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.
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.
The original Ashita no Joe is often regarded as the anime medium's first true masterpiece - in spite of some key flaws that prevent it from truly being one. As such, it is exceptional more for its time than anything else. The same cannot be said, however, of Ashita no Joe 2, which is an improvement in almost every regard.
The most obvious reason for this is that when the original series was airing, the manga was not yet complete, resulting in a slow pace and an abundance of filler to avoid catching up with the source material. This sequel, however, aired long after the manga's
conclusion, resulting in it being far more concise and focused.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the first arc of the series, which covers the same story arc as last 25 episodes of the first series, following the events of the manga faithfully so as to preserve continuity (as the events of the two are significantly different in execution). If so inclined, one could skip directly from episode 54 of season 1 to episode 1 of season 2. The plot here is a marked improvement on the previous attempt, not only clocking in at half the length but also providing a significantly stronger character arc for Joe during his recovery from the events of season 1.
It also does a considerably better job of establishing Joe's bond with his new rival Carlos Rivera, an instantly lovable rogue with a similarly playful attitude and tragic backstory to Joe's, both of which immediately cement them as each other's counterparts. The only omissions are elements of Carlos' backstory specified only in the first series that fleshed Carlos out slightly more, but this isn't as important when compared to how well this series builds his chemistry with Joe.
The sequel has also made a tremendous improvement in all technical aspects. The first season was legendary director Osamu Dezaki at the start of his career, and while it was artistically rough around the edges, even then they showed an incredible artistic flair and introduced techniques never before seen in anime, pushing the envelope and crafting an aesthetic that made the show visually striking in spite of its technical limitations. This series shows Dezaki ten years later, at this point a seasoned professional who has over the last decade mastered his craft. Ashita no Joe 2 is one of the most visually spectacular anime of its era, with polished and fluid animation that nonetheless retains the rough, sketchy charm of its first season. The fight scenes have fantastic choreography, even going so far as to for each boxer to have a distinctive style of fighting. Even outside of the boxing matches, there's a clear emphasis placed on body language and character movement. The only major technical fault is in the voice acting - more specifically the Engrish. Most of the Engrish in this is to a surprisingly high standard with most extras and minor characters sounding plausibly American. The exception is José Mendoza, by far the most significant English-speaking character in the series, and the only one whose actor clearly does not speak a word of English despite it being José's only spoken language.
While corners are cut in the name of cheaper animation, as with all Dezaki anime this is achieved through the use of clever techniques that improve the dramatic presentation of the anime rather than marring it. Most common amongst them are repeating the same shot three times to great dramatic effect, use of obscuring shadows, and the "postcard memories" technique, wherein a detailed watercolour painting is used to portray dramatic moments in favour of animation. All of these contribute to the exceptional cinematography present throughout Ashita no Joe 2. The music in this series is similarly excellent, albeit dated, and with certain tracks being overused. However, Dezaki often does more with the absence of music, creating an eerie and tense atmosphere, often combined with his signature long takes and wide shots exemplifying his masterful cinematography.
The new filler-free approach that Ashita no Joe 2 takes leads to substantially better pacing than the original, keeping an exciting and fast pace compared to the slow burn of the original - and the presence of Joe's fanclub of children has been significantly reduced as a (welcome) result. There is a slight lull in the middle episodes, however - some of this is well-utilized for character development, but there is a brief stretch of its run in which Joe faces a series of opponents who contribute little to nothing to the plot and are noticeably flat characters compared to the usual high standard this series keeps - most notably Harimao, who was awful in every way, sticking out especially due to how over-the-top he is both in personality and boxing style - he feels like he comes from another show entirely.
He is the exception, however, as Joe's supporting cast is otherwise excellent. Along with Carlos, we are also introduced to several other new rival boxers, most notably Kim Yong-bu (the debut role of now-legendary seiyuu Norio Wakamoto) and José Mendoza (who is built up from early on to be, in essence, the final boss of Ashita no Joe).
But the standout is, of course, still Yabuki Joe himself. Joe's character arc is the pinnacle of Ashita no Joe's primary thematic focus - character growth. It's remarkable to see Joe go from where he was at the start of season 1 to where he is at the end - the changes in how he views himself, his friends, and boxing. Even moreso because of how subtle his development is, being slow enough as to never seem forced whilst still being a clear and pronounced change.
Ashita no Joe 2 is by no means perfect - along with a few aforementioned flaws, there is a major plothole regarding Joe's weight class, his struggle with which is a major plot point during the Kim Yong-bu arc but which is immediately dropped without explanation the moment this plot thread is over. However, in spite of its imperfections, Ashita no Joe is absolutely worthy of its legacy. It's a compelling story with exceptional directing and characterization, one that pushed the bar for what anime was capable of and left a tremendous cultural impact - the final shot of the series going on to be perhaps the single most parodied and referenced scene in anime history.