Earlier this year I decided to use the fact that Hajime no Ippo was to get a third season to shake myself off the fence and actually dive into this thing.
The results were pretty darn impressive if you ask me. Starting out, I wasn't really expecting to actually catch up on the anime in time for season 2 (which would require me to watch 102 episodes and a movie in 2 months), but I didn't take into account this show's very, very addictive pacing. Sure, perhaps it starts a bit slow, with Ippo's tale not being much more then your typical underdog tale, but that feeling didn't really last long, and by the time he had a couple legit matches under his belt, I was all in on this thing. Pretty much the biggest thing that kept me interested in this show early on were the varied foes that Ippo would come across. For the most part, this isn't a series that's content with getting the viewers behind one side by casting the opponents as "antagonists". Nah man, here we get a series that characterizes the various opponents the main characters come across as more then just cannon fodder or bad dudes (although it does this sometimes, not that this is a complaint since the matches are still entertaining as fuck).
The fights themselves, while they do tend to overuse certain cliches (like "he can't possibly stand up from that one" for example), and most of the outcomes are rather predictable since it's not really too hard to figure out the direction the story is shooting for with each fight. Yet still they are always a blast since with each new combatant comes a new angle of the sport to keep shit from getting stale. I don't even mind the minute long monologues that sometimes take place just as that one big shot is about to land.because by then the adrenaline is already at a ridiculous high by that point and those moments are always saved for the most important showdowns. That and I just love all the super moves, .
Another thing that landed this show amongst my favorites is that it really, really know's how to build hype. Never will I find a show that make training arcs and cool down periods as good as this one. The pre-fight training often reminded me of why I used to watch UFC stuff. Not because of the fights themselves (I get bored seeing dudes in trunks grappling each other on the floor for entire rounds, sorry) but the pre-fight specials where we'd get to follow the two combatants daily lives during the months leading up to the big scrap. I like to see these battles be given weight on both sides, that way I know that both physically and mentally each combatant will leave the ring a different man, for better or for worse, and this is what Hajime no Ippo understands full well.
One last thing I'd like to call attention to would be the downtime the characters have when their not training or fighting, specifically the fun and often stupid character interactions. This isn't an anime that devotes large swaths of time to irrelevant matters, but when it is having dumb fun, it's pretty hilarious. There's a certain, unbreakable bro like loyalty between the fellas at Kamogawa gym that make them the sort of folks I'd like to train alongside. The crass dude humor is perfectly in line with the personality of the characters and doesn't go far enough to take away from the storyline. The shower scenes in which Takamura would casually grope Ippo's large member for example, scenes like that make their friendship feel pretty genuine.
Takamura is the greatest bro one could ask for