Welcome back to Honey’s Anime’s look at the fights in Megalo Box with the help of Canadian boxer Eli Serada. We’re almost done with the fight against Aragaki, but it looks like the end may not favor our hero Joe. So far he's been able to play some very effective mind games with his opponent but has yet to find a way to make up for Aragaki’s superior strength. Let’s see if he can close the gap before it’s too late.
One Counter-Punch Man
Things are looking good for Joe at first, as he takes advantage of Aragaki’s bad mental state by dodging his overly-aggressive downwards punch and then landing his signature cross-counter to Aragaki’s jaw. You may recall that this same sort of downward punch was what Yuri used to finish Joe off, so this is another brilliantly subtle way of showing Joe’s progression since the beginning of the series.
It’s only Joe’s first really good hit of the fight, but Aragaki is leveled, nonetheless. Some may see this as jumping the shark, but according to Serada, this is not unrealistic in the slightest. "This wasn't a lucky punch," he reminds us. "This was something Joe had planned out. In real boxing matches, people have just thrown haymakers that have connected with the guy's chin and put him out like a light. A punch to the jaw or temple, if it's strong enough, can knock out a very experienced boxer who's been pummeling you for 10 rounds. It's not the punch you see coming that knocks you out, it's the one that you don't and it's very clear Aragaki didn’t see this one coming.”
Aragaki is certainly a very experienced boxer, but Joe’s powerful counterattack is still not enough to put him down for good. As soon as Aragaki gets back up, Joe appears to drop all the mental trickery and goes on full offense, reminding us again that his style is an aggressive one in spite of his counter-punching strategy. He doesn’t land any more big hits, but it’s clear that Aragaki’s movement is slowing down and Joe is able to dodge and duck his punches much more as a result. The foe is moving lethargically and leaving himself more open because of his fatigue, or maybe because of something even worse.
Age After Beauty
As the next round starts, both fighters try again to jab through the other’s defense and just like in the first round, Aragaki is the first to land a strong hit. For only a brief moment, he seems like he’s taking the lead back, but suddenly the show cuts to a shot of Aragaki’s leg, or rather what remains of it. We’ve not really addressed this until now, but this particular antagonist has had his lower legs amputated. And although our boxing informer wasn’t certain how this would affect his performance, it’s undeniable that his effectiveness will depend on his ability to use what remains of his lower body to control his prosthetic blade legs. This is problematic, as by quickly cutting to his legs and showing his compromised balance, the show sets up the revelation that what’s left of his legs is giving out.
To highlight the importance of this turn, Serada noted that “Not a lot of people realize this, but boxing involves a lot of squatting, so every time that you move and you bend and duck . . . it’s your legs doing the work, not your body. When you’re moving you have to move your legs, it's how you shift your weight, otherwise, you're just bending at the waist, asking for an uppercut." This crippling disadvantage is unflinchingly represented in the show, as Aragaki’s once impenetrable defense gives way to slow movements and terrible arm placement.
The good news (for Aragaki) is that Joe isn’t exactly in top shape either after his thrashing at his foe’s hands from the earlier rounds and Aragaki is still able to get some hits in. They dodge and counter one another with impeccable finesse, but both fighters are wounded and exhausted. With everything on the line, the pair charge at each other for one last trade of flurries. The show wastes no time matching this impactful physical and emotional climax with an equally massive spike in animation. It’s no exaggeration to say that this cut shatters the expectations of a TV anime with its impossibly fluid and complex choreography in a masterful rotating shot without any compromises in visual detail. It’s no wonder Serada heralded this as one of the best and most realistic fights in fighting anime. A wonderful end to a wonderful fight.
After a beautiful beatdown from both combatants, the round ends and so does the match. Aragaki acknowledges that his legs are failing him and forfeits the match in order to save them moments before Joe faints from all the damage he’s taken. Thus ends the greatest fight in the series so far as both fighters look eagerly to what comes tomorrow. Aragaki to moving on from his grudge with Nanbu and entering retirement and Joe to climbing the ranks of the boxing circuit even further and fighting even stronger boxers.
Those fights will come sooner than you may think, but until then stay posted to Honey's Anime for more.