Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
We’re nearing the end of the line for Megalo Box, and things are really starting to heat up for the final bout between Gearless Joe and Yuri!
The episode begins with Yukiko signing off on what we can assume is a large government contract surrounding the use of Yuri’s Integrated Gear technology. In celebration, Yukiko prepares a celebratory toast for herself and Yuri. However, the stoic boxer has a stunning announcement to make: he plans on having his integrated gear removed in order to fight Joe on an even playing field.
Yukiko is stunned, and at first she threatens to cancel the finals. However, Yuri is determined to give Joe the match he’s been wanting. He’s fought his way to the top, and now nothing short of the Megalonia Finals will be worthy of settling their dispute.
Meanwhile, Joe is training harder than ever in preparation for his fight against Yuri. With Nanbu now completely blind, he ends up recruiting Aragaki and his coach to help Joe train. Aragaki makes for a great sparring partner, and Nanbu reveals that just because he can’t see, it doesn’t mean he can’t coach. At one point he chastises Joe for not stepping in enough for his punches – he can hear the difference!
Yuri goes for a drive into the mountains and ends up at a remote cabin where he’s greeted by none other than Mikio Shirato. He places his trust in Mikio to remove the Integrated Gear in preparation for his fight against Joe. Mikio thinks he’s crazy, of course, but also respects his commitment to the fight. The procedure is grueling, but the recovery is far worse for Yuri. Mikio warns him that it will be a hellish experience, but it’s a sacrifice Yuri is willing to make.
Yukiko and her assistant are busy doing some research; having recovered Joe’s fake ID after Sachio dropped it after the fight against Burroughs. While Yukiko knew that they had some dirt to hide, her assistant shines a light on the underground fighting and fixed matches that preceded Gearless Joe’s meteoric rise in the world of Megalo Boxing. Yukiko contemplates using the information as grounds to cancel the finals, but decides against it.
Back with Team Nowhere, we get a look back at how Joe and Nanbu met. Originally a scrappy kid boxing for a pittance, Nanbu spotted him and promised him a better way of living. While Joe was indifferent at first, he’s eventually won over at the thought of earning a decent, or at least better, living.
Yukiko goes to visit Mikio and Yuri. Yuri is still in the midst of recovering, having been in excruciating pain for 5 days straight. Mikio has a serum that could ease his suffering, but Yuri said that if he let the pain win then he doesn’t deserve to fight Joe. After a particularly agonizing bout against the lingering pain, Yukiko enters the room where he’s recovering and reflects on their journey together so far. Yuri awakens in her arms, exhausted from the process, and tells her that the man who taught him Megalo Boxing told him that if he ever found an opponent that he wanted to win against with all his heart, to never let him out of his sight. Joe is that opponent for him. He thanks Yukiko for giving him a reason to live, and begs her not to take it away before falling asleep again.
The next day, Yuri is up and boxing.
Yukiko goes to visit Joe, giving him back his fake ID. Even though she knows everything, she has no plans on using it against him.
She recognizes that Joe is drawing out something fascinating within Yuri – giving him a passion and excitement unlike any she’s seen in her Champion before. She informs Joe that Yuri had his Gear removed in order to fight “Gearless Joe”, and she takes her leave.
Joe is overcome with excitement, and in the closing moments we hear a rap song detailing the struggle of these two fighters, building up hype for the finale next week!
Well, the fight didn’t start this week like I was hoping it would, but that doesn’t mean that the episode was a bust. Megalo Box makes the decision to slow things down and dive a bit deeper into Joe and Yuri as characters before carrying us into the final round of the series.
Yukiko and Yuri’s relationship arguably gets the most attention throughout the course of the episode, and after taking some key moments to expand their respective characters, I suppose the 2nd to last episode is as good a time as any to give it some more depth. There are embers of affection, respect, appreciation. As things progress, the viewer understands that the feeling is mutual on almost all fronts when it comes to the relationship between the Owner and the Champion.
My main complaint is that Yukiko’s motivations are still vague, at best. She’s running this massive corporation, and their primary spokesperson says that he’s abandoning the technology on the brink of the biggest event in the company’s history. Is it love? It certainly doesn’t seem that overt. She tells Mikio that Yuri is no longer part of the Shirato company and largely plays it cool…but to me it just looks like she isn’t managing the situation very well at all. I don’t know, her submissiveness over Joe’s shady background just seems like it’s convenient for the plot. I’d be much more interested in actually understanding why she’s letting a rogue fighter convince her prized fighter to abandon innovative technology.
Looping Aragaki and his coach back into the story was a good call – I still think the Aragaki arc was really where Megalo Box did its best storytelling and delivered some of the best action of the series so far. Watching Joe and Aragaki spar, and hearing Nanbu reflect on the journey they’ve had along with Aragaki’s coach is a really wholesome way to thread the series together as the conclusion approaches.
Yuri’s arc in this episode is fantastic. He makes his way through this hellish procedure to emerge on the other side more prepared than ever to take on Joe. For a stray dog that tussled with the Champion just a few months earlier, the impact that Joe has had on Yuri is revealed in full throughout this episode and really increased my respect for the character.
Since the first episode I’ve mentioned my appreciation for the soundtrack, and the closing moments of this weeks episode really helps drive that home. A stunning rap outlining the coming challenge really helps to build the hype, adding to the rough aesthetic of the Megalo Box universe. Definitely looking forward to the full soundtrack release coming on June 27th.
Just one more episode left. How will Megalo Box wrap up? I can’t wait to see…
Update: Now we get to see! Episode 13/Finale review is live here!
Megalo Box - Episode 12
- Some great insight into Yuri and Yukiko
- Bringing back Aragaki and his Coach helps make the story cohesive
- Good pacing and attention paid to character development
- Killer soundtrack continues to impress
- Yuri's "Gearless" approach is arguably a bit predictable
- Yukiko's character motivations are vague