Megalo Box 2: Nomad Review

It’s certainly been a long while since Megalo Box season 1 but it’s time to dive back into the boxing arena. The first season appeared to have a definitive ending so it would be interesting to see how this continued the saga. In theory Joe may not be able to fight quite as well as he once could. Well, the show is definitely less of a boxing anime this time and deals more with some fallout that occurred after season 1. It works well as a sequel and while it doesn’t quite match the exciting first season, it’s a solid continuation.

The show starts with a time skip and you are left to figure out what is going on as the show gradually lets you know what is going on. Joe is back to fighting in underground matches only he has now become addicted to drugs and is a shell of his former self. His friends are nowhere to be found and Joe is really coming close to death. Well one day he beats a man named the Chief but is upset when he learns that the match was fixed. (His one condition in every fight is that he doesn’t participate in fixed outcomes) The Chief is the leader of a community of immigrants that are in a bit of a rough patch now because corporate is trying to seize their land. The only way around this is for the Chief to win the big Megalo Box tournament coming up. As Joe begins hanging around this group he starts to remember what it’s like to be a part of a family and offers to help. Still, the drugs have done significant damage to his body as well as the attacks he has endured over the course of the other battles. Has he made his realization too late?

From the two arcs in the season this one is definitely a lot more on the low key side. There isn’t a lot of action here and Joe is serving in the role of coach rather than being the primary boxer this time. His body is so beat up that even coaching is difficult as it’s hard for Joe to stay in for the whole round. He’s used to being the boxer that everyone is cheering against and so he can help Chief get past this as well.

The most annoying character in this saga is definitely Maria’s brother Mio. Mio ended up joining a gang to help take down his own town. The character arc here is that Mio is ashamed of his own heritage and figured he could join the other group to save himself. It’s really a sad arc that he would go so far. He sees the light by the end but he just goes so far in this that it’s hard to really sympathize with him. He really put a lot of people in jeopardy with his underground dealings.

Mara was good though, she was quite resolute in finding justice. She helped Joe get back to his feet and made things right by fixing his bike. When she finds out about Mio’s double dealings she takes it in stride and does her best to protect him while also helping out the village. She’s probably the only person the Chief can really count on. As for the Chief, he’s one of those characters you’ll like right away as well. He’s doing his best to protect the village on his own. Not in a selfish way like he doesn’t trust the others but because he has the best realistic chance of protecting them all. He knows if he can just win this tournament everything will be okay.

The Chief does well and certainly fights as best he can in the tournament. The whole time you’re hoping Joe will step in and get some action but a fight scene is a fight scene. It’s still fun to get some boxing in. As a first arc it helps set the stage for Joe’s recovery as this gives him the courage to go back to his home town and settle things with the ungrateful kids hanging around. While everyone being against Joe is really annoying, I would say that the second arc is a big step up.

So we finally learn more about why Joe ran off and nobody likes him. Nanbu was seriously ill as the cigars, beer, and everything had taken their toll. There was a slight chance a medical operation could save him but it was a ton of money and still offered no guarantees. Joe decided to enter one more tournament even though he should not be fighting anymore and told Nanbu to hang on. Unfortunately they both lost their fights. Joe lost to Liu, a new up and coming boxer while Nanbu lost to his illness. As a result, Joe wasn’t there when he died so Sachio and the rest of the town blames him for this. Joe just ran off at that point and never looked back.

So after we get all of the pieces to the story, whose side am I on? Definitely not Sachio’s! I’m definitely with Joe here. Look, it was a tough decision, he could have given up from the start like the rest and just let Nanbu die. Nanbu was fine with this since he had a complete life and sometimes it’s not worth doing a surgery that only might help you survive. Instead you decide to just live out the final days with family and friends. Here’s the thing though, Sachio was the one not satisfied with this at first. He keeps asking Joe if anything can be done.

So even though Joe and Nanbu had wanted to just give up, Sachio is the one who was not content. Joe did his research after that and met up with Nanbu for the other solution. Joe didn’t suddenly go and do this on his own, he first asked Nanbu for his permission and Nanbu said okay. They would fight one last time. Somehow this gets twisted into it being Joe’s idea from the start and when he loses the most important fight of his career, nobody is there to back him up. Joe is shamed for fighting and run out of town. It’s a really bad look not just for Sachio but the rest of the cast to be honest. They should have had Joe’s back since he was really trying to do the right thing.

This is a big part of the second arc. Joe has to deal with his feelings of guilt but the whole time I was on his side so it isn’t as tough a dilemma as you’re supposed to feel it is. I certainly lost all respect for Sachio who is now an underground fighter as well. The issue is that Sachio loses all of his fights since he just isn’t built for this kind of combat. It wasn’t the best career choice he could have made, that’s for sure. He’s an annoying character for the whole season so get ready to wince whenever Sachio is on screen. The other kids are better but I wouldn’t say any of them are good. The closest is the kid who became a reporter.

Aside from that plot, arc 2 introduces us to a guy named Mac. After suffering a devastating injury he nearly had to retire from the sport and was even close to death. Fortunately that’s when a scientist showed up and convinced Mac’s wife to let him use some experimental tech to get him back into living shape. This treatment worked so well that Mac was not only functional again but could be a champ. He beat many boxers to the point where he could just beat one or two more and be the world champ. The issue is that the tech seems to have a downside where he is slowly losing his mind.

He enters into a moment called “Mac Time” where Mac gets ultra aggressive and then doesn’t remember what he has done. It’s rather dangerous and his family is concerned but Mac also feels really grateful to the scientist so he’s a bit mixed about calling it quits. Throw in the new champ Liu who has a chip on his shoulder and Mac has to be careful when getting into the ring. Who will be crowned as the new champ or Megalonia?

This was definitely my favorite plot in season 2. The episode battle with Liu fighting Mac was excellent. The build up, presentation, soundtrack, etc. It was all on point and it also felt very nostalgic to hear the classic music and see the characters start fighting. There’s really nothing quite like having a big tournament match because you get the hype from the audience and everything else. It was well worth the wait without a doubt. Then we also have Joe get a final fight of his own near the end.

The final episodes of season 2 are the best ones in this season. We get a lot of action and the characters have mostly recovered from what they were going through earlier on so each character is at their peak. I was also glad to see Joe fight a bit more since I was worried he would be staying on the sidelines. It’s like if Rocky gets a new film, he may be so old that it’s hard to see him fighting but if you make a Rocky sequel then you have to squeeze in a fight somewhere. Joe still has some good moves and it feels like even with his injuries and age he could be the champion again if he wanted to.

Joe is still a solid lead here. He’s dealing with a lot of issues so he isn’t as good as in season 1 but he still has a lot of determination. He may have lost the big fight to save Nanbu but you can’t say that he didn’t try. His fight with Mac was also on point. Then you have Nanbu who we mainly see as a force ghost this time around. Due to that, he is one of the main antagonists here and doesn’t look nearly as good as he once did. He only pops up to insult Joe and make the lead feel bad.

Yuri doesn’t get much to do here since he is already retired but he is Liu’s coach so he has a bit of a role. I miss seeing him fight but he’s still a solid character. As for Liu he does really well in stepping into the rival slot. He doesn’t hold grudges when he loses and really just wants to be the best. He has a good dynamic with Joe so it would have been nice to have seen them fight further. His battle with Mac was also a lot of fun. Liu just continues to impress me with how professional he was about everything. Whenever he would suffer a setback or something would happen, he never blamed it on anyone else. He would just work harder and harder.

Megalo Boxing is incredibly risky after all. We don’t see a lot of injuries during the show but given that everyone is using super powered robotic arms for the punching, it makes sense that a single clean shot would do incredible damage. Liu just doesn’t blame anyone for it and goes into the rehab right away. Meanwhile Mac also has an emotional character arc and makes for a good character. It’s a good testament to the show when you like each combatant. You can easily root for either Liu or Mac when they have their big title match. Mac’s fighting for his family and Liu’s fighting for his honor. Both are valid reasons to root for each one.

I do think Mac should have stepped away a little sooner once he realized the damage Mac Time was doing but I don’t think he does anything too extreme. He just underestimated the possible damage it would cause. His wife still made the right choice in giving him the experimental tech. They have some regrets about how things turned out but the fact is that Mac would have been a vegetable otherwise so at least with this he can live. Whether he can box or not is a secondary concern at that point.

Yukiko doesn’t get a big role but her company is part of the big deal with the researcher (Sakuma) in charge of the experimental tech. She isn’t too quick to see the issues with this though. Part of this is due to Sakuma hiding the true results and also some willful ignorance on her part since the company really needed this deal. A whole lot is riding on it. Ultimately she does make the right decision here though and stops the bleeding.

Mikio deserves some credit for that as well since he went to a lot of effort to prove how bad this tech was. If not for him putting his career on the line to make that information public, Sakuma may have gotten away with everything. It would have been nice to have seen Mikio fight again but as a background character he did well in his role. I did not like Sakuma but that’s not too surprising. The whiny researcher types are rarely my kind of character. He tries to talk tough but as soon as he loses the advantage then he also loses his confidence immediately.

The animation is solid like in the first season. The battle choreography is on point and you feel the power behind each blow. The first season may still look a bit better with more iconic scenes like the rain battle and various tournament bouts but I would say by and large this matches the original blow for blow. Then the soundtrack is really memorable and has a lot of solid tunes once again. It’s not likely that you will forget the battle themes, lead up to the battle, and other really fun tracks like that. The opening leaves a lot to be desired with how quiet it is though. I think it went too far in being a very somber kind of intro. A little more action never hurts and it could have livened up the music a bit.

If we ever get a season 3 I’d like for the title to be more action focused again but all in all, the show did well for what it set out to do. It’s really about Joe post retirement as he ultimately gets to have one last big fight. With a lot of training he’s able to reach his season 1 form which is impressive since there was a bit of a time skip here. Season 1 ended in a way where you didn’t really think Yuri or Joe would ever fight again. That said, this does still take place in the future so it makes sense that you can push your body more with a lot of tech. If Yuri had been able to get up with robotic legs and fight that would have been crazy.

Nomad is more about the emotional angle though and it works well enough. Arc 1 was considerably weaker to me because there was not a lot of action though. Also both arcs had an annoying kid dragging it down so a sequel likely wouldn’t have that issue. There was a brief moment in arc 1 with a dead dog that seemed to have no real purpose but fortunately we see it alive in the climax. I like to think it was the same dog as opposed to this being a symbolic moment. That said, when you see the characters enter Megalonia one last time with all the bright lights and hype…that’s when Megalo Box is really back.

I just still don’t think Sachio had any kind of point here. While the issue is supposed to be more gray as opposed to black and white, I didn’t think so. Joe was just in the right here. Sure, he could have handled things differently but he didn’t take on the fight until he had both Sachio and Nanbu’s blessing. Sachio twisting this around to Joe being selfish just didn’t sit right with me. It really put a huge burden on Joe’s psyche as well. He just didn’t need any of that and certainly didn’t take it well. He nearly died and that would have been all on Sachio.

Overall, Megalo Box 2 is a good anime title. It doesn’t beat the original but the first Megalo Box would have to be the definitive boxing anime so it’s a hard bar to top. Whether you’re watching for the drama or the action you should have a good time. The show definitely steps up when we get to the final arc and I’d be game for a third season at some point as well. With quality writing and animation you can rarely go wrong. This one never veers off the cliff or makes any big mistakes. That’s why it’s also one of the first anime you’ll think of when recommending a title to someone who hasn’t entered that space. It’s very general audience friendly much like Death Note. That said, I would certainly recommend watching the first season first. This one may be separate enough where you won’t be lost but it does help to know Joe’s journey from before where this one started.

Overall 7/10

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