A manga and OVA series by Rumiko Takahashi, One Pound Gospel is one of her shorter and less-known works. It was published sporadically from 1987 to 2006 in Weekly Young Sunday and collected into four volumes from 1989 to 2007.
The plot concerns Kosaku Hatanaka, a 19-year-old boxer who used to be a rising star that started boxing straight out of high school, but by the beginning has deteriorated into a lost case by anyone's opinion, due to his uncontrollable eating habits. Only his coach believes he might yet turn out well, though even he doesn't consider the chance large. However, Kosaku gets new motivation in the form of Sister Angela, a Christian nun to whom he went for confession and keeps doing so just for the chance to see her. Angela is a novice, not yet a full nun, having given up her privileged birth for the veil. However, she finds herself not entirely unsympathetic towards Kosaku, who doesn't fully understand the vows she is to take. He often desperately tries to impress her with a victory so that she would consent to be his girlfriend - much to the irritation of the Mother Superior of Angela's convent.
Although One Pound Gospel is a charming entirely realistic (a rarity for the mangaka) comedy, it tends to be overlooked in favor of Maison Ikkoku, which is both longer and contains stronger distinct personalities among its protagonists. Also, as boxing and the Christian faith is an integral part of the series, this isn't to everyone's taste. However, the result is a pleasing mix of near-shonen fights and the traditional romance, this time - another rarity - with an actual resolution to the couple's UST.
The series received an OVA adaptation in 1988 by Studio Gallop, and a nine-episodes live action adaptation in 2008.
This series contains examples of:
- Adaptational Nice Woman: In the live action adaptation the Mother Superior is much more understanding of Angela's plight, with her role as a strict disciplinarian being pushed on Sister Milly. She still tries to keep her as a nun.
- Adaptational Villainy: As a result of Mizue being Adapted Out, in the live action Ryusei Kurenai himself lures Angela at the host club and gets her indebted, and later informs the other nuns of the whole incident and Kosaku's bet. He also acts as a jerk in general, when his manga counterpart is simply a professional who happens to be Angela's creditor and whose only questionable action, getting her indebted by lying about having a huge debt to pay, being explained by him (and Angela) originally expecting her aunt to pay it and his debt being double of what he says.
- Adapted Out: Angela's entire family doesn't appear in the live-action adaptation.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: It would hardly be a Rumiko Takahashi's series without it. Kosaku is an Innocently Insensitive Unlucky Everydude, very similar to Yusaku Godai, but Angela is less likely to explode than a traditional Tsundere. This is most likely her faith and training talking.
- Big Eater: Kousaku to a freakin' T.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Thoroughly averted with Kosaku. Played straight with Angela, though subverted in the fact that she's not choosing between two men or dislikes Kosaku - she doesn't know if she should give up her calling for the sake of a single person or not.
- Comfort Food: In Chapter 7 of Volume 2, Kosaku does this with ramen after Angela tells him to stop liking her for more than a friend.Coach: I'm the one who should be crying, you idiot!!
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Kosaku has a typically Japanese set of values, and just doesn't get that nuns could have different ones.
- Kosaku runs headfirst during the Christmas episode, as he has no idea why the Mother Abbess has forbidden him to strike Tacos Hachiro on the tattoo of the Virgin Mary that covers most of his torso on pain of keeping him from meeting with Angela on Christmas.note In the end he wins the match and explains that he didn't strike the tattoo but his opponent's torso under it, they accept his explanation and allow him to meet Angela... And take part in a religious procession rather than take her to a date, much to his surprised bemusement.
- Distaff Counterpart: The Mother Abbess could be seen as the counterpart to Coach Mukoda, as she is responsible for Angela keeping true to her decision to be a nun, as Mukoda is responsible for Kosaku's boxing career.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Kosaku's quite vocal about his affection for Angela and his wish to live with her. This often causes trouble with the other nuns.
- The two leads resemble those of Maison Ikkoku quite uncannily. Kosaku is actually very similarly drawn, disregarding the rounded style Takahashi uses for her characters. Also, Taro Matsuzaka resembles Shun Mitaka when not wearing his 'work face'.
- Kurusu's friend resembles Kodachi.
- Aunt Mizue comes across as an older, less likable version of Nabiki Tendo.
- Foreshadowing: Kappei Onimaru is an experienced boxer who is still stuck at four rounds bouts (the lowest level) because he never won a match, but is so proud of his opponents to the point of hanging their portraits in his home because they all became champions, prompting Kosaku, who has been tempted into fighting him in spite of the weight difference, to quip beating him is good luck. Kosaku wins and ends the series as the OPBF champion.
- Hate Sink: While Angela's aunt Mizue isn't technically evil, she's still an obnoxious, manipulative pain in the ass. She frequently lies to Angela and the Mother Abbess in an effort to trick Angela into attending matchmaking dates. At one point Mizue even lied that Angela's dad was hospitalized so Angela would spend a week working with Chef Wakoji. When Angela tried to leave, Mizue threatened to rat Angela out to the Mother Abbess about the previous unofficial date. She also once promised to settle Angela's debt with a host club (which happened accidentally), then went on an overseas trip before she paid it off and even gleefully told the Mother Abbess about it.
- Hot for Preacher: Somewhat subverted, in that Kosaku doesn't really understand Angela's situation and doesn't see her as Forbidden Fruit—just a very attractive young lady he'd like to go out with, but everybody else (including Angela herself) doesn't want to encourage the relationship, as Angela would eventually have to decide between Kosaku or Jesus.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: In Japanese, "Priest" and "Boxer" sound alike. "Bokushi" (牧師), is the first three syllables in the Japanese pronunciation of the word "boxing" (ボクシング/bokushingu). Thus the entire premise of the series being a
PriestBoxer and a Nun together.
- Innocently Insensitive: Kousaku may come off as a jerkwad, but it seems thoroughly unintentional. He's just oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of others and it's not on purpose... he's just a really big kid.
- The Matchmaker: Angela's aunt Mizue.
- Nice Guy: Kosaku, at his heart, is an incredibly nice man-who also happens to be an utter moron.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: While calling Kurenai a villain is a bit of a stretch, at first sight he's just a host, if a handsome one even for his job. He's also the undefeated featherweight Asian-Pacific Champion, and has never needed to go the distance, been knocked down, or even struck in the face until his match with Kosaku.
- Nuns Are Funny: Kosaku not understanding what being a nun would mean for Angela is a Running Gag, and the very straight-laced nuns having to deal with the chaos typical of Takahashi works is also repeatedly Played for Laughs.
- Ojou: Sister Angela actually comes from a quite wealthy family. Although the only one who has a problem with Angela's decision to become a nun is her aunt Mizue, who doesn't really understand Angela's decision to give up so much extravagance and go without men.
- The Rival: Every arc has at least a boxing rival for Kosaku, and Kosaku considers Jesus a romantic rival for Angela (a misunderstanding not helped by nuns being called "Brides of Jesus" and the ritual for taking the veil resembling a marriage ceremony).
- Running Gag: At least one per arc:
- In Amakusa Jiro's arc, Amakusa getting angry at Kosaku and then they never met before and Kosaku didn't knock him down by accident while they were jogging.
- In his arc, Matsuzaka Taro playing with his dentures and keeping Kosaku from overeating.
- During Onimaru's arc, people just assuming he's gonna lose.
- During Kurusu Masayoshi's arc, people being surprised at him being timid and never having fought a pro match or a street fight in spite of his face.
- In Yoshihiko's arc, him trying to punch Kosaku in the face and either hitting Mukoda or failing completely.
- In his arc, Tacos Hachiro's horrible cooking (children even use it as a Masochist Meal dare) and the reactions to it.
- In Yashamaru Hiroshi's arc, his terrible taste in everything and the messes caused by his fiancee.
- In his arc, Wakaoji cooking something personally but always using the wrong thing as a sauce.
- In Sakura Manabu's arc, people talking of him as a poor boxer due his poor punching power and thus being "boring" and "not flashy", getting him angry.
- In the final arc, Kurenai Ryusei saying he's working at a host club to pay a gigantic debt left by his parents and then admitting it's a lie. Played for Drama with the last use, as he explains that it's a lie because the debt is twice of what he says.
- Un-Cancelled: The manga originally left the situation rather unresolved but eventually got an ending almost twenty years after the series stopped serializing.
- Underestimating Badassery: Kosaku's diet problems mean that many opponents expect an easy victory, and get caught by surprise when he gets serious. It starts with his opponent at the professional test, already a professional himself and a rising star, losing consciousness and all his teeth to a single punch (something he holds an enormous grudge for), though in his case it was because he was a professional facing an amateur, and eventually results in him winning the Asian-Pacific championship due his opponent's manager wishing to give his boxer a spectacular victory before they tried for the world championship and not expecting Kosaku to actually be that good.
- Weight Woe: Kosaku's diet problems are the main obstacle to his career, as his troubles slimming down made him lose more than a few matches. On the other hand, more than a few opponents failed to realize his actual strength until too late.