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Hajime no Ippo Manga (初の一歩?, lit. “The First Step”) is a Japanese boxing manga series written and illustrated by George Morikawa. It is often serialized by Kodansha in Weekly Shōnen Magazine since 1989 andgathered in over 114 tankōbon to date. It follows the storyline of high schoolpupil Makunouchi Ippo, as he begins his career in boxing and over time obtains many titles anddefeats various adversaries.

Ippo Makunouchi was an exceptionally timid high school student who never hadthe time to make friends because he was always busy helping their family fishing charter business runs. Because he kept to himself, a group of bulliesled by Umezawa got into the habit of picking on him. One day, he was given a beatingthat was quite serious by these bullies. A middleweight professional boxer who was passing by stopped the bullies and took thewounded Ippo to the Kamogawa Gym (鴨川ボクシングジム Kamogawa Bokushingu Jimu?), owned by retired boxer GenjiKamogawa, to treat his wounds. After Ippo woke to

hajime-no-ippo-manga
Hajime no Ippo Manga

the sounds of fighters training, the fighter who saved him, Mamoru Takamura, strove to cheer upIppo by letting him vent his frustrations on a sandbag. It was then that they had their first glance into Ippo’stalent for boxing. After that episode, Ippo determined he would like tostart a career as a professional fighter and gave the situation a lot of idea. He gets verbally reprimanded whenhe shares this message to Mamoru Takamura: Takamura believed Ippo was choosing professional boxing too softly.Yet, Takamura believed he couldn’t outright refuse Ippo,notably since his feat of punching the sandbagconsiderably more difficult than anybody else in the fitness center(except for Takamura). Hence, he challenges Ippo to catch 10 leaves that are falling from a tree concurrently after a week of training, completely convinced that Ippowould fail, Takamura jogs away as he continues his roadwork.

However, after a week of demanding training, entailing nightly hours, Ippomanages the technique in the nick of time. Takamura impresses greatly, and he tells Ippo that theactions required to catch all 10 leaves is called a boxing jab. Ippo is invited by Takamura back to the boxing gym for introductions.

When they got back to the fitness center, Takamura, wasn’t in any wayimpressed by Makunouchi’s lack of fighting spirit, and hence, challenged Genji Kamogawa, thecoach to have an exercise spar against a member of the fitness center. Nonetheless, Kamogawa decides to give Ippoan intense challenge and tells him to spar with Miyata, who’s 16, the same age as Ippo. Miyata is called a boxing prodigy and is one of Kamogawa gym’s future hopes. Takamura getsincredibly worried with this prospect, as Miyata skill is way above the four-rounder ace boxer. As expected, Ippo loses by KO, but not until Miyata battles dodging his punches and eventuallyends the match with his trump card : “The Counter”. Trainer Kamogawadetermines that he has excellent fighting sense and spirit and decides totrain him to eventually become the Japanese champ with a world standing whileMiyata became the OPBF (Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation) Champ. Fight each other for the world champion’s belt, both areexpected to hit high in the positions and, eventually.

Hajime no Ippo Manga focuses heavily on character development— during the matches something is learnedabout both combatants. Ippo has a habit of giving him a chance tolearn more about their histories, running into hisopponents before matches and even sympathize with them. Ippo is an incredibly timid and modest individual who never supposesthat he is powerful enough. He instead draws courage fromrecognizing that he has the capacity to stand up to it and seeing the potency of his opponent. Ippo and his friendlyrivalry with Miyata is the chief draw inthe early part of the series. That later changes to Ippo’s path toward the Japanese FeatherweightTournament and eventually the world championship. Along the way the audience is given glimpses into the other characters ’ pasts,motivations, relationships to others, and current boxing trials. The series is rounded out by a vibrant cast of supporting characters andadversaries as well as side stories concerning their paths in the boxingworld.

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