Megalo Box

Megalo Box

Megalo Box anime cover art featuring Junk Dog (Joe)
Megalo Box Cover Art

Overview

Megalo Box was one of the best anime of the Spring 2018 season, and would have been the best if not for My Hero Academia season 3. The story follows an underground Megalo boxer, who goes by the ring name Junk Dog, as he rises through the ranks to participate in Megalonia.

Unlike modern boxing, Megalo boxing involves the use of exoskeletons on the upper body to increase the power behind the boxers’ punches. This is supposedly to make the sport even more intense and entertaining, but I feel like that’s just a good way to kill someone.

The series is heavily influenced by the 1968 anime Tomorrow’s Joe and serves as a 50th anniversary project. While the story may be a modern retelling of one from the ’60s, the art is styled to look like the series came straight out of the ’90s.

I’ve heard that the series was originally made in 1080p, then downscaled to 480p, then upscaled to 720p to give it a crisp ’90s look. That said, there are certain scenes which showcase a much more modern style such as the 3D views of the boxing rings, which I found to be out of place.

Characters

“Gearless” Joe, formerly Junk Dog, is the series’ protagonist whose name is clearly just one of many references to Tomorrow’s Joe. He originally participated in fixed matches in an underground ring as a way to make a living due to not being an actual citizen.

However, all Joe really wants is to be able to have real matches against opponents who are worthy of his skill; not just those who are as skilled as he is, but even those who are more skilled. Joe wants to see how far he can push his boundaries in the ring.

If I had to pick one character from another anime which Joe reminds me of, it’d be Spike from Cowboy Bebop. They both have similar character designs, but they’re also both the cool characters who are driven by their individual motivation to accomplish their goals.

Nanbu is Joe’s coach who has been with him since his underground days. He’s the one who originally talked Joe into throwing fixed matches as a way to make easy money and is known as a con artist to many in the Megalo boxing world.

While Joe’s character doesn’t really change throughout the course of the series, that isn’t the case for Nanbu. Over the 13 episodes of the series, we see Nanbu gradually change from a con artist who wants to continue using Joe for his own profit, to an actual coach who believes his boxer has a chance at winning Megalonia.

Sachio is the third and final member of Team Nowhere. He’s an orphaned boy who seems to be roughly 11 or 12 years old despite his small stature. He primarily serves as the analytics technician during training, and the water boy during fights.

The final character I want to mention is Yūri of Team Shirato. Yūri is the current Megalo boxing champion and the primary antagonist of the series. Despite this, he and Joe are actually extremely similar characters.

It may actually be better to think of Yūri as Joe’s Rival instead of the antagonist of the series. Both of them want to fight against each other because they see each other as the ultimate challenge. Joe wants to fight the champion, and Yūri wants to have a “real” fight which he believes Joe can give him.

"Gearless" Joe on his motorcycle from the anime Megalo Box
“Gearless” Joe

Conclusion

Within the series I found there to be three major turning points. The first was when Joe becomes “Gearless” Joe and starts fighting without any Megalo gear. This signified his move forward and out from the constraints of being a fighter who throws matches in an underground ring.

The second came much later in the series when Joe puts his gear back on in his fight against Burroughs. This signified the low point of the series when Team Nowhere is temporarily disbanded and the three members go their separate ways.

The third case of this is when Yūri decides to have his implanted gear removed for his final match against Joe. Like with the removal of Joe’s gear, the removal of Yūri’s gear signifies him breaking free of his shackles, in his case, the Shirato corporation.

Out of the entire series, my least favorite part was the ending by far. This is something that should never be the case, especially for a series with a lot of intense action scenes and great plot like Megalo Box.

Early in the season I predicted that Joe was going to win Megalonia, but later on I changed my mind and thought a tie was going to occur. Instead, Joe did win, but we didn’t really see it happen. Also, the way the announcement of his victory happened left a lot to be desired.

The final scene of the fight that we see is of both opponents hitting each other at the same time, which leads us to believe a tie occurred. Then, during the following scenes, Yūri is spoken about as if he died in the ring, and Joe is nowhere to be seen.

Further, it’s mentioned that the champion’s seat has been vacant in the year that’s passed since their match, which makes the viewer believe both fighters died in the ring and Megalonia ended with a tie.

While this would have been an ending I accepted, that’s not what happened. In fact, Joe won, which we see as text on a black screen at the very end of the episode, and Yūri is now in a wheelchair. Both are alive, and both appear to now be friends.

This isn’t the ending I signed up for when I started watching a gritty ’90s themed anime. Where’s my Cowboy Bebop ending?

In the end, I gave Megalo Box a 7/10 which is the rating I had it at for most of the season. I thought the final episode may be able to push it back up to an 8, which is where I originally had it, but no such luck.

The OP for Megalo Box is available here.

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