Original Run: April 4, 2021 - June 27, 2021 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Drama, Science Fiction, Sports
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Nomad: Megalo Box 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
Once upon a time, a team from Nowhere did the impossible by becoming the undisputed megalo box champions. And leading that fight was the once nobody, now legendary, “Gearless” Joe (voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya).
Sadly, moments come and go. Life, on the other hand, continues.
Several years have passed since Joe’s unbelievable victory. However, instead of living in glory, he has fallen off the grid. Tragedy struck Joe’s family, and rather than facing that reality, our champion chose to run. In his flight, Joe wanders the land under the name Nomad.
Crippled by guilt and addiction, Joe spirals to rock bottom. But thanks to a chance encounter, he begins to remember what it was he fought for so long ago.
2018’s Megalo Box was excellent. Anime Hajime even went so far as to award the show several mentions during our Inaugural Anime Hajime Highlights: It ranked 10th in Best Opening Song, 5th in Best Animation, and we named it the 6th Best Anime of the Year. More fundamentally, though, this series proved sports anime don’t have to be a dime-a-dozen. This was one of those shows you don’t forget easily.
Additionally, Megalo Box was also something I thought was a one-and-done affair. The series ended satisfyingly; there was no need for the story to continue. And yet, here we are. Four years after the original, we got Nomad: Megalo Box 2 (Nomad). To say this season’s announcement was a surprise would be an understatement.
When covering unexpected sequels, I feel a sense of hesitancy. What can a chapter two do when its narrative already has a finale? Experience has shown me that continuations like these can work, provided there is, in fact, a proper story to tell. Alas, I have lost count of how many follow-ups have been nothing but quick cash-ins that added no value to their franchise.
When beginning Nomad, I couldn’t stop wondering, “Is the Megalo Box series fated to go down such an unfortunate path?” Almost immediately, season two demonstrated that it would not. Then as this installment continued and concluded, it didn’t just match its predecessor; it surpassed it.
Let’s make it clear what Nomad is not.
This series is not a sports anime in the usual sense. Although it had sporting elements – boxing – this story was not about winning tournaments. It wasn’t about practicing drills, athleticism, sportsmanship, or teamwork. Those qualities had a home in the first Megalo Box.
Nomad, by contrast, was a redemption arc.
Think about it. In terms of a career, where did our lead character, Joe, have left to go? His winning the Megalonia Tournament was the goal. There was no next step because that was the final move.
In Nomad, Joe was past his prime, but he had already secured his place in megalo boxing history; he was a living legend. Therefore, it wouldn’t have made sense for this story to be about Joe obtaining glory. As far as the megalo boxing world was concerned, he already had that.
As a result, Nomad went in a more what-happens-after-happily-ever-after direction.
Consequently, if you go into this season expecting the same high-octane boxing matches like the ones we saw last time, you won’t get them. Keep in mind, the fights in Nomad weren’t underwhelming by any stretch of the imagination; if anything, they were as good as Megalo Box‘s. The difference was, they weren’t the highlight.
In Nomad, Joe needed to fix what he let break. And when I say, “let break,” I mean, “let shatter.” It was surreal to see characters, who were once so happy and smiling, turn hard and cold. Megalo Box might not have been a comedy, but it was a lot more light-hearted than its successor.
It was especially difficult (in a good way) to see Joe and Sachio (voiced by Michiyo Murase) in conflict.
On one side, there was Joe, who was once unstoppable. Whatever challenge was in his way, he would push on and claim victory no matter what. Then in Nomad, he was a broken man on the verge of losing everything.
On the other side, there was Sachio, who, in Megalo Box, was the cute sidekick character. I’ll be honest; it was odd having Sachio around in the original series because he didn’t quite fit within the rough and tumble world of underground megalo boxing. But in Nomad, it was scary how much hate and loathing he had in his eyes, and towards Joe no less. Sachio was no longer a kid.
In a way, Megalo Box portrayed a rose-tinted view of its universe. Things were tough, no doubt about that. And yet, things were also more hopeful; ideas such as defeat, disillusionment, and heartbreak almost felt nonexistent. Or, at least, that’s how it appears now. Nomad was an entirely different kind of beast.
This continuation called to mind the notion of “remembering the good old days.” Even after achieving a long-sought-after victory, life will continue. If we are complacent, the goals we reached become nothing more than ancient history.
Let’s build a metaphor. Think of a newly constructed building. It has state-of-the-art tech and design, and it is a true marvel to behold. We can even consider it to be the best in the world. On the day the building’s doors open, all seems well and will be so forevermore. Then a few years go by, and maintenance begins to slack. More time passes, and the paint is peeling here; stains start forming over there. Not only that, bigger and better buildings are popping up in the surrounding area. Soon, this once gem of a structure falls into shadow. If left to its own devices, even the best will fall and, eventually, crumble.
Nomad was the story of Joe’s fall. But like a building, if the proper amount of resources go into upkeep and repairs, damages are reversible. That reversal – Joe’s reversal – was what made this season so damn good.
Without spoiling anything, the final megalo boxing match of this installment was brilliant. Unlike last season where we were rooting for Joe to claim ultimate victory, the definition of “winning” was no longer black and white. Who actually won the final fight was inconsequential. Something much more valuable than a title was on the line.
Like the sports anime it technically was, Nomad had training, competitions, and athletic growth. But none of that held a candle to what this series really had to offer. Not only was this installment’s existence a surprise, what it delivered was utterly unexpected.
If you want to see how a sequel can be better than the original, look to Nomad.
There is not much I can say against Nomad; it really was that solid of a show. Be that as it may, I couldn’t help noticing something.
For the record, I have no way to prove this, so what I am about to say will be complete speculation. Nevertheless, I do not believe Nomad was a planned sequel.
If we remember, Megalo Box’s release commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Ashita no Joe manga, which itself has an anime and a couple of films to its name. And as I mentioned in the Megalo Box review, I had not read or watched any of the original material. Incidentally, at the time of this review going live, that remains true.
Therefore, I cannot confirm or deny how accurate Nomad is to the Ashita no Joe storyline.
Regardless the transition points between Megalo Box and Nomad weren’t the smoothest.
As we have already discussed, the atmosphere and feel could not have been more different between season one and season two. The two installments were so unique; we could almost consider them to be their own series. Except, they are not.
Megalo Box and Nomad make up one narrative.
But, again, Nomad’s mere existence was surprising because Megalo Box ended so succinctly.
To Nomad’s credit, the bridges that connected itself with its predecessor were stable and functional; there was a clear connection between the events of the two shows. However, the break up of Joe’s family and his subsequent downward spiral were drastic, and that’s putting it lightly.
Although I will accept that a moment in Joe’s life, occurring between the two series, was enough to break the camel’s back, I don’t see how it alone was so devastating.
Granted, the “moment” I am referring to took place over months. So there was a build-up. The thing is, we only got snippets of that build-up. Those snippets were enough to clarify what happened, but frankly, their story alone could have been its own show.
Now, I will be the first to admit that this “issue” I have with Nomad is nothing more than fluff. Was there room for this show to do more? Yes. But, would more have actually been better?
Seeing how good this series was, I doubt it would have been.
With this installment being as excellent as it was, let me issue a challenge:
If this review gets 10 LIKES by Monday, July 26th, 2021, Anime Hajime will showcase the original Ashita no Joe anime.
As for this series, damn, it was good.
This season took what its already fantastic predecessor did and said, “We can do better.” And “better” was what we got.
Outstanding characters, an amazing story, quality animation, brilliant atmosphere; there was very little this series didn’t deliver on.
Nomad: Megalo Box 2 has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Nomad: Megalo Box 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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