- One Pound Gospel (1988: Studio Gallop) 1/1 ep.
Seeing that an anime is based on a work by a famous author is usually exciting, especially when the director is an all-timer in their own right. Sadly these anime can sometimes be a let down and that is what we have here. One Pound Gospel is based off a manga by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Maison Ikkoku, Ramna 1/2, and Urusei Yatsura) and it was directed by Osamu Dezaki (albeit under a pseudonym) (Aim for the Ace, Ashita no Joe, and The Rose of Versailles). That should be a match made in heaven but thing just didn’t work out that way.
The story of One Pound Gospel follows boxer Kosaku Hatakana as he battles for the survival of his career. The dude loves food. He loves food so much that he has gone up several weight classes and still struggles to stay under the weight limit. Plus, he has issues with eating the night before, getting hit in the belly, and then vomiting all over the shop mid-bout. As such, he is on his last legs when we meet him. However, he meets a young nun, whom the subtitles are very keen to make sure we know hasn’t taken her vow yet, who inspires and encourages Kosaku to do better and to improve himself. This being a Rumiko Takahashi work inevitably Sister Angela and Kosaku start developing feelings for each other. While Kosaku is trying to improve himself, and failing badly, he accidentally punches a gold medal winning boxer in the face who is rightly a bit peeved at him and offers to fight him, giving Kosaku a last chance at his career.
This setup isn’t at all bad and allows for a nice mix of sports and romantic comedy tropes. The problems lie with the characters, specifically Kosaku. The dude just has no redeemable qualities to him whatsoever. He breaks pretty much every promise he makes, lies to friends, has no self-discipline, basically sexually assault Sister Angela at one point, and is just generally unlikable. Yet for some reason everyone continues to support this guys and he gets his happy ending. I just can’t get behind him and with that the whole show is dragged down. I don’t mind flawed characters but there has to be something latch onto, usually a positive trait. For example, Char Azanble from Gundam may be a psychotic dick head but at least you can understand why he is that way and he is very charismatic, those are the viewer’s latching on points. Kosaku is just a fairly vanilla bloke with nothing redeeming about him.
This is a shame because, despite an obviously limited budget, Dezaki directed the hell out of this with his work on Ashita no Joe being obvious in the boxing scenes. It is however, his fault that he didn’t change the source material to make Kosaku more likeable, I am just assuming that Kosaku’s character is the same in the manga. Given Dezaki’s tendency to change up the source material it may actually be entirely his fault and I might be unfairly blaming Takahashi here.
In the end I just can’t recommend One Pound Gospel to people. It would be a decent work if Kosaku had any redeeming qualities, but he doesn’t so it isn’t. It really is a shame but this wouldn’t be the first time a single character ruined a show for me.
Final score: 4E