You get a wonderful looking presentation and artstyle, a rocking OST, a setting that looks straight out of one of the backwater planets in Cowboy Bebop, a boxing drama set up framed around an underdog story, and have Hosoya Yoshimasa voicing the main character?
We’re introduced to Junk Dog, a rather skilled and ambitious fighter who makes his living acting as the heel for underground boxing matches utilizing mechanical armaments known as gears to up the power of the fights. Junk Dog is disillusioned with his life however, he is told that he has what it takes to make it big but his drunkard partner and manager, Nanbu sees their partnership as something that starts and ends in their performance in the ring, constantly telling JD to throw his matches. While JD gets his ass willingly beaten to sell the crowd, he aspires to unleash his true potential one day and his sights turn to the Megalo Box tournament, Megalonia, sponsored by the Shirato Corporation and open to participation by any citizen of the city. The only problem is, JD isn’t exactly a proper citizen of the administrative city to participate as the organization he’s a part of operates in the outer reaches of the city proper.
After throwing another match, JD takes a ride on his motorcycle to the city streets where he almost runs over a lady. He swerves just in time and it turns out he almost collided with the current head of the Shirato Corporation, Shirato Yukiko. Yukiko offers to pay for the damages sustained on JD’s bike but he rejects her offer and tells her off, which prompts Yukiko’s sponsored fighter, Yuuri to speak up and demand JD to rescind his words against his benefactor. JD prepares to throw hands with Yuuri since he had no intention to apologize but before they close in on each other, Yukiko tells Yuuri to stop and the duo leave.
Fueled by his urge to fight after being denied the excitement the past night, JD impatiently waits for his next fight for the night to inevitably throw on Nanbu’s request but a familiar looking figure enters the ring in his opponent’s place, Yuuri himself. Wanting to settle the score, Yuuri prepares to fight and JD gladly accepts the offer to face a champion. Nanbu tries to talk the two out of it but gets glocked by JD and he begins his fight with Yuuri. JD gets on the offensive but the tide immediately shifts when Yuuri makes a powerful swing and establishes dominance. However, Yuuri offers a handicap and says he’ll only fight with one of his hands and JD, despite some difficulty, is able to force Yuuri to use both to defend himself. While things are looking up, JD is promptly knocked out after a powerful punch and Yuuri steps out after the fight. Nanbu tells JD to stay down but JD is able to get back up on his feet and taunts Yuuri to finish what he started. Yuuri however states that he has no need to continue fighting a stray dog in this ring and instead goads JD to come chase after him in HIS ring in the Megalonia.
With the seed of ambition firmly planted in JD’s psyche, he asks Nanbu if he could get him in the Megalo tournament to chase after Yuuri. Nanbu of course refuses and reminds JD that scum like them will never make anything of themselves. Later that night, JD willingly ignores Nanbu’s orders and knocks his opponent out in a single punch and this gets the boss of the ring, Fujimaki, ticked and both Nanbu and JD are brought to his restaurant. JD lounges around while Nanbu begs for his life and promises that JD will never do such a thing ever again to which Fujimaki then demands Nanbu’s other eye in exchange for his promise to not let another accident happen again. Fearful of the cost at redemption, Nanbu decides to stake it all on JD’s ambition and declares that he and JD will be able to fully pay Fujimaki back their earnings through the Megalonia winnings, to which an entertained Fujimaki accepts. Now with both their lives on the line, JD acquires a forged citizenship ID through Fujimaki’s contacts and assigns himself a new name, Joe.
So for the unaware, Megalo Box is a special project celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ashita no Joe, one of the premier sports manga back in the day. Megalo Box is a re-imagining of the tale told in Ashita no Joe in a new setting. I personally never experienced the series myself but I guess now is a better time than any to see what it’s about and knowing me, I’m exactly the sort of person who will end up reading the entire thing before the this 13 episode season expires. Although, Ashita no Joe itself is a rather tall order since it’s pretty long but who knows where I’ll end up. If my words at the start didn’t mean enough for you then let me reiterate, I absolutely love how this series looks and sounds. The line thickness and slight blur of it all makes it remind me of 90’s anime and the music is something akin to a mix of rock, techno, and jazzy tunes that isn’t too far from reminding me of Bebop. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sold and I eagerly look forward to what’s next.