|Japanese Title:||ザ ファースト ステップ|
|Romanized Title:||za fāsuto suteppu|
|Arc:||Early Days Arc|
|Anime Episodes:||Round 1 (S1 - 01)|
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- Characters Introduced: Makunouchi Ippo, Makunouchi Hiroko, Umezawa Masahiko, Takemura, Matsuda, Takamura Mamoru, Aikawa
- Techniques Introduced: Straight, Jab
- Locations Introduced: Shiritsu Zoujirushi High School, Kamogawa Boxing Gym, Makunouchi Fishing Boat
- Mentioned Boxers: Mike Tyson
- Title Page Character(s): Ippo stands in the boxing ring with his arms stretched, laying on the ropes.
Makunouchi Ippo, a regular student at the Shiritsu Zoujirushi High School whose work at his family's fishing boat company is limiting his social interactions with schoolmates, rejects a proposal to go to the movies after school (much to his classmate's annoyance) due to his night shift at work.
After his classmates leave, Ippo begins walking home but is shortly stopped by school bully Umezawa Masahiko and his friends who proceed to insult a submissive Ippo in order to provoke a reaction from him. Unsuccessful in their attempts, they insult his mother, Makunouchi Hiroko, which causes him to show anger, but he refrains himself from physical actions and gets beaten into submission. The trio is soon stopped by a jogging Takamura Mamoru, who with an impressive display of evasive skill that intimidates the bullies, causes them to run and leave the area. Doubtful at first, he takes Ippo (now unconscious) to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym.
Awakening to the sound of people practicing Ippo once again meets his savior who expresses his disliking towards bullies and weak people before telling him to leave once he feels better. However, noticing that Ippo is "frustrated to the point of crying", he lets him do something "fun" by taping a crudely drawn picture of Umezawa on the sandbag. He then tells Ippo to punch the bag with all his strength. After a couple failed attempts (at which gym members laugh) and a small tutorial on follow-up movements for a Straight, he punches the bag with all his might, causing it to fly backwards from the powerful blow surprising everyone. Ippo, ecstatic from the feeling punching the sandbag had brought, does not notice the skin from his knuckles had torn from his fist. The jogger takes him to the medical room where applies bandages to his hand and inspects his well-built muscles. He suggests that he seeks revenge against the bullies but noticing Ippo's submissive attitude, he gives him a set of tapes of Mike Tyson's greatest knockouts and tells a story on how the champion was also bullied before discovering his true power. Ippo, hearing this, feels as if he could be reborn as well and becomes entranced with boxing. As Takamura notices the time and leaves for roadwork, Ippo heads back home.
Upon arriving home, Ippo helps his mother with the work, displaying his strength that surprises the customers. After seeing his bruises, she insist that at his age, he should focus on his personal life and leave work to her. After seeing the clients off, Ippo watches in awe the video of Tyson which inspires him to pick up boxing as he wonders "How it feels to be strong?".
Determined to learn boxing, he catches a jogging Takamura who wonders how Ippo knows his name, the latter replies by showing a magazine where Takamura can be seen as a Rookie King. Ippo tells Takamura he wants to become a pro boxer, the latter, disturbed at the idea of boxing being taken lightly, angrily tells him not to underestimate it and to not compare himself to Tyson. Upon hearing Ippo's real feelings, Takamura gives him a challenge he demonstrates; to collect ten falling leaves via a series of quick punches in seven days. Should he succeed, Takamura will agree to train him.
Having been underestimating the technique at first, Ippo becomes frustrated at his own inability to perform it correctly. In his frustration, he trains for hours and even forgets about work, worried at first, he sees a letter from his mother which encourages to keep up with the activity he is doing. After several days of failed attempts, he reflects on his struggle and notices Takamura's fist formation and speed, quickly adapting himself to perform the technique on the eve of the promised day. Happy with his progress, Ippo shows Takamura his newly acquired skill in his fatigued state the next morning. Takamura, taken by surprise and in disbelief that he was able to do it with only one hand, states that it couldn't be helped, and praises Ippo on his jabs. Ecstatic with the praise, he practices his jabs on Takamura's open palms at the latter’s request. Angry at an uncontrolled Ippo, Takamura knocks him on the head to stop him and subsequently runs away with Ippo following him closely behind.
- This is the first chapter of the Early Days Arc.
- Introduction of many main and side characters. Notably, Makunouchi Ippo, Takamura Mamoru and Umezawa Masahiko.
- The Straight and Jab are used for the first time.
- Introduction of Shiritsu Zoujirushi High School, Makunouchi Fishing Boat and Kamogawa Boxing Gym.
- Ippo, Aikawa, Umezawa, Takemura and Matsuda are students at the Shiritsu Zoujirushi High School.
- Ippo and Hiroko work at the Makunouchi Fishing Boat.
- Takamura is a member at the Kamogawa Boxing Gym.
- Ippo is beaten up by Umezawa until he is saved by Takamura.
- Ippo throws his first straight, shredding the skin on his hand. According to gym mates, it happens to a lot of hard punchers.
- Ippo finds out Takamura's name and victory at the All Japan Rookie King Tournament by reading a magazine.
- Ippo wants to be strong like Takamura and a person like Mike Tyson. He also wants to know what it feels to be strong, which is the reason he wants to start boxing.
- Takamura has Ippo catch 10 leaves in one week in order for Takamura to train him for boxing. Ippo then catches 10 leaves with one hand while Takamura watches.
- Despite being explained and demonstrated for the first time, the Straight, is not mentioned by name until the third chapter.
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