One Pound Gospel 1

October 9, 2008

You know, I should really, really read Maison Ikkoku.  I like Rumiko Takahashi a lot, and this has put me in the mood for a longer series, but I don’t really want to embark on the 50-some volumes of Inu-Yasha just yet.  Plus, I hear that Maison Ikkoku is just awesome.

But for now, I was really surprised to see that One Pound Gospel got re-released this year, which pleases me to no end since it finally wrapped up in Japan last year and now I can read the whole thing beginning to end.  This has always piqued my interest given the really bizarre plot (nun roots for somewhat weak-willed boxer), and a relaunch was quite unexpected.

It’s been so long since I read anything by Takahashi I forgot how 80s her art looks (and is, in this case).  Her art is actually just… well, her art, and can’t be mistaken for anyone else.  I… wouldn’t say that Inu-Yasha looks particularly 80s, but you can definitely see it in an actual 80s Takahashi series like this, which is full of rounded faces, long hair (though there are surprisingly few females here), the style of the eyes, and just… well, the way she draws everything.  I like really retro-looking art, and Takahashi is not exempt.

The plot is about as bizarre as I’d hoped.  A naturally gifted boxer winds up being sort of a screw-up when he can’t stop himself from eating and being overweight for all his matches.  He often loses due to having to resort to crash diets frequently before fights, and whenever he over-eats when in training, he confesses his “sins” to a local nun.  The nun winds up belittling him and urging him on to beat his control issues, and even roots for him in a fight or two.

The nun and main character have a somewhat tentative romance in place.  I feel that this probably won’t go anywhere, seeing as how she’s a nun, but it’s still cute the way they react to one another.  There’s nothing overt or anything about it, it’s just a healthy relationship that seems to help the main character stick to his goals and become a success.  The nun prays awful hard about boxing, and there are some jokes about this (often she receives bad omens, like her crucifixes breaking, when she prays for the main character’s success), but her devotion is somewhat touching.

The plot of the series, that the main character struggles to stay in his own weight class, would be somewhat uncomfortable if the practicality for boxing hadn’t been addressed near the end of this volume.  I recall my pity for my high school’s wrestling team, the members of which were constantly in a state of losing weight.  The last story in this volume deals with allowing the main character to gain enough weight to jump up several weight classes to welterweight.  He does this with relish, but then the story goes on to explain that if you weigh more than your build allows, any extra weight will simply feel like dead weight and will slow you down as you’re trying to fight.  This cleared up most of my misgivings on the subject since that makes a lot of sense, but… you know.  I still feel bad for the wrestling teams across the nation.

There’s some comedy, but it’s mostly a story about the coach being disappointed with the main character, the main character screwing up again and again, and then being pushed to do his best in the end by both the nun and the coach.  It’s simple, but it stays pretty positive throughout, and I think I can pretty much unconditionally love anything by Rumiko Takahashi, so yes, this was a great read for me.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

9 Responses to “One Pound Gospel 1”

  1. Anna Says:

    I really enjoyed this too, and am looking forward to reading volume 2.

  2. […] Manga Recon blog, Phil Guie finds In Odd We Trust to be overly bland and inoffensive. Connie reads vol. 1 of One Pound Gospel at Slightly Biased Manga. Michelle Smith checks out vol. 3 of Dororo at Soliloquy in Blue. At Manga […]

  3. jun Says:

    Oh, you should definitely read Maison Ikkoku. I’m about halfway through it at present.

    I also love retro-looking art. If only there were more of us. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about the fates of some of these older series that’ve been licensed.

  4. ame Says:

    i think the joke got old fast. it was funny…but i mean, it even took Maison several volumes before i felt it was retreading too much familiar territory and needed to wrap up. i was really excited for this and then after vol.1 felt no compulsion to pick up vol.2 which is already out…

  5. Connie Says:

    ame: Yeah, I kind of felt the repetition by the end of the volume, but wasn’t so much annoyed by it. It felt pretty comfortable, for some reason. This is coming from someone who read all 36 volumes of Ranma 1/2 though, which got pretty repetitive by the end.

    jun: I keep forgetting about Maison Ikkoku. I passed over the first release of it since I didn’t like that there were some stories missing, but the new volumes have all the chapters in order. I definitely have to remember to start picking them up, I think they’ve been out for awhile and I’d hate to see the first few volumes disappear.

  6. ame Says:

    yeah..i have 6 volumes of Ranma, and while funny at parts…i don’t think i could do much more..

  7. Sara K. Says:

    Well, I just read the first volume of One-Pound Gospel, um, today. I pretty much agree with your review, and I will read the later volumes when I need a bit of Takahashi. Like for many Americans, Takahashi was my gateway into manga, specifically Inuyasha. Which means that I am not intimidated by the length any manga shorter than Inuyasha … in other words, 99% of manga. Yes, it’s repetitive, and I love it. And DO read Maison Ikkoku … it can’t top Inuyasha for me because Inuyasha has more nostalgia points, but if I had an objective opinion I might say Maison Ikkoku is Takahashi’s best work.

  8. Connie Says:

    I think the only reason I’m not buying Inuyasha today is because I was reading Ranma 1/2 instead and couldn’t afford both for a long time after I got into manga. I think my favorite by her is still Mermaid Saga. I loved that story so much when I was in high school, and I’m really hoping she’ll go back to it like she did One-Pound Gospel.

  9. Sara K. Says:

    Inuyasha is definitely more like Mermaid Saga than, say, Urusei Yatsura, with all the demons, both creepy and cute, running around (of course Urusei Yatsura has a lot of demons too, but it’s not the same). I suspect Inuyasha will get VizBig treatment, so you might as well wait a little.

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