Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
END OF SERIES SPOILERS AHEAD! I’M NOT KIDDING!
After 12 long weeks of boxing, training, disqualifications, gruesome confrontations and non-stop drive, Gearless Joe finally enters the Megalonia ring with the “King of Kings” – Yuri!
Yuri, having undergone a horrific procedure to remove the integrated gear, now relies solely on his boxing skill and natural strength. No better way to go toe-to-toe with the Gearless fighter that has been taking the world of Megalonia by storm!
The two dig in and begin to duke it out, Yuri demonstrating his composure and Champion-level skill as he delivers a string of devastating blows, keeping Joe on his guard and helping to set the pace for the fight.
Eventually, Yuri lands a solid headshot that sends Joe to the mat. However, Joe isn’t ready to give up so easily, and reminds Yuri of his stubbornness as the fight continues.
While Joe and Yuri are duking it out in the Megalonia ring, Yukiko is busy presenting the appeal of integrated Gear to a panel of military leaders. Hoping to secure a massive military contract, she calmly makes the case for using Gear on the battlefield, despite Yuri having abandoned it just before the biggest fight of his life.
Back in the ring, Joe and Yuri are entrenched in a brutal battle of endurance. The fight goes on far longer than any we’ve seen before, moving into rounds 8, 9, 10…11 as the fighters slug it out.
Joe is largely on the receiving end of Yuri’s precise and devastating punches, but he begins to turn it around on the champion with some key counters and body shots. As the fight moves into Round 13, both of them reflect on the journey that led them to one another. Both Yuri and Joe are grateful to have encountered one another, feeling that the other has helped to elevate them as a fighter.
Joe realizes that this fight is everything that he hoped it would be, and the two share a final cross-counter punch.
From there, it suddenly transitions to a 1-year time skip that centers on the new “Gym Nowhere”. Nanbu is practicing an introductory speech as Sachio and the others chuckle from a distance. Sachio plays ball with a familiar dog, and we see that Yuri is now confined to a wheelchair.
Sachio mentions that Yukiko came by to congratulate Joe, and that she’s looking good, despite being very busy. We then return to the mechanic from the early episodes, who looks to the couch where Joe would often laze while waiting for his gear to be worked on. Still unsure of how the fight played out, the mechanic steps outside to give Joe a couple boxes of training Gear for their new students.
Joe rides his bike back towards the gym, stopping at a familiar oceanfront cliff and walking through some dancing paces, much like Nanbu did in the opening moments of the episode.
As the final credits roll, a title card confirms what we all had assumed at this point:
Since the start, Megalo Box has won me over with its gritty style, killer soundtrack and rugged characters. With the Aragaki arc, it demonstrated that it could tackle emotionally heavy topics with a surprising amount of grace and power, which shifted my perspective a bit. I think fans of Hajime no Ippo will agree that the fights are not nearly as high-octane as any of Ippo Makunouchi’s bouts, nor do they hold a candle to the definitive Takamura vs. Hawk fight. However, I think that the purpose of Megalo Box’s fights were less about the shonen approach of discovering new techniques, and more about a well-paced underdog story that could wrap up in 13 episodes.
To that end, I think that the series did a great job.
The finale gave us a healthy serving of fight animation, with some awesome footwork on Yuri’s side, combined with swift punches, blocks and maneuvering. As the fight went on, you could definitely feel each bone-crunching blow as the wild animals in the ring went at it. We got to see some of Joe’s counters as well, though Yuri sometimes dismantled them with a well-placed punch.
The series chose to end on a rather wholesome note. I’ve often referred back to the original Ashita no Joe series, which Megalo Box is derived from, and the ending to that series is famously dark. After a brutal, extended fight with Jose Mendoza, the Bantamweight world champion, Joe is determined to have lost to Jose by points. Sitting in his corner, reflecting that he burned brightly before the end, Joe is silent and unresponsive as his coach and girlfriend look on in horror. While not official, it’s widely assumed that Joe died in the ring, and the credits roll afterwards. A dark end indeed.
With the inspiration at the front of its mind, fans of Megalo Box and those familiar with the source material were understandably anxious about the direction in which this story would go. Each title was embedded with the very concept of death, as though Joe was forever just barely escaping his inevitable end.
So, it’s was a surprise (whether it was a pleasant one is up to the viewer, I suppose) that the show ended the way that it did. Joe alive. Yuri alive. Nanbu heading up a new gym. Sachio and the street urchins with a new home. A thoroughly wholesome and happy ending to an otherwise heavy series.
While the series overall ended well, my main complaints with the show would be two-fold:
First, Yukiko doesn’t get a satisfying conclusion to her story. Following Yuri’s surgery, there were some subtle undertones of care, concern…even love on both sides. However, Yukiko ultimately leaves Yuri with Mikio, pursuing her government contract and distancing herself from both of them. The closest thing we get to any sort of acknowledgement of feelings is a silently whispered word and some tears.
I’m not saying that Yukiko ending up as Yuri’s girlfriend/wife was the inevitable ending here, but it just didn’t feel like Yukiko got the chance to resolve her own struggles in a satisfactory way. It seems as though she ends up landing the military contract, so we assume she’s busy managing all of those responsibilities and that was her ultimate goal? I don’t know…felt incomplete to me. Let’s also not set aside that the whole conversation around Gears being used as weapons by the military is a fascinating and frightening side-story that was almost wholly ignored.
My second nagging feeling was the end of the fight. For all of the buildup and hype, it ends rather suddenly and inconclusively until the final title card appears following the credits. Now, my math is rough, but based on the amount of time left in the round, and the knockout timer on the title card, the cross-counter punch that they freeze on before the fight ends does seem to be the final blow of the match. In that case, give us another 30 seconds of animation to put it to bed properly! Furthermore, we don’t really see Joe evolve during his fight with Yuri. He lands some good counter attacks, recognizing areas of opportunity and weaknesses in the moment, but Yuri hardly comments on Joe’s improvement, and it’s even difficult for viewers to see how he’s changed since the early episodes when it comes to how he fights.
Still, at the end of the day, Megalo Box told a hell of a story. It was definitely a regular highlight of my Spring season viewing, and one I will likely return to or recommend for folks interested in quality series to introduce them to anime.
What did you think?
Megalo Box - Episode 13
- The final bout features some of the best fight animation we've seen so far
- The series wraps up neatly
- Team Nowhere and Yuri all enjoy some serious development as characters as the series comes to a close
- No satisfying conclusion for Yukiko's arc or character
- The end of the fight is anti-climactic/odd