Posted by psgels on 5 January 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

Poor Medaka Box. Its second season had the worst timing imaginable. Here’s the thing: for the past few years, me and Shounen Jump Adaptations didn’t have the best relationship. Sure, there was the occasional gem with Level E, but most series got on my nerves like no other by taking so many ages to actually get somewhere. There are so many of these adaptation that are paced out too long in order to keep the story going in their constant fear of getting cancelled. The first season of Medaka Box actually took advantage of that by actually doing something interesting within the first 13 episodes. It didn’t take ages to change and move somewhere. There was variety.

And then the past autumn season happened. And the juggernauts of Hunter x Hunter and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure came and challenged just about every boundary of the shounen genre, showing among the best of what Shounen Jump has to offer. And Medaka Box tried to air is second season alongside those two. Yeah, it paled in comparison, unfortunately.

The first season of Medaka Box was a generic school series that at a certain point goes over 9000. The second season is different, though: it consists out of a collection of fights between people with all sorts of powers. You can see that a lot of thought was put into these powers, how they work and how they can be beaten. It goes further than most shounen fighting series do, and you can see that the series has quite a bit of fun in analyzing all of these powers along with their stories. And that’s about all this series does.

The problem with this series, like most other nisiOisin’s works, is that the balance is lost. The problem is that this series spends so much time and focus at talking and explaining how all these powers work, that it forgets to put focus on the rest. This show aims to break some traditions of the shounen jump genre with how elaborate these powers, but at the same time it also falls in the same pitfalls by having way too many characters pointlessly talking and analyzing the fight.

And the fights themselves… it’s not like they are of the kind that remain interesting for 12 episodes. The first season had novelty: the characters did other things than just fighting. Here, they don’t and it becomes obvious that Gainax didn’t put their top people on this series: for their standards, the animation is rather bland, and feels too much like they directly copied and pasted manga panels and moved a few things here and there, that ends up looking a bit bland.

Then here is another thing: the characters of this series have their wrong priorities.I mean, this series understands that characters need to have back-stories, and those stories are indeed often insightful and all. The show is not good at all at fleshing out its characters, though: most characters jus have one or two sides to them. They’re not fun to watch because all of them are defined by their powers and backstories, instead of their actions, if that makes any sense.

I am indeed a tsundere for nisiOisin: up till now despite my annoyances of him, I have watched every adaptation of his that came out so far, because I do think that he is a talented writer. The tsun in me though is starting to win terrain because of how unbalanced all of his stories are. I really care about the big picture how all the small pieces are used together. I’m missing that a lot with his series due to the obsessive focus he puts on his dialogue and Medaka Box is the same: it had some very interesting ideas. But did I enjoy myself for the most part with this series? Well, only the final two episodes really ended up catching my attention to be honest, but they did not succeed in making up for the rest of the episodes, especially because this season was supposed to be the part where the story really started, and to be honest I prefer the variety of the first season over the second.

Storytelling: 7.5/10 – Lots of dialogue that is well-written, but also gets in the way of the rest of the show.
Characters: 7/10 – They’re not interesting, they have backgrounds, but aren’t fleshed out enough.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Gainax does a decent job. Nothing outstanding, but nothing bad either.
Setting: 8/10 – Lots of interesting ideas being explored. Not interesting enough to really lift the series to a higher level, though.

Suggestions:
Law of Ueki << This show is pretty much Medaka Box if it did focus on actually being fun. Yes, this my favorite comedy ever. That's a big difference there...
- Hunter X Hunter
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

10 Responses

  1. Merctrack says:

    The thing with Medaka Box is that it started as a sort of episodic school story, then suffered in the ratings and tried to be a faux Jojo (around this arc), then decided it didn’t care and tried to be a parody of a faux Jojo (post this arc).

    Nishio is a well-noted Jojo fan (he actually wrote a novel based on DIO, though it was universally panned as a “fanfic”), but I don’t think he’s really suited its style. He copies all of the superficial elements of it (the superpowers, the crazy characters, etc) but while Jojo’s charm is in how seriously it takes itself at times, Nishio’s is in the fact that he doesn’t take anything he writes seriously at all.

  2. Cytl says:

    Medaka Boxis right now one of my favorites ongoing manga series but there were times (mostly those that were adapted in these two seasons) that I seriously hated the series, the characters and the school-life to action genre shifting (as today I’m not even sure why I didn’t drop it back then). When reading again all this arcs I’ve become more lenient towards them, probably because of how much I love the recent ones, but I have to agree with Psgels review about the characters being really shallow and to be honest their skills weren’t even that interesting.
    Actually I only watched the last episode of S2 because it wasn’t in the manga but it had all the feeling of the ongoing Medaka Box. One episode was all it took for Kumagawa and Ashin’in to have more interesting personalities than the earlier Medaka and Zenkichi.
    A third season wouldn’t excite me that much but I would probably watch it, because the minus arc is when the series starts to take the right route: abilities go all out in weirdness and actually crazy personalities (instead of just quirky or with tragic pasts) appear. Again, all of this mostly thanks to Kumagawa.

  3. Jalapeno Bagel says:

    I think the score is good, perhaps a bit too high in the overall scheme of things. Although I preferred this arc over the first, it really was lackluster in comparison to other series and Gainax’s lukewarm animation didn’t really help. Some of your critiques I don’t agree with, although that’s mainly because they do actually get addressed further on in the series.

    On the topic of you being tsundere for Nisio, I think I’ve come to enjoy his style simply because even though its a long, seemingly uneventful journey to get to the end, the end usually has some sort of a bang that pulls everything in together. So it confuses me a bit to hear you say that you don’t get a big picture with small pieces working together in his series (Medaka Box excluded as I think the big picture still hasn’t been reached even in the manga).

    • Cytl says:

      In my opinion for Medaka Box the big picture is already into play with the near-equal, the jet black wedding and the secret Shiranui arc. But this may be a misconception from my part considering how the previous arcs were so disperse.

      • Jalapeno Bagel says:

        @Cytl

        I think it’s on its way, but it hasn’t actually all come together yet. imo, rather than just a deconstruction, I always thought the series was more of a character study on Medaka and with her past, we’re finally starting to get the last pieces.

        • Cytl says:

          Now that you mentiont it, yeah you’re right. Near the end of all those arcs I’ve felt as if the series were about to the over, yet each arc after the previous shows some new concept using pieces that I hadn’t even considered before.

          • Jalapeno Bagel says:

            I’ve had the same thoughts. And it is a jump manga. who knows, maybe things are just getting started lol.

  4. Clinton says:

    While this season was just ok mainly. The next part with Kumagawa is were Medaka Box grew the beard (For real) becoming an excellent series.

  5. Generic Commentarist says:

    Am I the only one who found the “Good Loser Kumagawa” episode better than the rest of the series? The character is a psycho, the power is plain absurd… it was great.

  6. Clarste says:

    For the record, the characters are literally defined by their powers, or rather their powers represent their characters. This is actually a large part of the point of the series. Naze actually mentioned it in the series already, with her theory that abnormalities come from the personality. Much later on they start using the word “skill” and “personality” interchangeably as if we were supposed to have known this all along. Medaka IS The End, and Kumagawa IS All Fiction. So… that’s entirely intentional. It’s probably best to think of Abnormal powers as an exaggerated extension of their personality.

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  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:54 AM)
    The episode was alright and felt dense as I watched it, but in hindsight only really moved the plot forward incrementally. Lancer not untying Tohsaka as soon as he killed Kirei and then not killing Shinji when he clearly had the chance left a bad taste in my mouth. That and Shirou’s heavy plot armor at this point is becoming reminiscent of another famous anime dual-wielder. Not a compliment.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:46 AM)
    UBW 20 felt like another rendition of Eva 26 (Take care of yourself), complete with character analysis, battle with one’s Jungian Shadow, and loosely Buddhist ideas of self-actualization. It even featured the repetitive monologue shots that fade to black (with “I saw Hell” instead of Rei’s “Sky. Red, red sky”). It never went as far as Eva with “which way is up?” type of Soliloquy, but that’s probably a good thing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.

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