Megalobox 2: Nomad
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Megalobox 2: Nomad ?
With the series' final bout just ahead of us, and Joe's personal and relationship conflicts about as resolved as they're ever likely to be, there was really only one final thing left for Megalobox 2 to address: Mac. I've been pleasantly surprised at how well the show has integrated Mac into the Megalobox story, not so much as an antagonist, but as another wandering soul in need of redemption – another protagonist in his own right. The constant refrains of that picture book make the parallels as obvious as can be: Joe has transformed from the titular Nomad to the Hummingbird, taking on not only Chief's Gear but also his status as a leader and a role model of sorts.
Joe needed to find his way back to his family after straying from the path, and in this penultimate episode, Mac goes through much of the same journey. It's very truncated, of course, cramming Mac's drunken wandering and spiritual rebirth into a single episode when Joe got a whole season, but I'll be damned if it doesn't work. What allows it to work, I think, is that Mac's struggles are primarily with corporate exploitation and his own toxic ideas of what his responsibilities are as a man and a fighter, and as we've been exploring all season, these are the same fights that Chief and Joe had to work so hard to overcome.
So, on the one hand, Mac's emotional arc is pretty simple: He feels broken and pathetic after discovering what the cost of ROSCO's enhancements have been, and that they came because he was unable to "provide" for his wife and son after being so critically injured in the line of duty. He spends a night as a drunken wreck before getting picked up by a couple of cops, one of whom happens to be his old partner Hakeem.
Their camaraderie, combined with a spirited street performance of "El Canto del Colibri", is what begins to set him back on the path. He remembers what Joe accomplished that inspired and overwhelmed him so much to begin with. The lyrics of the song, which match the story from his son's book, reconnect him to some of the values of his culture that have gotten lost in all of the chaos and heartbreak in Mac's life, and he is flooded with memories of the wife and son that he would give anything to protect and to make proud. He goes home, and acknowledges that Maria did exactly what he would have done if he'd been given the choice, and that their love is stronger than his own pride or Sakuma's schemes. He goes back to his boss, and demands that he fight Joe on his own terms.
What exactly that means remains to be seen, but the clean simplicity of Mac's arc allows all of this business to work as satisfying emotional drama even as it takes all of the necessary time and steps to set up the big match at the same time. I've sung the praises of the animation and direction of this season enough that there isn't much to call out here, but I'll be happy to repeat myself when it comes to shouting out mabanua and his score. Holy hell, the music in this show is just so freaking good.
The surest sign of a great work of art is when it makes it all look almost too easy. The way that the parallel themes of Joe and Mac's journey have come together, the amount of care that the show has put into making sure every one of its characters is written with wit and depth, the layers of added resonance that come with how Nomad expands on and subverts the events of Season One – it's hard to believe that Megalobox 2 can possibly be this good. Yet here we are, just one week from the end, and this series is just inches away from finishing as a stone-cold anime masterpiece.
Normally, this is where I'd voice my concerns about whether or not Nomad will be able to stick the ending, but you know what? I'm not even going to pretend that I'm worried. Whatever happens next, Megalobox 2 has done more than enough to earn my complete confidence. Bring out the fighters. Ring the bell. Let's finish this fight, once and for all.
• Outside of Mac's story, we mostly get brief check-ins with the other characters as they also prepare for the Grand finale. Joe is getting into shape with Yuri as his guide, and Yuri's key piece of advice? Don't even try and land the hits on Mac. This isn't about making Joe look like a badass. He needs to play it safe and learn to "swing by not swinging."
• Speaking of playing it safe, Sachio discovers that Chief's Gear's distinctive color is because of its protective leather coating, though he's replacing it with deer hide to better accommodate Joe's mobility. It's details like this, plus all of the emphasis on Joe playing it as safe as possible, that make me suspect that the show might just spare our hero the fate of the original Joe. Fingers crossed.
• Some unseen spectator has come to join Sakuma in the VIP section of the arena by the end of the episode. It's probably Yukiko, or Mikio, or both of the Shirato siblings, but it's the last call for crazy predictions, so I'll go buck wild and say it's Zombie Nanbu, come to wish his boy luck from beyond the veil of death.
• This week's title is “Aunque las ovaciones se callen, la voz de los mudos no desaparecerá”, which the Wikipedia Fairy tells me can be translated as something like “You can't erase the voice of the voiceless, even after the applause ends.” A straight Google Translate gives “Although the cheers are silent, the voice of the mute will not disappear”, which offers a similar sentiment, albeit with a very different tone. The discussion about the show's use of Spanish in the comments has been very interesting, so feel free to continue offering whatever insight you may have!James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.
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