A First Impression: Megalo Box Episode 1

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Let’s fight!

In the future, the hottest sport is Megalo Boxing – a form of boxing made more intense by the addition of strength-enhancing technology called Gear. Junk Dog, aka “JD,” is a Megalo Boxer whose identity and origins are unknown. As he is an illegal resident who lacks citizenship, he cannot participate in official matches and instead stays in the underground scene. Using old, constantly malfunctioning Gear made from scrap metal, Junk Dog participats primarily in fixed matches along with his manager, a gambler named Nanju. Junk Dog is usually forced to take the loser’s role in these matches, throwing them despite his considerable talent.

The massive Gear company Shirato Group announces that it will be hosting a Megalo Box tournament called Megalonia in three months. The winner will receive fame and money and be crowned the true champion of Megalo Boxing. Only citizens are allowed to enter, which means that Junk Dog is forbidden from doing so. Possibly because of this, he is extremely dismissive and mocking towards the tournament. One night, while driving his motorcycle near Megalonia Dome, he almost runs into Yukiko Shirato, the chairwoman of the Shirato Group.

Yukiko Shirato supports a Megalo Boxer named Yuri, who is subservient to her and calls her “Owner”. She hopes that Yuri will win Megalonia, and refers to his achieving victory as “her dream”. Junk Dog mocks Yukiko and Yuri, claiming that the tournament is not “real” Megalo Boxing and that they know nothing of the true sport. As a result, at Junk Dog’s next underground match, instead of his scheduled opponent, Yuri appears and challenges him. Yuri is considered unbeatable and sports top of the line Shirato Group Gear which is integrated with his very body. Although Nanju and all else present beg him to refuse, Junk Dog accepts Yuri’s challenge and prepares to fight him.

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Yuri’s head is kinda strangely shaped but he does make a cool antagonist

Megalo Box is a special project created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of legendary boxing manga/anime Ashita no Joe. As a result, you can clearly tell that a lot of love, time and effort was poured into the project. The characters look unique and distinct. The world, although futuristic, is gritty and rough around the edges, with the designers unafraid to show Megalo Boxing as dangerous and bloody. Design choices establish an excellent contrast between the bright, shiny Megalonia Dome and the nearly pure-white outfits of Yukiko and her Shirato Group employees and the dark, dirty world of underground boxing which JD and his friends inhabit. The world is further enhanced by a rock and rap centered soundtrack which perfectly set up the intensity of each Megalo Boxing fight – even though the ones shown in this episode were brief, they still managed to catch the attention.

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JD’s mechanic is definitely my favorite character so far

Junk Dog himself is an intriguing protagonist, with his clear love for Megalo Boxing shining through and endearing him to the audience even while pretty much everything about his backstory and identity is kept hidden. I also liked the character of his mechanic, who seems to be his one true friend and patiently restores his Gear each time it nearly breaks down again. It was refreshing to see JD have one place of support in a world where everyone else seems antagonistic towards him – even his “partner” and manager Nanju is clearly opportunistic and primarily concerned, at least for now, about making money through the thrown matches. Yuri is a little bland, as all we really learned about him was his devotion to Yukiko, but now that he has challenged JD I think we will be seeing a lot more development for him very quickly.

I’ve seen a lot of people complain about some of the art decisions made for this show, saying that it looks rough and low quality due to being animated mostly in an “older,” less “polished” style. to evoke the original Ashita no Joe. I don’t really feel as though I know enough about art and animation to comment on this, although I will say I didn’t find it distracting enough to take away from my enjoyment of the episode in the slightest.

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I absolutely have to gush about the design choices. On the one hand you have the city – sterile, cold, almost colorless…

I’ll almost certainly be watching more of this show, if only to see the result of Junk Dog’s upcoming fight with Yuri. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that I will blog it, as I often have a hard time blogging sports anime as they tend to not be the fastest-paced type of show and it can be difficult coming up with unique commentary each week. Still, this is a really solid show, and I predict fans of sports anime, whether or not they had any prior interest in boxing, will definitely be drawn to it and enjoy following Junk Dog’s journey.

Out of 5 Dios:

diodiodiodio

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..and then the underground ring is just so vibrant and bright and full of life. It’s such an awesome contrast.

 

3 thoughts on “A First Impression: Megalo Box Episode 1

  1. Irina April 10, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    I was very impressed by this first episode and excited to see the rest. I hope you change your mind about covering it as I’m eager to see everyone’s thoughts on it

  2. KingDylbag13 April 10, 2018 / 6:20 pm

    I loved it and I found that the old school animation made it better

    • Junko April 10, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      I liked the old school style too, I was surprised to see it was such a point of contention among those who watched it. I definitely think it’s the style which works best for the show.

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