First Look: Ippon Again!

Alternative title(s): Mou Ippon!
Manga adaptation by BAKKEN RECORD
Streaming on HIDIVE

Premise

With her arrival in high school, Michi is determined to leave her old hobby of Judo behind her. Howeever, the girl who beat her in her final match, Towa, turns out to be a classmate, and she’s determined to recruit Michi into her efforts to revive the school Judo club.

Zigg’s verdict: The Same Thing Again!

I’m really really torn about Ippon Again!. I want to like this show. It has so much going for it – a lovely, rounded art style, suprisingly good animation (well, sometimes) in the Judo sequences, some great voice acting, sharp writing and good characters even after one just one episode, and a pleasing lack of creep factor. And yet, and yet….there’s no getting away from the fact that we have seen this exact setup – cute girls revive moribund school club/group activity – countless times in the past and it’s become one of the most tiresome anime cliches out there. In fact, we even saw a pretty prominent example just last season in Do It Yourself!!, which possessed even higher levels of polish but was equally devoid of truly new ideas. In fact, Ippon Again! even manages to pull in a second genre of cliches, what with Michi’s determination to quit Judo only to be hauled back in.

It’s possible to build a compelling story on the back of familiar tropes of course, and shows such as A Place Further Than the Universe were able to subvert and play with expectations to tell genuinely new and interesting stories. But that required a level of care and craft which was very unusual, and while Ippon Again! seems to be made with a lot of love there’s not really any indication that it can step up to that level. As it is, it’s tough for me to unreservedly recommend Ippon Again! to anyone who isn’t fully in the tank for this kind of show. Unfortunately it very much appears to be a case of familiarity breeding contempt.

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