Saturday, August 24, 2013

Medaka Box Abnormal: Season 2

Age: 13 and up

Rating: 7 1/2 out of 10

Episode Count: 12

Genre: Action, School Life, Comedy, Romance

Format: Japanese with English subtitles


"The gorgeous, peerless student council president, Medaka Kurokami, solves everyone's problems! Medaka Kurokami, who has just become Sandbox Academy's 98th student council president, sets up a suggestion box as promised in her election campaign. "Your dreams belong to you. Go after them and make them come true yourself. Your worries, however, belong to me. Send them all my way!!" As Medaka solves her fellow students' problems along with her friend since childhood, Zenkichi Hitoyoshi, her suggestion box, nicknamed the Medaka Box, earns great popularity among the students."

My Review:

AHHHHHHHHHH! I hate it when a series makes me feel conflicted. For those of you who don't know, CONFLICT IS A REVIEWER'S WORST ENEMY! It makes one feel all mixed up and discombobulated inside! It's like trying to sing a really complicated song while having a gong rung FROM INSIDE YOUR HEAD! Or running up the down escalator, or or or, well I could think of more analogies but you get the picture. IT'S SUPER ANNOYING!

And the most frustrating thing about it is right when you think you've finally sorted through your emotions and have the perfect way to describe them, the instant that stupid pen hits the paper every sensible sentence you'd come up with seems to evaporate and fly out the window, along with half a trees worth of crumpled up paper and a full pens worth of ink. I'd like to formally apologize to the tree I've killed writing this review. I'M SORRY TREE! Have you ever spent God only knows how long putting together a house of cards, or piecing together a 3D puzzle, just to have some dim whit slam the door right after you've finished? Destroying all your hard work before anyone gets to see it? That's how writing this review felt.

And you want to hear the real kicker? Before I'd even watched the first episode of this season of Medaka Box, I had the whole review mapped out! I was going to open with something like, "She's back! The bodacious, buxom, bombshell, Student President, and as the saying goes, better than ever! And she's brought her AB Brigade with her, with even more wacky weapon wielding weirdoes than before!" Then I'd planned to talk about some of the things I hadn't gotten a chance to in the first review, but NOOOOOO. As they say, "the best laid plans, etc." They never really elaborate as to what exactly happens to those best laid plans, but if mine are any indicator, I'm pretty sure it's nothing good.

There were TWO major monkey wrenches in my original review plan. Let's tackle the first one shall we? It's always easy to start a second season review with the phrase, "back and better than ever," and as my previous example showed, that's what I had planned to do. Only small problem ummm yeah, Medaka wasn't better than ever! In fact, Medaka's unwitting depression is where all my review problems started.

Seeing a melancholy Medaka is just, how should I say? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! That's what it is, and that's what it always will be. MEDAKA KUROKAMI IS THIS SERIES! Her fierce passion, unwavering beliefs, overpowering presence, and "kill them with kindness" nature are the foundation, walls, roof, and door that let you into the heart of this series. And seeing someone as strong as all that waver, even for an instant, is nothing if not disconcerting! Hence, you now see my inability to use my intended opening for this review.

I had assumed that I'd have neither qualms nor complaints with this season, but to my utter discontent I had not only qualms, but complaints as well, not the least of which being Medaka's un-Medaka like nature. Some of my more insignificant issues were the sudden change in atmosphere (going from mostly lighthearted humor to an abrupt "no more funny business" vibe), to its freakishly overdone take on Tarzan's "nobody dies, they just get really big boo-boos" line.

Neither of those were my NUMBER TWO PROBLEM, with this season however. No! My number two problem can be named in two words, and found in the last episode. MISOGI KUMAGAWA. The boy who tried to break Medaka. The first person to send her into War God Mode. And the first anime character I can ever remember hating on site.

Now for most people hating a character, or even real life person, on sight isn't necessarily an uncommon thing, but not for me, not when it comes to anime at least. When it comes to anime I'm fully in Medakas camp. It's been my experience that 10 out of 10 anime quot-un-quote, Bad Guys, are actually just emotionally scarred characters looking for some form of relief for their internal pain. Ever since I was little, anime has taught me that things are not always as they seem, and just because someone does bad things, doesn't necessarily mean they have a bad reason for doing them (unlike a lot of humans), most anime characters do have a justifiable reason for doing what they do. Which has led me to have a similar, if not identical, belief system to Medaka's when it comes to anime characters. The key word in all this being ANIME mind you. This thought process has resulted in me loving (almost) every anime character I've been introduced to. Be they bad or good, interesting or boring; I believe they all have a story to tell and a viable reason for their actions. No matter how bad those actions may be at first glance, I resolved myself to understand and sympathize with ALL anime characters. Thinking that if they could only see someone love and accept them just as they are, just like Medaka, they may change. Wow, how shmalsie was that? Think I've watched a little too much Naruto or what? I suppose all us women have some kind of gland in our head that tells us we can change the bad boy, even when we can't.

Nonetheless, I push myself to love all anime characters, even the evil ones, so when I first encountered Kumagawa and found myself immediately hating him, I waged war on myself, trying to find at least one quality about him that I liked. Heck, I'd settle for a quality I could tolerate at this point. I've thought and thought, I've done endurance exercises, and rehabilitation training by reading up on him in an attempt to build up an immune system to the little cockroach, but still nothing!

Then it hit meit wasn't Kumagawa that I hated as much as it was the atmosphere he ushered into the series with him. Is he a little bugger whose expression never matches his actions or emotions, someone who can't be trusted? YES, of course he is, but I didn't hate him for that, there are plenty of characters just like that who I love (i.e. Makshima from Psycho Pass). The only difference in Kumagawa's case was the aura he dragged along with him. It's a well known fact that Medaka Box's creator also wrote the Bakemonogatari series. A not-so-well-known fact is that I do not like the Bakemonogatari franchise. Sorry, all you fans, you keep loving the series for me, 'kay?

Hence my distain for Kumagawa was found. Being created by the same person, a little bit of Bakemongatari's flare was bound to find its way into Medaka Box somewhere or another: Enter Kumagawa--a disjointed, abnormally creepy, fragmented, non-cohesive embodiment of Bakemonogatari.

It took me awhile, but I finally figured out that Kumagawa's uneasy presence that set my teeth on edge wasn't actually his own, all my guilt, rage, and conflict for him (and this season) seemed to fall off me, resulting in me finally being able to write.

It's almost ridiculous how coming to that conclusion eased not only my conscious, but my hatred for poor Kumagawa as well. And although I still don't trust the little liar, and view him as an infestation due to his aura, I no longer want to punch my computer screen every time I see him on it, and in fact, no longer mind the prospect of seeing him as the chief antagonist of a possible third season of Medaka Box, provided Medaka works her magic on him in the end. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll learn enough from Medaka to not only learn to love him, but Bakemonogatari as well? After all, anything can happen when Medaka's involved!

For more ratings, and info on Medaka Box check out my Medak Box: Season 1 Review.
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