What an episode! Of all the build up and preparation episodes of this season, from My Hero Academia’s cliffhangers, Steins; Gate revelations, to Legend of the Galactic Heroes spending an entire episode on build up, Megalo Box takes the cake with episode eleven. This is how you set up the final fight, no nonsense or annoying drama in the way, just pure unfiltered hype!
The episode begins by resolving the entire Shirato contract with the government, securing the goal Shirato had from the beginning of the show. Unfortunately for her, this means Yuri is no longer obligated to wear the Shirato gear and promptly chooses to reject it. His choice to remove the gear is not completely unexpected, as he has slowly grown to respect Joe over the course of the show and considers him an equal. This is a huge development from the initial “stray dog” impression that Yuri had of Joe, and just goes to show how much Joe has accomplished to prove he’s the real deal. Yukiko takes this rejection badly, the gear is Shirato’s future after all, why is Yuri rejecting it? It’s because Yuri’s dream is no longer bound to Yukiko’s dream, he’s found a reason to live beyond Yukiko and Shirato. His own dream of fighting someone that he wants to fight from the bottom of his heart.
Joe himself is busy practicing under the bridge with the rest of Team Nowhere. I found it hilarious that Joe was pumped up over the upcoming fight rather than stressed out about what happened to Nanbu. It’s completely unethical, but Joe will be Joe! A common shounen trope that seems to work everytime is the return of former opponents before our protagonist fights the big baddie. In Megalo Box, we have that through the return of Miyagi and Aragaki! Nanbu rightfully chooses to call them up, giving Joe the chance to have a sparring partner before the final battle. It’s a welcome reunion and I’m glad we got to see one of the best characters of the show return before the finale.
Perhaps the most shocking portion of the episode was the surgery to remove Yuri’s gear. Knowing the dangers of its removal, Yuri still chooses to go through with it because he’s a determined badass who has been so inspired by Joe’s endeavors from the bottom rung to the top. We get the return of another old foe in Mikio, but this time he seems far more approachable and friendly. He agrees to go through with the surgery for Yuri’s sake and we the viewers get to see why it’s such a big deal to remove it. Not only was it exceptionally dangerous, Yuri suffers intense pain for five days straight. Hearing the screams of agony from the usually quiet Yuri really puts into perspective how painful it must’ve been. He even opts out of using the painkiller out of respect for the suffering Joe endured on his way to the top. Joe really had quite the profound impact on our purple champion, more so than Yukiko could’ve ever predicted.
We get a few other bits of information this episode, including Nanbu’s first meeting with Joe! It was a bit sad seeing Nanbu while he still had his eye, but also heartwarming to see that the banter between him and Joe had been the same from the start. Perhaps this flashback could’ve been used earlier in the series, but there is value in touching upon the very beginning as we near the very end.
The episode ends on a high note with another great rap as we bounce between Yuri and Joe. They’re practicing nonstop, both equally excited for the upcoming match. No gear, no drama, no bullshit. This is what we’ve been told to be looking out for since the very start of the series. Real Megalo Boxing.