This week’s episode offers up our first non-JD centric episode. We delve into the complicated past of his coach/trainer Nanbu and his relationship with JD’s next opponent, ‘Stayin’ Alive” T.L. Aragaki. It’s definitely a slower episode than we’re used to but it sure does pack quite the emotional punch. So, let’s lace up our boxing gloves and get ready to take a look at Episode 5, The Man From Death!
When JD receives a fight request from a top tier Megalo Boxer, Team Nowhere can’t believe their luck. But when the boxer in question is revealed to be an old acquaintance of Nanbu, he is forced to come to terms with some past demons he’d thought he’d long since buried.
Fighter Stats: The Boxer stats are back, this time for JD’s newest opponent, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ T.L. Aragaki. Not only do these info pages list the fighter’s Official Match records, but their Performance during the matches, an Analysis of key moments from their previous matches, and Personal Information as well.
Emotional Background Music: This episode hits close to home for Nanbu, as Aragaki is an old acquaintance of his from the past. When Team Nowhere is looking over his rap sheet a somewhat more melancholy piano track plays in the background. This is definitely a change from the more high energy tracks or the hip hop inspired instrumentals that play during most episodes.
Veteran Bio Page: Sachio does some research on Aragaki by checking out his military history on the Veterans’ Association website. There’s a full bio page detailing his service along with pictures of his squad.
Themes & Trivia
Butterfly: Early on in the episode, we see what appears to be a military raid on enemy territory. The land is dark and shrouded in dust and with dead bodies laying all over the place, but amidst all the death and decay there is a blue butterfly. In many cultures, the butterfly is symbolic of the human soul, life, and/or resurrection, a stark contrast to all the death that surrounds Aragaki as he makes his way through enemy territory.
Wounded Soldier: Aragaki was a boxer-turned-soldier who sustained an injury that left his face scarred and took both of his legs. With his military career behind him, Aragaki has taken to scratching out a living in the boxing ring. In order to get back at Nanbu for some supposed slight, Aragaki wants to face JD and defeat him, so that Nanbu can know what it’s like to lose something precious to him.
Men are all Dogs: Many of the boxers in Megalo Box are likened to that of dogs. JD from the slums is often compared to a stray dog, while his rival Yuri, is reminiscent of a kept dog/dog on a leash due to his obligations towards the Shirato Corporation. Well, this week’s episode brings us another allusion, Aragaki is compared to an abandoned dog due in part to his past with Nanbu, the ‘owner’ that left him behind.
Taunt: JD does this at the start of his match with Aragaki. Taunting is a technique used in combat sports to distract an opponent by riling them up and/or breaking their focus. It can be done both verbally or nonverbally, with most users preferring to shout insults at their opponents mid match.
This was definitely a much darker episode than those preceding it, focusing less on the actual boxing and more so on the complicated pasts of JD’s trainer/coach Nanbu and his opponent war vet, Aragaki. There’s even a scene where one of the characters is contemplating suicide, something that some viewers may find triggering. The episode also explored some of the consequences of war and the effect it has not only on those who participate in it, but the family and friends of those left behind. This is a pretty heavy episode, but it does a lot in the way of humanizing Aragaki, he isn’t just some throwaway rival that is here one minute and gone the next, his presence holds weight, not just for JD, but for Nanbu and helps flesh him out as a character.
I was also kind of impressed with the fact that Aragaki uses prosthetic legs, it’s not often that you see a sports anime that has characters with disabilities in them, let alone have these characters be rather formidable opponents.
Letting Go of the Past
This episode did a phenomenal job of setting up JD’s opponent, while still getting the viewer pumped for the showdown between Aragaki and JD! Megalo Box has a tendency to effortlessly cram a lot of plot into its 24-minute runtime, without seeming overly padded or getting bogged down by slow pacing. Episode 5 is yet another brilliant episode and I can’t wait to see how the match between Aragaki and JD turns out! So definitely stop by next week to see what happens next!
What do you guys think of this week’s episode of Megalo Box? Did it bring the heat or what? Who do you think will come out on top, JD or Aragaki?? Let us know in the comment section! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Spring 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!