From what I’ve read Tomorrow’s Joe was an early example of a widely serialised manga that touched a real nerve with a large section of society in Japan. The release of this series coincided with an increase in prosperity following their defeat in World War II, so a number of readers began to sympathise with the story of this street orphan’s ascent through boxing.
The central character is Joe – a delinquent kid who bounced from orphanage to orphanage and has a natural ability to box. He has a hatred of authority and generally anyone who tells him what to do and is pretty damned rude. You can probably start to discern that I didn’t like him as a character.
Having recently watched Hajime no Ippo it is astounding how different the characters of Joe and Ippo are. There is only 20 years between the release of these two manga series and yet the type of boxing protagonist is the polar opposite – other than the fact that they are both stories about the ascension of an underdog.
Where Ippo was kind-hearted, shy and a bit goofy, Joe is selfish and naturally violent. Sure the circumstances surrounding both of their upbringings are different, but it’s not as if Ippo cane from privileged stock.
The other stark-contrast is that where Ippo is eager to learn and never stops practicing, Joe is initially work-shy and has to be tricked into learning how to harness his potential. I say initially… as eventually he starts to take it seriously.
Boxing becomes something other than a vendetta against one of his former prison inmates (oh did I mention Joe ended up in prison?). However by this point my interest in the manga started to wain. I had hit my minimum read and I was glad to be giving this up. When I dislike a protagonist that is pretty much it for me and Tomorrow’s Joe just never struck a chord with me. Maybe I’ll get it more when I watch the anime, but for now I am happy to stop reading this.
I now only have a few titles left on both the manga and anime list. Since it is the hub’s choice on which comic to read next I have no idea what to expect… but I know that I will be soon experiencing JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure when it is my choice again.