Spring 2018 was one of my favorite anime seasons in recent years. I, for one, am new to keeping up with seasons—in fact I didn’t even know there were seasons! I would just watch random anime that I thought looked interesting, but I have rectified and improved my skills being part of this wonderful ministry, Beneath The Tangles.
One show that stuck out to me was one that had an image of a boxer, which interested me since I do like boxing stories like the Rocky movies. I didn’t know what to expect, especially since I’m not into sports anime nor am I even a sports fan in real life.
I don’t know if it was the hip hop instrumentals, gritty and old-school anime style artwork, or just the whole underdog storyline, but I was hooked after one episode. I had to keep watching and see where our protagonist would end up. If you aren’t aware of the story, it’s about a boxer named Joe fighting small matches in an underground ring. He’s really good, but is asked to lose various fights so the customers who are betting against him will win. Tired of being the laughing stock of the arena, he starts to knock out his competition until he picks a fight with the top fighter of Megalobox. It’s basically what they call boxing in the anime, except fighters all chose to wear a gear that enhances their physical ability. Well, Joe’s gear is very shoddy and he’s defeated, but that doesn’t stop him from challenging his new opponent to the grand tournament, Megalobox.
I don’t want to spoil the anime or give more away, so I recommend checking out the first episode to see if you like it. The reason I wanted to touch on this show though, was because of how much it related to my own personal life and upbringing. No, I was not a boxer living on the streets and I do know my name (“Joe” didn’t remember his name so he chose that name for a false ID to get into the tournament). The more I watched and understood Joe’s motives, the more I felt a connection to his struggle deeper than I normally do in an anime. Thinking about that made me want to flesh it out in writing because I felt there was something God wanted me to share with others.
Similar to Joe, who doesn’t have a family, I was raised with only a few family members. My mother divorced when I was two, so she raised me alone and I would yearly visit my grandmother who lived in New York City. We moved from Brooklyn to Miami (where I still live) when I was little, so because of distance and money, we didn’t make trips often. I am an only child and so is my mother, so there goes any siblings, aunts or uncles. My mom and grandma were practically the only family I had.
There were times when the lack of support and loneliness would hit me hard. I dealt with depression when I was younger, but thankfully I had outlets like video games or anime when I felt sad. That was when I was a teenager, but after giving my life to Christ at 17, he gave me a peace beyond this world’s understanding (Phillippians 4:7).
Joe had to make it on his own, with his own two fists against odds that were always against him. There is always someone cheating or having an upper hand on him. When I started in college or even after I graduated and started to apply for jobs, there was always a lot of competition. Other applicants would have a Masters degree or lots of experience, while I didn’t have enough with just my Bachelor’s degree. Public school jobs are very hard to get without knowing someone in the city I live in, so I ended up doing other jobs in schools that were 50% less pay than a teacher while watching other teachers perform in the job that I wanted to have. I felt embarrassed to tell others I was a teacher as well, just one that couldn’t find a job so was stuck in a lesser position. Imagine a doctor cleaning the floors of a hospital as a janitor, then telling other doctors that he’s one, too, but can’t find work.
My life has been a battle even since day one, when the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck and I almost died. It’s no wonder I love the Rocky movie series, or the typical underdog story. Joe is a character that those who have had to struggle can relate to and who I found myself rooting for the entire anime. This isn’t to compare ups and downs of other people, but for those that have had a very easy life, it can be hard to put on the shoes of someone else who has always had to work their way up from nothing.
Joe punched his way to the top, never standing down or giving up. Sometimes everything and everyone was against him, wanting him to fail because they didn’t believe someone that someone who came from nothing could become something. It reminds me also of the Star Wars movies with Rey, who is basically a nobody and gets involved in a galaxy-spanning story that has nothing to do with her. Joe wants to win a tournament that is rigged from the very start, and he is the anomaly that upsets everyone as he continued to rise the ranks. In life, there will be times where every situation seems to go the opposite of what we hoped. Maybe the applications to colleges are all rejected, a bill you forgot about needs to be paid, the car breaks down, a pet gets sick, or you have an argument with a loved one that is troublesome to fix. Our present situation seems impossible to figure out, as there’s nothing logical we can think of that will solve it.
Instead of trying to come out of the mess on our own, we need God’s help to do it. When we are weak, He is strong. His thoughts are higher and greater than our own. I have to remind myself that God is with me and has never left me. My faith in Him and the measure He has allowed me to have is what keeps me going forward.
1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Life will always feel like a fight, more for some than others. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but God is on our side of the ring. Every time the round is over and we decide to surrender to Him, He is waiting in your corner to lift you up. I want to encourage whoever is reading this to know that just like Joe, who kept training and getting better every match, you can grow and mature after every obstacle you overcome. We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) in Him who loves us, Jesus Christ.
What challenges have you faced and got through in life, that you feel would help others? I would love to read them, God bless!