Megalo Box is drawing to a close and with this brilliant episode of sacrifice and redemption, it is officially my anime of the season. It’s quite mind blowing to think about how Nanbu has changed over the course of the season, transitioning from a spineless alcoholic deeply in debt to the best possible trainer Joe could’ve ever asked for. His growth dwarfs the rest of the cast, and in some light Megalo Box is just as much Nanbu’s story as it is Joe’s.
The shadow that Fujimaki casts over Team Nowhere has been present since the very beginning. There were joyous moments in the series where Nanbu, Joe, and Sachio may have forgotten about the crime lord that watches their every move, but those moments were short lived as they were reminded of the bonds that held them down. Fujimaki himself is a pragmatic, cruel man, but not unnecessarily cruel. He was the final hurdle standing between Joe and Yuri, the antagonist before the final arc. He believes that men cannot change, and that frauds like Nanbu and Joe could never be the real thing. This philosophy of his is pushed heavily through the scorpion and stray dog metaphors, and is not too far fetched, considering he’s a crime lord who has probably seen men unravel and display their true colors multiple times.
He considered Nanbu no different, another scorpion trying to be something it wasn’t. Perhaps at the beginning of the series, Nanbu was indeed just a scorpion, a fraud. However, as his attachment for Joe and Sachio grew and as Joe repeatedly proved that he was indeed the real deal, Nanbu stripped off his scorpion skin and became the real deal. Fujimaki himself even comments that Nanbu seems like a genuine trainer as he speaks to Joe. This episode is the culmination of Team Nowhere’s progression, and is representative of how their bonds to each other are empowering them beyond normal measures. Sachio pushes Joe to keep fighting, Nanbu sees this and pushes Joe himself, and Joe defeats Glenn with a spectacular punch. Our ragtag group of hoodlums is a trio of strong spirits that has become “the real thing,” through sheer courage and determination.
However, this did come with the cost of Nanbu’s final eye. I found this sacrifice extremely saddening after Fujimaki explains the significance of its loss. Nanbu has trained Joe for all this time to reach Yuri at Megalonia, yet he himself cannot watch Joe win. It’s a tragic fate for the trainer, something akin to breaking the hands of a piano prodigy. It’s interesting how Fujimaki demanded Nanbu’s eye during the start of the series, but Nanbu pleaded his way out of the situation. But now at the end, he cuts it out himself without a shred of cowardice. Way to go Nanbu, you’ve redeemed yourself tenfold.
The fight between Glenn and Joe was great, but not spectacular. I enjoyed Glenn’s monster truck entrance and the punch out was entertaining, but the fight itself was no the focus of the episode. It was Team Nowhere’s inner struggles. As a result of that change in focus, the fight was not as fleshed out as something like the Aragaki fight or the Mikio fight. Other highlights of the episode included Sachio’s unexpected rap, which was amazing by the way. Along with Yuri walking down to the ring to motivate Joe!
It’s finally coming! The fight we’ve been waiting for since episode one, the fight to make Joe reach beyond! Yuri versus Gearless Joe. Shirato versus Team Nowhere. I am not ready for this hype.