Saturday, January 26, 2008

:anime & boxing: Ashita no/Tomorrow's/Champion Joe Finally Enters North America!

After a a bit of an "unofficial" first post, here we are with the first real "official" anime and boxing combo topic! And it's on a title that I had long wished to have covered for the first one. It's a tad late (this was announced yesterday), but it is welcomed news, nonetheless...

Ashita no Joe (translated to "Tomorrow's Joe"; released under many similar titles worldwide, ranging from "Rocky Joe" in Italy to "Champion Joe" in China, to just plain "Joe" in France) is a classic and revered manga and anime series in Japan. The latter almost single-handedly inspired the sports genre of Japanese animation in the years to follow and it still regularly appears among "favorites" and "best anime" lists to this day. Now, finally, North America can experience one of the cornerstones of anime (and one of the very few boxing titles around) when Tai Seng releases it here on March 25.

One issue though--it's only the compilation movie of the first season. However, it should be noted that it was initially created to help familiarize those who hadn't seen that part in order to prepare them for the second season. It will be released as "Champion Joe" (not too surprising given that it is the same title used in China and Tai Seng specializes in distributing Chinese movies) in a bilingual format (English and Japanese w/English subtitles). This in of itself is a surprise given some distributors' reluctance to place extra funds into creating a dub for an aged show, which most, at least in North America, are generally apathetic towards. I suppose that for something of its stature, it would be worth it.

I've only seen a few episodes of the television series, in which the fansub group that did those precious few have seemingly gone into inactivity, and read some of the chapters of its manga source material. But what I have experienced was great and it looks like an anime that boxing fans, and others, may want to keep their eyes out for. If successful, hopefully we may even see both seasons and the second compilation movie (of the second season) come here as well.

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