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Ippo Makunocuhi's gentle spirit and lack of confidence make him an easy target for the bullies at his high school who regularly beat him up.Then, he's rescued from a beating by Takamura, a-larger-than-life professional boxer who inspires Ippo to learn the art of boxing.After passing one of Takamura's outrageous tests, Ippo attempts to join the Kamogawa Boxing Club, but Chief Kamogawa refuses to believe Ippo has a fighter's spirit and requires Ippo to spar with Miyata, an extraordinarily talented and skilled boxer.Can Ippo even survive the first round?!

Based on the best-selling sports manga in Japan, Hajime no Ippo, Fighting Spirit was animated by Madhouse (Trigun, Chobits, Texhnolyze) and directed by Satoshi Nishimura (Trigun, Street Fighter Alpha)!

The first DVD contains 5 episodes:

The First step – Young Ippo is tormented by bullies on a daily basis. Until one day, a chance encounter with Takamura, a larger than life professional boxer. The chance encounter inspires Ippo to be a boxer. Will he be able to make the first step into his new dream?

Fruits of Labor – The first obstacle in Ippo dream is getting past Takamura’s unusual test. Struggling to grasp 10 leaves before they hit the ground is proving to be more difficult that originally thought. Will all the hard work and dedication prove fruitful or will Ippo be unsuccessful in achieving his goals?

Tears of Joy – After struggling to meet Takamura’s challenge young Ippo forces his body to limits that were thought impossible to reach. Now, young Ippo must face a new challenge, in order to be accepted in to a gym he must prove his determination if he wants to be a boxer. To prove what he has, he must spar with Miyata, an extraordinarily talented young boxer. Will he be able to prove his determination or will his dream be killed in the ring.

Shadow Boxing – After his first sparing match Ippo is more determine then ever to become a professional boxer. Being accepted into the gym, Ippo beings his training session with the gym’s chief, with the personalized training Ippo is beginning to release his hidden talent. Having to shadow box for the first time, Ippo analyzes his opponents’ moves in order to improve his techniques.

3 Months to counter – Ippo begins his 3 month journey to his rematch against Miyata, he starts by getting to know him better not only in the ring but outside of the ring as well. With the chief punishing Ippo, to increase his mental and physical endurance will the punishment led to a victory in the ring or will Ippo be knocked out.

The animation for the series was amazing crisp clean. Every character seemed to have unique level of detail to them. In the training and fighting scenes the animation seems to have a raw, captivating feel to it, which helps to draw the viewer in. The style of animation reminds me of Great Teacher Onizuka. The audio just plain amazing, with trilingual Audio featuring English 2.0, Japanese 2.0 and Spanish 2.0. With two English subtitle streams dialog and signs or signs only.

What are some of the additional features this disc has to offer? The extras section for this includes a blooper and outtakes section where the voice actors have a little fun with their lines. Next in the section are the previews for upcoming releases by Geneon, credits for the voice actors in the Spanish version, staff credits and finally the DVD credits. I would have to say the DVD extra’s were disappointing, due to the lack of features from this disc. I was hoping there would be additional bonus features, such as a photo gallery or character biographies. Hopefully in the next disc there will be additional features.

What is my impression of fighting spirit so? I would have to say it’s a series with tons of potential, after watching the first disk and becoming familiar with Ippo and the characters that surround him, I’ve become drawn into the story. In the typical fashion of DVD distribution they end the first disc with a great episode that compels me to go out and purchase the next disc just to see how Ippo’s rematch against Miyata will turn out. For those that enjoy watching a gritty tough anime series, with a good sense of humor thrown in, then fight your way into your wallet and buy this disc. For those looking to watch something new that will sure to entertain, then this would be a definite good rental.

Animation: 7 / 10
Story: 8 / 10
Audio: 8 / 10
Video: 9 / 10
Extras: 6 / 10
Impact Rating: 7 / 10

Overall Rating 75%

By Matt Capranos

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