Saeki Takuma (冴木 • 卓麻 lit. saeki takuma) is a recurring character in Hajime no Ippo.
His surname is Saeki. In Japan, surnames are listed before given names.
|Japanese Name||冴木 卓麻|
|Birth date||April 7, 1970|
|Height||170.2 cm (5'7")|
|Reach||195.6 cm (77")|
|Stance||Orthodox boxing stance|
|Current Affiliation||Kawai Boxing Gym|
|Trainer||Kawai Boxing Gym trainer|
|Date(s) Retired||c 1997|
|Wins by KO||5|
|Manga Debut||Round 138|
|Anime Debut||Round 43 (The Fighting)|
|Voice Actor||Yanada Kiyoyuki|
It is mentioned in the anime that Saeki attended a sports university and was part of their boxing team, but was never fond of the fact that one could achieve the same victory for touching someone with gloves as knocking them out completely. Soon after, Saeki left the team and turned to the pro ring where he climbed the ranks and eventually became known as Speed Star for his unmatched speed and flexibility in the ring.
Saeki first appears in the anime as Ippo's first-round Class-A Tournament opponent, fighting for the right to become Japan's number one contender for the championship title match in the featherweight division against Date Eiji. The match remains strictly one-sided for the preliminary rounds, with Saeki displaying his full speed and talent for out-boxing and Ippo barely being able to land a single punch. Saeki eventually blinds Ippo's depth perception by using a series of flicker jabs to cause swelling in the latter's right eye. Saeki goes on to attack Ippo's blind spot and quickly pushes him to the ropes. However, Ippo makes a startling comeback in the third round, predicting Saeki's rhythm and punching in places he expected him to be. Saeki loses by KO in the fourth round.
He is seen congratulating Ippo after the match in high spirits. When questioned about his injuries Saeki answers with confidence that his legs are still fine, so he himself would turn out fine as well. After the statement Saeki leaves.
Saeki's next appearance in the anime is during his title challenge with Naniwa Tiger Sendou Takeshi, where he loses in a record time of 67 seconds by KO.
He returns again in the manga, having climbed back up in the ranks to once again challenge the Class-A Tournament. It is revealed that Saeki will be fighting Ippo's kouhai Itagaki Manabu in the ring, a highly anticipated match against two extremely fast and talented out-boxers.
During the match, Saeki severely overwhelms Itagaki by showing superior speed in the preliminary rounds. In the later rounds however, Itagaki uses his own version of the Ali Shuffle (known as the Itagaki Shuffle) to catch Saeki off-guard. Saeki, with a weakened body and failing legs, ultimately falls to Itagaki's newfound strength.
|LOSS||12-3-0||Itagaki Manabu||KO||4(6), 1:28||1997||Tokyo, Japan||Class A Tournament Finals|
|WIN||12-2-0||Maezono Makoto||KO||5(6)||1997||Tokyo, Japan||Class A Tournament Semi-Finals|
|LOSS||4-2-0||Sendou Takeshi||KO||1(10), 1:07||1993-07||Osaka, Japan||Japanese Featherweight Title Match|
|LOSS||4-1-0||Makunouchi Ippo||KO||4(6), 2:12||1992-07||Tokyo,Japan||"Speed Star" Class-A Tournament, Round 1|
Saeki has a muscular complexion, as with most boxers and a relatively darkened skin tone. He grows his dark brown hair long and shoulder length, choosing to tie it up in a pony tail during boxing matches and training. His eyebrows are thin and his eyes are slanted with dark brown/black pupils.
|-||Speed Star||スピード・スター||Speed Star|
Saeki is essentially a hard worker with a passion for boxing. He has utmost confidence in his legs and his speed in the ring, a confidence he fortifies through a sparring match with Date Eiji where the latter failed to catch him even once in multiple rounds. Despite hearing that Date disliked his style of fighting, Saeki took the statement as a compliment. Unlike any other character in the series, Saeki seems to share a personal bond with his legs and feet, frequently mentally conversing with them to keep himself standing in fights. He calls his legs guys, as shown in his fight against Itagaki when they were failing him.
He is on good terms with previous gymmates as well as opponents in the ring, and displays excellent sportsmanship regardless of the outcome of the match.
Saeki is a famous out-boxer with the ring name "Speed Star" for his unmatched speed and prowess in matches. As an out-boxer, Saeki's style of fighting is similar to fellow flicker jab user Mashiba Ryou. His boxing sense combined with his sharpened footwork make for a deadly combination even Date Eiji couldn't keep up with.
Despite Saeki's confidence in his speed, the condition of his legs have been shown to deteriorate between his matches against Makunouchi Ippo and Itagaki Manabu, eventually failing him in a match against the latter.
His boxing style is also mentioned by Ippo to be "too perfect", or refined to the point of predictability. An opponent with decent boxing sense would always be able to predict where Saeki is in the ring.