I think 2021 has been a bit of an odd year for me in terms of the media I consume. I don’t know if it’s my personal perspective or it just being a bit of a lame year, but both in terms of the video games I played and the anime I watched, it kind of feels like it was all just a bit meh.
Which isn’t to say there weren’t good anime. I mean, this list still needs to go up doesn’t it. I just feel like the list didn’t just fall onto the page mostly formed like it has the past few years I’ve done this.
You might notice that I’m doing this one a bit later this year. Well, part of the reason for that is the damn way anime season run. The past couple of years I wrote one of these lists, I ended up feeling weird about putting shows on from the Autumn season when they were only half over.
So this time, I decided to at least wait for that last Autumn season to be finally over so I had a better sense of my feelings on those shows. That, plus I ended up really packing my schedule full at the back end of the year and decided to watch a lot of shows right at the end.
So, here we go, this is starting things off with my number 10:
#10: Megalo Box 2: Nomad
Originally aired 4nd April to 27th June | 13 Episodes | Inspired by the manga Ashita no Joe | Sports, Science Fiction
Back when I watched it in 2018, I thought that Megalo Box was one of the best anime I’d seen in years. Given, I’d only recently started watching anime again, but nonetheless it was still a totally unique take on the classic underdog boxing story, mixed with cyberpunk elements and obvious inspirations from American movie culture.
It was one of those stories that happened, it ended and felt like a complete story. One that didn’t need to continue. But like so many great stories with a pretty definitive conclusion, the people behind them can’t help but coming back and trying to tell a new story in that same universe with those same characters.
Always a divisive prospect.
Which is where we get Megalo Box 2: Nomad. Is this sequel series to the original Megalo Box just as good? In my opinion; No it isn’t. That being said, the series also doesn’t just fall into the classic sequel trap of telling the same story again. Nomad, is a very different kind of story. And because it went out and did something totally different than the first series, I still have some big appreciation for it.
With the conclusion of the first series, Joe had everything he wanted; family, recognition and a satiation of the hunger that drove him to the depths of despair that started for him in the beginning. The second series starts years later and we see that Joe’s life has fallen apart. He’s lost everything important to him and is fighting in the gutter again while suffering a crippling addition to pain killers.
Over the course of the series we see Joe connect with Mexican immigrants and find reason to live again, before retuning home to try and rebuild the life he destroyed in his drive to save the life of a dying man. It’s an emotional story, one that does dig a little deeper into the themes of loss, addition and personal redemption.
Which would be enough on it’s own, but this second series also introduces us to another character. We meet Mac, another boxer who, with the help of a huge medical corporation was able to piece his own life back together for the sake of his wife and child after a horrible accident.
The series puts both fighters on a collision course with one another. Two men who are good at their core, but have been manipulated, torn to pieces and then rebuild by big business and told then owe their lives to the corporations.
Like with the final fight between Joe and Yuri in the first series, the final battle between Joe and Mac is one of liberation, of freeing themselves from their shackles and being able to live their lives in a way they chose.
Like the first series, it’s super stylistic, find more inspiration in Mexican culture and music than the first series did, having a look of an older, more classic anime. And while the themes and more subdued story on display here didn’t speak to me as much as a perfectly executed underdog story managed to in the first season, it’s still one that turned my head and stuck in it all year long.
That being said, there doesn’t need to be another one of these. Please just let Joe rest and have his quiet, family life this time.