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October 31, 2010

A Hajime no Ippo manga review. Specifically, Itagaki vs Karasawa.

So I just finished reading chapter 911 of Hajime no Ippo…

And it was laaaaaame.

So check it out, Itagaki is the main character’s junior. He idolizes the main character (Makunouchi Ippo).

Unlike the main character, he’s uber talented. He’s one of the few characters in this series with super powers. Seeing as this is a work of fiction, it’s not unusual for a character’s abilities to be exaggerated. But Itagaki’s “genius” is so profound, that the only way he doesn’t have super powers is the same way that Batman doesn’t have super powers. Which is to say, he DOES have super powers, it just isn’t acknowledged as such.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering. His super power is that he’s so fast, he can enter Bullet Time (which also sometimes makes him invisible). He’s also able to copy any move he’s seen without even needing to practice it and he’s got the flexibility of Copperhead/Gumby/Dr. Impossible. However, he’s noted as having no power and he can’t take a hit worth a lick.

But he isn’t a bad character per se. He’s quite honestly, always been a Mary Sue. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a Scrappy. There are times when he enters that realm, but generally, he stays out of it by virtue of hanging out with the other loser side characters most of the time.

Anyway, he’s in this A-Rank tourney thingy, and the two top guys he’ll have to face are Karasawa and Saeki. Karasawa is such a minor character, he’s practically an obscure character. His only claim to fame is being completely destroyed by Ippo in one of the few matches where Ippo won handily. And Ippo was even holding back by not using his ultimate attack pattern.

In other words, Karasawa frankly doesn’t stand a chance against Itagaki. He never did. He’s just a setup for the real face-off between Itagaki and Saeki.

But here’s the thing. Itagaki wanted to “challenge” Ippo by beating his time against Karasawa. Ippo, a power puncher, won in 2 minutes and 15 seconds into the 2nd round. Itagaki, a speedster, succeeds by winning the match in 2 minutes, 13 seconds into the 2nd round.

The problem is, he did it in the most bullshit way imaginable.

What happened was, Karasawa dominated the first round. He was overwhelmed by Itagaki’s speed at first, but he used his experience to get the upper hand. In the end, he gave Itagaki quite a beating and even managed to severely injure Itagaki’s right fist. The second round began, and it looked more or less like a repeat of what’s been happening. Karasawa manages to use his experience to stonewall Itagaki.

Then Itagaki decides to forget about trying to beat Ippo’s record and just focus on making small gains in the match to regain his momentum. He circles Karasawa, going faster and faster. Karasawa’s able to follow him at first, but eventually, Itagaki becomes too fast and Karasawa begins to lose sight of him. Itagaki manages to tag Karasawa, which builds his confidence. And very soon, he’s just running around all over the place while tagging Karasawa every so often while waiting for an opportunity to throw his right. Since his right was injured earlier, he’d only be able to throw it a couple times before it’d break.

Finally, he tags Karasawa with a couple left barrages and Karasawa abruptly falls over. The ref stops the fight.

This is complete and utter bullshit on so many levels. Especially when it turned out that Itagaki managed to beat Ippo’s time.

For one thing, by the time Itagaki managed to rally himself, there was simply no more time for him to beat Ippo’s record with. At least, not the way the match went. Second of all, Itagaki cherry tapping Karasawa to unconsciousness was just plain silly. There are so many factors and references as to why it shouldn’t have happened in the context of this series that I’m not even going to elaborate in detail. Suffice it to say, it made little sense in terms of story continuity.

Third… the way the ref simply stopped the match… I don’t know how I feel about this. You see, the referee in Hajime no Ippo is the manga equivalent of Mills Lane, or your standard pro wrestling referee. He makes absurdly bad calls all the time, so much so that as a reader, you accept the fact that he follows the Law of Narrative Causality, rather than common sense or logic. So while his decision to stop this match is just plain silly, it’s not something that’s unexpected by this character.

Ugh, the thing with Itagaki vs Karasawa is, the first round was actually kind of interesting. Karasawa did some interesting things that made you believe that even if he’s destined to lose, it should have been impossible for Itagaki to break Ippo’s record. Then all of a sudden, it felt like the manga-ka just got tired of the match and decided to kill it asap. It’s like, he realized that 1) No one in their right mind should expect Itagaki to lose at this point because 1.2) It’s just not good story telling to have Itagaki lose here. And 2) If he continues making this match interesting and drawn out, Itagaki won’t be able to beat Ippo’s record, and he needs to give Itagaki some momentum going into the inevitable Itagaki vs Saeki match-up.

Unfortunately, this just resulted in a bullshit ending for an inconsequential match that only served to push Itagaki toward Scrappy-dom. It doesn’t help that this is right off of the Ippo vs Woli match, which was a pretty reviled match as Ippo’s opponent, Woli, was a complete Gary Stu. And it doubly doesn’t help that Itagaki was highly reminiscent of Woli in the last chapter or two of this (Itagaki vs Karasawa) match.

Abrupt blog end here.

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