Megalo Box is a shōnen, sports (boxing), dystopian, nanopunk original anime series from the studio TMS Entertainment, with direction from Chikara Sakuma. Initially, I had opted out of putting this on my watchlist because I did not feel that it would be my cup of chai, however. Today, while I was feeling a bit restless, I watched the pilot episode on a whim. I am so fucking ecstatic that I decided to check it out because I honestly feel that this will be the best damn series of Spring 2018.
Nanopunk is a genre that I am very passionate about, yet there really is not a lot available within the spectrum, whether in television and film media, or literary media. What really set Megalo Box apart from other serials this season is how creatively exclusive it is. It is a nanopunk boxing show; a concept that is much more than simply being original. It is unique and refreshingly unlike anything I have seen, or read, in years. Upon finishing the first episode, I was left stunned and speechless because I could see the potential in almost every corner of its creation. With proper development and attention, I wholeheartedly believe that this anime will not only become the finest for the season, but quite possibly a cult classic in unimaginable ways.
The episode follows a small-time boxer known only as Junk Dog. To make cash so he can make ends meet, he takes part in thrown boxing matches, or matches where he purposefully loses in exchange for money. One night after feeling immensely fed up with his current situation, he ends up in a motorcycle accident and encounters the champion of the boxing world. The next day when he shows up at the hole-in-the-wall, shady boxing arena where he works, the champion appears to challenge him, making Junk Dog realise that his luck and his future is about to change drastically.
The very first thing I noticed about the episode was the music. It is glorious; a fantastic ensemble of grunge and 90s hip-hop with a sporadic sprinkling of pianoforte for dramatic effect depending on what is unfolding on screen. The music instantly sets the tone and helps to bring the atmosphere, which is a dystopian desert world and crumbling cityscape, to life.
Then as you continue to watch, you begin to see how the music helps in building a beautiful homage to anime classics, such as Champion Joe, Cowboy Bebop and Trigun with its spectacularly hand-drawn animation style. The details are refined but they are not superbly sharp, or perfect. The imperfections in the crooked lines, the oblong rocks, and the normalcy of the bloodshed truly makes you feel like you have been transported back to 1998, where original anime and mind-blowing narratives were sweeping fans off their feet left and right. This nostalgia that stems from the cinematography and design—specifically this marvellous creation of classical, traditional anime in a modern industry where such a thing is very rare—is what ultimately made me realise how phenomenal the series is going to be.
I honestly believe that the decision to keep the animation classic and traditional is because the series was created to celebrate 50 years of Tomorrow’s Joe (Champion Joe in the US) series, which was the original boxing manga, released in 1968. I remember reading the manga and being so engulfed in the narrative and how Joe was a character who showed strength and resilience, even through all the bullshit he endured. He was the first motivational hero who showed the average person they are only as average as they choose to be. Megalo Box gives the watcher the very same sense of inspiration and excitement with our cocky yet flawed Junk Dog.
The story itself was pretty basic. You are introduced to the main protagonist and, in this case, the antagonist. You get a brief glimpse of what the world-building shall entail, which consists of boxers who use specialised gears during their boxing matches in a world where sophisticated technology seems to be rather non-existent. The pacing may have felt slightly slow; however, it simultaneously sucks you in with how it focuses on Junk Dog and setting up his plight. After the initial 24-minutes, I received a keen sense that the narrative is going to be distinctly character-driven; an element that I absolutely love in stories.
Overall, I have very high hopes for Megalo Box, a series I am so happy that I did not pass up, and one that I do not believe anyone who enjoys anime, or a good story should pass up either. It is safe to say that I will be addicted and at the edge of my seat for every episode from now until its finale.
You can catch Megalo Box on CrunchyRoll on Thursday mornings.