One Pound Gospel, created by Rumiko Takahashi, is a cartoon OVA (Original VideoAnimation)about boxing. It's subtitled, it's brief (55 minutes including credits), and it's good. Admit it, when someone says "Boxing" and "Film" in the same sentence, you automatically predict the plot:
1) A boxer struggles against the corrupt boxing establishment.
2) A boxer struggles to avenge the death/crippling of his friend.
3) A boxer struggles for the ultimate title, a fight to end all fights, the most spectacular, the most tremendous, the most . . . well, predictable.
Almost every fight yarn I've seen, uses these themes, usually to the breaking point and beyond. One Pound Gospel deserves recognition solely for avoiding all these three, if nothing else. Kosaku, a young boxer, meets and gets smitten with a young nun while cheating on his pre-fight diet. Weakened by sudden weight loss, he not only loses his fight so badly he is all but written off as a boxer. Somehow, by the grace of God (and one stray punch) he gets a second chance. Can his crusty coach and Sister Angela save him from his own appetite? The Film's strongest point lies in the fact that it doesn't try to make Boxing the center of the story. Rather, boxing is the catalyst, serving to heighten the mood, rather than trying to be it.
The voice actors for the characters fill the roles well. The boxer's voice reflects his devil-may-care attitude, but still conveys enough innocence to gain the viewer's sympathy. The nun's voice is more complex, tetering between longing and self control. The coach wins hands down, however, for his brilliant overreactions to Koasaku's excesses.
The film's weakest point is in it's animation. Disney buffs will not be impressed with the less-than- fluid animation, and if you dislike art styles that use the Japanese large-eye style, you will not like the artwork.
The subtitles are clear and are outlined in black to make the effort of reading easy, a vast improvement over many subtitled live films which still haven't learned how to get themselves decently subtitled.
The film was based on the comic series created by Rumiko Takahashi, whose other notable works include Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura, and many, many other titles. The comic version of One Pound Gospel is currently a running feature in Animerica magazine, so if you are in the mood for a good boxing comic, I heartily recommend it.
[Editor's note: Both the video and Animerica Magazine should be available at your friendly neighborhood comic book store.]
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