Urusei Yatsura. Maison Ikkoku. Ranma ½. Inu Yasha. Rumiko Takahashi is the wealthiest woman in Japan and it is because she has created some of the most successful, iconic, and beloved manga and anime series in the history of the mediums. But while many are familiar with the above mentioned titles, fewer know of the terrifically entertaining series One Pound Gospel. Created by the talented Takahashi in 1987, the original manga was published sporadically for around 20 years finally culminating in its fourth, and final volume, in 2007. Along the way there was a terrific, and short OVA in 1988, and even a live action television series in Japan starring Meisa Kuroki (Vexille, Space Battleship Yamato) and Kazuya Kamenashi (KAT-TUN) in the lead roles.
The series revolves a young and talented boxer named Kosaku Hatanaka. He’s got natural instinct and widely recognized punching power. His main weakness, however, is his amazing gluttonous appetite. Because of his difficulty in making weight for his matches, he has gone up several weight classes and causes no end of frustration to his long suffering coach. Enter Angela: a beautiful young woman with whom Hatanaka falls head over heels. Her presence and the prospect of starting a future with her inspires Kosaku to new heights and rekindles his dedication to the sport. Angela also seems to somewhat, albeit very slightly, reciprocate these feelings but there is a huge hurdle in the way of a possible relationship: she is a nun in training! With Hatanaka fighting opponents in his weak-willed belly, other boxers, and the ultimate rival in God, he’s got his work cut out for him!
Hilarious and well drawn, the OVA was briefly available in the United States on VHS, but has since been unavailable commercially. As a boxing fan and a Rumiko Takahashi fan, this series was a solid production combining two of my favorite things. It is an anime that I feel would be really well received, but only if you give it a chance. It is a shame that such a terrific gem has gone so long unnoticed, but hopefully there are a few of you willing to step into the ring with it.