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Manga / Hajime no Ippo

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"I want to be reborn ... Takamura-san, how does it feel to be strong?"

Ippo Makunouchi is a shy high school boy. Having lost his father at an early age, he spends all his free time helping his mother run their fishing boat business. His introverted nature and his lack of any real friends attracts a group of bullies, who regularly beat him up.

During one of these beating-up sessions, Ippo meets Mamoru Takamura, a professional boxer, who rescues him and discovers his powerful punch. Ippo joins the Kamogawa Boxing Gym and begins his journey towards the Japanese featherweight title and the real meaning of strength.

The manga Hajime no Ippo (English title: "The First Step/Fighting Spirit" and Filipino title: "Knockout"), written by Jyoji Morikawa, has been running since 1989, spans more than 100 volumes and is currently one of the longest manga series ever. The series has reached its 1,000th chapter as of 2012, an extremely impressive feat in the manga industry. From October 2000 to March 2002, a 76-episode anime adaptation, titled Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting Spirit ran on the Nippon TV Network. One TV movie, Champion Road, and an OVA, Kimura v. Mashiba, were aired soon after.


On January 6 2009, the second season, titled Hajime no Ippo: The New Challenger, started airing on the Nippon TV Network and ran for 26 episodes. A third season, titled Hajime no Ippo: Rising premiered in Fall 2013, and contained 25 episodes.

Ippo, Takamura and friends appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine: Shuuketsu! Choujou Daikessen.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Athlete: Ippo, though he still trains very hard instead of relying on natural ability.
  • The Ace: Eiji Date is a somewhat more down to Earth version.
  • Achey Scars: The one Date has on his nose bridge, which comes from his disastrous fight against Ricardo Martínez
  • Achievements in Ignorance: At the very beginning, Takamura sets Ippo the task of catching leaves falling from a tree. He expected Ippo to use both hands, where he had only used his left, but did not mention this to Ippo. Ippo ends up working to achieve the feat the same way Takamura did.
  • Achilles' Heel: Not surprising for a boxing-oriented manga, many characters have weaknesses that need to be exploited.
    • As the protagonist, Makunouchi's weaknesses are targeted throughout his title defenses. Opponent strategies centred on his signature Dempsey Roll. Initially, the Dempsey Roll only worked if the opponent was forced back, with both Sendou and Sanada stepping in to stop it. Strategies then focused on countering its predictable rhythm, notably Ricardo Martinez surgically jabbing Makunouchi out of it and Sawamura (and other boxers) stepping back to remove blind spots. Makunouchi continually evolves the technique to cover its weaknesses.
    • Several characters are known for their glass jaws, including Hama Dankichi, Miyata and his father.
    • Lampshaded in Aoki and Kimura's fights against Papaya and Eleka Battery. Both inadvertently reveal their weaknesses: Eleki has terrible lower-body strength and Papaya has poor stamina, but Aoki and Kimura are unable to exploit them. In their rematches, Eleka strengthened his lower body to be much more durable, while Papaya increased the strength of his power punch so heavily that his poor endurance didn't come into play.
  • Affably Evil: This actually applies to most of the antagonists in the Ippo world, having a Freudian Excuse for their transgressions. While yes, Malcolm Gedo from the manga does have a habit of throwing matches for money, after the fight, his scenes are more light-hearted than how he was shown before it.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: At the beginning, Ippo is regularly bullied at school.
  • Animal Motifs: Many characters have animal-themed attacks such as Ippo's gazelle punch, Aoki's frog punch and Kimura's dragon fish punch. Takamura even notices this and attempts to find one for himself. Some characters even get full Animal Motifs for themselves, Volg Zanghief(his name is Russian for wolf), Sendou the Naniwa Tiger (who has a very predatory and playful personality, often grins with very prominent canines, has fairly feline eyes and a love of cats) and recently Woli the Indonesian champion who spends his days playing with monkeys, is able to outdo them in acrobatics and imitate their body language enough to lead the troupe. Every American boxer that Takamura has fought has an animal motif.
  • Art Evolution: Drawing a series for 10 year will naturally make the art change. The largest difference is body types. Before, Ippo, Kimura, Aoki, Miyata, and even Mashiba all had the exact same musculature, body, and facial structure, almost giving the series a case of Only Six Faces, the only noticeable differences being hair and eyes. Now, Ippo's bigger than all of the others in sheer muscle size(second only to Takamura), Miyata has a much lighter looking frame, and Mashiba's long arms have the muscles spread out more on them than anyone else, making him look all the more elongated. The faces are also different: Ippo has a rounded face and Mashiba has a very narrow, sunken face. Before, he just looked like he had a more prominent forehead and slightly sunken eyes. Takamura is more ovular, his hairstyle making him look more so. Of note is the fact that, if you've seen the anime first and started on the manga afterwards, get ready for a shock. Many characters look nothing like their final designs. Just take a look at Mashiba's first appearance.
  • Artifact Title: As the manga's gone on, it's become less about Ippo (though he still has the most focus, it's become more of an ensemble piece). The translation of the title ("First Step") has also lost some meaning now that Ippo has been champion for a fair amount of time and defended his title repeatedly. Alternately, the title can be seen as gaining significance as the series goes on. There is a strong theme of always moving forward and taking small steps towards large goals, so that Ippo and his friends' journey is actually a collection of many "first steps". At the current time in the manga Ippo is recovering mentally and physically from a significant loss and has to start all over from the beginning again. The focus is on rediscovering his motivation to continue boxing and remaking the Dempsey Roll so that he can move on and take a new first step.
  • Artificial Riverbank: One is a common background when the Kamogawa boxers do their roadwork.
  • Artistic License – Sports: While most of boxing's rules and foundations are respected, there are some moments that would realistically lead to either disqualification (one boxer beating the hell out of the other long after the match is stopped by referee) or technical knockout (boxers barely standing on their feet and being incapable to defend themselves).
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • The names of the American boxers were somewhat believable at first (Jason Ozma, Brian Hawk, David Eagle), but later in the manga we have names such as Ricky Mouse, Ronald Duck and Peter Rabbitson and then you start to wonder if Morikawa's been going to DisneyLand a little too much. This bad naming habit has been broken with Mike Elliot, the current IBF World Jr. Lightweight Champion, whom Volg Zangief fought in Vegas.
    • Aoki had a bout with a forgettable character with an unforgettable name- Padawan Yoda.
  • Author Appeal: Morikawa is a big fan of fishing and Mahjong, and has incorporated both into arcs. Humorously enough, the main cast's in-universe expert on both is Yagi, the gym's Mr. Exposition.
  • Author Tract:
    • Umezawa's first published manga, about a kid who becomes a competitive fisherman, is specifically described as a warm-up of sorts before he tries to tackle his Magnum Opus about boxing. It's framed as advice Morikawa wishes he had followed before tackling Ippo.
    • The introduction of Woli as someone trying to raise awareness about the environment quickly turns into a Green Aesop, but the characters openly lampshade their lecturing.
  • Badass Boast: "If you want to know about my power you can ask him after the match." Said by Ippo of all people after Hisato pushed a Berserk Button that he shouldn't have. Ironically, after said match, Hisato was hit so hard that he doesn't remember any of it.
  • Battle Aura: Fighters show a green glow in their eyes when extremely determined to win. This is often enough to revive them from otherwise guaranteed defeat.
  • Beach Episode:
    • One episode featured not only humor, but also some degree of plot as the Kamogawa boxers went there not just to relax and have a good view of girl booty (which they still do), but to train. In fact, Ippo realizes one of his early flaws (lack of leg strength) there.
    • The beach episode in New Challenger involved Ippo confessing his love for Kumi(who was passed out) and Takamura groping Aoki's girlfriend Tomiko while they were making out on the beach. Takamura apologizes by telling Aoki how nice Tomiko's breasts are.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear (or better said, Mama Bear) from the mountains that terrifies everyone in the Nekota episodes.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never, ever, EVER, try to harm Mashiba's younger sister Kumi. Sawamura nicked Kumi with his fist before his match with Ippo. Mashiba, later on, gets to have a match with him himself, saying to him that being put in the Hospital by Ippo wasn't enough, he'll put him in the grave.
    • Never insult Coach Kamogawa in front of Ippo. Better yet, never insult the boxers he's won against.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Takamura, to Ippo. In a very, uhm, special way. Date is one of these towards Okita Keigo.
  • Bishōnen: Miyata and Ryuichi Hayami seemed to be about as close as the art style would allow to one. Woli proved this wrong.
  • Blood Knight:
  • Despite his ostensible motives, you could make a pretty good case for Ryo Mashiba. Especially in his earlier appearances, and later, when he undergoes a Vegeta-like development and rediscovers his old bloodlust.
  • Bodyguard Crush: In coach Kamogawa's backstory, his and Nekota's friend and protegée Yuki-san was hinted to be in love with him.
  • Boxing Lesson: This is the entire basis of the early story. At first, Ippo becomes too busy with boxing to take notice of his bullies. His training also made it easier for him to run away from them. The bullies even become his devoted fans later on, because they believe boxers are strong men.
  • Brick Joke: The cockroach in the sandwich.
    • One of the anime's intermission cards shows Ippo desperately trying to catch up to Takamura, Aoki and Kimura during the running workout. After the aforementioned Beach Episode (the one that shows Ippo being finally able to outrun Aoki), it's Aoki who's trying to catch up to everybody.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Masaru Aoki gets no respect. Takamura manipulates him and plays all kinds of pranks on him - grabbing his dick in the shower, shaving off his eyebrows, giving him a totally ridiculous haircut, making him eat a decades-old squid, making him sell overpriced Takamura statues, groping his girlfriend's breasts(and then telling him how nice they are in an attempt to apologize), and even shoving his privates into his face. To add insult to injury, his boxing style - labelled The Frog - is the least refined in the series. People actually pay to see him lose. His only consolation? His antics are considered comedic gold, he is the only main character with a girlfriend.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: When any member of the Kamogawa gym knows one of Ippo's secrets, it doesn't stay a secret for long. Itagaki shows no qualms in giving details about Ippo and Kumi's dates to Mashiba either.
  • Can't Spit It Out: How many YEARS have Kumi and Ippo danced around admitting how they feel now? They're still acting like teenagers in their mid 20's.
  • Casualty in the Ring: It is revealed that Randy Boy Junior's father passed away a few days after his world title match because he fought while keeping brain damage from his previous match against Miyata's father. He did not die in the ring per se, but the fights caused his death nonetheless.
  • Character Development: What makes this series so enjoyable, aside from the boxing action, is how almost everyone grows as characters over the course of the series.
  • Cherry Tapping: Takamura during his last match before taking on the world, beating the #2 ranked Japanese middleweight with only his left hand. Someone in the crowd said "Only his left... good god." that pretty much summed it up.
  • Chick Magnet:
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Makunouchi doesn't seem to realize whenever a woman shows an interest in.
  • Combat Commentator: Aside from the ringside commentators during the fights, the Kamogawa Gym boxers usually keep a running conversation about the fight. Sometimes, former opponents provide commentary.
  • Cool Old Guy: Date kinda fulfills the role, despite being only in his late 20's/early 30's. Then again, he is younger than he looks.
  • Crafted From Animals: Having the fame of fighting a wild bear and not just surviving but also killing the animal with his fists, Mamoru Takamura usually appears with the skin and head of that bear as a cape previous of his fights, also showing the scar of the bear clawing in his chest.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Ippo is super-polite, socially awkward, self-effacing and easily intimidated by foes who seem stronger than he is. Do not let that facade fool you. Inside the ring, he morphs into an intense and unstoppable fighter with a Dynamite Punch that can shatter bones, and an invincible stamina that allows him to keep coming back no matter how many times he's knocked down. This has worked to his advantage several times, as some opponents who meet him outside the ring underestimate the level of brutality he can unleash inside of it. When Ippo defends his title against Ryuhei Sawamura, a fighter with no compunction about cheating and deliberately hurting his opponents, he shows a rare righteously mad side.
    Aoki: Actually, I thought he was kind of a big wuss.
    Kimura: But I better not mess with him for a while . . .
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Ippo is not allowed to use the Dempsey Roll in one match because of its effects on his knees and legs. Kamogawa's Tekken Punch is also like this.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Due to Ippo's gentle and forgiving nature, he ends up being, at the very least, cordial with most of his opponents. He becomes good friends with Volg and Sendo, although he would rather not face them again in the ring. He is polite to both Mashiba and Sawamura, arguably his most ermm ... misanthropic opponents, and both have a grudging respect for Ippo. Mashiba arguably gets better as time goes on, for the sake of Kumi, whom hangs around Ippo quite a bit.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: WBA Featherweight Champion Ricardo Martinez is most definitely this.
  • Delinquents: Takamura, Kimura, Aoki, Sendo and Sawamura used to be school gangsters. Also, Umezawa and his flunkies.
  • Determinator: Almost every important character, including of course Ippo. Some of them so much that it's questionable if they aren't even more determined than Ippo. This determination is even visually shown by a green flame in their eyes.
    • Special mention goes to Sendo in both matches, who kept pummeling Ippo, despite being unconscious, solely being moved by the cheers of his fans. And in the second fight, he still manages to stand up and look Ippo straight in the eyes despite enduring a combination of Liver Blow, Gazelle Punch and Dempsey Roll, even though he could not lift his arms anymore.
    • While normally a required trait for Ippo's combat style, it is starting to cost him dearly in a deconstruction of this trope after his second loss. The severe accumulated damage he has taken to his body over all his matches including his second loss are causing issues with his eye-sight and possibly other health issues that might hinder or even end his career/life.
    • The award for Determinator definitely has to go to Date. While Ippo fought with a broken fist, and Sendo fought with broken ribs, Date fought with his right fist shattered, his ribs all but gone, and his jaw nearly destroyed, not only that, but even with all of that he still endured nine rounds against the man known as 'The only living Super Legend'!
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Some bits of Date's backstory felt like this. Not only does he lose horribly against Ricardo Martínez, but his Ill Girl wife has a Convenient Miscarriage at the same time? Wow, Morikawa, you're cruel when you want to be.
  • Dream Team: Though not actually a team, the first Rookie Kings tournament was recognised as a golden era, producing an unprecedented number of champions: both Sendou and Makunouchi became JBC Featherweight Champions, Miyata became OPBF Featherweight Champion, and even Mashiba became JBC Jr Lightweight and OPBF Lightweight Champion.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Inverted/subverted: after he gets his driving license, Ippo drives awfully slowly, causing traffic jam behind him.
  • Easily Distracted Referee: Seriously, how blatant must a foul be not to be overlooked, ignored or counted as an accident in this series? Sawamura is about the only one to be ever called out for his fouls, and that's only because he has the unfortunate habit of nearly killing his opponents. Then, subverted in the Sawamura vs Mashiba fight, where the referee does notice the fouls, but there are so many on both sides that the puny warnings and penalties he gives here and there don't lead anywhere. Again it takes a near murder for Mashiba to be disqualified.
  • Easily Forgiven: Ippo and former bully turned devoted fan, Umezawa Masahiko. To be fair, Umezawa is one of the best examples of Character Development in the series as a whole, and comes to genuinely care for Ippo and admire him.
    • Later in the manga it's shown that Umezawa is still tormented by his horrible treatment of Ippo earlier on. He tries to apologize to both Ippo and his mother, with Tear Jerker results.
  • Epunymous Title: "Hajime no Ippo" literally means "The First Step" (which is also the title of the first chapter), but "Ippo" is also the central character's name.
  • Precious Puppies: Wanpo seems to have no other purpose in the manga than to give Ippo a cute and fluffy companion during his training. And a few extra Chick Magnet points maybe. And yet, in one character popularity poll Wanpo manages to be in the top 10!
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Hajime no Ippo is one of the few manga to avert this trope. The person using a technique never explains it to their opponent. The readers learn how a technique works in a logical manner by the observers—the seconds, usually—who then devise a counter to said technique.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Umezawa stopped slicking his hair back after he graduated from highschool.
  • Face Doodling: Done in Jerkass (and hilarious) fashion by Takamura, Aoki and Kimura when they doodled on Ippo's penis while he was in a coma after a fight.
  • Foil: Both Sendo and Miyata for Ippo, in different ways. Miyata's calm, collected, and cold nature contrasts with Ippo's mellow, somewhat dorky, and usually nervous personality; Sendo, on the other hand, contrasts with Ippo in the sense that he's brash, energetic, and much more outgoing. Miyata's style of boxing is completely opposite of Ippo's while Sendo's style is essentially Ippo's but more aggressive and with less emphasis on defense.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four main boxers count, with Ippo being Supine, Takamura being both Choleric and Sanguine, Aoki being Melancholic and Kimura being Phlegmatic.
  • Gag Penis:
    • Ippo is constantly ridiculed by Takamura, Aoki and Kimura (out of their own insecurity) at the enormous size and girth of his member. They grab it more than once and even scribbled on it while Ippo was recuperating! The fact that Takamura is a lightweight in his pants compared to him doesn't help much either.
    • Takamura also grabs Sendo's member in the shower, after mistaking him for Aoki. He realizes his mistake because Sendo was equally formidable in size.
    • Don't Forget the "Big Rocket" during the first beach training.
    • Also Takamura's idea for Ippo's title early on.
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • In Ippo's match against Takuma Saeki, Saeki's jabs cause Ippo's eye to swell, making him unable to see out of it. Saeki used this new blind spot as a way to deliver surprise attacks.
    • In a rare case where the hero cripples the rival, Ippo breaks opponent Ryo Mashiba's arm during a match. Mashiba used his elbow to block Ippo's powerful liver blow and to crush Ippo's fist. However, because of Ippo's destructive power, Mashiba ends up injuring his elbow instead. Ippo also breaks his fist but wins the match.
    • Also, Hayami gets one of these thanks to Kobashi, which it's stated to be the reason why he has to retire early.
    • Tragically, Date suffers one to his right hand against Martinez. If it wasn't for that, things would have ended differently.
    • The severe accumulated damage Ippo has taken to his body over all his matches including his second loss are causing issues with his eye-sight and possibly other health issues that might hinder or even end his career/life.
  • Gentle Giant: Jason Ozma looks like a huge Scary Black Man, but surprises Ippo with his politeness and cheerfulness.
  • Genius Bruiser: Kazuki Sanada is a very strong boxer as well as an excellent strategist and a very brainy doctor. Inspired by a Real Life Genius Bruiser, according to Word of God: Irish boxer Dr. Terry Christie aka "Fighting Physician".
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Aiko gives one of these to Date when she notices he's frustrated and lonely as a salaryman, urging him to come back to the boxing ring.
  • Glass Cannon: Hayami qualifies. He had one of the fastest and strongest techniques and won matches impressively but a 1st round KO loss against Ippo and suffering a Career-Ending Injury in a loss against Kenta Kobashi of all people can only point to this trope.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sawamura gets heavy scars on his face after an accident.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • "I want to dive lost mind / I want to dive lost mind / I want feeling / I want feeling".
    • The ending theme for the anime's second season, titled 8am, is in English, but many of the lyrics don't make sense. The lyrics actually make a good deal of sense (long as you can read them), save for some bad grammar in the first verse. Thanks to two Half-Americans in Coldrain (the band that does the ED song).
    • Most of the ending or opening themes for the anime have had some form of this trope, really. The ratio of making sense is maybe about 50/50.
  • Guile Hero: Takamura is a Jerkass, yeah. But few people can pull off as many CMOAs as he can in the ring.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: For the most part defied in the story, but a very painful issue with Woli, Brian Hawk, and to a lesser degree Itagaki as well, where their innate talent has allowed them to absolutely dominate much more experienced boxers.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't really take much to make Coach Kamogawa angry and when he does, he can beat even Takamura senseless with his cane.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Volg came to Japan to help his ailing mother with the fight money. He fails.
  • Heroic Second Wind: You'll see this happen multiple times in most fights. It can occasionally be pretty ridiculous too, especially for Ippo. Such things as, being beaten to the point of barely being able to move by the second round, but managing to hold on for another 5 rounds anyway, then managing to, of all things, beat his opponent in an attrition battle. It's used as a tool for Strong as They Need to Be.
  • He's Back: Pretty much the whole Date sub-plot is about his return to the ring, after years of retirement.
  • Honor Before Reason: In a way, the entire point of the series. There are countless points in the series where the characters' actions are fueled by nothing more than pride or honor, even when all logical consideration argues against it. The Kamogawa flashback arc, Kamogawa and Nekota lament that the concept "Japanese pride" was what lost World War II, and that the Western world's way of using logic and reason above spirit now rules the world.
  • Hospital Hottie: Dr. Yamaguchi is a friendly and cheerful young doctor who has her own clinic, and how she often wears very short miniskirts and possesses ample assets do the rest. (Oh, and Yamaguchi's so Married to the Job that she completely fails to notice her effect on Ippo's sempais).
  • Hot-Blooded: Everyone in the ring, but special mention goes to Sendo for being Hot-Blooded also outside of it.
  • Humble Hero: Ippo is portrayed as one of these, fearing Mashiba despite knocking him out, avoiding the subject of a rematch with Sendo despite beating him twice, and viewing boxers like Ricardo Martinez and Date as unbeatable. Later chapters thoroughly deconstruct this with Ippo's lack of confidence in his own skills leading to two defeats and his retirement. A conversation with Kamogawa indicating he now believes he can beat Ricardo Martinez is shown as a good thing and Ippo very slowly moving away from this trope.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Don't like puns? Avoid having dinner with the whole Itagaki family at all costs. And don't even think about challenging Manabu Itagaki's dad!
  • Husky Russkie: Subverted by Russian boxer Volg, who is a force to be reckoned with inside the ring but humble and polite to the point of shyness outside. He's not even that tall, either, compared with other boxers of the same category.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In chapter 812, Sendo says his manager is a whipped dog for wanting to hang out with someone who beat him, only to hang out with Ippo (who beat him) the second after. It's lampshaded too.
  • Identical Panel Gag: The first pages of the two fights between Aoki and Papaya both have a rigorously identical panel layout and an identical pose for Aoki. So are the pages where Aoki takes the "Coconut Punch". The two fights are dozens of chapters apart.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: The brash and talkative Naniwa Tiger - Sendo. He loves boxing solely for the chance to face strong men in the ring. He used to be a gang leader, fighting to defend the weak. His own grandmother even uses "idiot" as an endearment. In the anime, Masaya Onosaka voices him with a strong Osaka accent.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Itagaki Manabu, in regards to Kumi. He knows how deep she and Ippo are for one-another, so he holds no delusions of ever having a shot.
  • Ill Girl:
    • Volg's mother who actually passes away later in the story.
    • Kamogawa's old friend Yuki-san who also perishes, as she was already dying of radiation poisoning when she met Kamogawa and Nekota.
    • In Date's backstory, his wife Aiko is mentioned to have a frail health and has a miscarriage at one point.
    • Male example: Keiichi Take's son, Hide. Take's career was ruined because he had to forfeit his fight with Date to look after little Hide, who was hospitalized. People accused him of being a coward and Hide was bullied because of that, which urges Take to take up boxing again to prove he was no coward.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Inverted. Takamura thinks Crocodile is American simply because he's blonde.
  • International Showdown by Proxy: The match of Takamura against Bryan Hawk for the world title. It takes place in a Japanese boxing hall, so basically the entire audience is rooting for Takamura. It helps that Bryan Hawk is blatantly racist against the "weak" Japanese.
  • Irony: Before the Mashiba vs. Sawamura fight, when Kimura gloats over it hoping that they will rip each other apart and leave the champion seat free for the other "non-monster" Jr. Lightweights like him, it's Played for Laughs. After said fight, Mashiba is disqualified and suspended and Sawamura is forced into retirement by a motorbike accident, granting Kimura's initial wish. This time, he doesn't laugh. Well, not right away.
  • Insufferable Genius: Almost all characters who are explicitly said to be geniuses are this. It's easier to count the aversions, which is only Itagaki and Woli.
  • It's Personal:
    • Miyata, towards Randy Boy Jr. Explained by the fact that their fathers also were rivals. Randy's father caused the retirement of Miyata's by seriously injuring his jaw... and for more irony, Randy Sr. sustained brain injuries from the same fight, which caused his death some time later.
    • Averted with Randy Boy, who doesn't really care about the rivalry, even the death part. The death part only made him wonder why his father was so determined to get in the ring despite knowing his body was wrecked. He sought the answers of his father's stubbornness, not revenge against Miyata.
  • Invincible Hero:
    • Ricardo Martinez, the boxer who trounced Date in the past and present. (Though, he admitted, had Date been at his best, he would have lost. He even admitted he respected Date more than any other opponent he had faced.) Ippo tried to spar against Ricardo in the anime and couldn't even land a blow on him. Ricardo merely pounded away at Ippo with his left, breaking his guard every time. Even when Ippo did tank all those shots to get close enough, Ricardo punched him out of a Dempsey Roll with just his left.
    • Also applies to Takamura, who always seems to come out on top no matter what the situation, including winning an arm-wrestling match with Ippo and punching out a bear.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Umezawa and his friends start out as this when they bully Ippo but grow out of it after befriending him. A flashback shows that Aoki and Kimura used to be this in their high school days, constantly getting into fights with gangs from other schools. They actually met Takamura this way and initially joined a boxing gym just so they could beat him up.
  • Japanese Spirit: This series is the greatest example of this trope in modern fiction. Go ahead: Google "Yamato-Damashii Ippo" and count how many results there are. Many people who have otherwise never even heard of the term have become familiar with it thanks to this show.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Kojima. In reality he's a really nice guy who idolizes Ippo and he's only taunting Ippo so Ippo can fight him at his very best.
    • It's sometimes implied that Takamura only acts like a Jerkass to maintain his "bad-boy" badass persona. Especially considering how disappointed his fans act when he doesn't behave like that.
  • Karaoke Box: One of the Kamogawa Gym's favorite pastimes.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal example. On one occasion Takamura angers Ippo and Wanpo with a Hurricane of Puns regarding dicks. Takamura uppercuts Ippo and kicks Wanpo in retaliation for their backtalk... or the equivalent.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Believe it or not, Sendou, the Naniwa tiger, absolutely loves cats.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Ryo Mashiba toward his sister Kumi. He lives by two rules; this is one of 'em.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Takamura is ridiculously strong (able to punch someone out of the boxing ring while being completely dehydrated), has monstrous stamina that surpasses even Ippo's and on top of that, he is also very fast. The reason why he's seemingly unbeatable is because his abilities are superb in every aspect. And if that wouldn't be enough, he's very intelligent too. (Inside the ring, at least.)
  • Likes Older Women: First inverted with Nanako, who is in love with the five-year older Ippo. And surprisingly, played straight with her brother Manabu later. He is in love with Kumi who is three years older than he is. When he realizes he will never have a chance with her, he dates Mari, who is five years older. The latter is not very enthusiastic about it: considering Manabu's rather childish behaviour, his blunt and repeated reminding that they are both Hopeless Suitors, and the fact that he is insistent on considering they are on a date while she just wants to interview him, that's not too surprising.
  • Living Legend: Ricardo Martinez is the Mexican long-time featherweight world champion who never lost. He's actually called "The only living super-legend" and it's said that there's a higher chance that Mexican citizens know him than their own president.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: In a manga that has over 1000 chapters, that's probably bound to happen.
  • Long Runner: The manga's been going for nearly thirty years now.
  • Love Triangle: Kumi, Nanako and Ippo. Though the list gradually lengthens.
  • Madness Mantra: That is NOT what you want to see looking at you between your arms, especially when he's usually the pretty boy.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: If uncensored man meat offends your squeamish little heart, don't bother reading the manga.
  • Magic Countdown: Time is very relative in the matches, particularly in the counts in the knockdowns (which are supposed to be ten seconds, but often take a full minute). This is obviously less noticeable in the manga, but in the anime the artistic license becomes very clear.
  • Married to the Job: In chapter 573, after Ippo has spent his fight money to buy wooden logs, Manabu comments that Ippo has a "boxing glove in his head instead of brains". Poor Kumi will not disagree with that one...
  • Mega Manning:
    • Itagaki. Picked up Miyata's Jolt counter after watching him defeat Randy Boy Jr with it, picked up the rope-grabbing trick from Woli, and has used Kimura's Dragonfish Blow.
    • Shinobu Iga. He used various techniques from Mashiba's defeated opponents in an attempt to exploit Mashiba's former weakness: his tendency to commit fouls when he loses his cool.
  • More Than Mind Control: Kumi, of all people, shows this trope. Granted, this is only a recent development concerning Ippo's physical and mental health, but it is soon seen that she does not want him to get back into boxing after he suffers his third loss and retires over fears that he may be punch drunk. As time goes on, however, shades of her jealousy start to show, with her lashing out at one of the gym coaches when they ask Ippo to return to the gym as a trainer and second (not to box); additionally, she is the only person who consistently claims that Ippo is punch drunk (when even the physicians who tested him said he hadn't reached that stage yet); even worse, she tells some of his most recent friends to inform her if he ever starts sparring for any reason. She admits, if only to herself, that Ippo loves boxing, and that she fears he will eventually return to it if she isn't vigilant- hence the subtle discussions she has with him to keep him in check.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Oddly enough, both played straight and subverted at the same time due to the art direction. Every single boxer you see, regardless of weight class, is depicted with huge muscles like Mike Tyson. But while most of them live up to their appearance, some of them are still much weaker than others. It reaches ridiculous levels by the time we see Kobashi vs Ippo; Kobashi's muscles are the same size as Ippo's, but he's significantly weaker than him and compares his body unfavorably to Ippo's.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Date's backstory. Back when he was a young and promising boxer and the Japanese champion, he fought against the undefeatable world champion Ricardo Martinez, but lost in the second round. After that, he quit boxing, until his wife Aiko pulled a What the Hell, Hero? on him because she could see he was bored and depressed with his life as a salaryman and urges him to step back into the boxing ring. He does, and becomes Japanese champion again. After actually winning against Ippo, he once again challenges Ricardo Martinez and it's shown that he surpassed his old self, however, he does fail to win against Martinez yet again and retires forever, becoming a trainer instead. I guess that last part was a subversion.
  • Nature Hero: Woli's man reason for boxing is to get rich and famous, and use his fame and wealth to protect the environment.
  • The '90s: The period most of the story still takes place in (aside from the first arc- Ippo's initial training- which was in 1989) due to being heavily affected by Webcomic Time. It's inching ever so slowly and steadily towards the year 2000, however.
  • Noodle People: The Art Evolution has somehow led to a variation of this for some characters who seem to have unplausibly thin legs and arms during the fights (but still have a muscular torso). [1] is a prime example.
  • No Sense of Direction: Volg, when he meets Ippo. Justified Trope since he's Russian and had a very rusty Japanese back then, so he couldn't read the kanji on the subway signs adequately.
  • Not So Different: Takamura and Bryan Hawk's fight basically has this as it's conclusion. They're both Jerkasses; Takamura just has a bit more of a veneer of humanity than Hawk. Takamura's the one who leaves his opponent broken with fear however.
  • Oblivious Mockery: A flashback shows us how Genji Kamogawa hardened his fists by punching large wooden logs into a hill. Later in the manga, Ippo hits logs into a hill with a hammer to train his leg and body muscles. Itagaki tells Kamogawa about this training.
    Kamogawa: He's hitting logs into the earth?! He can't be doing it with his fists?!
    Itagaki: '[laughing]'' If he did that he'd break his fists! There's no one reckless and stupid enough to do that! He uses a hammer.
    Kamogawa: Ye… yeah… fists would be reckless and stupid…
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • While Ippo and Kumi seem to be well aware of the chemistry between them, and Ippo mostly tries to brush off Nanako's infatuation, he appears to be completely unaware of Mari's crush on him. It's not like Mari is particularly demonstrative about it though.
    • Itagaki begins showing signs of a crush on Kumi also, but tends to back off because of his friendship with Ippo.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Itagaki and Mashiba surprisingly get along well, after Itagaki tricks him into helping him prepare for his match. They've even gone out shopping together.
    • To a lesser extent, you might be surprised to find out that Sendo and Sawamura are friends, let alone Vitriolic Best Buds.
    • Ippo and Sendo also display this eventually, despite having very contrasting personalities and being rivals. It's even joked about when Sendo tries to claim Ippo is his "enemy" only to say he's going to watch TV together with him immediately after.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Subverted, since the rivals are usually given well-detailed backstories that make them more human.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience:
    • Around chapter 700, the Kamogawa team is engaged in a baseball match for a few chapters. They win thanks to Wanpo. It's quite refreshing, but also borders on Mood Whiplash considering it comes just after the Mashiba vs. Sawamura fight, which was nothing short of a bloodbath.
    • For a slightly less out of genre experience, the series temporarily becomes a delinquent manga in volume 25 when revealing Aoki and Kimura's backstory.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: Takamura gets jealous of Ippo drawing all the Hostesses attentions when they're celebrating at a hostess bar, and pulls down Ippo's pants in front of the girls, assuming his Gag Penis will freak them out. Poor Ippo has a Naked Freak-Out, but at least one of the hostess is appreciative.
  • Parental Abandonment: A lot of boxers have missing parents. Ippo's fisherman dad Kazuo drowned at sea while rescuing others, and nothing is said about Volg's and Yamada's fathers. Miyata's mother abandoned him when he was a child. Sendo's parents are both dead (his mother may have died when he was born or very soon afterwards), and he lives with his paternal grandmother. Takamura is from a wealthy family, but his parents disowned him when he was in high school, due to his violent nature. The loss of both of his parents when he was in highschool was Ryo Mashiba's Freudian Excuse, too. Sawamura is distanced from his mother after he attempted to kill her abusive boyfriend with a knife.
  • Progressively Prettier: A mild example: at the beginning Tomiko is made deliberately ugly to underline Aoki's odd taste in women. But as the series goes on, she actually cleans up a bit. Her face is still not exactly attractive, but tends to be drawn with softer, cuter expressions now, and it is revealed that she has a great body.
  • Punch Catch: Done by Bryan Hawk to Takamura of all people when Hawk disrespects the Japanese after watching Takamura's fight. Hawk considers it their "handshake" before their fight.
  • Punched Across the Room: Well, more like punched across the ring, but Ippo sends Hisato flying across the mat, flipping in the air until he finally rolls to a stop and is declared K.O.'d. It was Ippo's first and last punch in that match to boot, after taking a counter that was considered to be the equivalent of Two Tons of weight behind it.
  • Raging Stiffie: Not that surprisingly, this happens several times to Ippo, forcing him to do a Groin Attack on himself when Dr. Yamaguchi massages him. It can also happen in the shower, for no reason at all. And of course, it just has to happen when he sees Kumi in a swimsuit for the first time at the swimming pool.
    Kumi: Be careful Nanako, his muscles are very stiff.
    Nanako: [smiling] They are indeed.
    Ippo: [thinking] Not that one!
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Takamura beating up a bear.
  • Scary Black Man: Subverted with the scary-looking but sweet Jason Ozma.
  • Scenery Porn: Chapter 1272 has Sendou travel to Mexico City, starting with an exquisitely rendered drawing of the view outside of the Benito Juárez International Airport — the one single difference being that IRL there is no "México" sign on the road's median (there is instead a "CDMX" sign on the Eastern end of terminal 1), and that sign has been in turn faithfully recreated from the Secretariat of Tourism's official propaganda.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Ippo vs. Gonzales. After a string of less-than-stellar matches (being Woli's punching bag and then just punching a guy one time) this was Ippo's chance to show that he could fight on the world circuit. He loses horribly. Made worse by the fact that Vorg's just won the World Jr. Featherweight belt and Sendo beat him in a sparring match, meaning Ippo's fallen behind people he's already beat.
  • Short-Range Guy, Long-Range Guy: Ippo is exclusively an in-fighter, as opposed to his chief rival Miyata Ichirou, who is primarily an out-fighter.
  • Shower Shy: Ippo wears a Modesty Towel around his waist when he first showers with the guys, causing Takamura to assume he has a Teeny Weenie and removes it for giggles- which is how he discovered Ippo's actually very much the opposite.
  • Shown Their Work: A real-life Martial Arts enthusiast cites this series as being an accurate, if outlandish, display of real boxing techniques and trivia.
  • Shrinking Violet: Ippo himself in the beginning, later Naomichi Yamada. Both are total Butt Monkeys. Kumi Mashiba is a mild example.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The Mashiba siblings. The sweet-natured Kumi wins Ippo's attention, but brother Ryo just generally comes across as a borderline psychopath. About the only person who's not scared of him is Kumi herself, who has been known to slap him to the floor when he gets out of hand.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: With monkey-like agility and genius-level skill, Woli is this, being touted as the "Takamura" of featherweights after winning the Indonesian Championship not only in just three fights, but also at the age of 17. His inexperience is the only thing Ippo had as an advantage in their fight. To a lesser degree, this is also Itagaki's Achilles' Heel, and most of his Character Development is him trying to grow out of this phase.
  • Slasher Smile: Several characters display this while in the ring. Mashiba, Sawamura, Brian Hawk, hell, even Sendo has one. Even Itagaki got his own!
  • Southpaw Advantage:
    • The ability to box left-handed is a rare and (sometimes) major advantage in the series. The ability to switch between southpaw and a conventional stance at will is even better.
    • Akira Shigeta, the first southpaw opponent that Ippo faces (although it's only in a sparring match) is actually an intentional example. From this training he succeeded in arming himself with a strategical advantage over most boxers and a strong right jab. Also, being a southpaw, his right arm's positioning allowed him to throw powerful counters, even without the rapid reaction speed of other counter-punchers.
  • Spam Attack: Mashiba's Flicker has been shown to be spammable. In the games, you can throw out Flickers repeatedly.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Translators don't all agree over Volg/Vorg Zangief/Zanghief's name looking at his shorts on the ring, it seems to be Volg though.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Tomorrow's Joe. Sendou even has Joe's characteristics.
  • Take That!: To Seo Kouji's writing, in a Shout-Out to the Tokyo Arc to Kimi no Iru Machi.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: The announcers manage to have enough time to narrate every punch thrown before even the boxers are able to react.
  • Team Dad: Coach Kamogawa, so much. He's tough on all of his boxers, but always has what's best for them in mind.
  • Team Mom: A male one: Tomohiko "Yagi-chan" Yagi, Kamogawa's right hand and the manager of the Gym.
  • Team Pet: Wanpo is Ippo's dog but since he accompanies him during training he is basically the Team Pet of the Kamogawa gym. Hell, Takamura even brings him along in one training camp!
  • Theme Music Power-Up: [
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: Sendo believes in this, as seen here
  • Those Two Guys: The two Gonks who admire and obey Aoki, called "the Aoki-gumi". They have no talent for boxing whatsoever, nor do they want to train or work − because they believe Aoki got that far without any work himself. Everyone at Kamogawa gym wonders why they come to the gym in the first place. For a few hundred chapters they don't even have a name. They are just the Aoki-gumi. Even when they seem to have Taken A Level In Badass, it doesn't last long and is rather Played for Laughs. In a lesser extent, Aoki and Kimura also are this: when Fujii details the talents of Kamogawa gym, he names Ippo, Takamura, Itagaki and two other guys. They are even named "Aokimura" by Itagaki, much to their annoyance!
  • Throwing the Fight: Malcolm Gedo will throw his fights for the right price. Hell, this guy would do anything for money full stop.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Sendo and Sawamura. This is also how their nicknames play out: the Naniwa Tiger and the Owari Dragon.
  • Time Skip: In Chapter 1269, Ippo's hair finally grows back to the usual hairstyle we know and love. The amount of time that passed when his hair grew back is currently unknown, though.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ippo's Boxing Lesson eventually leads to this.
    • In a slightly straighter example, Naomichi Yamada, a slightly chubby and somewhat inept boxer who trains at Kamogawa Gym (and is nicknamed 'Geromichi' due to his unfortunate tendency to barf after training) until his family is forced to move is replaced by the intimidating, brutal-looking Hammer Nao. To quote Kimura and Aoki upon finding out, "THAT'S GEROMICHI?"
    • Then there's Kenta Kobashi. During the lead-up to Ippo's fight against Hayami, Kenta confessed that even after observing every one of Hayami's fights, he couldn't find any way to beat him or the Shotgun technique. When they finally do fight several years later, Kenta had grown enough to give Hayami injuries severe enough that they ended his career.
  • Tournament Arc: Aside from title defenses and challenges, several tournaments take place every year in the series and are an essential part of the story.
    • In particular, the "Rookie Kings" tournament is used to establish many of the recurring characters, and later Itagaki goes through the same tournament.
    • The Class A tournament is used to set up the challenger for the title match. More often used for Aoki, Kimura and Itagaki, who are not title-holders.
    • The yearly Champion Carnival goes through series of title matches.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Indonesian champion, Woli, is almost always seen eating a Banana.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Many training sequences, most featuring a shouting Coach Kamogawa, are like this. However, the must difficult training that characters seem to go through is their weight training, which can leave them as shells of their former selves.
    • Some characters don't suffer much from the weight training (Ippo is naturally featherweight and seems to meet the weight with little trouble at all most times). On the flipside, Takamura probably has the worst of all, when he forcibly keeps himself five classes underweight for a title match since there's a general lack of credibility in the Pacific Heavyweight scene. This adds up to forcing himself 50 lbs. underweight. The results of such weight management are suitably hellish.
  • Training Montage: Happens many times in the anime, usually to this theme.
  • Tranquil Fury: Normally, Ippo is nearly impossible to anger. Trash talk and Jerkass behavior fail to even phase him, because of his humble personality. However, in Chapter 919... someone makes the mistake of calling all of the former opponents that Ippo has beaten (and deeply respects) "trash". Ippo does NOT take it well. Later, in Chapter 928, the same opponent then insults the training Ippo's received from Coach Kamogawa. Keep in mind, Ippo never worries about his performance in a bout because he has complete faith in his coach's ability. The guy just pushed the absolute wrong button.
  • True Companions: It doesn't matter how much Aoki, Kimura and Takamura tease and often downright bully Ippo: when he truly needs their support and advice, they're always by his side.
  • Twice Shy: Good Lord, Ippo and Kumi. It got the point that Umezawa, of all people, tells him that he better make a move already, or someone else will.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • Hilariously subverted with Aoki and his girlfriend, Nurse Tomiko. He has a fetish for ugly women (which came from his beautiful ex-girlfriend Miyuki cheating on him) and she's a mix of Genki Girl and female Gonk.
    • Subverted again by Aoki's opponent in his first title challenge, Lightweight Champ Imae Katsukata and his girlfriend Sachiko. They share the same preference for ugly women.
    • Played straight with the Itagaki family. The mother's a generically cute mother, the dad is the show's biggest Gonk.
  • Unconscious Objector: Frequently a fighter — most notably Ippo and Sendo — will continue to box through muscle memory even after he's been knocked unconscious.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Brian Hawk. He relies on pure talent, with no training whatsoever.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Imai and Itagaki are definitely this after their fight, and arguably even before. Sendou and Sawamura can also qualify. Even Aoki and Kimura often fall into this trope actually.
  • Volleying Insults: Lots of people, but specially Takamura and Date. Then, they team-up once as Combat Commentators ...
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Largely averted. When someone pukes in this manga, it is often seen leaving their mouth. Yamada Naomichi always pukes after training, and it's almost always on camera. He's even nicknamed "Geromichi," a portmanteau of his last name, Naomichi and the Japanese word for "vomit," for this. Later on, his old gym mates are peaking in on one of his sparring sessions and he made several opponents barf, again with all of them on camera. We've seen Aoki and Kimura barf as well.
  • Weak, but Skilled:
    • Kenta Kobashi. Considered a mediocre boxer for his lack of power and knockout wins, Kobashi nevertheless gave Ippo a run for his money by playing mind-games, making frequent use of clinches, and using a stance that allowed him to easily reach with point-getting jabs. By playing with the rules, Kobashi managed to win most of his matches. He would've beaten Ippo too, if he hadn't accidentally scored a solid blow on Ippo during a dodge, and gotten entranced with the 'feel' of the knockout punch.
    • Keichii Take looks like your everyday dad, this guys looks really harmless, isn't it? Here's hint: Date fears him. For a very good reason.
  • We Help the Helpless: Sendo became a delinquent not to abuse others, but to protect them.
  • Webcomic Time: A standout example. The events of the manga began in what was once Present Day in 1989, a period of 28 years as of 2017 in real life; It's only been about 9 years in the story so far.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Ippo losing his match against Date. It looked like he was going to win.
    • The outcome of Date vs. Martinez II.
    • Chapter 1069: Gonzales counters Ippo's big right cross and knocks him out.
    • Chapter 1202: Ippo not only loses his big comeback match, but he outright confirms what astute readers probably suspected: something is broken within him. Even the chapter title, Disaster, is a wham.
    • Chapter 1208: After talking to a doctor, Ippo makes the decision to retire from boxing.
    • Chapter 1274: Sendo manages to score a down in a sparring match against Ricardo Martinez.
  • Wham Line: In episode 25, Ippo received a big shock from the girl he’s been crushing on. When he was expressing his disappointment over Miyata losing his match against Mashiba due to Mashiba injuring Miyata’s foot, she says this: ”Please stop badmouthing my brother.”
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Takamura rants at Ippo when he almost loses against Kobashi. In the first episodes, he also got pissed off when he thought Ippo wasn't serious enough about boxing.
    • Takamura himself is repeteadly called out by Team Dad Kamogawa for his Jerkass behavior. The old man has beaten the shit out of his more powerful boxer with his cane more than once, and it's more than often Played for Laughs.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: At first, Ippo only had his strength to rely on, and later the Dempsey Roll. He subverts this later by reeling his boxing style back to the very basics.
  • Wild Child: Woli the Indonesian champion lives in a very isolated island village and spends most of his time jumping around between trees, playing with monkeys. However he is social and fairly eloquent and intelligent sounding, if very young and naive, and he just has animalistic mannerisms and extreme hyperactivity.
  • The Worf Effect: Sawamura Ryuuhei beating Shimabukuro to a pulp without even trying and Ippo doing horrible in just about every spar. Plus, from a storytelling point of view (though it makes sense in-universe), technically Ricardo Martinez beating Date Eiji is a form of The Worf Effect. Ippo vs Woli probably counts, too. Even though Ippo won... eventually.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Takamura and his German Suplex.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Kumi Mashiba, Ippo's mother Hiroko, Date's wife Aiko who actually was The Ojou and had to face her family's worry and opposition when she married Date.
  • Younger Than They Look: Date. And Takamura isn't above hanging lampshades all over it, much to Date's annoyance.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Makunouchi sets the crowd alight with his one-punch KO against Hisato. However, he is disheartened that he gave in to anger and felt it wasn't true boxing.

Alternative Title(s): Hajime No Ippo, Fighting Spirit


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