Welcome to Megalobox 2, the land of shades (even in sunless places for some reason), drugs, depression, wonky science, bird symbolism, and, of course, highly intense boxing with a bit of "sprinkles" on top.
I mean, I was told that this season would head towards a different direction compared to its predecessor but for real, I totally couldn't anticipate such dramatic shifts of atmosphere. In fact, I legit had no clue how they would plan to expand the story any further given how satisfyingly conclusive SS1's ending was.
But you know what, I'm always up for something daring, transparent, and gimmick-free, hence, I must say that Megalobox 2 nailed almost everything. Yes, "almost".
While it is true that I got caught up in an endless stream of hype, excitement, and a bit of manly emotional moments in M2, the amount of problem it propagates is, sadly, something I cannot overlook.
If I have to describe M2 in one word, it would be "over-saturated" (which is both a good and bad thing).
First thing first, the positive side. M2 focuses on polishing its world-building and refining the whole cast in many ways. I mean, the fancy boxing is still there, but at the same time, you get to see many different sides of it.
If SS1 followed the typical "reaching for the top" plotline, the consequences it has on anyone who dares to harbor this thought are manifested in SS2.
Admittedly, it is a very commendable move from the creator. From the way, the narrative was handled to a simple gesture or behavior of the characters and without the need of lengthy conversation whatsoever, the audience can immediately notice their thought process or struggle.
Nonetheless, what surprises me more is how well the cast was taken care of. Not only do the old line-up get decent development (not without flaws tho, will explain in a bit), the newly introduced ones are also treated with solid consideration and meticulous planning to give them a chance of catching up with the main cast.
To be more specific, there is foreshadowing from the start and a variety of dynamic interactions between the newcomers and the veterans to make the most out of their screentime, which is a pretty smart move from the creator, an easy win-win scenario.
Apart from that, M2 doesn't shy away from exploring some of the most "negative" themes in competition and the likes namely depression, self-sabotage, internal conflict, and chasing an unreachable star.
Though I cannot say this works all the time, and even if the story can get very predictable at some points all thanks to the classic tropes being put together, fact remains that this approach is a perfect match for the art style and tone that the Megalo series had decided on from the get-go.
That is not to say this series is devoid of "hope" whatsoever. The thing is that behind every man's action lies a powerful and totally reasonable drive that pushes them to the utmost limit.
And just as I mentioned above, though this is partly predictable and cliche, it doesn't quite overwrite any of the negative overtones as stated earlier, but more so going in tandem with them.
In short, the characters are not dependent on plot, and are "free" to move at their own pace, which is very cool and rarely seen in any kind of media let alone anime.
Now to the main complaints, though M2 worked hard to compensate its individual element by giving them a purpose or meaning, it only serves to backfire and result in quite of a wobbly mess when looking at a big picture.
For instance, why bother over-complicate the story to a generic evil corporation plot that barely has anything to do with what the series is about.
I mean don't get me wrong, I'm aware of what it is trying to achieve here, by showing that there are "consequences", there ought to be some trade-off when something positive happened.
However, just because there are consequences doesn't automatically make it a compelling development. I'd much preferred if they maintained the initial "you got your motivation and so do I
then somebody dies" kind of resolution instead of "let them fight for all I care why I'm pulling a 5D chess move behind the scene" 🤦
Not only that, often time I would find myself wondering why some of the characters even get this much attention even though they don't contribute much to the plot or, worse, attribute to rather cringe-worthy expositions.
Again, I'm aware of the fact that they're trying to give these characters some substance as a way to fine-tune their role in the story, but sadly not all of them had the right material so it only did the opposite, at least that's how I see it.
To be even more specific, "rational hatred" is arguably my least favorite approach when it comes to orchestrating a drama, so welp.
All said and done, I think M2 is still a very solid watch despite some of the issues that hindered my experience to certain degrees. Perhaps it's because not every season can you find an anime with a pretty unique style on top of pulling no punch in its brutal storytelling. If anything, the constant display of manly conversations and over-the-top hyped sequences are more than enough to cater to my need.