Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
The episode picks up in the heat of the bout, partway through the 2nd round. Following last week’s dramatic conclusion, and the rematch between Mikio and Joe being arranged, Shirato and the rest of the Megalonia foundation wasted no time getting the fighters in the ring.
After the revelation that Mikio’s gear was based on reading the electronic signals from an opponents gear, it was assumed that Joe would have an easier time with Mikio than he might have with his previous encounters. It doesn’t take long for Mikio to reveal that his AI-powered Gear has actually had a serious upgrade, as it can now read movements from organic signatures too! In other words, it can read Joe’s movements, gearless or not.
Joe struggles through rounds 2 and that majority of the 3rd round, all while we get brief glimpses into Mikio’s background with Ace – the AI gear that’s helping to propel him to Megalonia stardom.
Every gear has a weakness, and we see that as Mikio pushes the limits of Ace, he’s relying more heavily on a stimulant-like drug. Forcing the synchronization levels to go higher also result in the system being overloaded and de-synchronizing. Joe and the others try to get a feel for the limitations of Ace, but the AI is powerful – hardly giving Joe any time before it adapts and produces a stunning counter-combo.
As Joe takes a beating, Mikio notices Yuri’s keen interest in the bout, reminding him of a previous run-in with the Champion.
Mikio hates the fact that Yuri looks down on him, despite the fact that Mikio was born into a world of higher wealth and status. He calls Yuri a “wild animal”, and challenges him in an attempt to show that Ace is the best Gear there is. Yuri is confused as to what Mikio is trying to prove, and in a flash, throws a powerful straight punch at Mikio. When his guard is put up almost immediately, Yuri tells him why he can’t see him as the real deal:
Challenging Mikio to take control of his own movements in order to be a real Megalo Boxer, Yuri’s words resonate in his mind as Joe attempts to unveil the power-punch that he unveiled a couple episodes ago. While Mikio’s able to counter it, Joe gets another idea: entering a defenseless stance in the closing moments of the 3rd round. Ace is confused, and is unable to land a blow. The horn blows as the 3rd round comes to an end, and both fighters resolve to end the fight quickly at the start of the 4th.
Joe emerges from the corner in a defenseless stance once again, giving Ace some time to get used to it in order to plan a massive counter-attack. He trusts Nanbu to read the fight and tell him where the attack is going to come from. Nanbu makes the call, but Mikio, battling his own uncertainty, changes things up at the last minute! Reading the change-up in the moment, Joe is still able to recover and deliver a devastating uppercut.
Mikio goes down for the count, and Joe – tough bastard that he is – stays on his feet. The winner is Gearless Joe!
Citizens all over the city cheer Joe’s comeback victory – the man from nowhere that has rapidly climbed from the bottom of the rankings to be “The Final One” to enter Megalonia. There’s a victory party back at Nanbu’s shack, and the team gets ready for their first big match in Megalonia.
The final moments show Nanbu speaking with Mr. Fujimaki. Nanbu tells him he hasn’t had a chance to “tell Joe or the kid” about what comes next. Fujimaki tells him, unceremoniously: “The ride ends here.”
Will Nanbu cave to the mob? Even after all their hard work?
After a couple slower episodes, it was good to get back into the ring with another slug-fest this week. I know I’ve been ragging on Mikio for the last couple weeks, but I have to admit, seeing him work so hard on Ace, and the hesitation he had in using the “automatic” mode vs making his own choices did help humanize the character more than we’ve seen in the weeks leading up to this episode.
I’m continuously impressed by Yuri as a character as well. Despite his tough talk towards Joe, the longer the series goes on, the more we realize that Yuri sees a lot of himself in Joe. If nothing else, he’s a thoroughly respectable (and formidable) fighter, and his legend continues to build hype as we look towards the final match.
The animation took a step up this week, as Joe attempted to box his way past Ace’s defenses, and Mikio delivered some pretty devastating combos.
There’s only a few episodes left, and, in theory, two major bouts still to cover. I’m concerned that the storytelling will suffer in an effort to wrap the series up. Furthermore, I would really like to see Joe on the offensive again. Other boxing shows like Hajime no Ippo really showcase the main character’s abilities and polish, but Joe has recently been a really good punching bag, and not much else. Here’s hoping that in the fights to come, we see some of that raw talent that helped him stand out to Nanbu in the first place.
You can watch Megalo Box every Thursday on Crunchyroll!