Recap: Three women vie for Ippo’s attention…or something. Meanwhile, Aoki prepares for his title fight.
Gee’s Thoughts: Compared to the previous episodes, we get more of a breather this time around. As Ippo recovers from his damage, Nanako, Kumi, and Mari all make separate unplanned visits to the unconscious boxer. Some cattiness ensues, but thankfully Ippo’s mother reminds them all why they’re actually there. It’s the usual combination of earnest sincerity and comedy that HNI has always happily straddled. In the end, while she fears for Ippo’s safety, she’s proud of her son, and that’s really all that needs to be said.
Speaking of straddling sincerity and comedy, we go back to the Kamogawa Gym to see Aoki doing rather…poorly at preparing for his title fight. First dropping so much weight he turns into a skeleton, then proceeding to put on enough to qualify as a sumo wrestler, it’s easy to see why Aoki is little more than comic relief in this series. Despite that, we get some poignant moments with him and his bro Kimura. Sure, they might be those two guys at the gym, but they’re damn good fighters with a lot of heart. It really makes you want to root for them, despite all their failings.
Still, the current champ in Aoki’s weightclass seems to be his polar opposite; a humorless orthodox boxer with little time for games or silliness in the ring. Having analyzed Aoki’s fighting style, the Kamogawa Gym’s designated butt monkey might have quite the uphill battle ahead of him.