After one last tournament and an embarrassing loss in the final round, Michi decides to call it quits on the sport of judo. Between high school social activities and entrance exams, she’ll have no time to compete in the martial art she loves most, but putting aside old hobbies is a normal part of growing up. Still, the love of judo lingers—and it comes back full force when she meets her new classmate Towa, the girl who bested Michi in her final match! Towa wants to form a judo club at their school, but she’ll need new members to get it up and running. United by their love of judo, they’ll throw in their passions into the ring together and score ippon again!
My high school had a judo club, and so I can relate to most of the action in the twelve episodes of Ippon Again! But, in the usual way of the 'cute girls doing stuff' genre, you gain an education in a sport that gave way to the more popular forms of karate and taekwondo that followed the judo craze during the 1980-1990's. The story generates around the diverse personalities of the five girls that make up Aobi West High School. Michi Sonoda is a fanatical judoka ... with a penchant for losing the big one. In fact, her middle school judo career ended with a loss. She then and there vowed never to do judo in high school. Then the judo bug bit her again. Her BFF Sanae Takigawa has all the traits of a pacifist. She also can put together everything for a win, but she's more an analyst who can formulate a good plan of attack ... pulling it off is another matter. Towa Hiura is the real judo deal, a savvy battler who will get the win more often than not. In fact, she was the one who handed Michi that last loss in middle school. But she's fascinated by Michi's pluck. Anna Nagumo originally was into kendo, until she discovered that she was fulfilling her father's dream ... and not necessarily hers. As a transfer from the kendo club, she cannot compete in tourneys until the next semester, but her fighting skills is the one thing that hints that Ippon Again! might get season two. Tsumugi Himeno is the third-year convinced to return to the judo club to qualify the team for Nationals. She is advanced in judo skills, but she wonders if she has lost any of that punch in her time away from the sport. These five girls learn to blend their skills and support each other as new teams cross their paths, each one ever more powerful than the last. A vicious battle between Towa and a pompous 'quick-kill' style of judoka promises new battles in a second (and third?) season. As each episode unfolds you learn the techniques that have made judo a contest where bones could be broken, leading up to the ippon, the perfect throw of an opponent to the mat. The animation style for Ippon Again! was polished toward a coloration of browns, whites, and grays, suggesting that the normal girlish kawaii would mute itself more toward a toughness as the girls push themselves and use fast-moving holds and foot positions to put an opponent down. Really, the girls all do have a cuteness, but they are warriors in the final tally. The point system in judo is similar to high school wrestling, with the ippon as the moral equivalent to the pin. The music is peppy as it sets a tone of girls just having fun as they grunt and groan and sweat to victory. But losing is also a factor, and the traditions that have combatants bowing before and after matches give positive lessons even when the results are negative. In short, I felt Ippon Again! just moved along so slowly in the first episodes. But we were just getting to know the girls and the rules of judo. Once this was done, only girls having girly issues with girls could interfere with the tense action of a struggle of two equally talented foes. It's the thing that new seasons are made of. Hope this will be the case with Ippon Again!
***No Spoilers*** This show has to many montages covering to many areas and things. I wish they would have cut some of them and shown meaningful training scenes with them learning new skills, improving their old skills or overcoming obstacles/hardships in their training. Instead they kind of just jumped into the competitions way to fast without any work or improvement being shown. They also could have given us some of their daily lives outside of Judo as well. They show a lot of stuff like birthdays, the beach, karaoke and other small fun events in the OP song, but never did anything with them in the anime beside montages again. They could have used small events in the show to break up the judo and get the characters closer to each other and build their relationships up. I don't think the pure 100% judo tournaments was good enough to hold the show as it was, so they really should have done something like this. There are some good points in the show though. The characters are all good with Michi being a real standout. She is such a firecracker and a really nice person with a bubbly personality that just takes over everyone she comes into contact with, and i love it. So the CGDCT is in full swing with her. You also get some good fights throughout the show with good animation and choreography showing off judo skills, but most of the best ones are near the end. 6/10 - Its a decent show, but If they took it slower and split the tournaments into different cours to cut down on the montages it could have been much better.
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