- Genre : Sports, cool
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: TMS Entertainment
Junk Dog has a passion. A dream. A drive. In a world stripped of meaning and opportunity, Junk Dog still has ambition. He is swayed and saved by the call of the sweet science. The classic and noble goal of punching people in the face while getting punched slightly less. Who among us hasn’t entertained such grand notions at some point? But great dreams come at great prices and Junk Dog will have to push everything aside in his quest to make it to the top of Megalonia. Even his own identity. Can a street rat from the slums really compete in the same ring as the world champion? Does a man with nothing but his guts and wits stand a chance against the very peak of machine assisted physical fitness. Is there an ulterior motive to why these two fighters want to see each other again so badly?
Have you read my episode reviews for this show? I can’t tell. Not a lot of you liked them but the views were great. I hope I can make this series review more entertaining. It’s been a few months now since I finished the show. This is a much longer break than I usually take between viewings and reviewings but I think it may actually have helped the process. I am thinking back on this series with a slightly matured mindset. Yeah, I just oversold it. Let me rephrase that. I haven’t entirely forgotten the show. Enjoy!
I’m fairly certain that critics and reviewers were unanimous in praising the technical merits of Megalo Box. It is a very stylish show. It opts for nostalgic character designs and colour palettes rendered with the latest available technology to create rich visuals that feel both classic and cutting edge all at once. There’s also a general post-apocalyptic steam punk feel to the aesthetic which favours barren scenery or broken-down shantytowns, to luxurious futuristic cityscapes. As a result, the show is beautiful to look at and instantly recognizable.
Moreover, sound design is great. I did find it just a touch obstructive on occasion, but it really did bring a lot to the story. The acting was also good across the board. Joe’s delivery was a touch one note but I believe this was a conscious choice as it goes with the single-minded attitude of his character. As for the voice itself, it was nothing short of delicious. I looked it up and his voice actor, Yoshimasa Hosoya, doesn’t seem to have any significant roles as an idol character. This is a terrible waste people! I’m not sure exactly what the overlap is between fans of Megalo Box and fans of Boy Idol shows, but let’s all of us get together to start a petition to get this guy some roles. Those 3 signatures matter!!!
But I digress (that’s gonna be on my tombstone some day…). Long story short. Megalo Box is real pretty and sounds good.
Oh wait…Animation is fluid and rapid. Can you believe I almost forgot to mention animation in a Sports! show. That’s how nice this guy’s voice is… Movements are very consistent and well done which makes watching the matches and exciting experience. It’s very hard to truly suspend disbelief during a recognizable sport when characters don’t move the way they should. Happily, this isn’t an issue here, as even the gears look natural in action.
I was going to skim over the technical aspects of the review. I mean you’ve all seen dozens of screencaps of this show by now. There are a bunch in this review… I am just not getting better at this. OK tell you what – here’s what Joe sounds like:
Nice huh? Yeah I think so too. Now Imagine that voice coming from… Oh wait, review!
Right… I wonder how many of you are still here. Want to know what I thought of the story? Since it’s just the two of us now, maybe we can talk voice some more. No?… alrighty, later then.
So the plot itself is fairly generic. You know. Cinderella story – unknown kid out of nowhere just shows up and takes it all with nothing but his guts and a dream! But dreams are insidious things, handle them too lightly and they will float away before you can notice, hold on too tight, and they’ll crush you under their weight. To me, that’s in essence what Megalo Box is all about.
How much of yourself can you really give before you lose yourself. How much can fan the flames of your passion before getting burned too badly. In classic Sports anime style, it’s a celebration of questionable blind ambition and all the blood sweat and tears we pour into it.
And as such, with a little distance, I’ve gone back on one of the complaints I had throughout the season. In my episodic reviews, I often mentioned that Joe (the protagonist) and Yuri (the antagonist) were rather underdeveloped. When I say kid out of nowhere. I mean that more or less literally. We never learn anything about Joe’s past, his motivations or ambitions beyond the fact that he wants to box with strong opponents. Yuri gets a bit more context but barely. However, this isn’t a problem. These characters represent ideals rather than people we’re suppose to root for. Their love of the sport is what defines them to their core and without it they are nothing. It’s the only thing that matters, so the only thing they share with us.
It would be unsustainable to work with such characters in the long run but for a 12-episode series, it’s actually a great way to focus the narrative. Besides, the supporting cast and guest stars are a well rounded enough to give us a sense of personal connection with the story.
Speaking of characters, some of you may remember my unwavering love for the kid. Sachio was it? I ragged on that chara so much that I was actually asked in DMs whether I really hated that kid that much or I just hated all children… I’m just getting a wonderful reputation here.
So this is my bottom line. I wouldn’t say I liked Sachio as a character, but I actually don’t dislike him either. Taken out of the context of Megalo Box, he is a fine utilitarian foil for a more serious story. My issue is that the role he serves in Megalo Box (occasional comic relief and emotional soft point) isn’t required. Despite the visuals, the series is in my opinion, light hearted enough without him and he comes off as fairly useless in most scenes. The time the narrative devotes to this particular character could have been way better served fleshing out the Shirato Group as an evil faceless entity and setting up the mood or detailing the rules and regulations of Megalonia so that the viewers can get better invested in the fights.
I don’t mean to imply that Megalo Box didn’t devote any time on world building. It was in fact great at it. Around all the fighting there are a number of intriguing sci fi elements (the intelligent biomechanical implants known as Gears) and political intrigues (the rise of the Shirato Group and the military potential implication of said gear technology). Megalo Box never goes into great detail regarding either, but they give us some interesting food for thought and hint at a rich universe beyond the confines of the plot.
For those of you that missed out on the series as it was airing, the good news is that I believe this is the type of show that does better when binge watched. The pacing of the plot and episode transitions really lend themselves to continuous viewing and the inconsistencies become much less troublesome this way.
I’m still not quite sure Megalo Box fully earned all the praised that was heaped upon it at airing but it’s definitely worth a watch. If for nothing else than that wonderful ending. As a viewer that favors characters above plot, there were some weaknesses in my opinion. However, the strengths made up for them.
Scratch that Joe’s voice made up for them fully. And then some. Can anyone make me a ringtone out of his lines? And then call me every 10 minutes?
Favorite character: Mikio
What this anime taught me:Yoshimasa Hosoya has a wonderful voice
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Suggested drink: Thai Boxer (there’s no proof he’s not Thai…)
- Every time Joe and Yuri meet – take a sip
- Every time we see the Shirato Group headquarters – take a sip
- Every time there’s an official Megalonia announcement – take a sip
- Every time gears are explained – take notes
- Every time anyone says gearless – get some water
- Every time Nanbu is being shady – shrug
- Every time there’s a rap montage – dance
- Every time we see Yuri’s dog – cheer
- Every time you get lost in the imagery – enjoy!