"Haha, time to watch my light-hearted favorite sports anime!"
"Hey! Guys! Guess who's an important character! Ippo's father! Whom you've never seen before! Well, ever wondered why? Because he's dead! Here! Have a flashback on that! This is relevant because just like Ippo's father, Ippo's upcoming opponent is a man of the sea!"
I am not going to comment on this. I also think there would be plenty to say about starting a season of Ippo with flashback drama of all things but, uh, I better leave that unmentioned. That came so totally out of nowhere. And yet somehow, it still didn't suck. I wonder how they did that. Ippo generally has the ability (some call it magic) to glue me to the screen unless it involves way too dragged out boxing but the story of a heroic fisherman saving someone at the expense of his own life? Really? I guess the good parts were the aftermaths, particularly with Ippo waiting for his father to return and his mother getting her boat license. And then his father's cap actually did return. I may boast myself as a cold, emotionless monster but never let it be said that wasn't sad!
Eh, I guess it has seen better days but it was still a decent episode. They are not really selling me on this throwaway opponent here whose sole two trademarks are "Has something in common with Ippo/Ippo's father" and "Claims to beat the Dempsey Roll". That was the super-hook of last season's final episode but this time, it just fell flat. I guess it was generally too much of a fast-paced episode anyway as far as anything not-flashback-related was concerned. There weren't even any jokes unless you count in Takamura punching Aoki and that's fairly disappointing with an anime that's as great at the comedic side of things as this. Speaking of sidelined things, the other characters hardly got any screentime. They'll probably fix that once this match is done but eh, one of Ippo's main appeals are the great characters, so I hardly got what I was hoping for. And once again, the lazy setup for Ippo's opponent didn't help. They probably intend to rush through this so they can get to the meat of the season but that has left its traces. The poor guy didn't even get a spot in the opening. Even Volg got one. And Volg hasn't even been in this show for 40 episodes or so. Which probably amounts to ten years.
With all that said, neither of the former seasons' opening episodes were any good either and there's reason to believe things are going to get much better within the next few episodes. Not to mention how this was nevertheless actually decent and had an interesting cliffhanger. I still think it's probably better to marathon this season instead of watching it week-by-week, but we'll see.
Also, the ending has a running bear. BET YOUR FAVORITE SHOW DOESN'T HAVE THAT!