Tomorrow’s Joe: The Movie – Celebrating this franchise’s 50th Anniversary

Alongside a lot of the discs that I got from Sakuracon, came this disc from Discotek the following week. I pre-ordered Tomorrow’s Joe: The Movie months ago to go with my plan of watching this movie before Megalobox started airing, because having knowledge of source material for something that is dedicated to a franchise’s fiftieth anniversary is something that is completely me. Yes, I know that this movie is just a recap of the original series’ 70 plus episodes compressed into two and a half hours of content, but that is perfectly fine for me. Part of that is because I have a hard time watching sports anime in the first place, so having a compressed version is ideal for me. (Does Haikyu have recap movies I can watch?) Another part is that this is the only legal part of the start of this franchise that I can even watch. I know that season two is on Crunchyroll right (I think), but I don’t have enough time in my life to watch that one either. Maybe I can find the second recap movie somewhere? Before jumping into the future, let’s talk about the present or this movie…



A very easy way to describe this film it’s anime rocky, but that is only partially correct. Yes, this a story about a character named Joe Yabuki gaining success while mastering boxing. The difference is that Tomorrow’s Joe is definitely more anime in nature. At the beginning of the film, Joe is just a thug on the streets. He didn’t pay attention to anyone, beat up people that got in his way, and was just this reckless force of nature that nobody could stop. Why? I think that this has to do with him not putting his energy into anything constructive, say something like boxing, and because he’s a complete jerk that doesn’t considered other people’s feelings. This movie/series is about this young buck finding somewhere to put his reckless energy in a constructive manner. Maybe boxing is something that he can easily get hurt or killed and maybe boxing is something that he tried to resist in the first place, but he found through circumstances that it’s something that he has a passion for. Rocky is an under-dog story; Tomorrow’s Joe is an underdog story and much more.

Characters                                                                                                                                                                        I did give away Joe Yabuki’s character in my last section, but Joe’s existence and bull headed nature effects the lives of the others around him. Through out this movie, he reinvigorates the lives of other people. Let’s talk about a couple of them.

Joe Rikiishi

Before Danpei Tange met Joe, he was just a drunk who wandered the streets. He’s a former boxer that left the field of boxing after losing one of his eyes. That’s why Danpei was in the state he was in until he met Joe. While Joe was being his rambunctious self, but in his drunk state, Danpei saw the potential Joe had. I should also mention the fact that Danpei was the only person in Joe’s backstory to beat him up, but Danpei saw a lot of attributes that would make Joe an excellent boxer during their fight. After that moment Danpei spent every waking moment, or at least whatever screen time he had, helping Joe to settle down. Danpei eventually gets his way with Joe and his own life in order as well.


Let’s also talk about Rikiishi, Joe’s rival for this movie. Before Joe met Rikiishi in the last prison he was sent to, I did mention that Joe was a big trouble maker, Rikiishi was just a husk of his former self. I mean, the guy actively punched an audience member after one of his matches half to death and was sent juvenielle detention center. Who wouldn’t be disillusioned from all of that? The second that these two laid their eyes on each other, they became rivals. Rikiishi and Joe eventually had a boxing rivalry and friendship in prison. Thus, his will of wanting to be a professional boxer was reignited. All this grew up and blew up to a very friendly degree, except for working his body past his limit, when both of them made it out of prison. Joe Yabuki is an inspirational force and a fun character.


This movie is from the early 1980’s, but it was still an abridged form of the original Tomorrow’s Joe tv series from the late sixties. This means that everything and feel are from the 1960’s. This obviously means cheap and not as detailed scenes along with some scenes having character’s details replaced as just colors during specific scenes. I suppose this is why early anime series have such well-defined character profiles. In scenes that have a lower amount of detail, you always knew who is who. I should also mention that the animation is older and quite lacking at times. Once again, I don’t know what you were expecting.

Still, this doesn’t mean that Tomorrow’s Joe wasn’t exciting. Oh man it was. This movie/tv series is incredible well directed. Even with all it’s still frames and old animation, you can feel every single impact that you see on screen. That means every boxing battle still has the impact that they were fully intended. I should also mention that this movie’s visuals are very cleaned up from the original. I was able to see some of the dirt that appeared on some of the cells and I loved this fact. Modern anime can be too clean, so it’s nice to see blatant imperfections here and there. It means that human hands made this thing after all.

One Complaint

The beginning of this movie is very slow and kind of repetitive. I mean, Joe was thrown from one prison to another and to another. Why? Because he was a big trouble maker of course. He had the capability to beat up whoever he felt like. I mean, the guy was able to escape a police station just by beating up everyone in his way. Before he ever showed up in prison, he had a massive rampage across the land that only one person could stop. One thing over and over and over again. I understand why showing Joe causing trouble was important, because that’s his backstory, but do we really need to show Joe jump from one prison to another? It doesn’t add anything to this movie besides having one mostly unimportant joke character that barely gets any focus appear in this film. Quite annoying.


If you are a sports anime fan, then you should watch this movie. Especially sense this is one of the earliest sports anime’s out there. I don’t know if it’s the first, because I don’t have the knowledge to say so, but it might be. Even if you aren’t a sports anime fan and want to understand some bit of anime history in a short amount of time, this two and half hour film is for you as well. It’s relatable and a lot of fun. An anime rocky with a little bit more meat attached to it. If you aren’t either of those, this movie is a very relatable story about somebody finding their passion in something. Give it a watch.

I’m glad I watched this movie, because I feel like I understand Megalo Box more than it just being yet another anime airing this season. There is a history behind this anime that I can feel a little more attached too now.. Megalo Box is something special and watching Tomorrow’s Joe: The Movie helped me to understand this.


(All pictures  are from searching google)

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  1. Ashita no Joe is one of my all time favorite anime series and it’s a shame most folks don’t give it a chance. Yeah, it’s a bit of a slow go in the beginning, but once you get past the first few episodes, that’s where the story really shines. I’ve seen the anime and watched all the films, and I will admit that I prefer the series to the films, only because the abridged film versions lose a lot of the character development present in the episodic format. Granted the anime is pretty slow in the beginning too, but, I suppose it’s all about preference.

    I always find it funny that people call Joe the anime Rocky, it was even marked in the west as Rocky Joe at one point… granted they do have similar stories and protagonists, but there is a fundamental difference in the feelings both series evoke in the viewer…

    I’m also following Megalo Box this season and there are a lot of subtle nods to Joe in the series so far, but it still manages to tell it’s own story, which as a fan of the original series I really appreciate.

    I know this was a super long comment, but I really love this series and it made my day to see this post in my Reader! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, no. I love super long comments. It means you are inspired and that’s a ok by me. I’m glad I made your day!

      I do realize that the films are going to cut out a lot from the original series, but I’m not that big of a sports anime an, even something older like this, so this is the best form of the franchise for me right now. I do want to give the series a try eventually, but I’m in between so many other things right now that it’s hard to jam in yet another thing. I do bet that it’s really good though.

      Megalo Box is so well crafted in what it’s executing. A stand alone thing, a nod to the series at a whole? Yup, it does all of that. It even feels like something that should have aired on Toonami in the early 2000’s, so there is nostalgia behind it as well. It’s just too good….


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