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Anime / Megalo Box

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"I want to believe... Believe that my faith in myself is real."

"To be quiet, and do as you're told, that's the cowardly choice. To stay down... or fight back... Which am I doing right now? To stay down here... Or fight my way out... I still haven't done either, yet."

In the distant future, boxers fight matches while wearing powered exoskeletons on their arms known as Gears, and the sport is now known as Megalo Box. The Shirato Corporation, the company that invented Gear, announces that to prove the potential of Gear technology, they will host a tournament called Megalonia: a worldwide competition where anyone can enter and win untold riches. A young outlaw only known as Junk Dog, who is used to fighting in underground boxing matches, is not interested in fighting in such a tournament... but at the same time, he wishes to fight a real battle instead of purposely losing the fixed matches.

Then everything changes for Junk Dog when he meets Yuri, the Megalo Box champion.

Megalo Box is an anime series released in 2018 as part of the 50th year celebration of Tomorrow's Joe, as an Alternate Universe retelling, similar to the likes of DEVILMAN crybaby. It was produced by TMS Entertainment, who animated the second season of Tomorrow's Joe. It's available for streaming on Crunchyroll here. The Viz Media dub of Megalo Box aired on [adult swim]'s Toonami block from December 2018 to March 2019.

A second season of the show called Nomad begun airing in April 2021. It is set following a seven-year Time Skip, during which things have changed drastically from where we left off in the first season. Funimation licensed Nomad, and the dub is available on Funimation's streaming service, Funimation Now.

Has no relation to Medaka Box.

Megalo Box provides examples of:

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    # — K 
  • Alternate Universe: Megalo Box is a futuristic retelling of Tomorrow's Joe. While the original series was gritty, it was a fairly realistic sports series (and even then, it took a long while for Joe to enter an official ring), with Megalo Box being a grittier sci-fi boxing series. This is comparable to DEVILMAN crybaby, which adapted elements from the original Devilman in a Setting Update.
  • All There in the Stinger: It's not until after the credits of the final episode that we find out the results of Joe and Yuri's fight: Joe wins by knockout.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Junk Dog has noticeably darker skin than much of the cast, with a small afro to boot.
  • Animal Motifs: Dogs. The protagonist is similar to an aggressive stray dog (as shown by his ring name, Junk Dog) who kicks off the plot by disobeying Nanbu's command to throw a fight, while his rival Yuri is more like an obedient domesticated dog, following Yukiko's commands.
    • The first season uses a scarred black dog as a metaphor for Joe himself. In the first episode of Season 2, Joe finds a dead black dog by the road. The symbolism is strong with that scene.
    • The second season also has a heavy one with hummingbirds, even having one on the main poster. They are frequently mentioned to, in the Latin culture that Chief and Mac hail from, help wayward travellers on their way home. Chief, clad with his hummingbirds on his Gear, is pivotal in Joe’s recovery, both health wise and mentally, and he convinces Joe to head back home. It’s also what helps Mac hold on to his sense of self when he’s at his lowest, the story of the Nomad and the Hummingbird he reads to his son reminding him of the family he has to come to.
  • Artful Dodger: Sachio and his friends, who steal things and pawn them for "red candy".
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: In season 2, episode 6 Joe willingly takes a dive to settle Sachio's debt. While Joe was fighting in rigged matches prior to season 1, he had never done so willingly and without rebelling against the script.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Most of the second season’s titles are in Spanish.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Nomad ends with Nomad/Joe losing his final match against Mac after Sachio throws in the towel. But he retires from boxing with the knowledge that he has a family to live for, serving as a Foil for his counterpart from Tomorrows Joe who kept boxing until it killed him due to feeling he had nothing else to live for.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The very first time we see a Megalo Box match in episode 1, the losing participant practically vomited a bucket-load of blood. Of course, when you're hit in the stomach with a Power Fist, that's no surprise.
  • Blood Sport: Megalo Box is this, at least in the underground circuit that Junk Dog fights in. It's telling that the corridors to the arena are covered in dried-up blood.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Aragaki's visions of a blue butterfly during his war days, is a motif that personally haunts him. He personally tattoos it on his chest.
  • Car Meets House: In episode 3, JD crashes his bike through the shady pawn shop's wall in order to rescue Sachio.
  • Cast of Expies: The cast is inspired by the Tomorrow's Joe characters, with some differences here and there.
    • Junk Dog is Joe Yabuki, as a rude Blood Knight delinquent, with more of a biker archetype. He chooses the name of "Joe" as his fake name, based on a significant billboard saying "Not your average Joe". He appears to lack Joe's sexism, though.
    • Yuri is Toru Rikishii. He shares the same character-acting as his inspiration, and both protagonists call them dogs chained to the Shirato lady. He, however, appears to be a foreigner, unlike Rikishii. His white hair is also akin to Jose Mendoza, who lost the color in his hair during his monumental fight with Joe.
    • Yukiko Shirato is inspired by Youko Shiraki, and shares the same appearance and personality.
    • Nanbu is one to Danpei, sharing a similar appearance. The main difference between the both of them is that Nanbu decides to enter into the Megalonia tournament because of pressure from the mafia instead of his own volition.
    • The Slumdog kids receive an analog of 4 kids instead of 5, with the most relevant of them, Sachi, getting Gender Flipped into Sachio. The character is significantly more developed than the original one, as he has his own reasons of wanting to go to the Magalonia event due to something involving his parents, and is treated as the third member of the main cast.
    • Aragaki, a boxer who is a veteran of war who survived an explosion, is inspired by Kim Yong-bi. However, he appears to be a Composite Character as well, combined with Danpei's unnamed former student who abandoned him in Tomorrow's Joe.
  • Casualty in the Ring:
    • In season one, Yuri is rendered paraplegic by the final match by a combination of exhaustion, punching damage and his nervous system having to deal with the loss of Gear. He is unable to box because of it.
    • In season two, Chief dies shortly after winning the regional tournament in episode four, due to having taken brain damage from an illegal blow to the head during the final match.
  • Combat Breakdown:
    • In episode 3, Joe's Gear is broken when he gets into a fistfight against someone using non-regulation Gear without gloves.
    • Episode 6's match between Aragaki and Joe eventually devolves into an all-out punchfest where both men start trading blows with no thoughts to defence or style.
    • Episode 11's match against Burroughs leads to his old gear being shattered during the match. Joe finishes it Gearless instead.
  • Covers Always Lie: Joe's Gear in the promo art above? It lasts for about 3 episodes before getting irrecoverably trashed, forcing Joe to go Gearless by the time he begins his first official match. It returns later, if only momentarily, in Episode 11.
  • Crapsack World: The anime implied the world of Megalo Box may not be pleasant as the society tends to place denizens of Restricted Area, like Joe, who mostly work in menial labor, live in dilapidated slums, and struggle with overcoming societal obstacles to climb out of poverty. Considering the arid environment of Japan and Tatsumi Leonard Aragaki's service in an overseas war, the world may have been suffering from ecological catastrophe and conflicts.
  • Cross Counter:
    • Joe employs his original counterpart's signature move to defeat Mikio Shirato.
    • This is how the final fight between Joe and Yuri ends. It's not until after the credits that we find out Yuri fell down from the hit, leaving Joe victorious.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Yuri makes a Final Boss Preview at the end of episode 1 when he challenges Junk Dog during an underground boxing match. The result is a one-round KO, although JD manages to get one good hit in, making Yuri take him seriously and walk back his taunt that he can beat JD one-handed.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Yuri essentially throws down the gauntlet this way in episode 2, daring Junk Dog to enter Megalonia to reach 'his ring'.
  • Darker and Edgier: Though it was hardly the happiest story with it's borderline dystopian setting, season 1 was largely an inspirational story about an underdog rising from nothing to becoming the world megaloboxing champion. Season 2 takes place almost a decade later where said champion has fallen hard. He's addicted to painkillers and roams from small town to small town fighting low level boxers for money. And we learn that part of this is due to his coach dying in a way that he feels responsible for between seasons. There is also a subplot about immigrants in Japan and the prejudice they face from the locals.
  • Deconstruction: Nomad ultimately serves as a deconstruction of the show's own first season, display ing how ultimately stupid and harmful the "I'm willing to die in the ring for my honor" mentality is, with both Joe and Mac having to come to terms with the fact throwing away their well-being and lives for their fighting macho pride is toxic and selfish towards their loved ones. Notably, this also makes Nomad a deconstruction of the source material Tomorrow's Joe itself.
  • Didn't Think This Through: After having his Gear removed, Yuri refuses painkillers and competes with Joe almost immediately thereafter. Yuri would have received insufficient sleep due to the pain, and would have subjected his body to violent trauma before it had a chance to heal. He might have won the fight if he were fully rested and healed.
  • Dystopia: We see a beautiful city, but on the outskirts there are slums for people that don't have a citizenship and outside of that there is naught but a desert. This is deliberate, as it serves to mimic the Post-WWII Japan setting of ''Tomorrow's Joe".
  • The Farmer and the Viper: A story with a similar premise is quoted in episode 10. This reflects how Nanbu had used Joe to create the greatest fixed match in order to escape his debts, tossing aside the effort the team put in to get into Megalonia in the first place.
  • Foreshadowing: In episode 3 Yuri is seen practising on a computer trainer to prepare for the Iglesias fight. Both the training session and the actual match is won the same way: KO at 2:10 in round 2.
  • Fauxshadow: Ultimately, this is what amounts of all of the seeming hints at Joe and/or Yuri dying and the titles and eyecatches.
    • The prototype Shirato Gear seen at the pawnshop. A savvy viewer might conclude that this is what Joe will end up using in the tournament. It gets trashed in the same episode it's introduced in.
  • Genre Throwback: Megalobox apes and replicates the hand-drawn and gritty styles of anime from The '80s and early nineties.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Aragaki throws in the towel against Joe when he realizes he can't get a quick victory and he's gotten closure from the match.
    • Mikio Shirato finally concedes his defeat after being knocked out by Joe, both in ring and in the meta rivalry with his sister, accepting Joe as a "real deal" and that it was his AI-powered Gear fighting, not him. On the other hand, he concedes the battle, but not the war.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • The episode titles in the first season feature "death", "dead", or "die".
    • The episode titles in the second season are all Spanish proverbs.
  • It Was His Sled: Played With. As an adaptation of 'Tomorrow's Joe'', which is mostly known for its ending where the titular character dies in the ring, the series kept foreshadowing the same fate near constantly, with every episode being plays on words relating to dying, and the bumper "NOT DEAD YET" after every episode. It was so on-the-nose that it kept people guessing whether or not the series would go through with a similar ending to its predecessor, when it ended up going the complete opposite route.
  • Klingon Promotion: Megaloboxing rankings seem to be based on the boxer taking the ranking of anyone higher-ranked they defeat, allowing Joe to jump from 256th to 102nd in three matches and then to 17th and 4th after beating Aragaki and Mikio.

    L — Z 
  • The Last Dance:
    • Nonfatal variant. Aragaki can't keep boxing because it puts too much stress on his prosthetics: Win or lose, his match against Joe will be his final one.
    • In season 2, Joe is diagnosed with early-stage boxing-related brain damage. He decides to take on one last match against Mac Rosario in order to have no regrets but is prepared to retire permanently afterwards.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The second season's opening minutes re-tell the ending of the first, immediately spoiling "Gearless" Joe's win by knockout in round 13 and his status as first Megalonia champion.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Junk Dog chooses his new name, "Joe", after seeing a billboard which said "not for your average Joe". Though it's not clear how much thought he put into it.
  • Loophole Abuse: To get Joe the clout he needs to roll with the big-name fighters at the Megalonia tournament, Nanbu hatches a daring plan: enter Joe into fights without any gear. This put Joe at a significant disadvantage against his opponents (though he already had the odds stacked against him, since the only gear they could afford was junk that opponents with higher-end gear would make short work of), but there was no rule in Megalonia stating that a contender required gear, and the victories that "Gearless Joe" would achieve would make him a media darling overnight.
  • Made of Iron: Pretty much a requirement for a Megalo Boxer, and Junk Dog really shows it. He suffers two bike crashes with no helmet and without any serious injury.
  • Moving-Away Ending: In Nomad, Sachio leaves Megalo City to become an engineer, though Joe states he'll always have a home in Team Nowhere if he wants to come back.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Sachio, Sachi's analog from Champion Joe, wears Joe Yabuki's Iconic hat.
    • A somewhat darker example exists in The Signing Off Catchphrase: "Not dead yet", referencing Joe Yabuki's implied death at the end of Tomorrow's Joe's second anime adaptation.
  • Not His Sled: It's a futuristic remake of Tomorrow's Joe, the main character is pulling a John Henry, fighting immense odds, last episode actually ends on a cliffhanger, there's a whole lot of foreshadowing that he's going to die spread throughout the series... but nope, this Joe survives the whole series.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Junk Dog is just JD's artistic name, with his real name being unknown, and since he doesn't even have an ID, it's possible he doesn't even have a name. He later choose the name of Joe, based on a "not your average Joe" billboard he saw once.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Yuri's attitude towards JD/Joe after he took interest in him. He closely monitors his progress and subtly manipulates events to be able to fight him, most evident in his interaction with Shirato siblings.
  • Power Fist: The Megalo Boxers get this, thanks to their Gears.
  • Powered Armor: The Gears improve the fighter's speed and punching power by a huge margin. They range from looking like a exoskeleton made out of pistons like Junk Dog's to borderline Bio-Armor like Yuri's.
  • Race Lift: Quite a bizarre example; the manga Megalo Box - Shukumei no Sōken is a closer adaptation to the source manga, while adapting it to this more Cyberpunk setting... right to having Joe looking like an updated Joe Yabuki. Instead of having the Afro Asskicker, he has his more famous emo hairdo. Quite a bizarre choice of design.
  • Red Boxing Gloves: Junk's gloves.
  • Red Herring: In Nomad, it's heavily implied that the climax of the season will be the rematch between Joe and Liu. In actuality, Liu is badly beaten while defending his title against Mac Rosario. From this point on, the focus shifts largely to Mac, the technology that allows him to fight on such a high level, and the shady dealings of the company that is sponsoring him.
  • Retraux: Downplayed. Several critics have noted aesthetic similarities to late-90s classics like Cowboy Bebop and Trigun, giving it a timeless sort of appeal. On the production side of things, the raw footage of the anime is downscaled and then re-upscaled to HD to create the effect of making the series seem like an old 90s cel-animated anime that's been remastered. In fact, the character designs and the series' general aesthetics, especially the small details of the setting, harken even farther back, to the mid-80s Golden Age of Anime, specifically to the influential Sci-Fi, action and cyberpunk titles like Riding Bean, Bubblegum Crisis, Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force.
  • The Rival: Numerous ones.
    • The first and the most obvious in the rivalry between JD and Yuri, and while the latter may look condescending and smug, he, nevertheless, takes it quite seriously.
    • Nanbu with the VA team coach, mainly over Aragaki, whom both have coached at some part of their story.
    • Mikio Shirato, probably, holds most rivalries in the series:
      • First with his sister, being passed over the inheritance of the family, and having conflicting views over where the sport should go.
      • Second, with Yuri, as the embodiment of everything Yukiko holds right — he sees defeating him as defeating his sister.
      • Third, after losing to Joe and finally accepting him as a "real deal", Mikio starts considering him his rival too, together with Yuri.
  • Schizo Tech: Futuristic display devices and Power Fist equipment go hand in hand with cars and mobile phones that look like they're from the early nineties at best. Probably used intentionally to show the differences between the haves and have-nots.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Pepe "The Spider" Inglesias is the only other person in the series to land a hit on Yuri and is likely the best there is after Yuri and Joe. He still gets flatlined with ease to demonstrate just how dangerous Yuri is.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are some references here and there to real life boxing. The recurring term of "The Real Deal" to mean a true fighter is likely a reference to Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield, who got that nickname exactly due that kind of comment. Yuri, being a Eastern European The Stoic heavyweight legend with a very orthodox style, owes more than a little to Wladimir "Doctor Steelhammer" Klitschko (even bearing a remarkable physical resemblance). Pepe "Spider" Iglesias also shares his nickname and Dance Battler style with MMA legend Anderson "Spider" Silva.
    • Joe's lowered guard and uppercut from an extremely low angle in episode 9 are references to "Prince" Naseem Hamed, an English boxer who was famous for his athleticism and counters.
  • Signing-Off Catchphrase:
    • Season 1: "Not dead yet..."
    • Season 2: "Hasta ver la luz..."translation 
  • So Last Season: Lampshaded during season 2. In the seven-year Time Skip between the original Megalobox and Nomad, the meta of the sport and the quality of Gear and boxer training has apparently changed enough that Joe lost an offscreen exhibition match against the current Megalobox champion, and none of the champions from season 1 look to be returning.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Both Joe and Rikishii's analog Yuri live after their match. In the original, Rikishii died after winning against Joe, and Joe died against the world's champion at the end of the manga.
  • Stealth Pun: The far future setting, combined with Junk Dog's nickname, makes him literally the "Joe" of Tomorrow.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Boxers regularly are shown punching hard enough to crush metal, yet nobody suffers any life-threatening injuries beyond what you'd expect from non-augmented boxing.
  • Super Prototype: A prototype Shirato Gear is introduced early in the series, teased as being Joe's ace-in-the-hole. It turns out to be a Red Herring, as when Joe finally gets to give it a try the whole thing falls apart mid-fight against Potemkin and he ultimately has to defeat him Gearless.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Joe's fight against Potemkin in episode 3 ruins his Gear because he tries to fight as though it's a boxing match, leading him to block non-cushioned blows his Gear isn't equipped to handle.
    • In real life, athletes who take part in physically punishing sports such as boxing often struggle with physical health problems long after their careers end. Yuri is left crippled after his gearless fight with Joe. And come season 2, Joe is hooked on painkillers to deal with his own physical damage.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Nomad, which highlights one of Tomorrow's Joe's biggest tragedies—the dilemma of the boxers having anything to live for outside the ring. Many characters in Joe, inlcuding the titular character, end up feeling like boxing is all they have in life, and end up physically and mentally worse for seeking only glory and fulfillment without considering the people around them. However, in Megalobox, a major theme of the second season is this Joe and others developing bonds with others and deciding to live for their sakes. Even the final battle of the show has Sachio throwing the towel just to spare both Joe and Mac an in-ring death, and Mac is blatantly powered by the care he has for his family. Both men are well aware that ending their title match like this would be unglamorous and lame, but they've already put out a decent showing and they definitely don't mind if they get to come back to their loved ones.
  • Tech Bro: Sakuma from Nomad, a charismatic, eccentric tech bro Manchild who at first seems benevolent (if suspicious) in his proposal for brain chips before we eventually learn he's morally bankrupt and is deliberately hiding the catastrophic dangers of his brain chip technology for the sake of his own ego and profit.
  • Throwing the Fight: Junk Dog is forced to do it, even though he could beat any of his opponents in the underground rings into a pulp in a matter of seconds.
    • In episode 10 Nanbu and Fujimaki turn out to have planned this for Joe, hoping to get him into Megalonia before making him throw a fight so Fujimaki can make massive profits off of gambling on the match.
  • Tournament Arc: The series centers on the "Megalonia", a worldwide Megalo Box championship.
  • Translation Convention: Averted. The series takes place in a Japanese-speaking country, with foreign boxers Iglesias and Burroughs using translators and speaking in their native languages (Mexican Spanish and American English respectively).
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Sachio's gang, a bunch of kids who resort to stealing in order to satisfy their drug addiction.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Early on in Nomad, we learn Joe lost an offscreen exhibition match against up-and-coming Megaloboxer Edison Liu during the Time Skip since season one. By episode six, we see the match in question and learn the context: The match was held while Nanbu was dying of cancer, and Joe was in no fit state to fight due to the distraction and Team Nowhere falling apart. Liu even points this out to Nomad during their reunion, stating that Joe stepping into that ring with that sort of baggage weighing him down 'robbed' Liu of a proper match.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Potemkin, who has no qualms about using the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on a kid like Sachio.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Junk Dog lives in such a place, which borders a desert.

"Not dead yet."
’’”Hasta ver la luz…”’’ (“Until I see the light…”)