Good whatever-time-it-is-you’re-reading-this, I am The Luminous Mongoose, and it’s time for a monthly seasonal series review!
I’ll say it right now, Megalo Box reminds me a lot of Shinichiro Watanabe’s work. The western influence, the funky music, and even the main protagonist, are all reminiscent of it. Wether this is intentional or not, I am not sure, but you really can’t ignore it. I do like that they went for soft but rough linework, it really makes the anime lool raggedy, just like our protagonist.
This already puts the series on my good list from the get-go, because I really enjoy that aesthetic of western music over very Japanese things happening. I think they even purposefully downscale the quality of the video to further mimic the older styles of last anime.
It helps that it’s also a pretty damn good show!
So far, the plot is straightforward enough if you’ve watched any boxing anime before.
Hell, this itself is an alternate interpretation of another older boxing anime Ashita no Joe, to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. Kinda like Devilman Crybaby.
Despite ripping inspiration from a whole lot of VERY good things, Megalo Box still has a personality all its own.
Our main character Joe, his coach and the kid are great characters, and we don’t even know for sure what their real names are.
The world is a future we have already seen before, from western sci-fi such as Blade Runner, Looper and District 9. We see kids stealing cameras and selling them for some candy (implied to be drugs), working-class cheering and jeering both in the official tourneys and underground bouts, and just general poverty contrasting with the high-end technology. It’s a fleshed out world of steel and grunge.
Junk Dog is a rough-and-tumble boxer who is a jobber. He loses fights on purpose to get money, but Joe himself really just wants a real fight. His coach Nanbu will not let him though, as he wants to keep him underfoot to make good money living like roaches.
A chance meeting with the Megalo Box Champion Yuri, and a subsequent losing match against him motivates Junk Dog to get out of jobbing and make a name foe himself in the official ring for another shot at the champ. As his new identity, he picks the name Joe. Obviously a straight reference to Ashita no Joe, as Nanbu himself basically says in response to Joe asking if they can pull this off “We aren’t in a position for a tomorrow, Joe.”
I really like the direction this anime is going. It’s paced well enough that it doesn’t fall into predictable patterns, but make no mistake, this is a pretty conventional boxing sci-fi anime. The biggest “twist” is the fact that our MC is going to be fighting these megalo boxers without any sort of gear himself.
The fights are intense and bombastic, even though the opponents themselves have been pretty standard fare so far. What I like is how in this sport with literal machines doing most of the fighting, this means that two to three solid hits means the opponent is going down. Slugging is not as common here, making Joe a bit different from the likes of Little Mac and Ippo, as he has to weave and dodge around instead of taking hits, since blocking it would be too risky on his unprotected arms.
My favorite episode so far is the most recent one, as it showcases a side of cocky main characters I don’t see often enough.
Joe is scared and nervous. Usually, when we see cocky characters, they have apathy towards danger or dying because they either revel in it, or deep down just want to die because they are aimless.
Joe is not. He was cocky in the underground world where he had no equal. He had no aims then until he met Yuri, but now that he has a goal, he is feeling the pressure of actually going through with it.
When he finally got on that official ring, his nerves got the better of him, and he gets his ass beat for a solid two rounds until the kid shouts some sense into him and the old man.
I like seeing that. Nerves is something that not enough cocky characters have, and it’s nice to see his cocky facade being broken for just a little bit. Nice change of pace to see a more “average” Joe dealing with real danger.
Also, more Cowboy Bebopness in the fight itself.
I also like that they skipped the two hype fights, since with so little episodes, I’d rather we be focused on the more important fights and moments instead of filler.
Overall, I am very excited to continue watching this show. It’s conventional and takes a lot of inspiration from early 2000s anime, but seeing as how that’s a bygone era, it’s nice to have some nostalgia watching these kinds of classics again.