- Genre : Cyberpunk, Sports!, action, cool
- Studio: TMS Entertainment
For a minute there, I thought that Steins; Gate may have bled into Megalo box this week. If you’ve been watching SG0 along with me, you know that’s not at all a bad thing, but it was a little destabilizing. I had a genuine instant of wondering whether I was watching the right show.
After a flashback scene far more serious and dramatic than anything we’ve seen so far, we quickly learn that Nanbu’s old side piece was once a soldier but after his return from the front lines, rose through the boxing circuit and is now ranked 17th in the Megalonia. At first everything seems to be coming up Nanbu as an impressively agreeable Aragaki (old new guy) is fine with fighting Joe in an official match but it soon becomes apparent that he’s still hung up on his old partner and aggressively jealous of Joe, who he vows to destroy.
They’ve shoved the kid in the artless exposition role, making his part the equivalent of reading the wiki out loud for everyone. Not quite as subtle as a voice over but waddaya gonna do. We are therefore all told that Aragaki lost his legs in that explosion we saw at the beginning and has been fighting with prosthetics which is impressive (?) Don’t get me wrong, it would be super impressive in the real world and the perseverance certainly is commendable, but in the Megalo box universe, biomechanical legs sound like an advantage to me.
Despite his calm demeanor, the guy seems to be suffering from some PTSD and he’s taking it out in the ring, having left a string of opponents seriously injured after matches.
Nanbu is clearly shaken by the situation. He tries to convince Joe to turn down the match, when that fails, he nervously flutters in and out of scenes. He had thought Aragaki dead all these years and the shock of seeing him again is weighing heavily on Nanbu. The kid even brings up the excellent point of how could Nanbu, a trainer and boxing promoter, not realize his old student is back when he’s made his way all the way up to 17th in rank?
Of course, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. Nanbu doesn’t want his old partner and new partner getting together and comparing notes. I can’t blame him. That’s just the worst.
For his part, Joe is his usual unnuanced brand of walking, talking cool. He’s in a hurry to top and unconcerned by consequences. He even decides to go have a chat with Aragaki, in his smooth deep voice, and calmly defends his partner. Like the boss he is.
Even Aragaki’s new partner is calling him out on his ish. Chastising him for wasting his time on a low ranking fight just because he’s being a petty aging drama queen. But the heart wants what it wants…
As the episode winds down, Nanbu makes one last ditch effort to spare Joe the worst of it by appealing directly to Aragaki, begging him to keep whatever animosity he may have between them and not take it out on Joe. He doesn’t seem to realize that protecting his new, young and very attractive partner is only aggravating the situation. A fact that becomes painfully clear when we see Joe flying across the ring after taking a powerful blow to the head in the final seconds. Will Joe finally lose a match for the first time?
Nope, not really! He already lost one to Yuri, remember? And he threw dozens of them before that…
The episode was a’ight. Keeping the kids on the sidelines is making his character considerably more palatable but he remains rather useless in my opinion. The bigger issue I’m starting to see however, is a marked problem with tonal consistency.
In a handful of episodes, we went from a stylish, gritty, tongue in cheek post-apocalyptic adventure with a bit of a sarcastic bite, using boxing more as a background than a premise, to a more traditional slice of life type sports anime, much lighter and formulaic, complete with scrappy kids and cute montages. And now, we have a serious drama openly commenting on the horrors of war and inadequacies of veteran care.
I’m not saying you can’t blend tones and touch on a wide variety of themes but there needs to be some careful balance to it. Just throwing everything in one pot and hoping it turns out is very short sighted. Megalo box is stylish, dripping with cool, decently paced and extremely well executed. It worked perfectly in that dystopian adventure context where the world itself was the main appeal and the characters were set pieces meant to be a part of a whole rather than a feature. Think Fury Road..
But if Megalobox really wants to be a drama, then some serious character building is due. By far the most developed one right now is Nanbu and I can’t really say I care about him much. Joe is mostly redeemed by his main character status and pretty pretty design but otherwise still completely shallow, and everyone else is an extra at best. It all worked perfectly well in the context of the story they started to tell, but if they want to turn it into something, adjustments will have t be made.
All this said, it’s still a good show, that I will happily keep watching but I now wish I had binged it instead.
I got a few more for you