What they Say:
“Episode 17 – Eleki’s Shocker and Papaya’s Coconut”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
The press conference prior to Takamura’s big fight becomes tense when the Japanese champion refuses to shake hands with his American competitor. Already in fighting mode, Takamura has little time to play nicely and David Eagle can already sense the man’s will to fight. But it’s Aoki and Kimura who have more to worry about, since losses on their end might spell doom for their perceived cool demeanor. In their dressing room the two wait nervously for their fights to come.
When Kimura’s turn arrives, he finds himself overwhelmed by the size of the crowd – there are fifteen thousand people filling the huge arena, and he suddenly feels gripped by nervousness and performance anxiety. It doesn’t help that Eleki, his opponent, is a particularly mean-looking guy who, at the sound of the gong, barely gives Kimura time to breathe before letting loose with a barrage of killer punches. Kimura feels entirely outclassed and resigns himself to a loss until he lands a chance body blow and discovers Eleki’s weakness – his torso is very vulnerable. Since it’s so far into the fight, though, Kimura barely manages to eke out a draw.
Having gotten a new burst of confidence when his underlings bring Tomiko in to see him, Aoki enters the ring feeling pretty good about his chances. This changes quickly once he realizes that Papaya is just as much of a trickster as he is, even going so far as to simultaneously try to use the “look-away.” Added to that is the fact that Papaya’s coconut punch is just as ridiculously deadly as a coconut to the noggin, sending Aoki flying across the ring and onto his face. It isn’t until the fourth round that Aoki is hit with a wave of inspiration; the sweat pouring off of Papaya’s body seems to indicate that he suffers from a severe lack of stamina. The two battle it out well into the final round, and the match also ends in an unsatisfying draw.
With the crowd bored and irritable, the only person remaining to get them fired up again before Takamura’s main event is Miyata. But can he pull it off?
I’m positive the most pressing question on everyone’s mind right now is whether or not a draw saves Kimura and Aoki from having to cut their hair like their competitors, but unfortunately it looks like we’ll have to wait a while to find out. As I kind of feared, their matches are mostly there for comic relief and don’t really seem to matter in the grand scheme of things other than to establish an uncertain atmosphere around the next couple of big fights. In this sense, it’s good that that their matches both fit into one episode; this leaves little room to pretend that there might be some opportunity for character growth hidden deep within the silly fights. At the same time, though, I started to feel a little bit impatient about the whole ordeal.
There are different philosophies that surround when and how to watch anime series. There are people who prefer to keep up on several simulcasts and have the patience to wait from week-to-week to see what will happen next in more plot-based shows. Then there are those who prefer to eschew the weekly discussion and wait until a series is available in full before watching it all at once. I tend to think that the best “method” depends largely on the show and how prone it is to featuring cliffhanger storylines. In this series’ case the overall storylines have always been very fun to watch, but episode-by-episode there seem to be problems with how and when characters are featured and how weighty the fights are, and so I’d almost recommend to people who hadn’t started yet to wait until each story arc could be consumed in full. In my case, I’ll just be spending a week being mildly frustrating before getting to see what I came to see.
Speaking of that, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Miyata’s been doing. I was a little bit surprised to see him show up again this season (though it makes sense – he needs to at least remain in viewers’ consciousnesses since he’s an important character in how he relates to Ippo’s story), and now I’m excited to see his boxing again and how his fight will play out.
On the other hand, I’m starting to have more ambivalent feelings towards David Eagle. He serves as a good counterpoint to Bryan Hawk, and I might just have to go re-watch Takamura’s story arc from the previous season to see the ways in which the two encounters compare and contrast to one-another. All the same though, as a character he’s also very cartoonish, albeit in a different way from characters like Hawk and Sawamura. His “all-American” good looks (because I guess to Japanese people all Westerners are blond, blue-eyed and handsome) and his thus-far infallible sense of honor, duty, and fairness are just as unrealistic as Hawk’s overblown sexuality and blood lust. Despite this, I’d rather watch a nice guy who’s not prone to cheating than a douchey guy who does nothing but cheat and act like a jerk, so it’s somewhat of an improvement in any case.
No anime series is perfect, and this one has always suffered from episodes that take away from the weight of more interesting boxing matches that actually matter to the plot. My harping on the juvenile nature of the humor has probably gotten annoying at this point so I’ll just leave it at that. But as a plot-based sports anime it does a good job building up anticipation in its own way, and bringing Miyata back into the spotlight and giving Takamura a different sort of opponent to face (essentially rotating key characters in and out and giving them some different things to do) helps keep things fresh even a hundred-something episodes in. I have the feeling that the upcoming episodes will really be memorable.
Episode Grade: C
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: Acer P235H 1080p LCD Monitor connected via DVI input, Logitech S220 2.1 Speakers, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560