AniFriday Issue #25 – Autumn Manga Special pt1: Hajime no Ippo
It’s been quite a while since I last talked about Hajime no Ippo in length. And quite happening to be revisiting a discussion about this series in chunks. It allows for a clearer, elongated perspective where I get to notice trends and not get so distracted by the moment to moment set ups of each chapter. This post will be covering the final chapters of Ippo’s fight with Alredo Gonzales, the current #1 contender for the flyweight championship of the world, and the only man standing between Ippo and his ultimate goal of the world champ, Ricardo Martinez. However, I’ll be talking about this fight as a whole at the end, from chapter 1030 to 1071.
I’m so hyped for Ippo! God, I love this manga!
Hajime no Ippo
That’s right Gonzalez, you’re on your ass. Granted, it was because you were forced essentially to punch yourself. I’m not quite sure how he’ll rebound from this, but I’m betting on ferocity fueled by the sting and shame of not being able to surpass his idol.
Ref! You are a piece o’ sh*t! The man wobbled on a “9” count! Who gets away with that?! You’re in the pocket of big Mexico!
Well there’s no reason to obsess over this. Not like the imaginary and fictional ref can hear me…. he’s still a piece o’ sh*t! The more important thing is that Ippo has newfound confidence, Gonzalez is up on his feet, and Coach Kamogawa is still thinking about the Woli fight. Can’t even guess why he’s thinking about that at a time like this. As he pointed out, that fight happened a long time ago under completely different circumstances. I’m curious to see how this can even begin to haunt them at this point.
I knew it. He’s still staring at his dream, Ricardo Martinez. On top of the knockdown, he’s also taken a critical body blow. It’s not a direct shot. A direct punch from Ippo clearly would have shattered him. But it is enough to give me the impression that he’s not going to be using his outboxer style again. And that’s not even an issue anymore either. Gonzalez has clearly dug his heals in, and Metzli mode is here for the rest of the fight. In essence, if the ship’s on fire, he won’t waste any energy trying to put it out. Gonzalez clearly plans to ram Ippo with everything he’s got left: his hopes, his dreams and his disgust.
What a jerk! Gonzalez still has a ton of punch left in him! But still, I can’t really argue with what the assistant coach on his side was saying. Ippo has shown that he can blow Gonzalez away with one punch, while Gonzalez has shown that he can fight without being touched by Ippo if he wished. What Gonzalez is deciding to do, is nothing short of insanity. To lose here isn’t just bad, it’s catastrophic. I doubt he’ll ever get to fight Martinez again.
I have the feeling that, much like the Naniwa Tiger in their first famous bout, Ippo is dead on his feet…. That was a solid counter, and even Ippo isn’t that tough. Even worse, it seems that Gonzalez has recovered from his previous madness and has turned into a vicious and calculated counter puncher. This is likely the real end to Ippo’s resistance. And if this means Ippo is going to take his second loss, I’m going to be very upset and pissed.
I’m still wondering how much of this fight from Ippo is willpower as opposed to muscle memory or training? He looks to be going on auto-pilot… and it’s working incredibly well for him! On the other end, we see Gonzalez truly learning to fear and respect Ippo now. I’m sure any of Ippo’s other opponents would have been overwhelmed by the onslaught by now.
That was one of the most brutal, vicious, emotional chapters of boxing in this series! That was amazing! And it’s not over yet! I’m starting to retract my fears that Ippo may have already lost! I thought that counter did it, but he literally has Gonzalez on the ropes. Is this really coming down to a samurai-style clashing of the swords? Can Ippo finally challenge the top?!
My god… Gonzalez almost killed Ippo on that counter! Maybe I was correct in my guess, maybe Ippo was just running off instinct. But for certain, Coach Kamogawa figured out why he kept thinking of the Woli fight. It wasn’t because of the fight, but because of what was said after it. Woli’s coach could clearly see Ippo’s big flaw and weakness. It’s the same reason that nobody quite like Ippo fights anymore. Counter punching, and the way it completely obliterates Ippo on the highest level. Sure, it took one of the bravest, most skilled and insane fighters on the planet to do it. But Gonzalez showed it could be pulled off. And it showed how much Ippo’s weaknesses were never fully addressed and how they continued to follow him. And judging from the damage, we won’t be seeing Ippo fight for a very long time. That’s brain damage. Absolute brain damage we just saw. Outside of the realm of fiction, I’d say that he may have had to consider retirement after this. But even if he does come back, this isn’t about the fight anymore. It’s about Ippo and Coach Kamogawa, and what they have to do to make sure this NEVER happens again.
Holy sh*t! I’m still shook up.
Oh Ippo. I’m glad to see you’re still conscious. Though I’m shocked you woke up at all, let alone was able to comprehend your situation after that fight. What the hell are you made out of?!
This was one of the best fights in the series. I don’t know if it’s one of my favorites, but the emotional payoff was high. I seriously need a break from this series for awhile. It may finally be time to properly pick up the latest animated series and watch, completely. I want to go back to happier times.
My thoughts on the arc:
Unlike the fight with Woli, this one didn’t strike me as hopeless from the near start. That fight felt like it drug on until the very end. This fight started tense, with tons of hype and a clear problem: Ippo isn’t mobile or experienced enough to get the damage he needs to win. By all rights, Ippo should have never been in the fight. He was totally outclassed. Gonzalez’s soulless and precise outboxing style was more than enough to lame Ippo out for a decision, or to eventually get him with a knockout from fatigue and built up damage.
In the second phase, we got to see Ippo get a slight advantage, but only at extremely high risk. Gonzalez in a sense had gone insane and was actually infighting with essentially the king of infighting. In the end, it was Gonzalez regaining his senses and perfectly marrying his raw passion with his intense training that ended up finishing off Ippo. It goes to show how much respect this series has for its upper echelon. The champ isn’t just untouchable, but even the top contender has something special about him that keeps him at that spot. I fully, fully expect and hope for a rematch. Hopefully, Gonzalez doesn’t retire after his next and likely final fight with Ricardo Martinez. Ippo’s never gotten a shot at revenge after a loss.
Touching on other characters revolving around this fight, I’m pretty disappointed in Coach Kamogawa. The guy really appears like more of a trainer than a coach sometimes. In no way, was there any strategy or real surprise waiting for their opponent. I can’t blame Gonzalez for thinking that their tactics were laughable, or even insulting. Most people come into the match with something tailored for their opponent, though the only thing they had was a tactic for getting around the infamous Mexican jab, which was far from enough. As Ippo points out in later chapters, he didn’t come in with a strategy to win, just a strategy to test and experiment. Ippo did not earn the chance to take down his opponent, his opponent got bored and impatient and took a chance.
It appears that their strategy was to be persistent, and eventually get that one hit that would degrade Gonzalez’s mobility enough for him to be forced to take damage up close. But we saw that he’s not fragile like Woli. He was every bit as maneuverable and a hell of a lot tougher and smarter. And to make matters worse, Ippo wasn’t just being outboxed in that fight, he was being manipulated. His first knockdown came after much meticulous planning and controlled management of all aspects of the boxing match. I don’t doubt there would have been more ways for Ippo to be exploited as the match continued, if the length of the match increased and the outboxing style of Gonzalez pressed onward.
Overall, I’m hoping for a retooling of Ippo’s abilities to focus on him taking less outrageous damage, and on giving him some more diverse options for getting in on his opponent. Whether it be learning to get better with feints and parrying attacks, or becoming a more rounded boxer overall who could at least threaten better from mid-range; I expect some serious thought and then training.
In the meantime, I’m hoping Takamura gets to fight again soon. It feels like its been forever since his last bout. I’m also worried about the future of Kamogawa gym as a whole. Everything’s good on Takamura’s end, but Ippo needs retooling. And the other three boxers each suffered resounding defeats. Itagaki’s defeat striking me as the worst and most shocking. I always viewed him as an eventual rival to Ippo, and I wonder if this stalling in this rising star’s ascent might push him to another coach and gym? All this time, he’s been a great kouhai, but he also has always had a desire for everything that Ippo has. And finally, the elephant in the room is Ippo’s mom. It’s no secret that she doesn’t care for Ippo’s sport at all. Or at least she doesn’t care for the way it demolishes his body nearly every time he fights. It seems ridiculous to think about something like retirement, especially when some of Ippo’s foes have suffered much worse defeats. But a body can only take so much damage, Ippo can only be viable for so long with his fighting style, and his loved ones and friends may only be able to see him get demolished for so long before they can’t stand it anymore. Ippo’s future is still bright, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t dark times ahead.
- AniFriday Issue #24: August 1st, 2014 (that felt kinda nice)
- Check-in Station: Hajime no Ippo: Rising ep1 (children of the seas)
- Check-in Station: Hajime no Ippo ch1009 (the road to the world title begins here)
- Check-in Station: Hajime no Ippo ch398 – 900+ (Going the distance)