|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Megalo Box is a futuristic homage to classic 70s boxing anime Champion Joe in its focus on our main crooked pair of illegal boxer "Junk Dog" and his manager Gunsaku Nanbu who participate in a form of boxing called Megalo Boxing, where boxers are outfitted with cybernetic enhancements called Gears that allow the boxers to hit harder and faster in the ring, to pay off a debt owed to a mob boss. The series follows the old "rise to the top" storytelling trope you would find out of many sports anime. However, Megalo Box also offers a solid amount of depth to go with it as it explores the developments with Junk Dog and Nanbu as they find themselves gradually enjoying legit competition instead of the rigged gambling world they were part of and the lengths they will go through to get to the top as far as possible, as well as delved into the pasts of the two and some of their opponents as they rise in the ranks of Megalo Boxing. The animation style for it also sports a 90s feel as it deliberately milks some visual effects and a more thicker and angular look to its character designs to create the illusion of the series coming from an older time, and the fight choreography with boxing matches is a sight to see throughout the show's run. Overall, Megalo Box made for great entertainment with its solid storytelling and engaging boxing scenes that make it a worthwhile treat for those who love sports anime or homages of older anime titles.
Last updated Friday, September 14 2018. Created Friday, September 14 2018.
(All episodes watched):
I didn't know if I wanted to watch a show about boxing that is even more bloody and brutal than usual, but I must admit that I was impressed by the professionalism of episode one of this show. We get to know Junk Dog, and get a sense of the frustration he feels at being continually held back by a corrupt system of small-time Megalo fights ('I coulda been a contender!'). He basically gets paid for having the crap beaten out of him. But his spirit keeps the show from sinking into a sense of despair, which might have easily happened. A plausible course of events opens up a potential route to success and respect for him, even if one unlikely coincidence is necessary; we can forgive that, since the story in general is intriguing.
This show has an intriguing plausibility to it; the plot isn't outlandish and doesn't rely on unlikely coincidences (other than running into the current Megalo boxing champion by chance and pissing him off) so it really could happen. The details are fun, like the organized crime ring that employs computer hacking to create a fake identity for Junk Dog (who will henceforth be known simply as 'Joe'). One hurdle among many has been cleared on the long road to an unlikely hero winning the championship. You can even feel sorry for Joe's manager, who has often expected him to throw fights. He's deep in debt to a loanshark, and failing to repay would have ugly consequences. I was a little surprised at the rapid progress Joe makes from last place to a fight with the Megalo Boxer who is ranked 17th. On the one hand we are expected to believe that Joe was just as good and lucky in numerous fights against increasingly high ranked opponents as he was in his first, which was a very close call; on the other, these were relatively unimportant bouts so it was sort of nice to skip them. And Joe willingly fights without his gear, as a handicap to attract more prestigious opponents; it makes some sense, but I sort of wonder why the mechanical gear was included to begin with, since the blows that Megalo boxers land don't seem to be all that much more devastating than those that Joe does. Early on, I had thought that boxers might get crippled or even killed, like gladiators, but that didn't turn out to be the case. And with so much at risk, why does Joe need to become champion so much? I forget. But in general the writing and production of Megalo Box has a sort of professionalism to it; you just get the feeling that the people behind this show knew exactly what they were doing. Each fight has something different about it so they don't become formulaic. Come to think of it, we still don't know Joe all that well as the series nears the end of the season, but we know him well enough to remain engaged and entertained. He's a guy who has always been screwed over by the system, and when he finally gets a chance to accomplish something satisfying and noteworthy, the system comes looking for him again. I was a bit surprised (pleasantly) that Yuri doesn't seem to be a stereotypically evil villain. He doesn't use dirty tricks, and his motivations ultimately aren't all that different from Joe's. Sachio was a character that never really 'clicked' with me, but Nanbu is an understandable guy; early on, I had thought he would be a short-lived bad guy who would soon disappear from the story, but that obviously didn't happen. Basically, the story is more about the characters than the slugfests in the ring, as it should be.
Joe's past as a match-throwing loser comes back to haunt him as he nears the top tier of the Megalonia competition. He's expected to throw the next-to-last match in exchange for Nanbu's debts being forgiven, but that's the last thing he wants. He's therefore placed in a damned-if-he-does-and-damned-if-he-doesn't conundrum, which is resolved in a painful yet classy manner. A sure sign of what a classy show this is was that as the climax approached I really wouldn't have minded if Yuri won the big fight. We had gotten to know both contenders well, and it was clear that rather than a good versus evil fight this would be two good guys, both of whom we can sympathize with, going at it. Not many shows dare to be this sophisticated.
The climax struck me as adequate but not up to the standard that I had come to expect from Megalo Box. Just exactly what happened in the final round of the championship fight is revealed in a slow, confusing, cryptic manner--I began to wonder if we would ever get an answer at all. Based on a remark that was made at one point, I got the impression that either Joe or Yuri (or both?) had gotten killed. I appreciate shows that try something different, but different isn't automatically better. It turns out that we do get a definitive answer of who won at the last possible moment of the episode. But the answer didn't surprise me at all. Perhaps it was just too difficult to believe that two guys who were trying to smash each other's faces at one point would wind up the way they do. More explanation was needed for the respect they wound up with for each other; or perhaps that the respect they had developed previously could survive their brutal fight. But again, the climax was satisfactory though not brilliant.
Last updated Saturday, September 15 2018. Created Thursday, April 12 2018.