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Nightmare Fuel / Ashita no Joe

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  • The characters' faces after being hit sometimes look disturbingly messed up and devoid of life. And of course, any time they bleed from the mouth.
  • The hazing Joe receives when he's sent to pre-emptive jail to wait for his trial.
    • The one he and Nishi get into juvie proper. Not as spectacular, but far more brutal-and even scarier due how simple it is.
      • The Italian dub managed to make it even scarier simply by having one of the inmates sing-songing "May God bless them! May God bless them!" before the beating.
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  • To anyone who knows the beasts, the charging pigs. There's a reason the other inmates and the guards ran-and they were all in awe when Rikiishi stopped the charge.
  • Rikiishi's first two shows of strength. First, as said above, he stops the charge of the pigs-and he does it by using his boxing footwork to dodge them while he hits them hard enough to inflict One-Hit KOs. Then Joe is stupid enough to pick a fight with him... And he not only knocks Joe out hard enough to cause him a concussion, according to the medic Joe suffered a complete collapse physical and mental.
    • Another show of strength: realizing that Joe now knows the Cross Counter and could actually win their scheduled match, he trained for it against charging bulls-and took them out with one punch each. That was when Joe finally started fearing him...
    • Why Rikiishi was in juvie: at his thirteenth match-and thirteenth victory by KO-a guy in the public insinuated the match had been fixed, and Rikiishi sent him to the hospital with one punch. But that's not what got him arrested and convicted, he just got his licence suspended indefinitely for that-what got him jailed are the dozens of yakuzas he put in the hospital in the last of the street fights he got into to vent about losing his licence. Thankfully, juvie actually managed to calm him down...
  • The Japanese Boxing Commission's refusal to reinstate Danpei's licence gives way to a few such moments:
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    • Danpei's reaction when he found out was to get drunk... And then go on a rampage. And if the idea of a boxer going on a drunken rampage isn't enough, the anime actually showed it.
      • The kicker? The JBC had disbarred Danpei and refused to reinstate him precisely because he had this habit in the past.
    • Joe Laughing Mad upon learning from Danpei.
    • Joe's idea to force the JBC hand and have them reinstate Danpei: he went to the finals of the tournament for the beginner professional boxers, provoked the winner of the bantamweight division Wolf Kanagushi and knocked him out with a Cross Counter in front of journalists. It was to make it look like Otaka, the owner of Wolf's gym, was so scared of him he'd keep Danpei disbarred to not have Wolf fight him, but all Wolf and Otaka knew was that a cocky boy showed up out of nowhere, started insulting Wolf, and then, somehow, achieved a double KO... It was enough that Wolf was terrified of Joe, even while being an objectively slightly better boxer at the time, until he learned how to counter the cross-counter...
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  • At the boxing licence exam, the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown Joe inflicts on Inagaki. It's so bad that Joe himself is appalled when he realizes what he has just done, and, in the anime, expects to fail the test (as he does).
  • Joe's kid friends were caught trying to spy on Wolf's special training. What did Wolf do to them? He beats them up until they faint, then he puts them in his car's trunk and brings them to the Tange Boxing Club.
  • The match between Joe and Wolf has two moments:
    • The unveiling of the Double Counter. One moment it looked that Joe would win with the Cross Counter... And then he was down, with almost nobody having any idea what had just happened.
      • The training was just as bad. It wasn't shown, but many of the boxers from the Asia Boxing Club were seen being brought to the infirmary with various kinds of head injury-and the doctor complained he didn't have enough beds anymore.
    • The Triple Counter is the single most devastating punch in the series up to the appearance of Mendoza's Corkscrew Punch, and the aftermath is properly terrifying: when he falls down, Wolf has his face caved in, and is bleeding enough that the referee stops the count and calls for a stretcher, because there's no way Wolf can come back from that and could well die. The fact Joe had all but sworn to do him just this after he beat up the kids doesn't make it better.
  • Rikiishi's diet, and the delirium it caused. Gets even worse when it's directly identified as the reason Rikiishi died too fast before any aid could be given: a boxer who died of the exact same cause lied in coma for days before passing over, but Rikiishi's diet-ravaged body could only resist a few minutes. Even without that, without the diet Rikiishi wouldn't have fallen on the rope and got the brain hemorrage that killed him.
    • The nightmare returns when Joe realizes a late growth spurt is making him too heavy to stay in the bantamweights right as he's supposed to fight the OPBF champion-and Joe refuses to change weight class. Luckily, Joe doesn't die, and even manages to stabilize himself at the limit of the bantams, but it was a close thing-and Danpei successfully tricking him into breaking his diet may have well saved his life.
  • Rikiishi's death. One moment he's standing after winning the match and about to take the hand offered by Joe, and the next he falls down, and a few minutes later it's announced he just died-of a punch at the temple and the following fall with the head on the lower ring rope that he had taken about half an hour earlier, and the only warning was that he had shaken his head after standing up again immediately after.
    • The nightmare comes back in the anime version of the fight between Joe and Nango: having been knocked down by a savage beating, Nango tries to stand up, falls on his back and ends with the head on the lower ring rope. At the sight, Joe has a flashback to the moment Rikiishi hit the rope and starts puking.
  • The No-Holds-Barred Beatdown "Goromaki" Gondo inflicts on Wolf in a streetfight after incapacitating him. That, and the much deserved one Joe inflicts on Gondo for both the beating and insulting Wolf.
  • Joe's matches after coming back on the ring pretty much all consist of him repeatedly punching his victims in the belly for one or two rounds until they just keel over, often vomiting blood. It was so terrifying in-universe that the JBC club presidents, already cross at Joe for unretiring after killing Rikiishi, decide to force him to retire, as he was demolishing all their boxers and nobody wanted to face him anymore.
    • Danpei made things even scarier by accident every time he shouted at Joe to hit his opponents in the head. Sure, it was because Joe couldn't bring himself to do it after he killed Rikiishi with a temple shot and that was quite the weakness, but all Joe's opponents and their cornermen would know was that Danpei was pretty much ordering Joe to kill his opponents. It's telling how Konogai, the first opponent who's coming fresh of a winning streak of fourteen matches, reacts: until then he was in pain for Joe's assault, but then he heard Danpei shout and suddenly he started repeating a Madness Mantra about the punch that killed Rikiishi and seeing Joe as an inhuman monster.
  • In the manga, Joe's reaction to the referee giving Nango a long count: beating the stuff out of Nango.
  • In the anime, the neighbourhood kids running from home to visit Joe at Oarai, without anyone having any idea where they are as they stole Joe's letter to Danpei that had told them where he was.
    • After they're caught without ticket on the train, they decide to proceed on foot on the rails-and almost get ran over by a train, on a rail bridge. They then piss off an old man, that tries to beat them up.
  • Yoko as a promoter. When she had started she was cross with the JBC club presidents for forcing Joe to retire... So she had Carlos Rivera put in the hospital the boxers that took part in their plot. Later she fears Joe has lost his wild spirit and cannot face Mendoza, so she gets Harimao (see below). All of Japan trembled in horror when they saw the monster she had brought to Japan...
  • As said above, Carlos Rivera versus the boxers that helped forcing Joe to retire:
    • Nango, #2 ranked bantamweight, went in expecting to suffer a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown but, due Carlos' habitual faked weakness, started having the advantage, was already enjoying the imminent victory... And then suffered two powerful punches in the face followed by elbow strikes.
    • Harajima, ranked 1, thought that Carlos had defeated Nango by luck and was having the advantage... And then at the start of the fifth round his manager announced he was forfeiting due cramps to cover the fact Carlos' punch had knocked him out, just letting him get back to his corner before fainting. And Carlos choose to take him down at the end of the fourth round, because he knew what Japanese think of the number four. This was the lucky one, as he didn't have to be hospitalized.
    • Tiger Oozaki, the Japanese bantamweight champion, went in ready to conquer the sixth place in the WBC rankings, and didn't have his guard up... Right when Carlos had finally decided to get serious. Oozaki went down with two punches and had to be carried away in a stretcher, and lost control of his bladder as he was being carried away.
    • To make that worse, he was still holding back. He was there to humiliate them, not to kill them...
  • Carlos at his second fight with Joe. This time he's not holding back... And he shows exactly why those above him in the rankings are too scared to fight him.
    • In the manga, Carlos suddenly assaulting Joe with fouls and illegal moves. All of sudden, one of the best boxers in the world is trying to kill his opponent.
      • In hindsight the scene becomes even worse when it becomes clear what had just happened: it was the very first symptom of the brain damage caused by Joe's fists.
    • In the second anime, his hyperspeed punch. He's before Joe, there's a streak of light-and then Joe recoils after being punched, with Carlos not having moved. It takes a slowed-down recording to show he had indeed hit Joe and then come back to the starting position-too fast for the eye to see, and with every single muscle in his body contributing to its speed and power. It's something Carlos had been keeping for Mendoza.
  • Jose Mendoza. At first he doesn't seem much, as many believed he wasn't fighting Carlos for fear of losing to him... Then came in the news that his long awaited title match with Carlos had ended with the champion's victory in one minute and thirty-three seconds. And Harry Robert saying that Carlos had not been at his best due the beating he took at Joe's hands made him gun for Joe.
    • In the second anime, Carlos had a secret attack, an incredibly powerful hyperspeed punch, he was keeping just for Mendoza. Mendoza hit him the split second he prepared for it.
    • When he first meet Joe, Mendoza squeezes his shoulder. He left his hand's print into Joe's shoulder.
      • How they met: Joe was a party celebrating his TV deal, was talking with Yoko... And then they notice Mendoza, that nobody knows who invited him. Mendoza then goes to Joe, squeezes his shoulders, wishes him good luck, and leaves.
    • Danpei had been betting on such powerful hitters usually being bad at soaking hits due defeating their opponents too fast to get used to hits. Then Mendoza has his match against an opponent nicknamed "The Hawaiian Bull", and, just to show off to Danpei and Joe, lets himself be hit at point blank-and shrugs it off.
      • It later turns out it had been a bluff, as he had been holding his opponent from the shoulders and reduced his hitting power... But the fact he actually came up with such a scare tactic only makes him scarier due the fact he was astute enough for it.
    • For a long time, it was believed that Carlos being reduced to a shell of his former self was caused by the terrifying beating he got at Joe's hands. Then a medic finds out it had been caused by Mendoza with a single Corkscrew Punch. That's when Yoko starts actively trying to keep Joe from facing him, as she's scared for his life.
    • To make everything worse, there's the fact he's not a bad man, he's actually a nice guy and a loving father... Who just happens to be immensely strong and knows it. When he fought Carlos he wasn't trying to turn him into a human wreck, and in fact actually stopped hitting him after a while, and gave him the final punch that caused him the devastating brain damage when Carlos came back for more while giving an "I'm sorry" look. And when he suddenly appeared before Joe it was because he knew they would fight one day, and was giving him an idea of what he'd have to fight so he wouldn't challenge him before he was ready.
  • Kim Yongbi, the bantamweight champion of the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation. He's one of the few boxers Danpei actively tries to keep Joe from fighting, to the point of telling him he's scared of his challenge and, in the anime, keeping from Joe the fact Kim privately issued a challenge right after Joe fought Carlos, and with good reasons:
    • During fights, and even spars, he mercilessly hits his opponents while easily dodging their attacks, moves back to gauge the damage, and then comes back in to repeat until they fall down. All with the cold attitude of someone dissecting a frog, an attitude that earned him the nickname of "Boxing Computer".
    • Has a perfect victory record, a perfect knock out record, and in the anime has already killed two opponents.
    • In the anime there's next to no information about him around, as he almost never goes out of South Korea and all recordings of his fights get regularly seized by the army. People referring to his manager as "colonel" doesn't help.
    • As the boxers at the Asia Boxing Club learn during his stay there, he'll spend the whole night trying to wash away the blood he sees on his hands.
    • His sudden and terrifying scream at the first weigh-in when Joe realizes Danpei sabotaged his diet and beat him up until he bled.
    • The reason for all of the above, as related by Kim himself, lays in a series of events that happened to him as a child: at the time The Korean War was raging, with his father conscripted, he remained homeless when a firebomb destroyed his home and killed his mother right in front of him; as a starving street urchin he stumbled on a tired and dirty soldier that was carrying some rations, so he went to steal the food, and when the soldier tried to protest he bashed his head with a rock; soon after other soldiers, led by the colonel who would later become Kim's manager, arrived searching for whoever killed the one killed by Kim, as while he was a deserter he had done so to bring food to his wife and only son... And when they said his name, Kim realized he had killed his own father. As he vomited the food and lied down in horror, the soldiers were about to kill him until he babbled in shock he had killed his father, at which point they took him in, with the colonel teaching him boxing. That's why the ROK Army protects him and he's so cold: after his tragedy the colonel is using his influence to help him out, including keeping his matches secret so potential opponents will have less informations about him, and after that two men punching each other is little more than a silly game to him.
      • In the anime, this gave Joe an actual nightmare where he re-enacts Kim Yongbi's past. It naturally features Joe crushing Dampei's head with a rock. All while the background becomes both hellish and surreal. Jeez!
      • Hell, the original isn't any prettier. Both in the anime and the manga it's a sequence that wouldn't be out of place in Barefoot Gen.
    • Finally, his decisive technique, the Chom-Chom, applied only on the toughest opponents. First he pushes them to the ropes, then he starts hitting them in the face and all over the body until they can't stand anymore and start falling, at which point he pushes them back up with an uppercut and continues until the referee realizes he's watching an attempted murder. For obvious reasons, nobody had ever managed to continue the match after that-and it's what killed two of his past opponents. It's also the likely reason for Joe's advanced punch drunk syndrome.
      • Joe provides one when Kim inflicts him the Chom-Chom... And he gets up for more. For the first time since the war, Kim started shaking in fear.
  • Harimao. Yoko wanted a wild boxer to draw out Joe's old wild spirit... And got that and more:
    • Harimao is actually a nickname, meaning "Tiger" given to him in his home village-because even they feared him like a tiger.
    • Harimao acts like a beast all the time, ready to attack with deadly force at the slightest provocation (in fact he tried to murder Joe twice because he had given him an odd look when they first met), and calms down only when wolfing chocolate.
    • His manager, an English journalist who taught him boxing, is his good friend, but couldn't come to Japan. Why? Because, during a discussion, Harimao put him in the hospital. And him he likes...
    • When Yoko organizes him a match to get him ranked, Harimao is at first on the losing side against the more skilled Takigawa... Then he uses his second gimmick attack, and Takigawa has to be hospitalized.
    • During his match with Joe, Harimao has a Villainous Breakdown when his second and third gimmick moves get neutralized... Then, unable to escape, starts attacking like a wild beast.
    • Something that tops everything Harimao did: how Joe put him down. Harimao uses the ropes to jump around and Goomba Stomp his opponent? Joe pushes the ropes and let him fall out of the ring. Harimao starts using a somersault to uppercut him? Joe dodges by jumping and then punches him down as he falls (that's when Harimao had the Villainous Breakdown). Harimao tries to escape? Joe gives chase, forcefully turns him, and punches him in the face as hard as he can. Harimao goes berserk? Joe gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown-without fouls.
  • The final match. There's a reason Yoko at one point ran, and had to talk herself into coming back: Joe and Mendoza were pretty much killing each other with their bare hands.
    • Mendoza at one point going crazy from sheer terror at Joe coming back again and hitting him with a devastating series of fouls before coming back at his senses when he's penalized.
    • The finale: Mendoza may have won by points, but his face shows that he was literally one second away from being knocked down three times in a round and losing and his hair is quickly going white from the effort and the terror of fighting Joe, and Joe has literally died of exhaustion. Not from Mendoza's devastating hits, but from the effort of fighting the champion.
    • Just to make Joe's death even scarier, the exact scenario happened in real life, when Kim Duk-koo had exhausted himself to make weight for a title shot against Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini... And the result is why the maximum number of rounds for a fight was reduced from 15 to 12.
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