Megalo Box 2: Nomad is a sports anime produced by TMS Entertainment. Having surprised the world of megalo boxing by defeating then-champion Yuri in the grand finals of the first Megalovania event, Joe and the rest of Team Nowhere seemed to be on top of the world. Fast forward five years, however, and we find Joe drifting from town to town fighting in underground arenas and struggling with an addiction to painkillers.
I loved the first season of Megalo Box. It told a heartfelt underdog tale that had just enough new wrinkles in it to stand out, while not compromising what makes such stories so beloved. However, it did such a great job of both delivering and wrapping up its story, that I had concerns about where Megalo Box 2: Nomad was going to take the story. Nothing is worse than when a great story is marred by an unnecessary follow-up. Happily, the return to this world manages to not only continue the excellence of the original story, but it easily surpasses it.
The most surprising thing about Megalo Box 2: Nomad is how it alters the way it uses the titular sport for the sake of the story’s narrative. While Megalo boxing is always a present factor in the tale, with numerous fights taking place, it isn’t the end goal in and of itself. Instead, the story focuses squarely on the three primary fighters in its tale.
While Joe remains the core of the show, this series introduces two new fighters that are pivotal to the story’s tale. Newcomers Chief and Mac bring their own plots and narratives that are just as lovingly crafted as the Joe’s. And while the other two fighters exist to impact Joe’s journey, they are never limited to that role. They are both real, fully formed characters that have their own struggles and goals. Even when they do not align with Joe’s I couldn’t help but route for these newcomers as much as Joe. They are all equally worthy of the cheers of the fans. And that only adds to the emotion of Megalo Box 2: Nomad‘s key narrative moments. But what is this narrative that I keep praising vaguely you might be asking? Let’s talk about it.
As previously mentioned, five years have passed since season one’s conclusion, and Joe is now drifting on his own. Team Nowhere has been shattered and Joe is alone, save for the haunting presence of Pops. How Joe came to be in this place is revealed slowly over the course of the show. And you need to be prepared because it is a story that hurts. This pain is born largely from how believable the destruction of Team Nowhere and Joe’s journey into self-destructive exile is. Nothing about the core of Megalo Box 2: Nomad‘s story feels unreal. The choices, the failures, and eventual successes are all believable and hard-earned. And it is the hardness of the struggles that make the story’s final moments so rewarding.
Joe’s journey of self-loathing eventually takes him into the path of Chief. Chief is an immigrant fighter who is spurred on by memories of his son, and the dreams he gained when he saw “Gearless” Joe take on the world. When Chief’s community comes under fire from individuals who don’t want “their type” around Chief must win a megalo boxing tournament to raise the money to save his community. With Joe’s help, they might just win. It is this fight, and seeing the wounds it could mend if successful, that begins to set Joe on his path home.
Even once he begins on this path though, there are many fights to be had before it is completed. And none of these fights are easily won. Every step on the story’s path is earned, often only after repeated failures and missteps. The hardest moments in Megalo Box 2: Nomad‘s stories come when characters know what they need to do, but aren’t yet in the place to do it. It is a universal experience that has vexed all of us at some point in life. And it is always the absolute worst feeling to have.
The final element in Megalo Box 2: Nomad I haven’t touched on is Mac. His story comes in the back half of the season, and it is tricky to go into too much without giving serious spoilers. What I can say is that Mac is trying to come back from a serious injury so that he can live his dreams and be an example for his child. However, things outside of Mac’s control quickly make his comeback story far more complicated than it initially appears to be.
Delivering this deeply real story is a gorgeous visual presentation. Everything from the hard-hitting moments in the ring, to the heartbreaking struggles outside the ring, is delivered with all the intensity and emotion the show’s story requires of it. The world of Megalo Box is one of the most real animated worlds I have had the pleasure to spend time in, and that is largely thanks to the magnificent visual presentation.
When all is said and done, Megalo Box 2: Nomad delivers a phenomenal trio of tales that are woven into one magnificent journey. Joe’s struggle to redeem himself is the core of this story, but it is surrounded by the story’s of Chief and Mac which are, in their own ways, just as impactful, meaningful, and cheer-worthy as our old friend Joe’s.
Megalo Box 2: Nomad is streaming on Funimation.
Megalo Box 2: Nomad delivers a phenomenal trio of tales that are woven into one magnificent journey. Joe’s struggle to redeem himself is the core of this story, but it is surrounded by the story’s of Chief and Mac which are, in their own ways, just as impactful, meaningful, and cheer-worthy as our old friend Joe’s