Welcome to what I call one of the most epic animes ever. Try to imagine a Japanese version of Rocky, and this is what you get. But I say Rocky is the American version of Ashita no Joe since Rocky came out in 1976, and the original manga of Ashita no Joe started in 1968 and ended in 1975. But anyway, they share the same charms and are both iconic to their respective nations in their owns rights. The story is reasonably paced and easy to follow, and tells a life story about a young man’s career and his struggles in and out of the ring. Initially, Joe was just a bum who had nothing but the clothes on his back. He created controversy that makes Mike Tyson look like Disneyland but yet he was down to earth and had this aura to him in his neighborhood in the slums of Tokyo as if he were Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines. Despite how you can describe Joe in a personal level, it’s bizarre to see him as a hero at the same time. I just find it unique that in real life, people can react the same way when some athlete publicly acts crazy and doesn’t apologize for it, and we don’t really scorn them to some capacity sometimes. The other characters are also unique and some may not be of significant use, but they still have some kind of overall unforgettable impact in advancing the story.
Yes, the art and animation are old and outdated which is something that many people today can’t really get past by which I can understand, but if you’re a type of person that can still appreciate the old Rocky movies or old movies in general, then this shouldn’t bother you. After all, Chiba Tetsuya, the artist of the manga still draws in that manner to this day and if he were to draw the manga all over again for today, he’d still do it the same way. But getting past the outdated style, it still does an excellent job of bringing out the expressions in the characters and their builds are well appropriate for their respective weight classes. It’s also interesting to note that with some characters, they will show age and change such as Joe, Nishi, and Noriko. They will look more refined, taller, and have different looking hair to symbolize that they are growing up which I found very unique. I also thought they did a great job of making Rikiishi look dehydrated to make it to Joe’s weight class at 118 pounds, bantamweight, when his best weight class is at 126 pounds, featherweight.
Sorry to bring up another Rocky comparison, but the fights are on the same epic level and Joe’s fighting style can be compared to that of the Rocky Balboa character himself. They are both in no ways text book boxers like Floyd Mayweather, Winky Wright, or Pernel Whitaker, and they are go for broke brawlers like Ricardo Mayorga, Rocky Marciano, Antonio Margarito, and Daniel Ponce De Leon. Every punch they throw, is intended to knock you out. Every fight in Ashita no Joe is truly different from the last and brings a different kind of flavors of intensity and will keep you on the edge of your seat. As I described Joe’s fighting style, sometimes you think you’re watching a street fight instead of a boxing match and I mean a brutal street fight. And the ending fight when Joe finally get his shot is one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever seen. Nothing, and I MEAN NOTHING in American, Japanese, Korean, or Mexican or whatever country’s animation or cinema industry can ever come near that fight except real life bouts such as the trilogy between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, or the Thrilla in Manila, and the final fight sets up for the best ending you can ever get.
The seiyuu cast is wonderfully top notch. Johnny’s singer Aoi Teruhiko does the voice of Joe Yabuki. He does an excellent job of making Joe sound like a smart ass. Ryuusei Nakao, the voice of Freeza in DBZ, in some versions has played Carlos Rivera and current J-Drama actor Kishibe Shiro does the voice of Nishi. Nishi always came across to me as a Japanese version of Lenny from Mice and Men at a physical level and his voice does come across in that manner also, but his way of speaking symbolizes his good intended heart as well. Unfortunately, some of the other cast members have now passed on but they created a legacy with this anime.
Naturally, the music is just something that defines the old school feel to it. A strange way to describe it that, it’s just so masculine and touching at the same time. It’s about conquering adversity and how it will make you a man. But other than that the soundtrack is just one of the passionate singing I’ve ever heard.
Well, I’m not sure if Hajime no Ippo fans will like this, but I say if you’re more of a fan of Rocky, than this is probably more for you, while Hajime no Ippo on the other hand, tends to have more of the charms and appeal of the Karate Kid. Many other animes and mangas since then have paid tribute to this wonderful classic by restating lines or re-enacting scenes from it such as episodes and chapters of GTO, Fushigi Yuugi, Berserk, FLCL, Ranma ½ and Urusei Yatsura. If you want to know impact this series has, when one of the characters died, the fans even held a funeral for him. That’s how big it was there, but unfortunately, Ashita no Joe never really made it to America until recently under the title Champion Joe. But to conclude this review, I will say one thing, REAL MEN WATCH ASHITA NO JOE.
Buen anime pero hay momentos pesados que hace que te aburras y con la mala animacion empeora el aburrimiento, pero por lo demas es bastante bueno