Megalo Box

I’ve never been much of a sports fan, leading me to often overlook sports themed Anime over the years. A few weeks ago, while researching upcoming Anime in 2018, I stumbled across Megalo Box, an Anime centred around Boxing. While on a normal day I wouldn’t even bother giving it a chance, I watched the trailer and was absolutely blown away by the visuals and accompanying score.

Fast forward to today and we’re 4 episodes into the scheduled 13 episodes of Megalo Box. Thanks to Crunchyroll airing each episode an hour after its release in Japan, I’ve watched every episode without fault. So why have I done this? What made me, a person who can’t even watch a game of boxing on TV, watch the very same thing in another language? Let’s dive into Megalo Box.

Before understanding what makes Megalo Box tick, we must go back 50 years, to the release of Ashita no Joe, a critically acclaimed Anime and Manga featuring a Boxer named Joe, and his rise to fame. While I never watched the show myself, research shows that it’s been hailed as one of the best sport themed Anime of all time. Megalo Box has been created as a 50th anniversary project, with the same original artist working on the show. Megalo Box is essentially a modern day loose adaptation of Ashita no Joe.

Megalo Box starts off with Junk Dog, the main character, driving through a wasteland on his motorbike. You immediately notice that the style of the character as well as the general art direction pays homage to shows of the past, such as Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. While the show does feel like it could have been made decades ago due to its style, it’s undeniably not one that looks old. The animations are as fluid as those seen in action packed anime such as Darling in the Franxx.

Junk Dog is a boxing fighter who competes in Megalo Box, where people fight not only with brute strength but with mechanical equipment they strap to their bodies. Even in the first episode it’s immediately noticeable that Junk Dog is a skilled fighter, but instead of using his skill to win, he fights in fixed matches to guarantee a pay-out.

Junk Dog lives in the slums, where he doesn’t even have a birth name, or an ID card to enter the city. While the story trope of an underdog rising to the top may be overused, Megalo Box features extremely raw fight scenes where Junk Dog gets absolutely pummelled to the ground. He faces true adversity that would almost seem insurmountable. Every fight leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering if he will give in, pretending to fall for the money, or fight back and hold true to his ambition to become the best boxer.

There are many an action-packed Anime available to watch today. With hype-beast shows such as Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia throwing visually outstanding fight scenes at every corner, there’s one thing that seems to be missing. All these heroes fight for others and fight for justice, but what of the average Joe who has to fight for himself. What of those who seem like they have nothing in life other than one skill that could put them forward, and if they fail they have nothing to look back on. Megalo Box feels real. Junk Dog is a relatable and realistic interpretation of what a hero would be. We have faults, and sometimes we must accept that.

With explosive high impact boxing, a killer soundtrack, and a relatable main character, I can’t say if Megalo Box will live up to its legacy, but I can say for sure that it has made me think twice about watching sports themed Anime from now on.