Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
After the revelation that Nanbu was planning on having Joe throw his entry match in Megalonia last week, Team Nowhere was scattered to the winds. Sachio was placed in the care of Yukiko Shirato by Nanbu – hoping to keep him safe from Fujimaki and the mob.
Joe took off on his bike, and Nanbu contemplated his decision and basically just spent a lot of time getting drunk. This week, after some uncertainty over whether Joe would show up for the fight at all, he finally goes toe-to-toe with his first Megalonia opponent: The “Bloody Lion” – Glen Burroughs!
When it’s time for Joe’s announcement, he shocks the crowd and his fans by stepping out of the shadows wearing…a gear?!
It’s the same low-class gear he wore in the early episodes, and as he enters the ring with it on, there are murmurs of disappointment and concern. It gives the impression that Gearless “Naked Boy” Joe couldn’t win the fight without it.
Meanwhile, Nanbu, Fujimaki and his goons are overseeing the fight from an executive suite. Fujimaki’s associate explains that Joe is set to throw the fight a minute into the 3rd round. Joe, surprisingly, has Nanbu’s earpiece in and can hear him through the fight, though he finds himself ignoring Nanbu’s advice more often than not.
Despite the junky gear and Glen’s tremendous power, Joe demonstrates his exceptional growth in a rather short time-frame. He easily maneuvers away from Glen’s powerful swings, taking hits as needed and “putting on a good show” for the audience. It appears that he’s prepared to throw the fight after all, even though he demonstrates that, if he wanted to, he could lay Glen out pretty quickly.
Nanbu is also on top of his game, offering insightful suggestions on how to counter Glen’s fighting style.
Yuri and Yukiko are watching as well, and Yuri seems disturbed by Joe’s performance. First, the fact that he entered the ring with Gear on, and secondly, his trained eyes can spot that Joe is holding back in the match.
As the fight is happening, Sachio is disheartened – disappointed by both of the mentor figures in his life, he runs off and does some impassioned shadow-boxing while rapping. It sounds surreal, but the street urchin providing the rugged rap soundtrack to Megalo Box makes a lot of sense.
Round 3 arrives, and Joe’s ready to go down as planned. Just as Glen’s punch is about to connect, Sachio appears and shouts words of encouragement to Joe.
The punch connects, and Joe goes down. Security goes to collect Sachio and escort him away, and just then Yuri appears. His intimidating presence immediately pacifies the security force, and he offers a chilling comment to Joe:
Sensing that Joe is throwing the fight, eager to fight “the real deal”, Yuri offers encouragement the best way he knows how – challenging Joe to meet him at his level.
Even still, Joe’s consciousness fades, his eyes slowly closing…when Nanbu’s voice fills his head and tells him to get up!
After Fujimaki confesses that he plans on having Joe fight for him in his ring until the day he dies, Nanbu realizes this is their best ticket to the top, and is done with Fujimaki and the others controlling their destiny. He challenges Joe to take back his Tomorrow. Hearing these words of encouragement, Joe slowly gets to his feet with a confident smile on his face, his gear broken to pieces around him.
Glen charges again, and after exchanging a familiar set of blows, Glen charges too early, opening himself up for a devastating counter-punch. Joe’s strike connects, and he sinks The Bloody Lion with 2 seconds left in the 3rd round!
Sachio and Joe celebrate that victory as the Gearless wonder is now headed to the Main Event – a battle against Yuri…the King of Kings!
The two run up to where Nanbu and Fujimaki were watching the game and Joe is disgusted and livid when he finds his coach with a terrible wound. At first he seems ready to tear into Fujimaki, but Nanbu quickly lets him know it was his own choice.
Fujimaki lets the group go. When one of his men protests, he basically says that Nanbu had always wanted to see Joe make it to the top. The fact that he willingly blinded himself makes him a special kind of person – one that, frankly, Fujimaki doesn’t want to tussle with.
The episode closes with Yuri shadow-boxing in his house, his dog growling at his shadow as he throws punch after punch, excited for the upcoming match against Joe.
What an intense episode! This was easily my favorite since the Aragaki fight. It had a great balance of character development, drama, good fighting, and of course – a killer soundtrack.
I had mentioned this briefly last week, but I think it’s important to remember that Megalo Box is intended to be a spiritual successor to the classic Ashita no Joe, and not a mirror image. The gray area has allowed the story to surprise and delight, taking deviations and turns away from what would otherwise be predictable plot-lines. This uncertainty produces a fantastic sense of drama and tension, particularly as the final fight approaches. Even fans of the original series can’t predict how it will shake out.
I was particularly impressed with the growth of both Nanbu and Joe in this episode. Nanbu demonstrated his ability as a top-tier Second/Coach during Joe’s fight with Burroughs, and also showcased his commitment to Joe’s dream. After realizing that throwing this match wouldn’t free Joe from his cage, Nanbu defied Fujimaki at the risk of his life. He even willingly gouged out his own eye in order to help break Fujimaki’s control over them.
Joe’s growth was also very impressive. He’s come a long way since the underground – making the #3 ranked fighter in the Megalo Box association look like another chump by comparison. The commentators highlighted his “boxing sense”, an instinct has saved him in the past as well.
We also get a unique look at Yukiko Shirato. In the opening minutes of the episode she chats with Sachio about the flowers that he cares for and strikes up a conversation with him. We see a level of warmth that had yet to be revealed, adding depth and interest to the character even as the final episodes approach.
The fight was fantastic as well – a great showcase of both fighter’s abilities, but particularly Joe’s ability to control a fight and put on a good show. With the lens that Joe was preparing to throw the fight, the viewer can see multiple opportunities for Joe to land devastating attacks. Our boy’s grown up!
Overall, this latest episode of Megalo Box has the viewer rooting for Joe every minute, and when he finally topples Burroughs and Nanbu makes the bold sacrifice that he does, you can’t help but cheer. I’m thrilled for the Main Event to get here, and am genuinely interested in seeing how the final fight ends up.
You can watch Megalo Box every Thursday on Crunchyroll.
See you next week!
Episode 12 is here…and so is my review!