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Medaka Box – 12 (END)

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「黒神めだかがいなくても!」 (Kurokami Medaka ga Inakutemo)
“Even Without Kurokami Medaka!”

So here we are, the anime original finale to the first season of Medaka Box. It’s been rather an up and down ride along the way, but this final episode – despite being anime original – feels like ending on a high note. Of course, the fact that it was written by the original author himself probably helps a lot in avoiding the dreaded ‘anime original syndrome.’

This was actually the first time in the series that an episode has truly felt like a Nisio Isin work to me. Up until now, we very rarely got some excessively diluted hints at his associated style, but his influence was immensely present this time around. From the short discussion on whether trouble originates from Medaka herself (including some minor delving into the age old question as to whether great detectives appear where cases are or whether cases appear where great detectives are), to the sudden launch into meta humour at the expense of the anime industry, and even to Zenkichi actively using logic and metaphor to convince this week’s ‘antagonist’ to relent, in a similar fashion to the many debates of logic present throughout Bakemonogatari and particularly Nisemonogatari. It never quite reaches the scale of some of Araragi’s more notable logical debates, but it comes far closer than anything Medaka Box has used so far.

Two anime original characters were created for this finale and imagine my surprise to hear Tsukihi as one of them. We have Mochibaru Sasae (Iguchi Yuka), a normal student who recently ascended to the position of shogi club president (and is apparently terrified that if she lets go of her head, it’ll roll off her shoulders – talk about quirky!). Of course, the drama this episode comes in the form of Natayama Miri (Kobayashi Yuu), a Special who also happens to be a pro shogi player and was apparently disappointed enough at not being chosen to be the next club president that she stole the king from every single set in the club room. Her quick temper and intolerance of those people who don’t take shogi seriously enough or lack her level of skill are pretty good reasons why she wasn’t suited to be club president, and her childishness when it came to pass only further cements that fact.

It’s just like the Zenkichi we’ve become familiar with to challenge her to a match in order to settle things. But it would be foolish to challenge her to a game of shogi when there would be no possibility of winning and so, in a typically Nisio Isin fashion, Zenkichi ends up making a point about both her mindset and the problems she’s caused by setting up to play mawari shogi, a child’s game that doesn’t involve the use of the king. While this seems like it could be a decent place to stop, things are taken a step further into Nisio Isin metaphor territory, comparing Natayama to the shogi ‘king’ piece. Originally the king piece was called the ‘jade general’ – the trend to call it the ‘king’ apparently derived from a misprint. In essence, when people began calling the piece the ‘king’ instead of ‘jade general,’ the ‘jade general’ was dethroned, losing it’s place as the head of the board to the ‘king.’ Compare this to Natayama who was also ‘dethroned’ by Sasae, losing her opportunity to be the club president, and we see where this metaphor is going. Where Natayama ran away upon losing her place, the jade general ostensibly continues to fight to regain its title – if Natayama were to stick around in the same way, she would also have the potential to claim the title of club president at some point in the future.

There was more than just the single shogi metaphor. Another similar metaphor was also referenced multiple times throughout the episode. Frequent comparisons were posed between the shogi boards with their missing kings and the student council with Medaka’s current (unprecedented!) absence. It’s true that without their central piece things are very different for the student council. They’re quieter for a start and lack that typical reckless zeal that comes from Medaka’s charging into the centre of the enemy formation and attempting to ‘checkmate’ her opponent all by herself. This metaphor is quite different to the previous one though – it’s not actually ideal. The events over the course of the episode reveal a fundamental flaw in the metaphor – whereas it’s impossible to play shogi normally without the king piece, this is apparently not true for the student council. Despite Medaka’s absence, they still manage to complete the task from the suggestion box, functioning no worse for their lack of a ‘king’ on this occasion. The king may be the most important piece, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate what the underlings can achieve.

And so we close the curtains on this season of Medaka Box with an episode that, at times, felt somewhat Shafty due to the use of imagery and direction. As you may be aware, a second season has been greenlit and we get one extremely short shot of the antagonists for the Flask Plan arc that it will apparently cover just as the episode ends. Honestly, it actually felt like a fairly well executed season finale!

Random thoughts:

  • I love how they somehow have the student council office doors despite the fact they’re now situated in a tent outside!
  • ‘It’s almost like Medaka was the cause of all the trouble!’ You’re only noticing this now?
  • This episode marks the first time I can recall in which it’s been suggested that there are actually teachers at Sandbox Academy!
  • D’awww Kikaijima wanted to say something cool since both Zenkichi and Akune did.

Full-length images: 04, 10, 13, 27, 28, 32.

Epilogue:

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Final impressions:

Final Impressions huh? Let’s see… When it was suggested that I blog Medaka Box, it was not really a series I was familiar with. The entire extent of what I knew could be summed up in that it was written by the legendary Nisio Isin and somehow dealt with a box. Before actually deciding to take it on, I did a fair bit of research into it, read the first chapter, heard about the genre shifting, and found out how much of a following it seemed to have. All in all, it sounded like it could be a pretty interesting anime to blog – the first chapter had some interesting concepts, there was much name dropping of Nisio Isin, and despite the genre shifts, it still maintained enough of a fan base to make an anime adaption feasible.

That’s not to say I had high expectations though – if anything they were still wavering between the two extremes. Expecting a good Gainax adaption is pretty much the same as expecting Shaft to do something vaguely ‘normal’ – it happens, but it’s damn rare. This was pretty much one of my biggest problems with the anime. Static backgrounds, often with very little in the way of detail; corridors in which the same figure is passed more than once; random deviations from normal proportions; and hideously drawn faces from certain angles. These are just some of the things that come to mind when I look back over the series’ art and animation. There were times where it almost reached the animation quality that was once present in Gainax works, but they were few and far between.

I can definitely say it was a series with interesting characters. Medaka was one of the first things to draw me to the series – a ‘perfect’ superhuman girl taking control of the school as its student council president and devoting herself to helping the students. Unfortunately, her personality was pretty well detailed after only a few episodes and remained pretty static and easily predictable from that point onwards (up to the introduction of War God Mode at any rate). There were still more than enough unique characters among the cast, though there’s something a little off when they so easily overshadow the lead in terms of interest generated. It’s also a little disappointing how infrequently several of them actually made appearances – I would have loved to have more of a focus on Shiranui, Nekomi or Hyuga. In a sense, the good side-characters are both a point in the series’ favour and a point against it – the number of characters I would have liked to have seen more of is pretty high but therein lies the problem… we did not see more of them. From the frequent spoilers I’ve been exposed to, it also seems as though we never quite made it far enough to be introduced to some of the better antagonists either.

With Nisio Isin’s involvement as the writer being one of the bigger selling points for the series, I was surprised by how little of his usual style shows through. Sure, we do see some of his typical musings on topics such as innate good/evil and saints vs justice, but nothing quite to the extent – or as in-depth – as what I’m used to seeing from him, at least not until the anime original finale. I hesitate to do so, but I want to bring some of his other works, particularly the Monogatari and Katanagatari series into the equation. There are times when his extended dialogues can become tiresome, but still they usually contain some element of wit – an aspect that seems to be sorely missing from Medaka Box. There is definitely humour, but it’s this lack of witicisms that stands out as one of the starkest differences to Nisio Isin’s other works for me.

The music was decent, but also not quite the pure epic glory I’ve come to expect from Katou Tatsuya. There were some great tracks in there, particularly during the final stages of the battle arc, but beyond that not much sticks in my mind. I see part of the problem in how low the music was mixed compared to the rest of the audio – it was barely audible for most scenes and only ever came close to the forefront during the extremely rare occasions when no-one was talking over it. Despite a lot of complaints from readers of the manga, I felt that Toyasaki Aki did an excellent job voicing all the sides of Medaka we saw. Had I not already known it was her, I probably never would have guessed – it’s a testament to just how varied a seiyuu she can be. In fact, most of the voices seemed to be well suited to their roles so I can’t give anything other than praise on that front.

If I were to pick my highlights, they would easily be episodes seven, eight and nine. Seven and eight showed some of the aspects that truly made the anime enjoyable for me, from Kikaijima’s awkward first interactions with the student council to Onigase’s ceaseless attempts to fulfil her duty despite Medaka’s interference, these were the types of antics, humour, and depth of personality I enjoyed watching. Episode nine I enjoyed for a completely different reason. Had the rest of the disciplinary committee arc played out in a similar fashion to the crazy feats Medaka performed to protect the other members of the student council from their would-be assassins, I imagine I would have enjoyed it far more.

So was it entertaining? The answer is yes, but it depends on what you’re looking for. With a series that changes genres so frequently, keeping interest could prove an issue in the long run – in only this single cour, there were people who were turned off by the slower pace of the early episodes, missing out on the later battle episodes and vice versa. Over an extended period of time, it could potentially prove much harder to retain interest when the target fan base seems to be shifting along with the genres. I’m fortunate in that I have an especially diverse taste in anime and putting me off through genre shifts (when there’s forewarning such as there has been from the manga readers) is not likely to happen. Overall, I enjoyed a fair bit of Medaka Box, though it probably wouldn’t rank within my top three for the spring season.

June 21, 2012 at 7:13 am
53 comments »
  • June 21, 2012 at 7:32 amsinkingmist

    “I can only assume this is meant to mean that they’re continued to be printed as ‘jade general’ rather than ‘king’ but I can’t really say for sure”
    In shogi, the two players use different king pieces.
    The defender uses the ‘King’ piece (王將), while the challenger uses the ‘Jade General’ (玉將).
    I can’t find verification of the ‘history’ , but all the other pieces are the same for the two players. The only one that is different is the king piece.
    So I infer that originally both king pieces were the ‘Jade General’ pieces, until the misprint that led to the creation of a king piece.
    Even though the ‘Jade General’ was the original, it is used by the ‘challenger’ not the ‘defender’, hence the ‘Jade General’ is considered to be lesser to the ‘King’, thus dethroned.

    • June 21, 2012 at 7:36 amMoomba

      Ahhh that makes a lot more sense. My knowledge of shogi is pretty low – thanks for clearing that up!

  • June 21, 2012 at 7:52 amCrook

    Though, season two was already green-lit, this confirms it. The second season would focus on the typical shounen battling.

    • June 21, 2012 at 1:03 pmworstof2012

      GOD DAMN IT!!! BLOODY HELL!! Another season of Medaka Box!!! There is no justice in this universe!! Why don’t you just rip out my eyes, ears, nose, and mouth and get it over already! Do it!!!

      Another shonen battle anime with a girl with giant EE cup boobies who turns to a super saiyan when got mad? I’m sure she’d shoot some kamehameha next season. Gainax, even multiple bankruptcies wouldn’t be forgiven for the travesty and crime against humanity you’ve committed by keep pumping this show!!!! Rarely money is not everything and this is one of them! All the dead characters from Evangelion and Nadia are turning over from their anime graves. GEEZ!!! Stop the madness!!!

      • June 21, 2012 at 1:08 pmTarage

        Maybe you should try reading the manga and understanding WHY Medaka Box is so popular before making an ass of yourself.

      • June 21, 2012 at 1:19 pmworstof2012

        Tarage, no matter you and your manga-reader pals keep saying that “just wait, the good parts will later”, no one can’t undo what countless of innocent viewers had been put through by watching this season 1 of Medaka Box.

        Just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Organized mega churches in farm states in US are sure popular. Have you seen how many people are infesting in those sermons? They put lady gaga or bieber concerts to shame. Yes, I just call bieber is less harmful than organized mega cults, cough cough, I mean churches. Gasp!

      • June 21, 2012 at 1:44 pmCrook

        Call me an idiot, but why did I find this enjoyable then? I think you should stop making your opinion sound like facts, because people have tastes buddy.

      • June 21, 2012 at 1:56 pmworstof2012

        Crook, you idiot! (you asked and you relented. ahahaha)

        “you should stop making your opinion sound like facts”: I cannot be responsible for what others think of my post. I expressed my opinion and that’s it. Perhaps they sounded so logical to you that you were so confused and thought that they were facts and not my opinion? Very plausible indeed. heh. And if you found this show so enjoyable, by all means. Just watch it for free on internet, that’s all I ask!! Don’t give Gainax more excuses than they already have for keep pumping this sausage machine! LOL!

      • June 21, 2012 at 2:03 pmworstof2012

        I meant, you asked and “I” relented. It’s not like I came out nowhere and insulted you, Crook.
        They really need to add edit function!! Or at least a do-over. Or I need to read before submitting. Darn it~~~~!

      • June 21, 2012 at 3:39 pmCrook

        “Perhaps they sounded so logical to you that you were so confused and thought that they were facts and not my opinion?” All I heard was: STOP THIS MADNESS, THIS TRAVESTY. Logical indeed.

      • June 21, 2012 at 5:25 pmTarage

        worstof2012, the more you say the more I see how much of an idiot you are. Please stop talking.

      • June 21, 2012 at 6:57 pmworstof2012

        Tarage,

        admittedly, I messed up a couple of posts. And kinda made of fool of myself by having to correct them not once, but twice! LOL!

        But I didn’t know disliking a certain show with passion equalled being an idiot. It’s very amusing that the only way of defending the show you like is through personal insults when I never insulted any viewers themselves (except for Crook since, well, he asked to be called “idiot” and being a kind fella I am, I had to do that :P) I only trashed the show and the company, in case anybody noticed.

        Anyway don’t worry, Medaka Box fans, I will come back stronger! Just you wait.

      • June 22, 2012 at 5:01 amStranger

        Having an opinion doesn’t make you an idiot.
        Having an unpopular opinion doesn’t make you an idiot.
        Voicing said opinion doesn’t make you an idiot (quite the opposite, usually).

        But such vehement badmouthing whilst not presenting any arguments to back up your statements.

        That- does make you an idiot.

        Now go away.

        Idiot.

    • June 21, 2012 at 1:32 pmworstof2012

      correction: no one can undo, LOL! I didn’t mean to do triple negatives there!!

    • June 22, 2012 at 12:06 amAgron

      Gotta agree with worstof2012 Medaka Box sucks. It went from being ok to pure copycat bullcrap. Why don’t they make anime that’s actually awesome like Ubel Blatt.

  • June 21, 2012 at 8:53 amc2710

    I was thinking that we’d see Unlimited Stationery Works come to play >>> http://randomc.net/image/Medaka%20Box/Medaka%20Box%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2042.jpg

  • June 21, 2012 at 9:07 amTingster013

    I read about Zenkichi and it is said that he is just a normal… Well, in real life, if he is real, he is definitely not normal… Strong enough to create a small earthquake, not normal at all… Cannot wait for season 2!!!

  • June 21, 2012 at 9:33 amKit-A-Ron-Ron-Kat

    Despite a lot of complaints from readers of the manga, I felt that Toyasaki Aki did an excellent job voicing all the sides of Medaka we saw

    I definitely agree. As I manga reader, I was curious as to how ‘War God Mode’ Medaka would sound. That kind of raw elemental murderous rage in a female character is rather uncommon, and I felt the VA did it justice. Not too much over-the-top screaming, just plain mindless anger, with a zest of a chilling tone as she told Unzen there would be no tomorrow for him.

  • June 21, 2012 at 9:33 amMisa

    Yeah, it’s already been comfirmed there will be a second season for Medaka.

    • June 21, 2012 at 12:16 pmFT5Havok

      YAAAY!

  • June 21, 2012 at 10:17 amSingerOfW

    From the frequent spoilers I’ve been exposed to, it also seems as though we never quite made it far enough to be introduced to some of the better antagonists either.
    Ironically, I find Unzen to be a better antagonist than the Flask Plan one, Show Spoiler ▼

    The side-villains are much better both in the first arc and in the Flask Plan arc.

  • June 21, 2012 at 10:20 amMuffinSymphony

    I think Sasae’s fear of her head falling off her shoulders was a meta-joke about characters with heads far too large for their bodies.

    • June 21, 2012 at 10:44 amTingster013

      haha!! True true, but she is so cute doing that!!

  • June 21, 2012 at 1:09 pmTarage

    I do hope the first and second seasons sell well so we can meet Mr. “It’s not my fault!”

    • June 22, 2012 at 12:07 amAgron

      I hope it doesn’t this series is horrible. I just wish they wouldn’t make anymore of it.

  • June 21, 2012 at 1:55 pmDa5id

    Would this count as getting a Gainax end?

    Overall, the fanservice never quite balanced very well with plot for me, but maybe season 2 will be different. I’d like to see the next original Gainax piece more, though.

  • June 21, 2012 at 2:37 pmWanderer

    How does the final episode of Medaka Box not actually have Medaka in it?

    • June 21, 2012 at 2:48 pmDa5id

      Because it’s not the final episode.

      • June 21, 2012 at 4:31 pmstarss

        Did GAINAX know that during production? The second season was only just announced days ago.

      • June 21, 2012 at 5:00 pmDa5id

        Considering there’s a preview for it at the end of THIS episode…I would say they did.

  • June 21, 2012 at 3:07 pmWhee

    Not bad
    I’ve recently finishd reading Kizumonogatari and Nisemonogatari (after having seen it last season), so it’s funny how a lot of the stuff in this ep was so very much nisioisin-like, esp. with the anime industry.

  • June 21, 2012 at 3:19 pmmac65

    Not a bad action-fantasy series. I give it a 6/10.

  • June 21, 2012 at 4:30 pmstarss

    There is ONE WAY publicity could’ve prevented so many people from ragequitting this show- they could’ve… oh I dunno…. ANNOUNCED IT WOULD BE 26 EPISODES TO BEGIN WITH. That way, people would know the exciting fights and deeper meanings would be seen later in the show and we would stay tuned in. Of course, no one had any way of knowing if this show would continue after 12 episodes by that point, and it didn’t help the audiences’ respect one bit. I have no idea if I should even continue watching this when the second season starts. I still think GAINAX is better than this.

    • June 21, 2012 at 5:05 pmDa5id

      If it takes over 6 hours of material to get to the real meat of a show, it’s probably not worth waiting for.

      Besides, Gainax has never been that good at adapting manga. It’s better known for it’s original works.

    • June 21, 2012 at 5:26 pmTarage

      Gee, the MAJOR hints at showing their silhouettes early on(They were seen far earlier than the last episode) should have been enough to tell you this was a two cour series. But I guess if you have the attention span of a 5 year old you’d have complaints like this.

      • June 21, 2012 at 10:05 pmstarss

        Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand the insults start, and that is my signal to no longer visit this page again. For the future, I DID NOT look far enough below the page to see the preview images, and if you read my post, I implied I HAD NOT watched this episode. Thank you.

      • June 21, 2012 at 11:27 pmDa5id

        To be fair, you should probably watch an episode before you go to an anime blog that’s discussing it.

  • June 21, 2012 at 5:00 pmAndré

    End? I have to wait for a second season? I thought this would be one of those anime that will go on forever… I’m sad now.

  • June 21, 2012 at 5:36 pmAndmeuths

    The very feel of this last episode seems to be more in line with the style of the Later Arcs. But again, by the standards of the later arcs, this will still be filler grade. Good filler, amusing filler, but filler all the same.

  • June 21, 2012 at 8:50 pmKLAC_OF_PERSONALITY

    ok then give went to watch it all & now s1 finale ok then yea give ok series.

    now a s2 hmm as long stick with 13eps or less & NOT being long-run ongoing then maybe might watch just hmm on it.

    • June 21, 2012 at 10:47 pmAndmeuths

      I recommend you read the manga to understand why 13 episodes is not a very good idea, for the next season. Forget the whole of Season 1, except for the end. The entire of Medaka Box has far more in common with Unzen’s arc than the entire season. Season 2 is one entire cohesive story, from beginning to end, rather than thirteen more sketches.

  • June 22, 2012 at 12:09 amAgron

    Personally i hope a 2nd season of this never sees the light of day.

  • June 22, 2012 at 12:55 amYalvyn

    GIVE ME NAZE GODDAMMICH!!!!!

  • June 22, 2012 at 3:41 amAzuma

    Personally I did enjoy Medaka Box quite a bit around the early to mid parts of the manga. For some reason the anime felt a bit… off for me. It wasn’t ‘good’ enough to warrant a second season imo, but at the same time it wasn’t so bad that I could say out right that I wished there wasn’t a sequel. Now that I think about it, it might just be because I was secretly hoping to see “All Fiction” animated.

  • June 22, 2012 at 7:13 amChris

    How was the censorship in this series? Were there a lot of “Were censoring this to increase b-ray sales” moments?

  • June 22, 2012 at 10:35 amahbonk

    Am I the only one who thought that the Shogi president was Shiranui in disguise? The fact that she was holding on to what I thought was a wig was particularly suspicious lol.

  • June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pmSkins Thunderbomb

    Gotta admit, not my favourite of this year, but certainly not the worst. :3

  • June 23, 2012 at 4:57 amRawr

    Gilgamesh Wannabe >.>

  • June 23, 2012 at 10:07 amJason Isenberg

    Just comes to show that those 3 could fend for themselves. With Medaka in the hospital they had some big shoes to fill and they did well. Good ending to a good show!

  • June 23, 2012 at 9:18 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    end?……END?!?! WTF is THIS!?!?!? YOU CHEAP STUDIO BASTARDS!!!!!

  • June 23, 2012 at 10:07 pmlkaze

    I read it’s manga, the only good thing about it is kumagawa. The rest is ..blegh

  • June 28, 2012 at 6:40 pmAnonymous

    Yeah, this show had no idea what it was doing. Gainax, we need more Gurren Lagann and Eva-type shows. Less Panty & Stocking, Medaka Box, and Dalian, please! Go back to being awesome Gainax. What happened to you guys?

  • November 19, 2012 at 2:16 pmJohn Stationery

    Manga in 2013 is gonna be so good, just wait n see ;)