Miss my review of last week’s episode? You can find it here!
In a war torn city-scape, a soldier finds himself in an abandoned building. Removing his helmet/visor, we see that the soldier is the same man who confronted Nanbu at the end of last week’s episode. Surrounded by the dead and dying, he notices a woman on the ground, clutching what appears to be a baby wrapped in a blanket. When he goes to investigate, turning the woman over, it’s actually revealed to be a bomb. A mysterious butterfly appears before him, just before the explosion rocks the building.
Flashing back to the present, Nanbu and the fighter, whose name is revealed to be Aragaki, are sitting on a bench playing catch-up. Things start off cordial enough, but Aragaki takes the conversation for an abrupt turn when he lets Nanbu know that he plans on “destroying” Joe. The two formerly worked together before Aragaki was deployed. His performance was impressive: 10 fights, 10 KO’s in the first round. Many expected that Aragaki could go all the way, but he was deployed shortly afterwards. Following the incident with the bomb, Aragaki was reported as killed in action, devastating Nanbu. In his grief, Nanbu closed the gym and abandoned his coaching days. However, when Aragaki ultimately did return, he found that Nanbu had up and disappeared, perceiving it as a betrayal of their long-standing friendship.
Now, seeing Nanbu training a new fighter, Aragaki is prepared to destroy Joe as payback for Nanbu’s abandonment.
Nanbu wants to pull from the fight, not trusting that Joe has what it takes to beat Aragaki as he is right now. This leads to the two butting heads in the first half of the episode.
Ultimately, Nanbu understands that they need to continue following the plan, and they resolve to give it everything they’ve got.
Meanwhile, Aragaki’s coach chastises him for his vendetta against Nanbu and his student. Being ranked 17th, it’s insulting to go after someone ranked 102nd.
Aragaki is undeterred, and after a brief encounter with Joe outside of the ring, they finally meet toe to toe.
The match kicks off in the final minutes of the episode, and it doesn’t take long before Aragaki lands a devastating head-shot that seems to lay Joe out flat.
Joe is reported as “down”, and the count gets to 9 before the episode ends.
Well, this episode certainly was a bit different. The pacing was quite a bit slower than usual, but the purposeful world-building really helped to flesh out a segment of Nanbu’s past that’s now coming back to bite him.
The overarching theme tied back into Aragaki being a veteran, and the difficulty he had when he returned in re-joining society. It’s a fitting and relevant topic that can often be glossed over, but Megalo Box takes it head on. An early scene with Nanbu and Aragaki’s coach puts them in front of a cemetery, as Aragaki’s coach mentions that most of the headstones belong to veterans who took their own lives.
Aragaki is even revealed to have been suicidal in a particularly moving scene. With a gun in his mouth, you see the emotional turmoil in his eyes as he backs out at the last minute, crying in anguish and screaming.
It’s not like the trauma is behind him either. The flashback to his suicide attempt happens right before the match, and it’s obvious that he’s still shaken by the things that he’s seen and experienced in the war. Megalo Boxing provides him with something to live for.
Nanbu also has a couple of interesting scenes, including one where he’s in his truck seemingly talking to the religious symbol hanging from the rear-view mirror. He asks out loud “What do you want from me?” – Admitting that he left Aragaki behind, but only because he thought he was dead. For those who haven’t caught it, the symbol bears a Spanish saying that translates to “He holds you tight, but does not strangle.” Similar to “He never gives you a burden you can’t bear”, it ties in well with the life of struggle that Nanbu and Joe have grown up being familiar with. Faced with this long-lost student, and all of the pain that accompanies his return, Nanbu most likely feels like he’s being strangled, and who could blame him?
Joe doesn’t really get much of an opportunity to stand out in this episode, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s more about Nanbu and Aragaki than anything, so it makes sense that Joe takes a back-seat for the lions share of the episode.
The animation did take a noticeable hit in this episode, though it makes sense for a more contemplative episode like this one. If we do get a fight in the next episode (the count was pretty much over…) we may see that smoother animation come through. With that in mind, the final moments definitely looked great, particularly Aragaki’s knockout punch.
Overall, another impressive episode from Megalo Box. I’m looking forward to seeing how the fight ends next week. Is this the fight that sets the dream-team back? Or can Joe dig deep and pull another win from this desperate situation? I guess we’ll find out!
You can watch Megalo Box weekly on Thursdays on Crunchyroll!
The conclusion of the fight has arrived! Check out my review of episode 6 here!