Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rumiko Takahashi
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Media)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The sweet science … of love.
Since the opening page of Volume 1 of Rumiko Takahashi’s classic One-Pound Gospel, we have watched the talented young pugilist named Kosaku Hatanaka battle to control his massive appetite but also win the heart of a Sister Angela, a beautiful novice nun who watches over Kosaku who is the lamb that has gone astray. Watching over them has been an interesting but also an endearing experience but even all good things must come to an end and Volume 4 of One-Pound Gospel is the final chapters in this series.
In the opening chapter of Volume 4, Kosaku is out training for his next upcoming bout when he runs into Sister Angela dressed in casual clothing. The sight of her out of her habit is strange to even the Coach but Sister Angela explains that she is heading out to visit her father in the hospital. It doesn’t take to long before a Mercedes pulls up with a classy woman who the young Sister calls “Auntie.” We also find out that Angela isn’t really the Sister’s actual name.
It turns out that Sister Angela’s aunt staged this little outing so her young niece could finally meet the handsome young chef of an unmarked residential restaurant. Chef Wakaoji is said to have studied the culinary arts in Italy and comes from a wealthy family so he’s the novel catch for the young sister who comes from a family with money as well. Still, the Sister feels committed to her calling and, in a small way, feels that she has something with Kosaku she can’t yet put a finger on.
Of course, Sister Angela’s aunt makes it clear that Kosaku is poor and the thought of Sister Angela leaving the church to marry a man who is clearly better suited for her is a swifter blow than any uppercut he has ever been given in the ring. When the Sister leaves again, Kosaku cannot help but think that she ran straight into the Chef’s arms and even heads out to the restaurant to witness the Sister, out of her habit, offering a helping hand in the kitchen. I won’t go into what happens but let’s just say that by the end of the chapter, it’s surprising to see where Sister Angela chooses to stand next to in the end.
In the following chapter, we find Kosaku distracted to the point that it worries the Coach. It doesn’t take too long before the Coach finds out that not only is Kosaku working in a Bento restaurant but he’s also cramming for a culinary arts exam. Confronting the young boxer, Kosaku makes an announcement in front of Sister Angela that makes Coach run out of the church crying (comically, I might add). While continuing his rounds delivering Bento to a school, we find out that Kosaku is being tutored by a teacher by the name of Manabu Sakura. On top of that, Kosaku has an upcoming fight with a fighter that has yet to win by a knock-out. It shouldn’t be a surprise to One-Pound Gospel fans that Kosaku’s opponent just so happens to be Sakura.
With this fight looming near, Kosaku comes to realize that he would be more happier running the Bento restaurant with Sister Angela. His decision makes the Sister reflect on a number of things including what the sweet science that is boxing means to Kosaku. As we quickly finds out, Kosaku was meant for one thing and that’s boxing as he and the teacher step into the ring.
The real surprise comes in the final chapter where, once again, Sister Angela’s aunt comes up with a lie to get the young Sister to see what made the nun’s mother blood pressure to rise. In a host club filled with attractive men, the Sister meets Ryusei who charms the sister into purchasing pink champagne that also happens to be one of the more expensive items in the club. Thinking her aunt took care of this misunderstanding, the handsome Ryusei shows up at the convent looking to collect 400K in yen from the Sister. Seeing how the grief this man is bringing Sister Angela, it is Kosaku who decides to take it upon himself to take over her debt. Unfortunately, Ryusei is also the champion of the Oriental and Pacific Federation title who is giving Kosaku his shot at a title. If Kosaku wins the debt is off but if he should lose then he must pay double.
I won’t spoil the ending of the story but in the wake of Kosaku’s selfless act, the young Sister comes to the realization that all this time she didn’t realize that Kosaku’s intentions were more noble than she realized. Sure, he has often told her outrageous things such as asking her to leave the convent to live with him but she never realized that those feelings were truly genuine. What happens in the end isn’t just surprising … it’s downright miraculous.
There’s no surprise, however, that One-Pound Gospel is indeed one of the most beloved works of Rumiko Takahashi’s impressive roster. As a whole, the series – like Kosaku himself – never showed signs of slowing down and packs quite an impressive blow. It’s also one of the more endearing sports manga titles with a lot of heart. Yes, all good things must come to an end but that doesn’t stop me from wishing that Volume 4 wasn’t the last chapter of this entertaining series.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The relationship between Kosaku and Sister Angela is tested for the last time in a series of related events that has the young pugilist thinking of throwing in the towel to pursue a life outside boxing as long as it’s by Sister Angela’s side. Meanwhile, a number of events finds Sister Angela’s career as a novice nun in jeopardy.
The art in One-Pound Gospel has always been excellent and even so in this final volume of the series. Does it stand out from the other Takahashi’s work like InuYasha or Maison Ikkoku? No, not really, but that’s definitely not a bad thing at all in this case.
In the last round as the final bell rings, Volume 4 of One-Pound Gospel remains the undisputed, undefeated champion of boxing manga but also remains to be one of those unforgettable tales that was an honor revisiting again. Volume 4 is a fitting end to a series that had you rooting for its characters from Page 1.
COMPLETE SERIES GRADE: A+
Rumiko Takahashi has created a beautiful and timeless story that not only speaks from the heart but also says a lot about the human condition. How a young boxer with a gluttonous appetite can stray from his path but find renewed strength in love is a miracle. What we have here in One-Pound Gospel is a four-volume series that is just way too good to pass up.