Now that’s more like it. I’m not sure whether I should credit Mikio for Megalo Box’ recent return to form or the fact that these match centric episodes mostly cut out the kid, but this was another thoroughly enjoyable episode. I’m looking forward to seeing how the tournament winds up.

 

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
that localized blur is really cool

As far as structure goes, this was your template sports tournament episode. It consisted almost entirely if the fight between Joe and Mikio, intercut with flashbacks to flesh out Mikio’s character and make us care about the match.

An excellent use of the powerhouse animation team behind this project, the episode was entirely action packed and breathtakingly animated. I was yet again reminded just how beautiful Megalo box is. There was more movement on display this week than certain series can put together in their entire run and everything remained perfect.

I’ve already sold the punch, you know I liked this episode. I will say though that classic sports anime tend to develop rivals in mid competition flashbacks because the main characters are already very established. Megalo box is quite unusual in having kept Joe as such a mysterious character. I m not sure how I feel about the fact that with so few episodes left, it’s starting to seem very likely that Joe will remain limited to: the cool guy who likes to fight. It could work mind you.

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
so cool and fighty

All that aside though, this week, Megalo box reminded me why I love sports anime. The show tried to humanize Mikio as much as possible while maintaining his unlikable persona. They showed us a man who paid his dues. Who poured his blood, sweat and tears into something and was willing to sacrifice his health and sanity to see it through to the end. They even gave him a technical excuse for acting like a jerk, insisting that his intelligent and highly integrated gear was taking a dramatic toll on his body and mind.

And why does seeing a pretty boy suffer fill me with such glee? I think that question just answered itself. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. It only partially answers itself.

Some of you may know that I’m an immigrant. One of those perpetual ones, I spent half my life bouncing from country to country across all continents. (bear with me, I think these will eventually lead somewhere). When I was little, the American dream still meant something. At least it did to my parents. In communist countries, you couldn’t just freely emigrate. So my parents took a work visa for 6 months in Algeria and on the day they were scheduled to go back, they packed tiny baby me in the back of the car, rolled up their diplomas and hid them in the cylinders of the engine and drove away leaving absolutely everything and everyone behind.

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
are you impressed that I found a mildly relevant screengrab?

As rather educated professionals, they had a comfortable life, but that American dream was too beautiful to resist. The idea that anyone from anywhere can make it if they try. That as long as you put in the hard work and sacrifice you have the possibility of earning a shot at the good life. That your life and future isn’t entirely dependent on who you were born to and who likes you. All of these seemingly basic concepts were in many ways completely revolutionary up until not that long ago and the pure magic of the idea is still captivating.

You can obtain what you want through hard work and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. The caprices of your genetics don’t spell out your faith. And just as important, you can fail on your own merits. It’s a wild and crazy notion that stirred nations. It’s why I love sports anime.

I love it because Joe is a nobody from nowhere who still gets a chance, but only because he worked himself to the bone for it. As far as I can tell Joe’s entire life consists of riding his bike around and training. Mostly training.

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
a fair fight

I love it because Mikio worked like a maniac to prove himself and earn his shot. Because he sacrificed, failed, adjusted and tried again. He’s the clear antagonist, but he almost won. In fact, in an average sports anime with longer than 13 episodes runtime, he probably would have won as Joe is long overdue for a loss. Because in sports anime no one has the moral imperative. No one is right or wrong. Everyone is working for the exact same goal. Mikio didn’t cheat, didn’t punch below the belt or go after Joe when he was down. Mikio had just as much right to that victory because he put in the work.

I love it because despite still being an antagonist who’s a jerk to his team, Mikio was shown respect. The narrative created a person not just a villain and even gave him the benefit of a graceful defeat. In loss, Mikio got to hold his head high because he earned his failure and therefore has nothing to be ashamed about.

I love it because Yukiko did not inherit her grandfather’s company purely because she was his favorite. She actually has the better head for business and a deep understanding for gear technology and the larger market. She earned her spot, even if some nepotism did come into play. It didn’t immediately go to the first son.

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
those glasses are the best

And I love it because despite not having been born with Joe’s natural talent, a man like Nanbu can still thrive in the boxing world.

Silly isn’t it? I’m clearly reading too much into it but that’s ok. I enjoy stories that celebrate hard work and Megalo is doing just that, so I love it.

I also loved that sexy sexy tension between Yuri and Joe in that last scene. Rawr!

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review
just me?

The episode was much more about animation than imagery so the caps don’t do it justice but I still got a few more for you:

18 thoughts

  1. It was pack full of meaning and quality. Definitely one of the pillars of the series. 👍 I love it when people use, “Rawr!” Haha.

    I think it’s fine knowing next to nothing about a character’s backstory. Sometimes all I really need is just seeing a character in the present moment, striving for something — just like Joe, a nobody from nowhere. The mystery is his strength and his legend. That’s my two cents. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What’s intrigued me this episode (and could have intrigued me earlier, but didn’t) was the concept of synchronisation. It makes sense. Let’s say, your instinct is to protect yourself, but your gear decides to punch. Who makes the decision, and how? If the gear just reacts, and you just reat – that’s gotta be bad for muscles and sinews… It’s a different set of challanges, one I don’t quite get, but the episode actually made it clear that you do need skill to use such a gear: you actually need to trust the tech. It’s also rather topical, considering the recent discussions over AI and self-driving cars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure if all the gears have an AI. My impression were that most of them were more like tradition bioimplants that react to your own nervous influx. The gear spect of this show is really fascinating, the idea that they don’t even provide enough of an advantage to completely overpower Joe is also somewhat odd to me. Why have them in that case?

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      1. I was under the impression that Mikio’s gear having AI was the innovation, and one the company didn’t want. The cliché here is: if the AI is so good at analysing stuff, isn’t this an unfair advantage? Or conversly: if I give the job of awareness to an AI, what’s left for me to do? I think the concept of synchronisation rate neatly addresses both concerns: it’s actually tough to fight with an AI gear – a skill-set of its own.

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  3. You really have it out for that kid, don’t ya?

    I thought this was a good episode, too. The only thing that kind of annoys me at this point is that everyone is seemingly okay with gear that does 90% of the work for the athletes. Mikio is literally calling Joe a fraud, all the while using AI-enhanced gear to think for him. I get that the gear is a part part of the game, but it seems like this model of sport heavily favors the fighters from camps that have more money to invest in the better equipment.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I would say no. Maybe at the most basic level for any sport like more money for better training equipment or facilities, but Racing is usually divided up into different divisions based on engine class, and even at the highest levels, there are usually rules as to what kind of modifications you can make to the vehicle. Megalo boxing doesn’t seem to have any real regulations at all, aside from rules vaguely based on boxing. No clinging, tossing, etc. Maybe it’s more of a engineering/skills competition like Battle Bots if you’ve ever seen that. Or maybe I’m just putting too much thought into it haha

        Liked by 1 person

        1. well we haven’t delved into the regulations very deeply. As I’ve mentionned in my reviews Megalo does tend to be rather superficial if very well done. There may in fact be engine classes and technical regulations that haven’t been shared. So far no one seems to have added rocket launchers to their gear which would have been my FIRST instinct.

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