Yabuki Joe is left downhearted and hopeless after a certain tragic event. In attempt to put the past behind him, Joe leaves the gym behind and begins wandering. On his travels he comes across the likes of Wolf Kanagushi and Goromaki Gondo, men who unintentionally fan the dying embers inside him, leading him to putting his wanderings to an end. His return home puts Joe back on the path to boxing, but unknown to himself and his trainer, he now suffers deep-set issues holding him back from fighting. In attempt to quell those issues, Carlos Rivera, a world renowned boxer is invited from Venezuela to help Joe recover.
*This is a review of both seasons*
Ashita no Joe is a sports manga that ran in Shounen Magazine from 1967 to 1973, drawn by Kajiwara Ikki and written by Chiba Tetsuya. It tells the tale of 15-year-old orphan Yabuki Joe, as he rises up the ranks of boxing, coached by the alcoholic former boxer Danpei Tange; along the way, Joe meets many rivals, most notably, Tooru Rikishi, Joe’s one true equal. It was compiled into 20 tankobon volumes, and is impossible to find wallpapers and pictures for. It has two anime seasons, directed by Osamu Dezaki
Early on, Ashita no Joe has a very cartoony artstyle,
but, slowly, the art becomes more and more grounded to better reflect the darker arcs and themes. Despite the cartoony nature early on however, it is still well drawn and designed, so I don’t have problems with it.
The first season of the anime is very hit or miss visually. It’s usually rather cinematic, with a lot of the shots being interesting, but the fact is: it’s just not appealing to the eyes. The shading is very harsh, with a lot of the movement being stilted. The fights have flair, and are very fluid and well choreographed, which definitely gives it points. The second season is a vast improvement, with much more clean designs and far less stills. The music is solid, with a few stand out tracks. It uses a lot of whistling and strange instruments I really liked. My favorite song was "Joe Forever"
The pacing, either way you go, is very steady. Joe never has a rapid speed up, or an abrupt slow down. However, the manga is much faster than the anime overall, and does a few of the major arcs much better.
The characters in Tomorrow’s Joe all get ample screentime and development, with most of the rivals having a few volumes dedicated to them, and the side characters being here and there throughout the series. First there is Joe; an impulsive young orphan with tough skin but a burning passion for competition and striving for the top. It’s by pure happenstance that he picks boxing, as his strong body, quick wit and endless drive are perfect for any sport. He constantly gets in trouble because of his impulsive nature, especially in the early volumes, but his demeanor subtly changes throughout the series, to becoming someone who’s nearly unrecognizable to his former self, yet it’s still perfectly understandable how he got to that point. Next is Joe’s main rival, Rikishi. Rikishi is the opposite of Joe, a prodigy boxer who was destined to be the world champion, and tries to avoid confrontation when he can, which leads to him becoming a favorite of the spectators and fans, both in the manga and in reality. Danpei Tange is Joe’s coach, a washed up old boxer who quit boxing because of his permanent injuries, but tries to manipulate young men into becoming his boxing puppets, to live out his dreams vicariously.
The rest of the cast is more simple. The Mammoth, Nishi, is a close friend of Joe who is also a boxer. He’s a heavyweight, and is often there to cheer on Joe, or work as his second. He acts as a parallel to Joe a few times, as well. Yoko is a rich promoter who owns a large boxing gym, and acts as simultaneously the villain of the series, and also a sympathetic hero. There are also a few more rivals, like the charismatic Carlos, the violent Wolf and the family man Jose. Finally, Joe has a group of young kids who follow him around, none of which get too much screentime, but they are all characterized rather well, as I can describe quite a few of their personalities in detail.
The most prevalent theme expressed in Champion Joe is the darkness of humanity and the boxing industry. More than 3 of Joe’s characters are brutally crippled, both mentally and physically, by the brutality of the sport they play. Every single one of Joe’s characters has a strong darkside, especially the adults or people in positions of power. Even some of our heroes, like Danpei, are only doing seemingly selfless things because of ulterior motives. Ashita no Joe takes place in a shitty world, and it’s the most realistic and grim one of all: Our world.
Yet, the true theme of Joe is nothing like that. Despite all the darkness and depression surrounding it, Tomorrow's Joe is about hope. Hope in bettering yourself and others. Hope that you can change things. Hope for tomorrow.
The fights in Joe are actually rather exciting. The strategies used have real life application, and aren’t exposition dumped on you, which keeps the flow of the fight up while still maintaining clever tactics. There is always, with no exceptions, at least a 2 volume build up to a fight, one of them having a 7 volume build up, which always makes start of the fight seem like a climax within itself.
My one problem with Joe is that some arcs start off pretty repetitive. With one exception, they all start with Joe finding out who is opponent is, usually someone we haven’t met yet, and then we get a comically over the top show of their power, followed by Joe coming up with a plan that we don’t see until he actually uses it, rinse and repeat. Despite the repetition, each arc is different enough in its themes, and the new rivals are interesting enough, that it isn’t too much of a bother.
Lastly, I think that the ending of Tomorrow’s Joe is absolutely fantastic. It sums up the entire thematic point of the series in only 3 pages, does it subtly, and also brings the thunder and epicness in spades. Because there is quite a bit to say, explaining myself involves spoiling the ending, among other things. Spoilers for the rest of the review until the final verdict. So skip to that if you haven’t read Joe yet. SPOILER TIME:
Joe handing his gloves to Yoko is the culmination of the ideas of “passing the torch” expressed in the series, particularly by Rikishi. Danpei trying to wake Joe is the end of his arc, as, despite his best efforts, he can’t relight his flame. But, by far the most poignant image is the final one. Joe, dead, sitting his chair, smiling. His limp dead body, after such a brutal slaughter, obviously represents the brutality and depressing nature I mentioned. But the smile represents the hope that can always be found in that darkness. The light at the end of the tunnel that will always shine through, for a new tomorrow, where everyone can better themselves, even if it takes sacrifices. And after all the hurt and pain, Joe finally got his rematch with Rikishi…
Ashita no Joe, just like FLCL and Tatami Galaxy, breaks my scale. Beyond a 10. It’s unfortunately unlicensed in North America, but the second season of the anime is available for streaming on Crunchyroll. It’s FullmetalGhoul, and I will see ya next time.
Joe Yabuki is a young man from the slums who recently came out of juvy where he met his rival Toru Rikkishi. Sadly, this season spoils the conclusion of said rivalry as the events are featured in its 1970's 1st season which should be watch first. This sequel continues where the original anime left off giving a slight recap of events as it moves forward with the themes of the story. The many challenges Joe faces are the consequences for boxing & the permanent damage he delivers to his opponents along with Joe's own torment. Joe's life is full of grief, hope, & commitment to
the sport he loves. This is where Joe grows into a man who takes responsibility for his past misdeeds for the sake of his rivals, friends & family.
I definitely recommend watching its 1st season for its very crucial to the story the same way as the 1st season of Hajime no Ippo is to its sequels. This season was animated in 1980 with supreme animation that is movie quality budget also with great storytelling. Don't miss this anime!!!
Warning there are spoilers in the series, so I recommend that you finish the second season before reading this review.
This season starts off with Joe coming back from his journey after his fight with Rikishi and him making a comeback after it been six months of not fighting. The main focus is Joe overcoming Rikishi death, weight loss, Joe getting his wild side back, and punch drunk syndrome. The way it handles all the trails is really well done. It also handles a lot of stuff better than the first season since we get to see more grown with certain characters such as
Joe, Yohko, and Carlos. An interesting thing they do is instead starting off where the anime left off the manga. They decide to over write the last 25 episodes of the first series to start at the best part The Rise and The Fall of Joe Yabuki arc. This honestly the best part to start off for this season since it the beginning of the second part 2 of the series and this give the chance to make a better version of that the arc the original series end at. The reason has to the fact one of the main problems of the main series is that the anime was getting really close to the manga and some the stuff was anime original and they were running out of material to cover. It was surprise at the time that after about 10 years the season one end they decide to celebrate Ashita no Joe 10 year by giving us 2 movies and an anime series that cover the rest of the manga that never got adapted. So when the season 2 began they decide to fix that problem they had with the original by giving us a better version of that arc. The reason why is that we got see more of Joe struggled handle in a better way, better structure in certain moments, and the rivalry/friendship between Joe and Carlos. Joe struggle begin got to see how deeply Rikishi death affected him physical and mentally compare to the version of the first season where it only affected his physical. It because of this that the arc had more of an impact to it and make us feel bad for Je as he losing more fights and it seems their no hope off him overcoming Rikishi death. As for the rivalry/friendship between Joe and Carlos it way better handled then first season since we got to see interact more with each other and develop a bond. Their more conflict in this to since they both want to fight each other, but Carlos wanted to becoming a champion so has to decide between taking a risk of fight Joe or never get to settle the score with Joe. The next arc the season has it the Joe Weight Problem in this arc we get to Joe try to make weight for his first title match. In this arc we get to see the struggle Rikishi had to go through to become a bantamweight and we see Joe going through the same thing expect this time to stay as a bantam. Joe had go through the fact he sill grown and his puberty isn’t fully done yet. So Joe end ups forcing himself form growing because of the bantamweight class means to him. The third arc which Joe Wild Side arc deals with Joe needs to his wild side back before he faces the World champion. The last arc with is the Punch Drunk Syndrome arc deals with Joe going through Punch drunk and him making the decision to still fight Joe or to retire. All of the arcs deal with the most important trails for boxers and them trying to overcome them. This season proves that this is the most realistic Sport anime series ever made. All these arc were handle amazing and it shown that people who made season two here actually fans of the series which is rare thing to happen. Overall I give the plot a 10/10.
Joe Yabuki: In this season we get to see how much Joe has changed after his journey. He not as rude, more caring, and has become a man. He still is having same traits has he still the asshole we all love, but he more mature now. He also starts to show a nicer side when around his friends and Yohko. In this season Joe goes through a lot of struggles in boxing career. It is because of the struggle we start to start love Joe more now since he finally starts to change and feeling bad for him. The series shows use flashbacks on how Joe used to be alike and showing how much he has grown. Another thing I love more about Joe this season is how feeling change about boxing. At first he only doing to settle the score with Rikishi, but now he doing because he loves boxing. We get to see this by his still waiting to boxing even during his losing streak and the fact he could no longer punch in the temple. This gives the determination of waiting to overcome it no matter what. Another instance was when he was having trouble losing weight. During the episode Danpai wants to Joe to stop trying to lose weight Joe says the reason why I am want to stay a bantam is because of Wolf, Carlos, Jose Mendoza, and even Riksihi who died as a bantam weight. This shows how much he respects his rivals by staying in the class even though it might cost his own life. The third moment is when he tells Noriko the reason why he boxes which he loves doing it and he will do it until he becomes White Ashes. The last moment is he goes through punch drunk syndrome and him still decide to box even though he might end up becoming like Carlos or worse. These moments show that Joe truly loves boxing, respect his rivals, and he will box until the day he dies. We also get to see he is very thankfully for Danpei because of him he meets Rikishi. The last thing about him that as change is how much he cares about his friends. Such as the moment Nishi had to retire, Wolf, and the moment he found what happened to Carlos after he fought Jose. In the two moments we get to see how much this affects him and joe starts to blame himself as the reason why Carlos had punch drunk Syndrome, Overall Joe is easily the best anime character ever made and is truly shows because how much he has changed.
Carlos Rivera: Carlos who ranked number 6 in the world. We first see when Yohko goes to brings him to Japan in order to face the Japan best fighters. Carlos fights ends fighting the last opponents Joe lost to in reserve order. He is described as an actor because he doesn’t take his fight seriously. His main goal is to fight someone that make him go all out and to become a world champion. He starts to become a second Rikishi for Joe when they had their sparring match. In his sparring match we see Carlos finally found someone he can go all out in order to defeat him. It is after this moment Carlos wants an official match with him in order to settle the score. However, this problem because he was only schedule to only have three fights and has a match with Jose coming up, but he still to decide to fight Joe no matter and refuse to leave Japan until they settle the score. During the fight he was happy to finally to face someone he can toe to toe with. The best to describe him that he similar to Joe by the way the grow up and has the same wild side Joe has. Carlos shows us how dangerous punch drunk syndrome can be when we get to see after his fight with Jose he becomes a broken man and no longer the same. This very sad to see since he longer the same person anymore. Overall Carlos is one of the best characters in the series.
Tengei Danpai: In this season we get to how much he truly cares about Joe and how much his relationship with Joe has change. This is shown by him worrying about when Joe was overcoming his struggles. Danpai in the end wants what best for Joe even though Joe will agree with in the end. This shown when he told to Joe retire after he saw the suffering Joe had go through with overcoming Rikishi death and Joe losing weight. We side of Danpai where he doesn’t Joe to end up having the same fate that Riksihi had. However, Joe end up showing him his determination which the reason why Danpei still has faith in him no matter what. We see get to see more of the father role Danpai has since he his Joe father figure. Even after the moment Joe lost to Jose, he recognizes that Joe is a champion in these of Joe Japan champion and he the campion of everyone who lived in the slums. Overall it goes without a doubt that Danpai is easily one of the best master ever.
Nishi: In this season we get to the how close his friendship with Joe is and the struggle he has to go through. We get that he ends up retiring because of his injured hand. After this we see him starts to focus more on job and to get with him the girl of his dreams which is Noriko. Through we see that a side of him that we never saw before and we see of him making an important decision in his life which is him decide to give up boxing even though he loves it. We also get to see how close Joe and Nishi have become over the years to end up having a Manly friendship. Even though he stops boxing he still spars with Joe because want to help him out. In the end Nishi is one of the responsible men in the series and achieves his goal which is to end up marrying Noriko.
Wolf: In this season we see that Joe as start to forgive Joe for what he did to him. It is shown when he and Joe start to respect each more as boxers and as a person. We also see this when kept his promise to Jo when return the money he owns Joe and starts to change his life around in order to become a better person. Overall Wolf is now a more likable character in this season.
Yohko: In this season is a mysterious person. The reason why is she doing things and we don’t find out the reason until later on. An example of she brought Carlos Rivera with her from trip back to Venezuela. For him to fight Japanese fighters, but her true intentions are for Carlos to become Joe new rival. This shows that she is wants to help out overcome his struggles, but we don’t find the reason until the end. Over the course of the season she become the president of Shikari Gym in order to follow Joe career to the end. It also because Yohko connection with other people around the world Danpei ends up asking her to set up matches for when he no one left to face in Japan. Through the season you see why she does things she does is not only because she wants to help out Joe but she realizes that she in love with him. It is because of this she tries to stop Joe form fighting Jose but he doesn’t listen. She watches the fights and end up leaving because she could take seeing Joe hurt. Until she comebacks to her senses and that she needs to be there to support him. After the match Joe ends up giving gloves to her as a symbol which signifies something to remember him by and sorry I can’t be with you. Overall Yohko has become a better character and she without a doubt the best female character in the series.
Noriko: Noriko is what I describe as a girl who tries to decide who she rather be with Joe or Nishi. It is obvious that in the first series she loves Joe, but in the second season she realizes that can’t be with him after Joe tells her the reason why he boxes. It is at this moment she realizes that she can’t be with Joe since him getting hurt will touch for her to handle. It is because of this Noriko slowly develop feeling for Nishi and end ups deciding to marry him. Overall Noriko is probably the closet we ever get for a love struggle to happen and, but doesn’t go anywhere since this series isn’t a romance, but she the second best female character in the series.
Kim Yongpi: Kim is joe next major opponent Joe had to deal with after his fight with Carlos. Since Kim is the OBPF champion. Kim is very interesting since their isn’t much information about in the boxing world beside that he killed to opponents and his backstory. Kim is a fighting machine this describe the way he fights and the way he acts. Kim however has fear of blood and every time he see blood on his hands he tries to wash it even though no else can see it. He shows no sign of fear until he saw Joe keep getting back up every time he hits him which the reason why Joe win in the end. Overall Kim is character I wish we got to see more form him since has the most interesting backstory out of all the characters since he a little kid in the World War 2 and ended up killing his own father.
Jose Mendoza: Jose symbolize as a perfect in the sense he takes out his opponent with ease, treats his opponents with respect, has a family, and has a nice life style, but we realize that he actually has flaws. He servers as Joe ultimate opponent because of his strength and statue as a boxer. It shown his respect for his opponents when he refuses to Carlos on the poster for his next match. The other time was when he found he killed the WBC champion during their fight and tells Joe he fells sad. When he first sees him the series he has the most interest indroucting to a character. We see that he tells the reporter Joe Yabuki Where he came from and Where he going to go. This very interesting since this line means he want wants to Joe background and how far he going to get to in Boxing. We see that every time he shows up has this certain intimidation in him with the touch Joe shoulder and said Good Luck to the moment he called Joe a Yellow sheep. Even though he seems perfect boxers he does weakness such as can’t take too many punches and he can be drive to go crazy. When he has saw Joe was still alive in the 10th round and he wonders why Joe is still alive. This ends up driving Jose to the breaking point of insanity and starts to break the rules. Which surprise everyone in the crowed. In the end of the fight you see a broken man who knows he doesn’t deserve to win the fight. Especially when look on how he can even barely stand while Joe could still stand in the end of the fight. Overall Jose is definitely the one of the powerfully foe Joe has every face and the close thing we got to a good antagonist in the series.
Overall the series characters are simple one of the best things about this series because of interesting, entraining they can be and have great character development they have. I can’t talk about every character since that would take too long and I only want to talk about the ones that got the most focus in this season.
The animation has improved by a lot since the first season. This because of not only the 9 years’ difference between season 1 and season 2 ad that this had movie budget level. This the interesting since this probably the only series that has receive this level of quality and has no moments of bad animation. Ever scene in the series is beautifully, especially those screenshots that make good wallpapers. The only explanation I think of the reason why they give this season very good budget is because of the popularity and the impact it had in the anime industry. At the time the only series that can rival its popularity where Lupin the 3rd, Space Battleship Yamato, Cutie Honey, Shin Maginzer Z, and Astro Boy. So the animators know they have to give a season that everyone who was fan of Japanese animation something to remember. Out all the anime I have seen nothing rivals Ashita no Joe season 2 animation and it’s still holds out very well. Even though e getting new anime series every year none of animation they have is nothing compare to Ashita no Joe animation.
Music/Voice Acting 10/10
The soundtrack of the season has lots of jazz to it and its very emotional soundtrack especially since this the darkest portion of the series. The soundtrack fits very well by adding sad music when a sad moment and when they songs when the fight sense get very intense. All of the songs are very good and hard to choose which are mine favorites but if I had to choose it would have to be between Twilight, Forever Joe, and the ending theme of season 2. A lot of the roles have change for certain character because of the gap between the season 1 and 2. The voice that have change are Yohko, Danpai, Nishi, Noriko, Goromaki. However, is it hard to notice since they aren’t really a difference to their voices. Overall the music and the voice acting are very good.
The second season adapts all of part two of the manga version. However, there is two chapter they do skip since season one already cover that. One of the chapters where the one Joe decide to go take underground boxing since he go through a losing streak and could get any more opponents until he meet Carlos. The other one was the exhibition match Joe had Carlos which good that as removed since that was not needed. Like the first season they decide to has filler canon moments. These include filler fights and giving us more screen time for certain characters. It is because of these canon filler moments it gives us a realistic feel. Let me explain in the manga it felt strange on how Joe was ready to face the world champion even though he only won 18 fights versus the anime he only won 24 fights. This makes manga fell kind of rush so we get to see only joe important match while the anime we get to see all of the of them. This season also handles it characters better then manga version because we more time to see the them more and the get a chance to develop. This adaption fixes the problems that the manga and gives a better version of part 2. Overall season 2 is better than the manga because of it is more realistic, relationships between characters and the grown the character go through over the years.
When it comes to how much I enjoy season 2 it gives me the most enjoyment I have ever had. Like I said with the first season this is a series I can never get tired of watching. The characters, the story, and the atmosphere of it is something I always love about this series. The fights in the season have more intense moments than ever before which makes the fights more enjoyable. Out of all the fight that season 2 had my favorite would have to be Joe vs Carlos. The reason why is because they were equal, we got to see Carlos go all out, and both of them were enjoying the fight. Even though there are moments were it had to watch the series such as when we Carlos is no longer the same person anymore and the fact this season has the darkest moments in it these end help out with my enjoyment with the series. This series give me a feeling that no other series can give me. The way to describe this feeling is that it’s show that I never wanted to end and It’s a series I can never get tired of. Even when I already seen this series 3 times and still enjoy just as much I enjoy the first time I watch it.
Before I give my final thoughts on this season I need to address my thoughts about the ending of this series. The ending is leave to your own inception on how do you think what to Joe after his fight with Jose. However for me, I believe in the end Joe died which hard for me to say. The reason why I believe this is because the white ash line. During Joe conversation with Noriko he states this I won’t stop boxing until I turn in white ash and their no long a flame that burns. What this means that white ashes symbolism death. We see that in the scene of episode 47 Joe is white. This means he has turn into white ashes and he is now died. I feel that this the best for ending since this fits it the most. During the manga still going and Chiba left in charge on how series he thought of them making Joe spend his rest of his life with Yohko. This change when editor remind him of the conversation Joe had with Noriko. It at the moment he decides to make Joe turn into white ash. This fit more than original ending he had planned since fits the character Joe. It’s hard to imagine Joe retiring seeing how much he loves boxing. So let the dying symbolizes going on journey that he will come back form. Also ending was foreshadow very since how Joe was dealing with punch drunk syndrome, the white ash conversation, Noriko asking Joe he will come back after his fight with Jose, and the fact Joe fighting best person in the world. It is sad to see my favorite character of all time died in the end, but I could not ask for a better ending. Out of all the ending I have seen this without a doubt the best ending ever made.
Overall my thoughts on this season 2 is this what made the best series I have ever seen. It is because of this part is why this series is my favorite anime of all time and my favorite show. When I finish the season it gives me a void that took a year to get over. This series change my opinion on the sports genre because I watch this I though sports anime were boring, but that change when I saw how much I was enjoying this series. It also left me the biggest the impact I ever had while watching a show by letting feel so much emotions, the void, how attach I was to the characters and the story of it. Overall this season is the reason why Ashita no Joe will always be my favorite anime and favorite show of all time. I give season 2 a score of 10/10.