Megalobox Episode 1: Junk Dog Could’ve Been a Contender…

…instead of a bum, which he is. (Sorry, it’s a bad On the Waterfront joke…so kudos to you if you got the reference.)

After waiting for my anime club to screen Megalobox and not seeing it due to someone’s schedule conflict, I ended up watching the first episode by myself. I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would though, so let’s take a look at how this episode uses its symbols to tread deeper themes.

Junk Dog’s motorbike stands for freedom, although it does still tether him to his past through how he zones out at the wheel and then trashes it…over and over again. Red streaks are used to trail vehicles, normally the motorbike but also Shirato’s car, in a way that’s not only easy on the eyes, but shows how the dark atmosphere is cut by technology in this future world.

Junk Dog himself stands for the oppressed. (Sure, I could say it outright – “he’s an underdog” – but that sounds a little too easy because it’s right in the name.) The colours used to represent him are khaki, orange and brown…but most importantly, they’re dull colours that don’t really stand out. Junk Dog’s on the shady side of everything, even though he’s posed as the “good guy”, and everything, from the battered Gear to the constant staining of blood on him, points to that. Of course, there’s more to the ring name than just that – dogs don’t just represent being beaten down in this world. They represent being tied up and held on to as well as being worse than human, which is a lot more oppressive than the life Junk Dog’s looking for. The name “Junk Dog” is both an insult to the person he is and the thing he’s trying to surpass – by knowing him with this name, we both meet him and yet, somehow he’s still behind a veil of sorts.

Our other main player Yukiko Shirato stands for modernity, future progress and basically everything Junk Dog’s trying to ruin as a non-citizen of his state. The fact she’s dressed in white and gold, colours that symbolise heaven (specifically angels) or alternatively science, make her interactions with our protagonist seem strange yet striking visually due to Junk Dog’s colours blending into the background. Shirato believes everything can be solved with money and her corporation’s name, which shows how sheltered she is and potentially hints at how she’s grown up. Likewise, Yuri is her lapdog (in ways Junk Dog points out) and takes a lot of themes out of her hands to use in his own scenes, which implies Shirato is just a figurehead. Thus, by letting Junk Dog go against Yuri, it’s a reversal of fate of the highest order – a catalyst of change, and undoubtedly a path to Megalonia.

Through the course of one episode, Junk Dog sets foot on the path to living his life to the fullest. Certainly, he’s had to scrape by for a living, but at least now he can do it with pride.

Sidebar: The soundtrack in this episode is also interesting. I mention this because prior to watching, I associated Megalobox with EDM due to 1) the technological, futuristic bent of the Gear/Shirato-led society and 2) the music video for a certain song (this song’s genre is apparently “alternative dance”, so I wasn’t too far off) having similar motifs to the ones Megalobox starts out with, so hearing a soundtrack that didn’t align with those preconceptions threw me for a small loop…but even though I wasn’t really paying attention to the soundtrack, I think the more important scenes in the show were characterised by an absence of music…

Even though I’m not watching this show weekly, I definitely want to get back to it someday. So, what do you think about Megalobox? (No spoilers for episode 2 and onwards, please!)

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