Stars! They’re just like us. While I don’t possess the same rippling abdominal muscles as Michael B. Jordan, he and I do share a passion for anime. It’s no small secret that Jordan is a lowkey otaku. Over the years, he has publicly geeked out about fan-favorite shows like Bleach, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z. Buy his fandom goes even deeper than you might expect. It’s something that I discovered firsthand when I traveled to Philadelphia to interview the actor about Creed II, in which he reprises his role as boxing phenom and Rocky Balboa disciple Adonis Creed.
Fun fact: there is a massive subset of anime that focuses entirely on sports and a surprising amount of it is specifically about boxing. Knowing that Jordan is an anime fan, I couldn’t help but ask him to tell us all about his favorite boxing anime, and he did not disappoint with his selection: Hajime no Ippo.
Created as a manga by George Morikawa in 1989, Hajime no Ippo (or “The First Step”) is the story of Ippo Makunouchi, a shy high school student who was constantly bullied by his peers. One day, after taking the beating of a lifetime, Ippo was saved by a professional boxer who just so happened to be passing by. After dusting off young Ippo, the boxer took him to his training gym where they quickly discovered that Ippo had a real knack for boxing. What follows is a thrilling, fist-pumping story about a young man coming into his own as he embarks on a career in professional boxing.
In the year 2000, Hajime no Ippo was adapted into a 76 episode anime series and there have been several sequel series and original animated video follow-ups too. The series is notable for its epic fight scenes, extensive and seemingly interminable inner monologues that happen mid-fight, and Ippo’s signature move, the Dempsey Roll. As someone who spent a summer in high school bingeing the ever-loving heck out of this series, I can assure you that it straight-up rules. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Michael B. Jordan in the video above and let him tell you exactly why you need this boxing anime in your corner.