Quite the bombshell episode with an unexpected turn. I knew that Joe’s false identity may become a liability eventually, but not this soon!
The episode begins with the “Gearless Joe” rap, displaying Joe’s widespread fame throughout the slums. Kids handing out magazines with Joe on the cover, women getting his face tattooed onto their bodies, and gamblers focusing on the newest Joe story rather than dog racing. It’s not surprising that Joe is famous among the poor in Megalo Box, since he is their champion in more than one way. Not only does he hail from the lowest rungs of society, he trains beneath a broken bridge and sleeps in a trailer. Furthermore, he’s been the underdog in all his matches and it’s understandable that the not so well off folk of Megalo Box would root for him.
Unfortunately, our Joe is not doing as well as the rest of the world would like him to be. The episode begins with a bruised Joe chained up inside the trailer, peeing blood and panting heavily. I had to do a double take to make sure, and yes, he really was peeing blood. Gross! But also a nice testament to how powerful Aragaki was. I’m a bit fearful for Joe’s future though because the fights will only get worse from here. If Joe is forced into a elongated fight with a fighter above Aragaki, I’m not sure if Joe will be able to survive the beating in the ring. Now, I don’t expect him to die because that’d be a bit much, but I’m curious as to whether the show will touch upon the growing risk of death as Joe dives deeper into Megalonia.
This risk is definitely more apparent once Megalo Box showcases the abilities of Mikio Shirato. His AI powered gear is absolutely busted, and I am 100% sure that it shouldn’t be allowed in Megalonia. It absolutely destroys Suger with ease and it Mikio himself seems to be unscathed. All he has to do is believe in the algorithm after all.
The character of Mikio himself is intriguing, far more so than just being a hurdle for Joe on his way to Megalonia. The tension between him and his sister is made evident through the episode and their conversations are like verbal tennis rather than those of sibling love. Similar to Aragaki, Mikio has a reason for fighting beyond simple aspirations for victory. These reasons are highlighted primarily through his discussions with his sister, revealing bitterness for her selection as company president over him. Furthermore, Mikio knows that his sister doesn’t want him at Megalo Box, thus driving him even further to truly get entered in and beat Yuri. For Mikio, getting into Megalonia is about defeating his sister and blowing past expectations. I think that dynamic between the two is fascinating, and I’m glad that Megalo Box is following up on Aragaki with another interesting antagonist.
Shirato herself is confident that Yuri and the integrated gear is superior to the AI gear of Mikio, but the recent fight with Suger shook her resolve a bit. Yuri himself seems to not like Mikio, because his neutral face morphs into a frown at the mention of Mikio’s name from Shirato. Perhaps it’s just distaste for the AI gear, his understanding of Mikio’s treacherous ambitions, or something such as jealousy? Jealousy seems very far fetched from our apathetic Yuri, but it is not out of the question. He and Shirato do seem to have an interesting relationship, one that is like inventor and invention on the surface, but perhaps it runs deeper?
However, the ending of the episode is the bombshell that leaves all of us on the cliffhanger. Mikio threatens to reveal Joe’s false identity, triggering Joe to swing a punch. Luckily for Joe, Nanbu incapacitates Joe before the swing lands and forfeits the fight. Now as much as I wanted Joe and Mikio to fight, I’m not completely angry at Mikio for his low blow. The show has proven his true intentions to defeat Yuri and by transitive his sister, and it is most definitely not beyond his ambition to knock Joe in such a manner. It’s perfectly in line with his character, and it’ll make the eventual redemption ever so much more cathartic.
As for Joe, I’m not sure how he’ll get back into the ring. Perhaps his fame will allow him to bypass the false identification hurdle, or will another Megalonia fighter offer Joe a chance? Perhaps Glenn from the previous episode will offer to fight Joe for the spot? I’m not sure, Megalonia seems to be a very ragtag type of competition with rules being changed all the time. It doesn’t seem beyond the establishment for Glenn to be able to do that, or for the false identity to be brushed aside. I’m quite certain Joe will not be able to fight Mikio next episode though. He’s completely knocked out, the doors have shut, and the timer has run out. Unless Joe suddenly learned to teleport, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mikio v Joe next episode. Not in the traditional manner at least.