Hajime no Ippo's Protagonist Shocks Fans With Announcement in Latest Chapter
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Warning: This article contains spoilers for George Morikawa's Hajime no Ippo manga.
The protagonist of George Morikawa's Hajime no Ippo manga announced in the latest chapter, which debuted in this year's eighth issue of Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine on Wednesday, that he is retiring from professional boxing. The news shocked fans of the long-running boxing series.
In the series' 1,208th chapter, titled "Kinoha" (Foliage), Makunouchi Ippo visits the doctor and discusses concerns about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The condition, which has also been known as "punch drunk," affects people who have had multiple head injuries. Symptoms include problems in behavior, mood, and thinking. Most of the known cases of the neurodegenerative disease have been documented among athletes in contact sports.
Ippo's doctor tells him in the chapter that it is impossible to diagnose CTE until examining the brain after death, but he warns Ippo that continuing to box would be dangerous. Ippo then goes to the head of his gym and tells him that, although he is healthy at present, he plans to retire.
Fans of the manga have been continuing to anticipate Ippo's next match against his rival Ichirō Miyata or WBA Featherweight Champion Ricardo Martinez. Some readers were left in disbelief after Ippo's announcement.
The J-Cast News website contacted the manga's current editor at Kodansha to discuss the new turning point in the story. The editor, who also described himself as someone who has read the series from its first chapter, said he was also shocked when he learned of Ippo's retirement announcement. However, he confirmed Ippo's plans to retire.
When asked about his feelings on the fan response to the announcement, the editor said he had heard that fans criticized Morikawa's decision to have Ippo announce retirement. He added that Morikawa said he is still dedicated to producing the series that his fans support.
Morikawa launched Hajime no Ippo in 1989, and the series is his only manga. The series went on a brief hiatus last June due to Morikawa's poor physical condition. Kodansha released the 119th compiled book volume in November, and the 120th volume will ship in March.
The manga inspired a television anime adaptation in 2000, followed by the Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger sequel in 2009 and the Hajime no Ippo Rising sequel in 2013. The series also inspired the Hajime no Ippo - Champion Road special and the Hajime no Ippo - Mashiba vs. Kimura original video anime in 2003. Geneon Entertainment released the first television anime season on DVD in North America before the company ceased operations in 2007.