17 June 2018 | benjaminburt
A Modern Masterpiece
I went through a good period where I was pretty into anime, but eventually, I just got bored with the medium. Check out what's airing the same season as Megalo Box: a handful of continuing shows, a bunch of sequel series, and all of it is very "anime" - I'm talking art style, writing, most slot very nicely in with their contemporaries. Don't get me wrong, anime is not inherently bad, there's just a ton of it, and the shows start to blend together. In this horde of anime, Megalo Box stands out as a unique, raw, and awesome sports anime.
The show is propped up considerably by its distinctive art style. Beautiful backgrounds and unique character designs are the hallmark of this show. It doesn't look like its peers. If it looks like anything, it's 90s anime like Cowboy Bebop or Trigun. And I say the show looks better for it. Honestly, the art direction on the show is stunning, and is probably the top draw for the show.
As for plot, it's a pretty standard underdog story framed in a tournament arc. This approach is simple, yet effective. The show does a great job in characterizing its characters, specifically Joe, Nanbu, and Sachio, in a myriad of little ways. The characters are brought to life by excellent voice acting. The drama of the show comes from the high stakes of each match and our desire to see (the average) Joe overcome. The show has a great sense of narrative stakes and ramps up the tension in each episode, even when there's no boxing in the episode.
Beyond narrative stakes, tension and other emotions are promulgated by the intensely vivacious and superb soundtrack. The music in this show is so excellent, and well-integrated in the story.
If I had to offer some complaints, tons of anime offer these cheap shortcuts of not showing speaker's faces so they don't have to animate the lips or jaws. Many frames have little-to-no movement in them. This is distracting to me because I look out for stuff like this, it's probably not something that too many people actually care about. Besides that, the actual boxing matches could do with some better boxing choreography. Odd angles and strange pacing in the fights hampers the show. Hajime no Ippo and Rocky Balboa are both better examples of how to frame and direct the sport of boxing.
These complaints are relatively minor, and the show itself is fantastic. Honestly, it just feels refreshing to have an anime that a (mostly) original property that tells an inspired story in an inspired way with an inspired art style. The show smacks of passion, originality, and creativity, all things that I value in art. This is one of the best shows I've seen in recent memory, and I think this one is going to have a long shelf life.