Monday, October 3, 2011

Manga Monday: Can Kosaku live up to his potential as a boxer if he keeps binge eating?

It takes a lot to get me to read a sports manga. For every Hikaru no Go or Initial D, there are dozens of other, terrible shonen sports manga out there that are eminently forgettable. But Rumiko Takahashi hasn't lead me wrong yet, so I tried to keep an open about her boxing manga One Pound Gospel.

It's a terribly odd premise.  In one corner, we have Kosaku Hatanaka,.  A boxing prodigy who has quite a bit of raw talent paired with the devil's own luck, his only downfall is a binge eating problem like none other.  Forced to starve himself before each match to make weight, he's lost his last four fights simply because of his weakness for food.

In the other corner is Sister Angelica.  A young novitiate, Kosaku has been going to her church for confession and to ask for help with his weakness.  Partially out of the caring that nay nun would have for a down-on-his-luck member of her flock, and perhaps a bit because of her soft heart, she takes him on as a personal case, helping him resist the temptation of street food that lines the roads he jogs down.

We also see a lot of Mudoka, Kosaku's coach.  An old man with a bit of a heart condition, he started getting his hopes up with Kosaku when he won his first match to be a pro so young.  He rather seems to regret having taken on a boxer with no willpower.  With his heart condition, the rest of the members of the gym are constantly concerned about his well-being when Kosaku has to weigh in before a fight.

As much as I like Rumiko Takahashi's other series, and as much as Kosaku reminds me of Godai from Maison Ikkoku, this series gets off to a rather rocky start.

The chapters are fairly formulaic, with the first one or two chapters of a story arc establishing the new opponent and setting Kosaku up to fail at keeping his weight down.  Then comes the match, where he either fails because he gave into temptation, or succeeds with the help of Sister Angelica.  Admittedly, that's the basis of just about any sports manga, but I did expect more character development of our two main characters.  I'd love to see more of Sister Angelica's life at the convent, or before she took her vows, and perhaps Kosaku before he joined up under Mukoda.  

Alas, it's a shonen sports manga, so perhaps this is all we can expect.  Still, with likable characters and a relatible premise of overcoming weaknesses, there are still a few things to like in this manga.

Highs:  It's cute to watch Angela and Kosaku interact when they're walking down the street together

Lows:  Just not enough of the characters' backstory

Verdict:  If I'm going to read a sports manga, I suppose I could do worse than this

Further Reading:  Maison Ikkoku, Initial D

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