One-Pound Gospel: Knuckle Sandwich (Vol. 3)
Review by Dindrane

Story and Art by Rumiko Takahashi
English Adaptation by Gerard Jones & Mori Morimoto

Touch-up Art and Lettering by Mary Kelleher

Published by Viz Communications
Contents: One-Pound Gospel Round Two Nos. 1-8
Price: $15.95

My Verdict: Buy it.

Certainly a different sort of manga premise, One-Pound Gospel follows the trials and tribulations of a young would-be boxer hero, Kosaku, and his friend, Sister Angela. Yes, "Sister." As in "nun." The usual manga formula of young hero, unattainable heroine, and secondary characters gets new life in the hands of Takahashi.

In this volume, Kosaku's coach has recommended that the young boxer eat basically nothing and train like a madman. At the same time, he must face a series of tough opponents in the ring: a rich boy who tempts Kosaku with even richer food, a Mexican choir-boy with a mysterious tattoo, and a truck driver with female issues. The truck driver's ex-girlfriend has decided meanwhile that Kosaku might really be the man for her.

Takahashi's trademark sweetness and humor are ever-present in this collection, but not to the extent of, say, Ranma 1/2. Her characters, however, are quite well-developed. Kosaku is earnest without being unrealistic, and the young nun is conflicted and intelligent. Her unspoken feelings for Kosaku are particularly evident in part three of this volume and will hopefully continue to be investigated as the series continues. One of the most interesting moments is Kosaku's moral dilemma when the Mother Abbess forbids him from punching an opponent in the stomach (why she does this would give too much away). How Kosaku resolves this says something about him.

The art is vintage Takahashi--clear and traditional. Sister Angela looks a great deal like Inu-Yasha's Kagome, only in a nun's habit, and Kosaku looks like the secret love-child of Kuno and Ryoga from Ranma 1/2. But the art is so nice and fun to look at that a similarity of style is quite welcome.

I recommend One-Pound Gospel for fans of Takahashi's other work, and for anyone who enjoys young adult shoujo manga, such as Sailor Moon.

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