If he dies, he dies.
Joe miraculously makes his way back up from the ten count, surprising Aragaki, but that won’t be enough to win the match and Nanbu’s towel throwing hand is getting itchy. Joe won’t have any of that talk and keeps fighting, following Nanbu’s mantra of splitting his weight 50-50. This only riles up Aragaki, who knows that mantra well from his own time under Nanbu, making him slowly start to lose his cool. Flashes of their own training pass by, including Nanbu’s own words of encouragement to him that he still thinks were all lies. He and Miyagi decide to end things in the next round. However, Joe begins to see that deep down, Aragaki only wants a good fight and proceeds to get a few more hard beatings to prove it. But finally, he gets his chance and lands a good clean hit that nails Aragaki to the floor.
The match continues, with Joe steadily knocking down Aragaki’s defenses and the mantra peeling away his composure until the anger that drove him is completely drained. So, even though Joe is all ready to keep at it at the fourth round, Aragaki decides to forfeit. Nanbu visits him in the locker room, the two make amends, and Aragaki retires from boxing, having gotten as far as he can and rooting for Nanbu and Joe to reach Megalonia.
Elsewhere, the third of the four finalists to Megalonia is announced: Along with Yuri and Pepe Iglesias, the hulking Glen “Bloody Lion” Burroughs fills the third spot, leaving only one left. Yuri’s friend Mikio drops by to inform him about Joe’s rising star, but feels there’s no place in the tournament for stray dogs like him.
I don’t remember talking about the second part of two-parters being this difficult. Maybe it’s just when it’s basically the same episode but cut in half, so I end up blowing my load on points to make that first week then find myself stumped for something new to say in the next. Either way, none of this should lead you to believe this episode isn’t worth your time because it’s another knock out, concluding the fight against Aragaki in a way that leaves everyone feeling good despite the bruises you’re bound to take to the head and the heart. Unlike the fight with Yuri, which was about setting a series-long goal or the fight against Samejima which was about Joe testing himself, Aragaki gives us an opponent with his own goals and drive that clash and counter both Joe’s and Nanbu’s.
We get to see the rest of the most crucial moments in his and Nanbu’s partnership that fill in the blanks of how much he lost, but we know what’s fueling him now is something that will run out and damage his engine in the process. On top of that, as I said last time, his target in the fight is Nanbu, giving Joe every chance to surprise him by being a reminder that what he’s chasing isn’t what’s right in front of his face. And I’ve mentioned many times about my own leg amputation, so I have a bit of a fondness for characters with prosthetic legs as a result. Unfortunately, that also made seeing him injure his stump and having to see the bloody aftermath about as wrenching as the eye-lid stuff from Jojo last week. I’ve let my stump get real bad on long walks but I’ve never made it bleed like that. Ugh.
And we have a look at may potentially be Joe’s last two opponents before his rematch with Yuri: Glen Burroughs and Mikio. I say this because Mikio’s disdain for Joe being a “stray dog” is probably set up for them to face off, but Mikio isn’t one of the three fighters in the Megalonia slots, so that means he’ll likely be Joe’s final gatekeeper to the fourth slot. After that, since Pepe Igelias seems to be Yuri’s other rival, it’ll be Joe versus Glen in the semi-finals. But I could be wrong, and I can’t wait to find out either way next week.