always my personal choice for Sawamura but Miki’s performance truly captures the character. What really made the character with his performance was this dry throat kind of tone he brings. It really represents more a “thirst” for his meat obsession as opposed to a “hunger,” and I think the “thirst” tone as opposed to a “hunger” tone really represents the sadistic tendencies of Sawamura. Because when he wants meat, he really wants blood and the portrayal really made me love the character more. Miyano Mamoru who is more famous for quieter characters such as Light from Death Note and Setsuna from Gundam 00 surprised me as Kamogawa who tends to be more of an intense character. He managed to capture both Light’s softness but also brings that gruffness as the old Kamogawa as well. The young Nekota also captures the characteristics and I can’t complain. Kosugi Jurota as Anderson was also awesome. He voiced Kujo Jotaro from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure so you could never ask for a better seiyuu. And I thought Kiuchi Hidenobu, the voice of Tenma from Monster, was an interesting choice as Eagle. He brings out his "cheerfulness" and a silly accent at the same time that works for the character. I really had no expectation of who could play Eagle but he does the job. You gotta love how he says "Jesus." I just wish New Challenger kept more of Hawk's Engrish as well. The music is a great improvement and excellently uses tracks from the first season, second season, and has a great original one for this as well. I felt the tracks from season 2 were more properly used in this season. The songs for Sawamura are just perfect with his dark and sadistic character. The songs in the Takamura and Eagle fight were also great. Well, again, as a manga reader, my issues is that this series is too damn short and this series cut out some very important details that helps the story and development. I just felt this series is very incomplete. But the animation and the soundtrack and voice acting brings a different kind of completeness and satisfaction. I just hope they don't do this again for future anime installments.
Story 7.5 : Well to say this plainly , this was a little disapointing . There was only two fight's with Ippo . And he didn't he fight for the world title . And just after two fights he gets hurt . The other fights were ok . But i completely hated to gag fight. And personally the last like 4 or 5 episodes were just filler to finish the anime . If they just spent two episodes then that would have been fine . Animation 10 : The animation was amazing as alwyas , clear crisp punches . Seeing the charcters high speed movement was also awesome .The blood scenes where also very well looking . sound 9.5 : The theme song was not that good to match the anime , it just didn't work for me . The high speed punches sounded amazing . But they could varied the sounds a little bit instead of using the same sound. Character 10: As the other times in this series the characters were amazing . Execept maybe Aoki haha . Anyways the characters here are always pushing the limit no matter what the obstical was in their way . They to me are exteremely inspirational
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