The Hummingbird and the Nomad
*spoiler-lite review. Spoilers of Season 1 will be given. There is no getting around it.*
"The winged one carries the wingless one, and the wingless one blesses the winged one."
Wherever you may wander, and whatever may happen, all roads lead back home. But sometimes, you need a guide to lead you there. Life will provide this guide to you in some form. For some, it takes the form of whatever you have left after the journey of life; whatever you have to go back to.
While Megalo Box season one was the perfect example of a hero's journey, Megalo Box: Nomad is the embodiment of the journey back home after a hero has gotten lost.
After the death of a loved one, it's easy to place blame on the nearest thing, especially if that thing is yourself. It can be part of the grieving process, but it can also be destructive. After Joe and team Nowhere lose their coach to cancer, Joe leaves town with a heaping helping of guilt, searching for a reason to live on the streets and drowning himself in the sport of Megalo Boxing, painkillers, and self-pity, while those he left behind find the will to move on, some taking on more responsibility than they should, while the world moves on.
On the way, Joe comes across a former boxer named Chief, who is appropriately the chief of a small camp of immagrants, which kickstarts the continuation of his character arc, and the rest of the anime. Chief is an amazing character to be introduced and he is a great representation about what's different about this season from last season.
Megalo Box season one was a tremendous example of an anime about following your dreams and being determined to live for your passions despite the threat of death, in a dangerous and unforgiving world. But this season is much more somber and realistic. Instead of focusing on the more hip-hop type of culture of Megalo Box's main city, the focus switches to latin american culture, featuring a more hispanic cast in characters like Chief, Mac, and their families, and it also explores their culture and their individual stories in depth, which perfectly compliment Joe's own journey.
I can't praise the characters enough in this season, the ones from last season get more development and gain tremendous depth, not limited to Joe. Sachio goes through a lot of growth as well, and the newly introduced Mac's story is one of the most tragic and compelling I've ever seen. But it never strays from this main theme, every main character, no matter who they are in this show, is a former hero turned Nomad, who needs to be guided home in some fashion, a point the story's poem about the hummingbird puts into perspective at every turn.
The nomad is stopped on his journey by a hummingbird, and is offered to listen to the hummingbird's song. The nomad says he's lost everything, and has no reason to live, but with each meeting, the hummingbird reminds the nomad of what he has left, hoping to make him realize all the reasons he has to keep living and not lose what he still has.
What you end up with is a very poingnant message about "what you have left" after loss and tragedy, and what to do with that, and all the steps it takes to realize that. It's absolutely beautiful, and it's a unique journey that most shows don't follow.
This season takes what it had before and turns it all on its head. There is no sequelitis here, everything is used in a completely new fashion and no ground is retread. This is exactly what a sequel should be, especially if a story has already "concluded". There is nothing "cash grab" about this season, and that's one of the best things you can really say about a second season in my opinion. It's incredibly satisfying when all possible themes for a show are explored in different seasons and they both end on fitting conclusions.
The music is really what makes this season and ties everything together. The chillhop music is still there, but combined with a soundtrack more appropriate for the hispanic cultural focus, acoustic guitars and spanish lyrics, ect. This season has gorgeous music and I want it injected into my veins NOW. It's just so good, and it wouldn't be the same without it. That's the sign of a good OST, that you can't imagine the show without it. It completes the atmosphere.
The animation is of course great, TMS knocking it out of the park as they did with season one, and the artstyle never strays from that stylistic classic feeling which made some fans drawn to it, and pushed other more "contemporary" anime fans away, unfortunately. But I respect the commitment to the retro styled soft lines and colors. It just feels so warm and comforting visually.
It also fits the story very well. This anime's story and characters wouldn't fit well with a "cleaner" artstyle. The roughness and fuzziness adds a lot to the feel of the whole thing, and completes it. The backgrounds are very "dirty" feeling, which is awesome.
There's not many comparisons I can make to the feeling of watching this anime, except "bittersweet" and "real" would well describe it.
I don't like just giving out 10's, unless I can't find a single flaw in an anime, and it does everything it set out to do perfectly. Well, no matter how hard I try, I just can't find a single reason not to give this brilliant, touching anime a 10/10. Seriously, watch it, and if you haven't watched season one, watch that too. The two seasons complete each other amazingly.