Y’know, I’ve never been much of a sports fan. Whether it be baseball, football (either the European or the American versions) or badminton, none of them have ever caught my interest. Some of them I simply don’t care for, others I genuinely hate (hey, if your dad nearly broke your nose at the age of eight when playing baseball, you’d hate it too). But one that has managed to capture a passing interest from me is the art of boxing.
I love a good fight, and boxing often provides one. Watching two fighters who have trained super hard just to punch another guy in the face is intruging to me. I won’t claim I’m an expert, the only boxers I know by name are Muhammad Allee and Mike Tyson (thanks Punch Out), but I do know enough to like it.
But you know what would make boxing even cooler? Strapping machines to the competitor’s arm and back to make them hit even harder. Make that an anime, and you have my money without question.
Enter Megalobox, one of the best anime to come out in 2018. Featuring some great characters, a classic art style reminiscent of 90s shows like Cowboy Bebop, bitching music and some of the best fight scenes of the year, it quickly earned it’s place amongst the top shows of the season. And when you air in the same season as Hinamatsuri, that is an impressive feat.
For those who haven’t seen it, let me give you a little context. Megalobox stars Junk Dog, later known simply as Joe, a Megaloboxer who throws matches in an underground ring to make money for the mob and his coach, Nanbu. Joe is tired of constantly throwing matches and wants nothing more than to win, but Nanbu pressures him to stay put. One day, Joe runs into the Megaloboxing World Champion: Yuri. Yuri traces him down to his underground ring and wipes the floor with him, leaving Joe hungry for a rematch. In order to claim it, he and Nanbu (along with a kid named Sachio) must climb through the ranks of Megalovania, the most intense Megaloboxing competition in the world.
In terms of plot, it’s a tale as old as boxing itself. Hajime No Ippo and the Rocky films have all already explored these stories to death. But while it is cliche, it’s very hard to care due to how well executed the show is. Every character experiences hardship, sacrifices something, and grows as a person in order to meat their goals. It’s a simple but incredible story.
Which is made even better by it’s fantastic directing. Megalobox is filled to the brim with wordless story telling that makes watching it all the more entertaining.
For example, there’s a scene early on where Yuri lets his dog out to run around the yard. The dog runs about back and forth, like a wild good boy, and all we can see of Yuri is his lone shadow. Then his sponsor/spouse (at least I think she is, it’s never explicitly stated) appears beside Yuri and scolds him for his antics with Joe. Yuri apologizes and Yuri’s dog stops his joyous playing and sits before the porch, observing the two humans.
This one shot tells you so much about the characters without a word of exposition. Yuri’s desire to run free and enjoy his life is held back by the leash of his sponsor. It’s a beautiful, simple and effective shot that makes the show truly stand out.
If you haven’t seen this show yet, I’d highly recommend you fix that. The story is great, the characters deep and interesting, and the visuals are phenomenal. It’s a modern classic that I believe will be talked about for years to come.
Even if the use of the Gears themselves make no sense whatsoever.