Manga: Ashita no Joe

Ashita no Joe (English title: Tomorrow's Joe) a critically acclaimed boxing manga created by Asao Takamori and Tetsuya Chiba in 1968 that was later adapted into an anime series and movie. While absurdly popular in its home country, it's almost completely unknown outside of it. Outside Japan, it is also referred to as Rocky Joe or Joe. Masami Kurumada, author of Saint Seiya, has also stated that he actually created his first famous manga (Ring Ni Kakero) as a tribute to this one.

Joe Yabuki is a troubled orphan who runs away from the orphanage, wandering the slums of Tokyo until he meets up with former boxing trainer Danpei Tange, who teaches Joe how to box while the latter is in prison. While in prison, Joe develops rivalries and friendships with the other inmates (and these two groups often overlap) while developing his skills at boxing and trying to become the best in the world.

Ashita no Joe has been made into several video games, including a Punch Out-like arcade game by Taito, the infamous Neo Geo game Legend Of Success Joe, Ashita no Joe: Masseki ni Moe Agare! for the Game Boy Advance, Ashita no Joe: Masshiro ni Moe Tsukiro! for the PS2(The GBA and PS2 games are both by Konami) and Sunday VS Magazine Shuuketsu Choujou Daikessen for PSP.

This manga contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Danpei at first. He gets better.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": To an infamous degree (at least for Western audiences), the ending of the series applies, where Joe dies in his last match. This is due to other works almost always referencing/parodying the series by using this particular scene.
  • Anti-Villain : Youko. She antagonizes Joe mostly during the first half of the series, then organizes most of Joe's fights, and, as he puts it, toys with his fate like a demon. She is however a good person, and grows to fall in love with Joe, who likes her back in his own way.
    • All Joe's rivals, exept for Harimao, are honorable fighters that he respects in some way, despite being his opponents.
  • Badass: Joe, Rikishi
  • Badass Grandpa: Danpei.
  • Book Dumb: Joe, which comes back to bite him big time when it turns out there's a theory portion of the boxing license exam.
  • Byronic Hero: Joe Yabuki goes through many hardships... and he brings almost all of them on himself.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Joe can't tell Youko that he likes her due to being Not Good with People, to the degree that the day when he finally confesses... is the day when he dies.
  • Casualty in the Ring: Two characters die this way. One of them is happy about it.
  • Character Development: Nishi goes from a Jerk Ass leader of a group of delinquents to a Gentle Giant.
  • Cross Counter: Trope Maker. It's also Joe's specialty.
  • Downer Ending: Mendoza wins the final fight of the manga, and Joe dies on the ring. Somewhat of a Bitter Sweet Ending since Joe achieved glory despite his loss, managed to tell Youko his feelings, and ultimately dies with a smile because he had the fight he dreamt of, and chose his fate.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Weirdly, the Punch Out clone arcade game has one.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Danpei.
  • Famous Last Words: Joe Yabuki's are: "Take these gloves and keep them for me... I hope you'll keep them for me...", and they go to Youko Shiraki. Some dubs (like the Italian one) take it further to a Dying Declaration of Love. ("I hope you'll keep them as a proof of my love for you...").
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Joe's triple cross-counter fractures Wolf's jaw so badly that he has to retire.
  • Gentle Giant: Nishi post Character Development.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Joe has a gentle smile on his lips as he passes away after his last fight.
  • The Hero Dies
  • Heroic BSOD: Joe, after accidentally causing Rikishi's death in their fight.
  • Heroic RROD: Joe's death at the end is from the exhaustion of his last match.
    • Similarly, Rikishi's death is from the brain damage that Joe accidentally dealed to him with a too-well-placed cross counter in the sixth round, which kicks in right after the fight is over.
  • Hot-Blooded: Joe Yabuki
  • Identical Stranger: Freelance journalist Kiyoshi Suga looks confusingly like Joe's first rival Rikiishi, albeit with more handsome features.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Joe, Nishi and Rikishi. In fact, all of them met in a juvenile prison.
  • Japanese Pronouns: Joe was the first shounen hero to use the manly and aggressive ore pronoun, rather than the boyish and "non-threatening" boku. Ater him, shounen main dudes started to use ore too.
  • Jerkass: Joe, through and through. His Jerk Ass tendencies rise to the point where you have to wonder why Nishi continues to put up with him. After the Juvenile prison arc, he is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Nishi himself used to be quite the asshole.
  • The Lancer: Nishi becomes this to Joe after his Character Development.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Rikiishi has this.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Jose's hair turns gray once he beats Joe in the finale.
  • Moral Guardians: They claimed that the manga was "teaching young children to be rebellious and anti-social towards Japanese family values" back when it first came out. They soon changed their mind, however.
    • Not only in Japan, actually. When the anime was aired in Spain in The '80s, people complained about exactly the same thing.
  • My Greatest Failure: Danpei Tange became a drunkard after the boxer who he spent years training for the championship threw the fight for money.
  • Nice Hat: Joe's newsboy cap, and Danpei's fedora.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Not so much as stupidity as an act: Carlos Rivera purposely struggled against his first Japanese opponents because no matter what country he goes to, nobody is willing to fight him once they see how powerful he is.
  • The Obi-Wan: Danpei.
  • The Ojou: Joe's love interest, Youko Shiraki, is a girl from a rich and well-known family. Lampshaded by Danpei, who refers to her as "ojousan" ("young lady") rather than by name.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Joe's hair always cover one eye.
  • Refusal of the Call: Joe's initial reaction to Danpei's pleas to train him in boxing. Eventually, Joe gives in.
  • The Rival: Rikiishi, for the majority of the series.
    • Privileged Rival: Unlike Joe, he already had experience in professional boxing before they met and has the financial support of the Shiraki family.
  • Say My Name: The original one. "JOE!!!"
  • Self-Made Orphan: Asian-Pacific Champion Yong-bi Kim once killed a man over a misunderstanding. He then realized that said man was his father. The incident scarred him so much that he was left with a phobia of blood.
  • Stock Shout-Out: The final shot of the series, a slumped-over Joe, passing away with a smile on his face at the end of his final match, is culturally ingrained enough to be called to in all forms of Japanese media.
  • Title Drop: Multiple times in the anime.
  • Wham Line: "I'm in love...with you, Yabuki!"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Yong-bi Kim, due to having accidentally killed his dad, is very scared of blood.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rikiishi and Joe seem to see each other as this.
  • Yakuza: What Wolf Kanigushi turns to after his boxing career ends. It doesn't end well.

Alternative Title(s):

Ashita No Joe