Joe Yuki, one of the coolest DJs in Shibuya, has a secret identity as the leader of gangs. Because of his traumatic childhood, he fiercely hates "weaklings" and sees winning as his only option in life. One night, an old man is being taunted by the kid known as "the human punching bag." The old man reminds Joe of his parents and childhood, and he uncontrollably challenges the kid to a fight. A fight in which he's defeated, and his pride is utterly shattered into pieces.
If you do somehow manage to check this out without paying for it (it’s six bucks on Amazon), then I must warn you that your time will be wasted.
Two boxers fight!
One’s blonde’s; the other’s a brunette!
Both guys are named Joe!
That right there is all you need to know about Joe vs Joe (and to hopefully forget about it) but before I obliterate what little appeal Joe vs Joe might possess, I would like to highlight the few aspects it didn’t completely screw up. First, I really appreciate how Joe vs Joe aspired to be something more than just
a mere boxing anime; they tried to include a psychological aspect to it as well. Sure, the minds behind this project ultimately failed but you have to award them for effort if nothing else. Joe vs Joe’s soundtrack is serviceable; it doesn’t stand out in any [articular f\fashion but at least it’s not unbearable. Returning to Joe vs Joe’s psychological aspect, the only episode that really managed to succeed in this area was the second, where the protagonist had to conquer his fear of boxing, and ultimately did. The climax of episode 2, more than anything else, poignantly captured the triumph of the human spirit (When the turning point of that fight happened, I could hear Kill la Kill’s “Don’t Lose Your Way” roaring through my head). Last but not least, the portrayal of Joe Yuuki, the blonde Joe, the series’ antagonist, is truly a work of art. At first, Joe embodies the “cool guy” stereotype, down to the sunglasses. He’s a man on top of the world and his mocking air of supremacy proves that he knows it. However, it is when Joe Yuuki is defeated in the series’ pilot that hidden layers of his character come into play. Scarred by a backstory of mommy issues, he learned early on that winning means everything and he will do anything it takes to achieve that. As the series progresses, the blonde Joe rapidly morphs from the cool-headed, jacket-clad jerk into a psychotic pugilist, his sadism fueled by revenge. Sure, Joe Yuuki was never perfect but he sure was realistic, which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast.
Now that I have Joe vs Joe’s best traits out of the way, it’s time to pull out the good old Rules of Shonen Handbook, which serves as a go-to guide for what a shonen must have. For the sake of your time (and because reviewing Joe vs Joe is already a waste of mine), I’ll only mention five of these rules. Sounds good to you? Ok then…
Shonen Rule No.1= The protagonist HAS to be an underdog at the beginning and nigh-unbeatable at the end
With that, let’s introduce Joe Akamine, the dark-haired Joe, the walking cliché to end all walking clichés. He’s a shy and humble young man afraid to hurt a fly. He’s a one-dimensional self-insert food lover that only desires to be everyone’s friend. Tell me you haven’t heard this before.
Shonen Rule No.2= Female characters are absolutely not allowed to be important in any way, shape, or form
There are only two female characters of note. One is Maki Takakura, who (of course) works as a seductive model, who (of course) is consumed by the red-headed tsundere stereotype that’s everywhere in anime these days, who (of course) shares a contrived, unrealistic romantic subplot with the blonde Joe. The other is Setsuko, a widowed housewife with a thing for the brunette Joe’s best friend (To describe Setsuko as “bland”, “shallow”, or “without dimensions” wouldn’t even come close to what she really is. Yay, originality!). I’m honestly shocked that Joe vs Joe passed the Bechdel Test.
Shonen Rule No.3= The protagonist MUST encounter an eccentric but skilled old guy that teaches him to fight
That would be Maki’s father. Nothing else is worth mentioning about him.
Shonen Rule No.4= Fighting HAS to be the focus
For a show that attempts being deep like Joe vs Joe, it’s really disappointing that, in essence, the lesson is that any conflict can be solved with a duel to the death. Even the execution of Joe vs Joe’s fights are worthy of an eye-roll, thanks to the subpar animation and character designs (barely surpassing the likes of Baki the Grappler), the half-hearted eyesore that is Joe vs Joe’s slow-motion effect, and the show’s painfully weak dialogue that emphasizes the cast’s lack of passion. The soothing theme song and the minor fights throughout Joe vs Joe serve to anticipate the fhinal showdown between the two Joes, which leads too………………….
Shonen Rule No.5= The hero and villain WILL fight at the very end
If you’re really wondering who wins, then you’re applying more effort to this series than its creators ever did. Oh, and that deus ex machina near the end was complete BULLSHIT!
*closes Rules of Shonen Handbook*
And that is Joe vs JOe in a nutshell. If you want to watch it, I won’t stop you but I recommend you go fishing instead, which I think is an equally boring task. Unlike this piece of trash, you never know what will happen.
There's better boxing series out there & sadly this may earn itself a bronze.
Supposedly, most of the story ideas are from Ikki Kajiwara (from the author of Ashita No Joe) but feels more like an incomplete script.
The story of Joe Vs Joe is divided between 3 characters being Joe Yuki, Joe Akamine, & Maki who each suffer from personal trauma of family issues, however the problem with the anime is that it doesn't resolve these issues.
While the boxing certainly helps play a part in the story it never becomes great or inspiring like Hajime No Ippo or Ashita No Joe. It certainly
contains some seinen elements but doesn't go all the way with it & takes two steps back to a corny battle of "have fun" vs "winning means everything". Shonen these such as can work if expressed properly but due to a lack of a conclusion & some Deus ex Machina, really hindered this short OVA to becoming a touching story of people facing their pasts & learning from it.
Not really recommendable, even though I did enjoy some things from it such as the soundtrack & the great English dub as we get to hear Dan Green & a couple of other familiar voices. It's best to stick with boxing classics such as Ashita No Joe & Hajime No Ippo.