My tendency of being late to the party means that I would miss out on whatever the big hype is and today’s subject matter is no different. I remember a lot of anime fans raving about Megalo Box when it came out and my dumbass didn’t immediately hop on the hype train. But, hey. Better late than never, right? So what is Megalo Box? Well, it’s an anime original by TMS Entertainment and it was released in the spring of 2018 to overwhelmingly positive reception from fans reminiscing about retro anime from the 90s. Coincidentally, it was inspired by a manga series called Ashita no Joe, which has a somewhat similar premise. So let’s not waste any time. This is Megalo Box.
We follow Junk Dog, a guy living in the slums of a futuristic city who works as an underground boxer with his coach/manager Gansaku Nanbu. After losing a match to Yuri, the top boxer of the world, Junk Dog decides to enroll himself in the popular Megalo Box under the name Joe, and later Gearless Joe. Megalo Box is another example of the classic underdog story where a person from humble beginnings rises up in the world despite adversity and near-impossible odds stacked against them. Joe competes in the Megalonia tournament, where boxers wear specialized gear that amplifies their attacks. In contrast, he makes the decision to not wear any gear for all of his matches, which is dismissed by many to be a gimmick, but ultimately, through training and hard work, Joe climbs his way up through the ranks and the public starts noticing. It plays out exactly how you’d expect an underdog story would play out, but it’s executed so well because you see the effort Joe puts in and you root for him when he gets knocked down and refuses to stay down. All of this leading up to the final match against Yuri, who’s also a compelling character as the Megalo Box champion.
One of the big draws to Megalo Box is its visual style. The animation employs a rougher, sketchier style that would fit right into the 90s. It perfectly captures the gritty world that it’s going for without relying on a lot of flourishes that most modern anime rely upon, making it stand out among the crowd. The creators must have took a lot of notes from Cowboy Bebop because I can see some of the similarities. Also, the music is flames, from the opening and ending songs to even the score, done by Mabanua, who brings a unique hip-hop flavor to the series.
And that was Megalo Box. This is a series that lives up to the hype. The engaging story, the compelling characters, the retro animation, the music, it has it all. I really enjoy this series and I was glad that I caught up on it. They’ve announced that a season two was going to happen and I can’t wait for it. Check it out if you haven’t. It’s on Crunchyroll and Netflix, plus on Toonami. The next anime review I’m going to do is going to be my last one and I already know what I plan to cover. Stack up on shurikens and kunai and put on your headbands because we’re heading to the Hidden Leaf Village when I review both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.