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Hajime no Ippo

Hajime no Ippo (The First Step) in full, Hajime no Ippo: THE FIGHTING!, is a boxing manga series created by Jyoji "George" Morikawa which is serialized by Kodansha in Weekly Shonen Magazine; its anime adaptation being known in the US as Fighting Spirit.

The manga has been running since 1990 and currently spans 84 tankobon and is currently one of the longest manga ever. A 76-episode anime adaption was produced by Madhouse, the Nippon TV Network and VAP, directed by Satoshi Nishimura and ran on the Nippon TV Network from October 2000 to March 2002. One OVA and a movie were also produced. It was announced that the anime would be licensed in North America by Geneon at the end of 2003. Geneon released it as Fighting Spirit. It was called Knockout in the Philippines.

In 1991, the manga won the Kodansha Manga Award for shonen.

Story

Ippo Makunouchi is a very shy high school student who never had the time to make friends because he was always busy helping his mother with the family charter boat fishing business. Because he kept to himself, a group of bullies lead by Umezawa got into the habit of picking on him. On one particular day these bullies decided to give him a rather serious beating, but a middle-weight professional boxer who was passing by stopped the bullies and took the injured Ippo to the Kamogawa Gym, owned by retired boxer Genji Kamogawa, to treat his wounds. After Ippo awoke to the sounds of boxers training, the boxer who saved him, Mamoru Takamura, tried to cheer Ippo up by letting him vent his frustrations on a sandbag. It was then that they had their first glimpse into Ippo's talent for boxing. After that incident, Ippo started his regular training and began his path in Japan's professional boxing.

The story focuses heavily on character development, even during the matches something is learned about the fighters. Ippo and his friendly rivalry with Miyata is the main draw in the early part of the series. That later changes to Ippo's path towards the Japanese Featherweight Championship and eventually the world championship. Along the way we are given glimpses into the other side character's pasts, motivations, relationships to others and current boxing trials.

The anime series has two spin-off movies that were actually part of the manga. Champion Road, which takes place after Ippo becomes the Japanese Featherweight Champion and showcases his first defense of the title, and Kimura Vs. Mashiba, which pits one of Ippo's senpai (upper classmen) Kimura against the Japanese lightweight champion Mashiba (the brother of Ippo's love interest).

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