Creed III, Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut, surpassed expectations and broke its franchise record by making an impressive $58.6 million during its opening weekend. Director and fellow weeb Michael B. Jordan have cited the classic sports anime Hajime no Ippo as one of the anime that was a big inspiration for Creed III. As an anime fan, especially one that loves Hajime no Ippo, too, I can see why this anime inspired him and Creed III.
Hajime no Ippo is a sports manga series created by Jōji Morikawa in 1989. It was adapted into an anime in 2000. Hajime no Ippo follows the story of Makunouchi Ippo, a timid high school boy repeatedly bullied by his classmates. However, one day after taking one of the worst beatings of his life, Ippo is saved by a professional boxer who happens to be training nearby. The boxer takes him to his training gym, where they quickly learn that Ippo possesses a gift for boxing. But he has a lot to learn and a long way to go if he wants to be a champion.
Hajime No Ippo is one of the best sports anime of all time. Similar to Creed, Hajime no Ippo is a thrilling story about a young man coming into his own as he embarks on a career in professional boxing. It has everything from a relatable underdog protagonist and bigger-than-life rivals to an inspiring story about true strength and learning to overcome self-doubts. I can not imagine a perfect anime to watch after seeing Creed III. Here are 6 reasons I encourage anyone to watch it.
Everyone Loves An Underdog Story
If you look up the definition of an underdog, Ippo would be pictured right next to the word. He starts as a timid young boy who struggles to stand up for himself. Through hard work, relentless dedication, and intense training, Ippo transforms into a stronger version of himself and gains confidence. But Ippo’s newfound strength is not the best part of the series. It is a fact that when he faces challenges, failures, or gets knocked down, he does not give up and gets back up.
Fights That Pull You Into The Ring
The fighting scenes in Hajime No Ippo are one of the best aspects of the series. Although fight scenes are more grounded in reality than other shonen anime fights, they are packed with just as much action, intensity, and intrigue. Similar to how the camera work and cinematography in Creed III makes the audience feel like they are in the ring. Hajime no Ippo’s fights have the same affect. The animators and director of Hajime no Ippo really know how to draw you into to every second of the fight scenes.
G.O.A.T Sports Manga & Anime
I don’t throw the title of G.O.A.T around lightly, especially when referring to anime or manga. But if any sports series deserves that title, it is Hajime no Ippo. Very few series can compare to Hajime no Ippo manga and anime. The series that seamlessly balances the sports genre with drama, character development, and a compelling story is simply amazing. The only anime closest to touching it is Ashita no Joe and its futuristic retelling, Megalo Box.
Another essential part of Hajime No Ippo is the mentors Ippo gains throughout his boxing career. Ippo’s coach, gym owner Genji Kamogawa and professional boxer Mamoru Takamura are excellent mentors and vital to Ippo’s boxing career. Takamura and Ippo’s mentor/mentee relationship is significant because, with Takamura, Ippo may have never gotten into boxing in the first place.
You can only have an excellent shonen sports anime with a rivalry or two. Throughout Ippo’s boxing career and the road to the championship title Ippo meets and fights a lot of different boxers. One of the best aspects of the series is Ippo’s rivalry with the fighters Ichiro Miyata and Takeshi Sendō. Both men are solid rivals for Ippo throughout the series, and he develops an iron-sharpens-iron-type relationship with them both. Their rivalries push and inspire them all to seek new limits of their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.
A Quest for True Strength
Similar to how Adonis admired his late father’s boxing legacy in Creed, Ippo also admired his father’s strength and legacy. Ippo’s father died saving his crewmates from a sinking fish boat. Although his father’s death significantly impacts him, Ippo is inspired by his father’s selfless sacrifice and wishes to be strong like him one day too. One of the main reasons Ippo decides to become a boxer is to become stronger and to learn what true strength means to him.
So if you are looking for a sports anime with tons of action, a compelling story, and heart, like Creed III, I can not recommend watching Hajime No Ippo enough.