Faster than several events supposedly taking place at the same time More powerful than strings that can hold several tons of weight Able to leap fleeing track team members in a single bound This strange visitor from class 13 The Super Saiyan of our school Student Council President Medaka Kurokami Empowered with athletic superiority possessing remarkable physical strength Medaka fights a neverending battle for truth justice and the pretentious appeal to the innate goodness inside of every living being Disguised as a normal teenage girl and aided by the friends shes met along the way Medaka will stop at nothing to fulfill the hopes and dreams of any student bold enough to leave a request in her suggestion box In one of the most shocking upsets and complete landslides in Sandbox Academy history the newest Student Council president is surprisingly a first year student named Medaka Kurokami Or if you translate it Black Spirit. While most high schools would elect a student to each individual spot on their student council but in this case Medaka wastes no time occupying every slot herself handing them out to people she interacts with whenever she meets somebody who she thinks will perform them well. She gives the first spot to her childhood friend Zenkichi Hitoyoshi and with his help she immediately pledges to use him in her quest to respond to every request that the student body gives her. But can even the overpowered Medaka stretch herself thin enough to keep to this promise without breaking or has she broken off more than she can chew? Medaka Box was animated by Do I need to say it? I mean even if youre not reading this on my blog during Studio Gainax Month it doesnt take long to figure out who the studio behind this show is. If the color palette and intense focus on female fanservice dont tip you off the visual direction certainly will. While Gainax isnt normally one to use obscure angles and filters to distract from lengthy dialogue it does have a nasty habit of using overthetop absurd visuals steeped in obvious metaphor to accentuate whats supposed to be more thrilling dialogue. Medakas speeches to people shes reprimanded can often make her appeal Godlike as they shrink away in her presence. Her power over others is also often expressed through the use of cheesy special effects like light beams and explosions both of which happen digitally. These effects are pretty cool looking but unfortunately its obvious that the bulk of the budget was spent on them. Thats not to say the animation is ever bad though Even at its worst its at least executed passably. These two elements of the aesthetic stand in stark contrast to each other for the first two thirds of the series but when they finally collide in the final act the animation becomes pure spectacle that could rival even Dragonball Z in terms of the presentation and scale of the destruction. Its nothing to call home about overall but its a pretty good looking show and that last third alone earns serious points from me on the visual side of things. What I cant speak so highly of is the character designs. The characters look like And I cant believe Im saying this A cross between Code Geass and Haruhi Suzumiya. Theyre overdesigned detailed in the weirdest of ways and have haircuts that are somehow dull while still being strangelooking enough to rival Yugioh. Theres really only one character in the show who I didnt have a hard time looking at but that was back when she had interesting expressions that hinted at inner turmoil all of which disappeared when she donned some fetish glasses and joined the council. The music once again isnt really bad but its pretty damn forgettable. The few times I did notice it it was because it was overpowering and in some cases even distracted from the dialogue. When I try to listen to the individual tracks on theres something about the synchronizing and the beat that just gives me a headache. This sentiment is carried through to the opening. Happy Crazy Box by Kuribayashi Minami is a moderately catchy song but the visuals are so standard and effortless that I only really watched them once or twice. Its a standard Shounen opening by every possible definition. You get godlike images of the main character slightly more casual images of her clubmates and each villain taking their turn to pose and mug for the camera. On the one hand this opening might spoil whos going to be joining the council throughout the series but on the other hand theyre all fairly easy to spot through attention to the writing alone. The English dub comes to us straight from Sentai Filmworks care of ADR Director Stephen Foster Great Are we getting an inappropriate rewrite that effectively kills the show or a faithfultotheletter translation that sounds horrible and doesnt even both matching the characters lip flaps? While neither option is particularly inviting Im still going to say its unfortunately the second one. As I mentioned in my review of Kill Me Baby Foster had a nasty habit of trying to avoid critics of his writing by not writing at all Just putting the direct English translations on screen and letting his actors wing it. Some of them try to make the speech look natural A few of the side characters manage to pull it off from time to time And some even try to reword their lines but these efforts accomplish little and never last long. Fosters laziness hits in other ways as well like how the ending credits are never updated in any episode. The five most important actors are listed respectfully and then every single other name involved is listed below. In every episode. The acting for the most part isnt much better. Ive always found Shelley CalleneBlack to be a very limited actor as shes a really talented performer when shes playing a few certain types of characters Ill spare you the list but teenage girl isnt on it. Shes even more awkward here than she was in Clannad if you can believe it. The same sentiment applies to Andrew Love who does a great job playing adults and tough people Like for example he was awesome in Log Horizon. So was Ms. Black incidentally. But as the Lego brick male lead of a romantic comedy he just doesnt bring anything to the role that a better actor couldnt trump him on. Hillary Haag plays a charming third wheel and is one of the few actors who really seems to be trying to make the awkwardly translated dialogue work. Greg Ayres is the other one having a great time in his villainous role without even bothering to look for depth or complexity that just isnt there. Tyler Galindo and Maggie Flecknoe round out the rest of the Student Council but if Im being honest they both did a pretty terrible job. Galindo was stale and lifeless while Flecknoe was just all over the place. I know that in both cases you could say the same thing about their characters but still they should have at least tried to rise above the material they were given like Ayres Haag and Monica Rial did. I actually did listen to a few episodes in Japanese with subtitles and I highly recommend that track instead of the dub. Yuki Ono and Aki Toyosaki sound a lot more natural and down to earth than Love and Black do and as much as I enjoyed Greg Ayres as a villain the legendary Romi Park You know the Seiyuu of Edward Elric? Just sounds as slimy and bloodthirsty as a talking snake in the same role. Its easily suboverdub which is kind of unfortunate because considering the ridiculous nature of the series I honestly wish Foster had gone with the first of the two options I listed earlier Rude outlandish dialogue that offends everybody while making tongueincheek jokes about its own story especially since this story Ehhehm This story Say who here loves the holiday sale? I do I send Rightstuf obscene amounts of my disposable income in exchange for heavily discounted anime every year. I ordered a bunch of titles last year most of which Ive never seen before and among them was a quaint little title that I quickly realized was part of the eclectic school club genre A genre that was inspired by Haruhi Suzumiya before getting warped by harem influences. I went in with apprehensions but was pleasantly surprised by the engaging dialogue rich characters and what felt like a genuine attempt to deepen the main relationships and flesh out some of the side characters. It ultimately failed to live up to its lofty ambitions and escape the trappings of its genre but I still found it to be a breath of fresh air compared to similar titles like Haganai and Oreshura. That title Was not Medaka Box. It was My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. In contrast Medaka Box didnt do its genre ANY favors. To start with one of the first observations I made about this series That it just refused to try to prove me wrong on Is that it had at most two brain cells and that they were completely incapable of rubbing up against each other long enough to form a coherent thought. Yes Ive called anime stupid before but this is on an entirely different level. Every single moment in this series from the plot twists to the decisions the characters make to the occasional details of backstory is more stupid than the last. To start lets take a quick glance at the characters. The title character Medaka is so perfect at everything she does that it wont take you very long to start thinking she isnt really human. She can run faster than the best member of the Track and Field team jumping dozens of feet in the air while doing it. She can stand on a pair of water wings in the middle of the pool without falling into the water she won millions of dollars by answering the worlds hardest math problem when she was in middle school and she can even strike multiple kendo opponents at once while a friend insists that shes human. Almost everything she does is explained to the audience via exposition from Hitoyoshi about why it makes sense according to her backstory. Thats pretty much the only reason he exists by the way. Oh and of course Medaka is such a perfect fantasy girlfriend Excuse me main character that shes also an exhibitionist who doesnt mind constantly stripping down to her undies just for the hell of it. Even when a character is interesting upon their introduction they quickly either lose all of their unique qualities or just fade into the background but leaving aside the characters and their development the writing of this series is just unsalvageble. Every single turn of the plot is random often to the point of being selfcontradictory. To be honest I wasnt sure what example from the story I would use to demonstrate just how terribly written it is as every time I thought Id picked a winner a new example would pop up stunning the shit out of me. I could not go a single episode without asking some variety of What the fuck? or Are you kidding me? or to my ever increasing chagrin They can NOT be that stupid. You know what? Instead of just picking one example Im going to go with three. Yup. Im giving you some bonus nitpicking you special people you. Dont ever say I dont love you. To start lets examine just how much ADHD went into the thought process behind this show by examining a single episode No it was half of an episode Im pretty sure. We hear Medaka proclaim that her goal is to fulfill every request she gets to the letter without any regard to the consequences and already I cant even tell you how many ways this promise could be abuse but lets get back on topic. A girl hires her to help her write a love letter claiming she has bad handwriting. Medaka hands this job off to one of her council members who then writes the entire letter for the client and when Medaka hears about this shes pretty disappointed Not by the fact that he didnt go the obvious route of simply dictating the letter but because the letter was in his words and thus would be meaningless to the receiver. So how does he rectify his mistake? I am not kidding about this He teaches the client to have better handwriting. So this entire plot about coming up with your own words that are true to your heart is spawned from a request for HANDWRITING advice. Which is great because if they performed her request to the letter there might have been long term consequences We cant have that Oh but it gets better. In a later episode Medaka and her council is trying to figure out how to allocate the schools club funds to all the various school clubs. Their solution? Instead of analyzing the situation and coming up with a smart plan Remember this chick won millions by answering an impossible math problem They decide to hold an athletics festival in the middle of a fucking swimming pool while very vaguely stating that the results will decide the budget. Now some people complain that the swimming club will have an unfair advantage but thats okay because the student council is entering too just to fight them Medaka says shell triple the budget of any team that surpasses hers out of her own pocket but the details dont matter Youre supposed to be focusing on the fact that the swim team is using reckless tactics to win because they all grew up poor and they love money. They chose an unsafe way to swim to the bottom of an overtwentyfoot pool and grabbing balls to throw in the weird sports fest basket thingies? Oh no they should have been rapidly submerging and resurfacing the safe way Whats that? During the threelegged race through the shallow pool they swam kicking in harmony? Thats just dangerous And then you have to get used to the idea that this whole debacle was written just to give them an excuse to have Medaka kiss the female swimmer. Oh and she gets recruited to the council but dont worry we never have to explore her troubled backstory She loses almost all personality after this. But you know what? Those examples are just kid stuff. Those arent all that bad. Yeah theyre incredibly freaking stupid and make no recognizeable version of sense but those ultimately amount to little more than light complaints. If a stupid show that couldnt stay focused on its own plot was an immediate turnoff for me I wouldnt have such a big soft spot for Angel Beats. No to truly earn my fury this show would have to royally shoot itself in the foot Which it soundly does. So were coming to the third example and I have to warn you its a bit of a spoiler but only a bit. Its probably the most significant event in the entire series in my opinion but it isnt treated as anything more than the springboard for the shows climax so Im not giving too much away by telling you about it. Still youve been warned. Towards the end of the show the Student council has a runin with the disciplinary committee who are upset about the councils wardrobe adjustments. She hounds them for a bit before realizing that she can just use the suggestion box to solve the problemI wont tell you what she requests just know that its NOT I request the Student Council dress more conservatively and shes eventually won over. Well the Chairman of the committee is a lot more hardcore than her. Enter Greg Ayres villain who gets called to the schools orchestra club to deal with a noise complaint and and He kills them. Yup. Thats all there is to it. He slaughters all but two of them and the fact that hes a fucking mass murderer just gets glossed over for the rest of the three episode climax. There have been plenty of anime that I thought should have in some way involved the police. Characters take illegal actions and I think Call the police problem solved. This is the first character Ive ever seen thats gotten away with literally murdering a whole club room full of teenaged boys and girls who have families and friends and HOW THE FUCK DOES THIS NOT GET MENTIONED AGAIN? This was the moment that I went from nitpicking to pass the time to full on hating the show and all it represented and oh yeah while were here lets talk about what it was that it represented. The overall message of Medaka box Yes theres a message its trying to tell us and if Medaka constantly getting called pretentious isnt a good enough clue let me help you. The message of Medaka box is that there is innate goodness in all people and no matter what they do No matter what the crime no matter what their behavior no matter how sick and revolting they are You shouldnt punish them because through kindness and understanding they can be reformed. Scratch that I know EXACTLY why the mass murder is never brought up again The sooner you forget about it the less youll be compelled to ask if the families of all those slaughtered would be satisfied in knowing that the kid who left them grieving was beaten in battle reformed and then recruited to be the new vice president of the student council instead of becoming somebodys lovely bunkmate in prison. Oops that was a spoiler but you know what? Heres all you need to know about this show in order to spoil the whole damn thing: Medaka is the mouthpiece of an extremely naive and ignorant worldview and everything that happens no matter how unlikely the event or how incomprehensible the decision is made to support her grandstanding in one way or another. Theres a chance she might get proven wrong in season 2 but I dont know and I never will know because Im never touching this series again with a sixty foot pole. Medaka Box is available from Sentai Filmworks in both DVD and Bluray formats both of which are pretty expensive if you dont find a good sale on them. The manga by author Nisioisin and illustrator Akira Akatsuki is available stateside through its run in Shounen Jump but has unfortunately not been released in standalone paperback yet. Unless of course you speak Spanish or French. A Second season which is called Medaka Box Abnormal is also available from Sentai Filmworks and from what Ive heard it runs on a premise that may actually redeem Medakas character The fact that shes not human. Ive been doing Studio Gainax month for three years now and in that time Ive come across some huge disappointments. I wasnt a fan of Abenobashi His and Her circumstances or Stella Womens Academy but Medaka Box is easily the worst Gainax show Ive ever seen. I didnt enjoy a single second of this shallow excuse for fanservice exploitation. I might have been more lenient on it if it were just stupid and never left the boundaries of being laughably bad but it didnt It used a pointlessly grimdark tonal shift at the top of its third act to suddenly start pretending to take itself seriously just because it felt it had to. I dont know what it was building to and I dont care. I give Medaka Box a 1/10 and the only reason Im giving it that much is because the animation was decent and despite that ugly thing they did the final act did have a lot of neat enjoyable action in it. Other than that Im done with this.
10 /100
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