Final Review: Medaka Box

KUMAGAWA WHERE?

I’m going to start putting this disclaimer at the beginning of my review just so people are aware:

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Medaka Box is based off Nisio Isin’s 2009 ongoing manga. A series that was originally anticipated to have 48+ episodes due to 15 volumes of the manga already available yet later retracted as animation studio GAINAX has never done anything beyond 2 cours. Luckily, the series was announced to receive a second season in the near future. However, that news alone shall not affect the results of this review. This review will be solely on the material presented in these 12 episodes of Medaka Box. For those who don’t know, Nisio Isin is famous for his monogatari novels such as Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Katanagatari, etc… a number of which have already received anime adaptations. Keep in mind, however, that manga titles are not the same as light novels, especially content wise.

Having read the manga as well as been keeping up with it, I generally know the premise and setup for the show. The show starts off a lot like Sket Dance as many probably have noticed. It involves newly elected student council president, Medaka Kurokami, who will personally select her cabinet. Furthermore, she enjoys helping people or being close to people because she, herself, is not a “normal” human being. Yes, this show involves people who look human yet at the same time supernatural. The show really does make various attempts at trying to get to the more interesting aspects of the series by blowing through multiple “odd-job”/suggestion box arcs within the first half of the series and bringing together a majority of the student council cabinet with only the VP position remaining unfilled. The pacing is solid for the most part and does manage to get through the first major battle arc of the series where we see Medaka’s “true” nature as well what she can really do and why she is the person she is. However, due to the Sket Dance like introduction of the series, I’m sure this turned a lot of people off. It’s not a very good approach overall if it doesn’t do it in a Gintama like fashion and with only 12 episodes, it only hurt the series further.

Art wise was very irritating. The character designs didn’t sit right with me despite GAINAX’s staff feeling like the right people for the job when it comes to crazy series like this. SHAFT’s staff felt like it would have been more appropriate here but that may very well be a bias given their experience with the monogatari/Nisio Isin titles. Animation wise though was fine overall and fit the wacky nature that Medaka Box had. However in terms of quality, it’s far from what GAINAX is capable of. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a perfect example of what GAINAX is capable of and has been a while since GAINAX has even come remotely close to matching its quality (barring the Evangelion remake movies).

OP was Minami Kuribayashi is typical Minami Kuribayashi. Though in a season with a strong set of OP/ED themes, it’s not quite a top tier title. On a side note, I do, however, look forward to her OP theme for Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse when it premiers in a couple weeks. ED theme was pretty much garbage from Aki Toyosaki. I’ve heard better things from her and this is not one of them. Background music is okay but sound effects were great (as expected of GAINAX). Seiyuu wise was average. I was hoping they would cast a much more psychopathic cast of seiyuus for this show given its nature. Nevertheless, I’m actually very surprised how well Aki Toyosaki managed to handle Medaka’s role, especially given Toyosaki’s past experiences. Props to her for broadening her horizon.

Enjoyment? It does what it needs to do in 12 episodes barring the last episode’s failure. Not the most enjoyable watch but the series definitely does kick it up into higher gear as it moved towards the end. Hopefully the second season can keep up the momentum this series ended on to continue to propel itself forward. That said, it’s not as boring of a watch as Sket Dance is given the level of ridiculousness in this show but certainly not at the level something noteworthy at the moment.

Overall, the turnout of the series was inevitable. It did what it could in 12 episodes while faithfully following the source material. I’m a little disappointed, however that they didn’t let it run 2 cour first and then think about its future. It probably would have kept a lot more interest considering it got decent toward the end of the series.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Sket Dance premise is a major turnoff. Fanservice start is also a turnoff for some. Nothing interesting happens for a while.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): The cast is completely psychopathic and Medaka herself is a complete nutcase, which makes it hilarious.
  • Character Development (1/2): The series does a fairly decent job at expanding the student council background as it progresses. While there’s still a lack of depth, it’s there to some extent…or at least it tried.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Supporting cast kind of just disappears. At least in Sket Dance and Gintama characters reappear…then again the series is only 12 episodes so forget memorability.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Good job at getting the “odd-job” episodes out of the way as early as possible. Leads up nicely into the first big conflict of the series and properly concludes it leaving the audience wanting for more.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2):  This is Medaka Kurokami we’re talking about…she can do anything meaning everything is insanely possible meaning there is no such thing as reason in this show. It does not have to make logical sense. As for plausiblity… sure why not? It is just the “student council” anyways.
  • Conclusion (0/1): Nisio Isin wrote the script for the final episode. Unfortunately, it was really boring. Medaka Box without Medaka is just boring.
  • Total: 6/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Bland and boring. Some nice details from time to time though.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Interesting but poor art style. Stays somewhat faithful to the manga material but doesn’t make the characters feel crazy enough. They look more like delinquents across the board if anything else.
  • Fluidity (2/2): Those action scenes are great and filled with fantastic detail.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Similar to fluidity but could use some work on the visuals. Special effects felt cheap for a 2012 title, especially from GAINAX.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (0/2): I know GAINAX can do better than this and titles like FLCL and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann show this. This felt like a rushed piece of work and I’m surprised GAINAX got this title over SHAFT. It really deserved more love….then again if SHAFT got it, we may never have seen anything past episode 12 for about 2+ years if at all.
  • Total: 5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1.5/3): OP theme is good as expected of Minami Kuribayashi. ED theme is pretty much trash.
  • Background Music (1/2): Decent but nothing of particularly memorable value.
  • Sound Effects (2/2): Well done, especially during the action scenes/fights.
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Fair overall but cast could have brought out the psychotic emotions of certain characters more. Aki Toyosaki did an exceptional job as Medaka given Toyosaki’s previous roles.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Medaka’s random antics were amusing from time to time.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Sket Dance feel prevented hooking until the first major conflict began.
  • Presentation: (1/2): Again, the Sket Dance beginning. It’s not another Gintama unfortunately.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Could be re-watchable if the second season gets far enough in material. As a standalone, it has some content worth watching.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Nisio Isin fans should watch this title. It’s atypical Nisio Isin but at the same time typical.
  • Value (0/1): Not underrated and no value unless season 2 pulls the show together properly.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 6/10

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