Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
After Joe burned through not one, but two sets of Gear in last week’s episode, it was uncertain how he would move forward with his first bout. In the opening minute, we get our answer: Joe is planning on fighting without any Gear! Taking on the handle “Gearless Joe”, he’s entering the biggest fights in Megalo Boxing without the signature technology.
Nanbu is confident that by employing this strategy they’ll garner a lot of attention, and lure stronger fighters and their managers to set up fights with them. Otherwise, they’ll have no chance of climbing the rankings fast enough to make it to the final bouts, where Joe is eager to face Yuri again.
Joe’s first fight is with a dirty fighter known as Samejima, or “The Shark”. He’s previously been disqualified from a number of fights, which makes it hard for him to find bouts to move up. Nanbu saw this as an opportunity, and after Samejima sees Joe come out without any Gear on, he’s definitely feeling heated.
As Nanbu preps Joe for the bout, he realizes that he’s shaking. Joe, however, chalks it up to “excitement” and is ready to start the fight. The opening moments of the fight seem to swing in his favor, landing some strong hits on Samejima as he moves around. However, Samejima quickly turns the fight around, regaining control with a strong gear-backed punch that knocks Joe down.
Joe spends some time on the floor of the ring, the timer ticking up slowly as Sachio and Joe shout at him to get up. The crowd is laughing and cheering for Samejima, the fight seeming to end the way they expected it to. However, Joe gets up before the count finishes, and the fight continues.
Joe appears to be sluggish. His responses aren’t as quick as we’re used to seeing, and the scene begins to look like he’s wading through water in the ring – feeling like his body isn’t listening to what he wants it to do. After a few more close calls, Nanbu is at his wits end, and Sachio is growing more and more concerned.
Finally, just as Joe and Nanbu are having an argument, Sachio dumps some ice water on Nanbu and gets them both to shut up and listen for a minute. He insists that they’ll never make it to Megalonia if Nanbu continues to just “complain” while Joe puts his life on the line, and also challenging Joe by telling him he can’t do it on his own. Things click for Nanbu in that moment, and he asks Joe if his body feels heavy, like it’s “tied up”. Joe silently confirms this, and Nanbu chastises himself for not noticing it sooner.
Put briefly, Nanbu explains that Joe’s body is acting afraid, even if he doesn’t feel it himself. That’s why his actions are having delayed response, and everything feels heavier and harder to control. Joe asks Nanbu what to do next, and enters the ring more confident than before.
Using some fancy footwork, Joe regains control of the match, landing some more blows on Samejima while deftly avoiding his strikes. Finally, just as Samejima appears to be going in for a powerful blow, Joe turns and lands a cross-counter punch that sends Samejima to the floor.
The count doesn’t even finish before the Referee calls the match for Gearless Joe! The audience, now turned around watching this young kid win without any gear, cheer him on as he quickly moves up the rankings.
In a move that was sort of a surprise, the last few minutes of the show feature a training and fight montage, showing Joe prevail over two more fights, climbing his way up to spot number 102.
Taking the Megalo Boxing world by storm, Nanbu is hard at work landing him his 4th fight, and the final scene shows him negotiating this crucial bout. Hoping for someone between ranks 49-30, he’s shocked when he learns that the next fighter is ranked 17th!
Furthermore, the request came from the side of the fighter personally. Who is this guy that wants to fight Joe so bad? Nanbu’s really curious, and as the episode ends, we get some cause for concern as Nanbu appears to react fearfully to the fighter’s sudden appearance.
Good to see you “again”? Coach Nanbu? Who is this guy? What’s up with those scars? Is Joe totally hosed? Guess we’ll find out next week when Episode 5: “The Man From Death”, airs!
Now we’ve got ourselves a ball-game! Or a Megalo Boxing match? Whatever. This latest episode of Megalo Box really packs a punch in the opening half, debuting Joe’s new persona as “Gearless Joe”. I really appreciated Joe’s hesitation and fear in seeing Samejima’s gear, and how that had a real impact on his ability to fight the match properly. It was a great way to communicate that this is a very different world from the underground ring he has grown so familiar with. As previous episodes have established, both Nanbu and Joe have a lot riding on this gamble, and so the real threat of his opponent, combined with the weight of the responsibility that rests on his shoulders, had a real impact on Joe’s ability to fight.
It’s in resolving this stumbling block that we get to see Sachio, Nanbu and Joe really form up and present themselves as a cohesive team. While it was cool to see Sachio play mediator, I was hoping to see him examine the technical aspects of Samejima’s Gear to look for any weaknesses or lag. After last week’s episode there seemed to be some opportunity for that kind of scene, and so the lack of it was a minor disappointment. Still, there’s plenty of time for that in upcoming episodes.
The conclusion of the fight was great, with some tributes to Cowboy Bebop in Joe’s fancy footwork (very reminiscent of Spike Spiegel’s Jeet Kune Do movements), as well as a classic cross-counter move that had echoes in shows such as Hajime no Ippo and of course the classic Ashita no Joe, from which this show was inspired.
What follows is an interesting, and possibly the most controversial choice of the episode: a training and fight montage. You quickly see Joe take down his next opponent, then do a bit of studying and training before felling his 3rd. On the one hand, I completely understand that they have 8 more episodes to get through a decent amount of storytelling, world-building, and fighting. So, trimming out less consequential fights can definitely help in that regard. At the same time, it can definitely give whiplash to some viewers who were expecting a 1-2 episode arc per bout. Overall, I think it was the right decision, and now it’s got me looking forward to Joe’s fight with this mystery fighter who’s ranked extremely high!
The animation continues to preserve that classic 90s look, and at times looked even more grizzled/grainy than previous weeks. However, the payoff is in the fight scenes, which were fluid and continue to convey the weight and power behind each strike.
A fantastic entry for one of the strongest anime of the season so far. Definitely looking forward to next week! Fight on, Joe!
Megalo Box - Episode 4
- Some great writing in this episode as Joe, Nanbu and Sachio all grow closer as a team
- Joe's first fight confirms that he's just a regular guy - no ridiculous MC plot armor
- The montage at the end makes sense considering they have 8 episodes left to get through 4 fights
- Despite understanding why the montage is there, it can definitely throw off some fans