Looking back at my original video... uhhh... rant, I must admit that I wasn't exactly all too clear in the video. Restrictions in time obviously keep me from saying as much as I would have liked, so here's a longer, more in-depth version of what I want to say:
Hajime no Ippo is indeed an excellent anime: The story in interesting and amusing, the characters are enjoyable to watch and occassoinally funny, and Tsuneo Imahori's soundtrack fits the show like a glove (not to mention that the opening themes get you into the show perfectly and the ending themes compliment the openings well). There are some flaws, though, like how the pacing a good bit on the slow side (though from what I can tell New Challenger does fix that somewhat), and I personally don't think that every single match
Ippo fights in has to be given about as much focus as the others. But I personally do love Hajime no Ippo.
Anyway, the biggest problem with Ippo lies not within the show itself, but in fact lies outside of the show: It's blind praisers. Granted, this doesn't apply to every fan of the show (especially since this would include me), but I have seen a lot
of the same stuff and variations of them being said when it comes to other boxing anime:
"Ippo is the only boxing anime you need"
"Why watch this when Ippo's better?"
"I was hoping that this would be like Ippo, but it looks like it's not worth watching/but it looks like it sucks"
Really, this seems to only happen with boxing anime, too. If you were to ask someone about baseball anime, for example, you'd get all kinds of recommendations, like Touch (or any Adachi baseball anime), Big Windup!, Major, Princess Nine, Taisho Baseball Girls, etc. But when it comes to boxing anime, it seems that a lot of fans feel that Hajime no Ippo is the only title worth watching and that all others aren't worth the time, a.k.a. "It's Ippo or Nothing". Such blind praise of Ippo and ignorance of other boxing anime is just ridiculous, and because of that I unfortunately have to call Hajime no Ippo... Overrated. I mean, even Geneon's release of the first anime makes it obvious: There are 16 DVDs that Geneon released, and there are 15 letters in the phrase "Ippo is Overrated", with the last DVD being the exclamation point to hit it home!
But let's take a look at some of these other "Ippo wannabes", and see if they truly are worth ignoring or if they're worth watching and enjoying on their own merit, perish the thought:
Joe vs. Joe
"I've never heard of it, so it must suck! Ippo's better!"
That would most likely be the most immediate reasoning one would use for this 6-episode OVA... Yeah, because any title that isn't really known of automatically sucks.
Anyway, this OVA was made back in 2003 and was an adaptation of a novel by Koichi Kimura, with the original story created by Ikki Kajiwara, who helped create Ashita no Joe. It's basic story about two men who met and fought in the outside world end up training and fight again inside the boxing ring is actually vey similar to Ashita no Joe's beginnings (not surprising considering Kajiwara helped create it). Though Animewho hasn't done another release since this OVA it's easily available at online stores like TRSI and Amazon. I definitely say that, while it's not Ippo-clone or Ippo-beater, it's still a good boxing story that does its job well. It's a pretty good boxing drama that gets you cheering for one of the Joes by the end. And, hey, the English dub is pretty good too, featuring Mike Sinterniklaas and Dan Green as the two Joes.
2008 was an odd year for boxing anime, as we got not only Joe vs. Joe but we also got a piece of the original legend itself, Ashita no Joe
"It's old! Old stuff sucks! Ippo's better by default!"
This would probably be the one of the more usual responses to this. I personally feel that dismissing something solely because of age is just silly and does nothing for your argument, but you just can't change that part of some people.
Anyway, Tai Seng brought over the first Ashita no Joe compilation movie, which was made in 1980 in order to get people ready for the Ashita no Joe 2 TV series which told the second half of the AnJ story. While it does gloss over some parts, the overall story of Joe Yabuki going from delinquent to professional boxer and meeting his future rival Rikiishi Tohru is still kept intact, and though it definitely is a creation of its time, at the same time the story truly is timeless and at 2.5 hours the movie definitely doesn't rush through everything. This must be selling at least OK, as TRSI has occassionally had to order more copies of the movie. Even though it's been about 2 years since Tai Seng released this movie I still hope that one day they'll bring over the second compilation movie, which tells the AnJ2 portion of the story and that way we can at least get the full story, even if it's in a basic and compressed version. Also, the movie, like the TV series, was directed by Osamu Dezaki; the man has probably one of the best resumes in all of animation, having directed the Black Jack OVA, Nobody's Boy Rami, Space Adventure Cobra, both Golgo 13 movies, and the Clannad movie, among many others. But it looks like even Dezaki isn't enough to make people want to check it out.
Ring ni Kakero 1
Oh boy, where do we start with this one?
"It's over-the-top, so it's obviously a parody of Ippo"
"OMG it's so unrealistic... Who watches this crap when you could watch Ippo?"
"If it's so good then why did it take so long to get animated?"
Really, most of the blind praise I see for Ippo comes at the expense of this anime. Also, the third example I just used is more of a potential question one might ask, since the original manga debuted in 1977 and the first season of the anime didn't air until 2004... Well, people like to forget that Hajime no Ippo debuted back in 1989 and didn't get animated until 2000, and a second show didn't air until 2009. So what took Ippo so long to get animated?
Anyway, this show is assaulted with insults before it even leaves the locker room, i.e. before a new season even airs. For some reason a lot of fans of sports anime have this attitude that they all have to be realistic, or at least slightly exaggerated, or it automatically isn't worth watching or just straight-out sucks. Really, this is a different topic, but I personally can't wrap my head around this, dare I say it, almost elitist attitude when it comes to sports anime. There seems to be this thought that if it's an over-the-top or unrealistic portrayal of a sport then it's automatically inferior to more realistic sports anime (and manga) and one can only enjoy it as a guilty pleasure... Uhhh, why is that the case, exactly? Ashita no Joe was also known for getting unrealistic in its later fights as well, not to mention the badass-but-unrealistic sight of Rikiishi Tohru taking out a heard of wild cows solely with his bare fists early on, yet no one would dare call that title "inferior" or a "guilty pleasure".
Anyway, yes, Ring ni Kakero 1 is an over-the-top and exaggerated boxing title, complete with "super blows" and whatnot. For some reason people tend to fixate solely on that aspect and completely ignore the fun characters, basic-but-still-interesting story, and the really great action. Oh yeah, and people do tend to acknowledge and then promptly ignore its age and legacy, solely so they can call the show cliché and simple... Yeah, completely ignore that this title was the originator of a lot of shonen manga's "clichés" and was just about as inspirational as Ashita no Joe, which Ring ni Kakero was itself inspired from. Really, I feel that that boxing anime and manga have three "pillars": Ashita no Joe, Ring ni Kakero, and Hajime no Ippo. All three deliver a different take of the sport, and most titles that have come since at least Joe and Ring tell sme variation of one of those stories.
Other Titles & Epilogue
Anyway, like I said, this a "really long" version and there's still plenty of titles I could talk about, like B.B.: Burning Blood
(a Joe vs. Joe-esque title from the 80s which features a good amount of emotion in it; Dezaki directed the 3-episode OVA adaptation), One-Pound Gospel
(Rumiko Takahashi's boxing story, which mixes in a romance story wtih boxing; the OVA was also directed by Dezaki), and Blazing Transfer Student
(a true parody of over-the-top shonen action titles in general, but features boxing as the style of combat), all of which are definiely quality titles but more than likely won't be given a fair shake by fans of Hajime no Ippo solely because "Ippo is better and the only one worth watching".
Really, all of this continual comparison to Ippo both overvalues and
undervalues Hajime no Ippo in general: It overvalues Ippo by making it seem god-like and really puts expectations to the point where it becomes unrealistic, but it also undervalues Ippo by making it seem like it must be beaten by something; it seems like these blind praisers continually compare other boxing anime to Ippo both so that they can continue to pimp out Ippo (which, depending on were they "pimp it", might be useless to do so as there might be plenty of fans of it already) but at the same time it's like they're looking for something that can actually beat Ippo. It really just adds to the unrealistic expectations for not only Ippo and each individual show that's compared to it, but it also seems to hurt the genre of boxing anime itself.
And, of course, the most obvious question? What about if someone has already watched all of Hajime no Ippo and New Challenger (and is caught up to the manga, unless they just don't read manga), but they want to watch another boxing anime? Are they just to be told that nothing else is worth watching solely because they won't match up to Ippo? These titles just can't be enjoyable on their own and have to continualy be compared to Ippo?
Man... Hajime no Ippo is Overrated!