First Impressions – Medaka Box


Super ultra director student council president Kurokami Medaka reporting!

That guy who created the LNs for which the Bake & Nisemonogatari animes are based off of also does the story for a Weekly Jump manga. You should’ve seen the look on my face. It wasn’t too animated, but I was surprised. Anyways, I come in to the anime having just recently started the manga, but I make sure not to give too much away in my end thoughts. Take it away lvlln.
So just as the latest anime adaptation of a Nisio Isin work wraps up, we begin another, this time produced by an even better known and more accomplished studio, the immortal Gainax. I’ve heard bits and pieces about Medaka Box through the grapevines, and the general reaction seems to be… well, mixed, which doesn’t surprise me much given the quality of the author’s novels. Still, the man is a master at certain aspects of storytelling, and this is still Gainax, so let’s see if this anime adaptation can continue the Nisio anime adaptations’ winning streak.

The opening ceremonies are just the start of the unbelievable wealth on display at this school.

The show starts with our title character, Kurokami Medaka, introducing herself to her fellow Hanokiwa high school students at the opening ceremony, as the student council president who won with 98% of the votes. She introduces her suggestion box – which will undoubtedly come to be known as the “Medaka Box” – and encourages everyone to submit any problems they might have into it. We’re quickly introduced to her childhood friend Hitoyoshi Zenkichi, who’s not shy sharing to his friend Shiranui Hansode about his skepticism of Medaka’s big dreams. But he finds himself dragged to her office anyway.

The first suggestion Medaka finds is to clean out the high school’s neglected kendo dojo of the delinquents who have set up base there. Medaka enthusiastically goes there with Zenkichi trailing along, to find the delinquents not very willing to leave. But Medaka, after demonstrating her martial arts prowess and promising to reform them into righteous kendo students, hands their asses to them.

Ah yes, the unfortunate irony of looking down on others by not looking down on them.

Zenkichi is skeptical as ever that these delinquents could be reformed, but he’s shocked to discover that all of them have indeed returned to the now pristine kendo dojo in order to learn from Medaka. They train as expected, but once Medaka leaves, in comes a stranger, Hyuga, the one who actually submitted the initial request to clean out the dojo. He’s pissed off because he only wanted the dojo all to himself to train and doesn’t like that Medaka kept (and reformed) the delinquents. And as an actual top-class kendo practitioner, he’s about to take out his frustration on the delinquents, when Zenkichi intervenes and surprisingly easily beats the crap out of him.

The beaten up Hyuga is going home with his tail between his legs when Medaka approaches him, with the 2nd request in her hand – Hansode asked that she fix Hyuga’s personality. So she does, and the next day he and the delinquents are using the kendo dojo together, maybe not as friends, but as fellow members of the new kendo club.

Medaka has some flowery dreams. I can’t deny that there’s beauty to them.

Back at the student council room, Medaka and Zenkichi reflect on their accomplishments. Medaka plants 2 flowers for the 2 requests she successfully fulfilled and says that she plans on planting a new one for each. This has an effect on Zenkichi and moves him to join the student council.

I notice that Medaka has a way of sneaking up on people…

I must credit Myssa (twitter) for pointing it out to me: pay close attention to the characters’ blood types here.

All of these Weekly Jump series that become anime are hard to give a concrete assessment of after their first episode. Whether you live by the one-and-done, the three-episode rule or something that fits you best, these shounen-type series need time to develop. However, I wonder if Medaka Box should be given such a long leash. The first episode really only establishes that Medaka is the school’s president/goddess and doesn’t offer up much that’s worth checking out beyond episode 1. Overall I thought the production was alright with a moment of two of QUALITY. Gainax did really good with Medaka’s character design (plenty of fanservice) and also Shiranui and they did make Hakoniwa Academy look really nice. The soundtrack was nice as I enjoyed this episode through headphones, though the OP theme is skippable ordinary j-pop. I liked those songs 10 years ago, not today.

I really like Kurokami Medaka, which is somewhat perplexing to me given my taste in female anime characters (from a personality perspective). She’s an anime babe no doubt about that, but I generally cannot stand the “Miss Perfect” characters and that’s what Medaka is in spades. “Perfect” characters can be a real chore to watch, and from what I’ve read of the manga so far, she’s still always in the “right”. I think it’s in her caring of her other student council members that I like most about her and I do kind of like the superhuman stuff she’s been pulling (which Hitoyoshi seems to have an understanding of as will be noticeable a few episodes down the road). She does have some very minor qualities that set her back just a bit, but she’s strong enough to power through her own shortcomings. I couldn’t fully enjoy Aki Toyosaki’s portrayal of the character; the voice just sounded a bit too soft and cutesy. It’s the trouble of reading before watching when you start to think of how a character sounds. That issue is probably on me.

Hitoyoshi will be the male lead through the series. Him filling the role of guy that has to deal with a woman leader or some kind of harem, my initial comparison was to the likes of Kyon or someone similar. He shouldn’t be compared to Kyon sense Kyon is a god-tier character and the relationship status these guys have with their female presidents are different. I prefer to set Kodaka from Haganai as a base; he was a good character with interesting interactions and thoughts, but doesn’t always have to do the heavy lifting in the series. He showed his caring of Medaka in this episode, but in the immediate future of the series, he won’t really add anything more. Shiranui has been the wildcard for me as I read the manga. She doesn’t really show it in the first episode a lot, but there is some interesting tension between her and Medaka that you should notice in later episodes. I don’t know if she has a greater role to play in the series, but it’s perhaps the aspect I’m most anxious to see play out.

I had read the first 10 chapters of the manga before this episode aired, and once it did I went and read 7 more. So far nothing has wowed me. It’s been pretty much the same beat with a couple fun moments like the upcoming Pool event. I’m still in the stage of the manga where all there is for plot is the Suggestion Box, and for the anime, this could be several weeks before things really pick up. All things considered, I still find something about the manga that I enjoy and will continue reading, hoping that the reports of things taking 50 or so chapters to really pick up will pay off in a nice way. I’m not expecting something mind-blowing, I’m just waiting for the special powers to kick in. I was initially concerned about how Madhouse was going to adapt Hunter x Hunter since they hadn’t done long-running shows for a while, but they seem to be sticking with it for the long haul and I would like to see Gainax go long-running with Medaka Box.

I’m not sure what to make of this series yet. The story so far seems to firmly place it as another Haruhi clone with the title character, and that’s not a good thing – no Haruhi clone has managed to capture the magic of that 2006 series. Still, there were times when Medaka’s compelling personality shone through, when she expressed her belief in the innate goodness of fellow man (wait a minute, didn’t we just see another anime discussing something like this recently?). The way she dealt with those delinquents and her final conversation about the flower garden she hoped to build were actually touching. She’s just so much better than everyone else and so sure that she’s not anything special that I can’t help but find her charming. I suppose that’s one thing that sets her apart from Haruhi.

The background music was very good, though the opening theme and animation were super generic and not particularly memorable. The ending theme, I couldn’t quite hear very well since they spoke over it. Speaking of speech, Kato Emiri was the standout here as the enthusiastic but somewhat mysteriously unnerving Hansode Shiranui. Aki Toyosaki as Medaka didn’t especially impress, but she wasn’t bad either. Overall, the voice work was alright, nothing too impressive.

I can’t say I’m impressed by the art or production quality so far. The visual direction was mostly by-the-book high school TV anime, though there were some parts that stood out. I particularly enjoyed the shots when Medaka was aping the boy in front of her. And the use of visual metaphors such as Medaka flying out into space or the student council room turning into a field of flowers felt like classic Gainax – I’m thinking Kare Kano here. Plenty of the Gainax jiggle as expected, but the action scenes weren’t animated nearly as well. In fact, most of them took place off-screen, and what fights that were there were extremely short. Of course, that’s something we’ve come to expect from Nisio by now, given the action in Katanagatari and the Monogatari series.

The comedy wasn’t all that great either. It feels like this series doesn’t know what it’s trying to be at this point. Knowing Nisio, surely Medaka’s eternally optimistic and hopeful philosophy will be explored further, but I’m having a hard time picturing this show getting too serious. Oh, and her name Kurokami means black god, right? Again, knowing Nisio, that’s likely to come into play somehow. Given Medaka’s rather incredible martial arts skills (and hints that Zenichi is no joke either), I figure action will play a major role as well, but, again, the action here was uninspired. I’ll give it a pass for now because Gainax is behind it, but this is the type of 1st episode that would normally get me to drop a show.

Also, how much did that head delinquent remind you of Kamina? The voice certainly didn’t help!


I really hope this running gag doesn’t go away anytime soon.


We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

15 Responses to “First Impressions – Medaka Box”

  1. Spinarakk says:

    People should really stop comparing Medaka to Haruhi. The ONLY similarity they have is them being pretty much “gods”, but even then, it’s a different type of “god”. Haruhi is a able to change the world god, whereas Medaka is a “god” because of her superhuman abilities and her special power (which I won’t spoil). Nothing else is similar. Nothing.

    • lvlln says:

      Well, like it or not, the godlike powers and the pushiness are defining characteristics of Haruhi. Medaka’s aloof selflessness certainly sets her apart, but that core idea of this near omnipotent girl dragging her high school friends into an adventure to make the world into what she wishes it to be does make it feel like a Haruhi clone, at least after the 1st episode.

    • amado says:

      well lets see:
      have characters who treat them as “god”? check.
      help out other people? check.
      pretty much bossy with her group? check.
      have a snarking close friend who’s normal? check.
      surrounded by people who have powers? check.

      list down the difference from the two then, if you dont like it. they’re pretty similar enough.

  2. Alynn says:

    This series so far is meh for me. So far I find that the anime doesn’t do the manga enough justice, but that’s probably just me. I’m hoping the future episodes will be better, considering that this is the beginning.

    I still love Medaka and crews’ antics though.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    I was a bit skeptical about this series when I saw the description but I heard the author of the Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari series, NisiOisiN was behind the story so I gave it a shot. The art style is appealing for both the fan service levels and the possible comedy. I didn’t think Medaka would randomly start stripping in her office. When you’re in office, do whatever you want, right? I just didn’t expect it so quickly.

    The real thorn in my side about the episode in general is Kurokami Medaka’s “Miss Perfect” superiority complex, control freak personality that seems gradually unaware of other people’s feelings and just sticking to her own one-sided views. Medaka is hot but is a seriously hard to deal with character. It was too much of a struggle to enjoy. She’s not the tsundere of the show. Her childhood male friend Zenkichi is and we don’t see much tsundere males roaming around.

    Another small yet notable flaw was the music. The music was not exactly fitting for this type of series and a tad bit bland. Not to mention the OP was, in my opinion, below average to like.

    Unfortunately, the few strengths it did have didn’t quite help with the rest of my impressions of this series. The characters were painfully stereotypical, ranging from the perfect Medaka to the sarcastic Hitoyoshi.

    Overall, I’m hard pressed to say that I’ll continue watching this. I’ll have to give it a second shot because I’m seriously considering dropping this.

    • lvlln says:

      I actually think Medaka’s superiority complex is about the only thing the show has going for it at this point. It might not necessarily make her more likable, but it’s SOMETHING different and interesting about her. The traps she can fall into due to this flaw of hers can make for some entertaining conflicts in the future. Though I’m hearing that might not necessarily bear out…

  4. Bob from Accounting says:

    Kamina getting beat up by a big-boobed God Complexed sociopath? Sure, why not?

    Seriously though, when Medaka wasn’t amusing me she was pissing me off. That girl needs some character development. I did find her tsundere sidekick/love interest/minion quite endearing, though (there need to be more male tsunderes). Not sure he’s really up to the task of carrying the series, mind. We’ll probably be seeing more characters turning up and joining the fun in good time, and whether or not this’ll work out will probably hinge on what they can bring to the table. For now, though? I guess I was reasonably entertained. Let’s see how it goes.

    • Jrow says:

      She does need development. As fun as I personally find her to be, she needs something that can knock her down a peg or someone that can be a real thorn in her side.

  5. Rakuen says:

    I think what gets me interested in Medaka is her firm belief that individuals are important. You know, that point where she rebukes Zenkichi, then not only lists off the names of the delinquents but also gives each one their honorific. In a society that all too often treats people like a statics, it was refreshing.

    Zenkichi plays well off of both Medaka and Shiranui. If he can do the same with the rest of the inevitable cast, I think I could be into this for at least as long as Sket Dance. Maybe longer. Medaka’s definitely going to need a bit of conflict though.

    • Jrow says:

      If only our governments were run the way Medaka does things, right?

      If I can jump ahead just a bit, I don’t really care for how he is with the next 2 council members they gain. I feel like they’re kind of “just there” and it doesn’t help that Medaka is the center of attention, but I do like how he is with Shiranui.

  6. Joojoobees says:

    Honestly I was left cold by this episode. I wasn’t convinced going in, but I saw nothing to surprise, or even engage me. I wasn’t intrigued by any of the characters. The plot looks like generic school life (in a fantasy world where nobody really has classes, and the student council has no responsibilities other than cleaning up the Kendo dojo).

    I ge what you say about shounen stories needing a while to take off, but … meh.

    • Jrow says:

      As I mentioned, I don’t think Medaka Box is so deserving of being watched past episode 1; I can understand why people would be turned off. By all accounts from manga readers and what I’ve read of the manga, it meddles too much in nothingness and unimportant junk (besides the new council member) and it lasts for quite a while.

  7. skylion says:

    Going in, it had the appeal of Nisio, but going further, it starts to lose a bit of that appeal. As most have said, everything is just too darn by-the-book standard.

    And I agree with lvlln, that Shiranui is the stand out of the bunch. Lots have spoken for a need of a “foil” to Medaka’s god-like status, I think she will fit that bill.

    • lvlln says:

      I wonder if she’ll be able to play foil, but she certainly has a scheming mischievous side that I find intriguing. And Kato Emiri is a great fit for that kind of role. :3

  8. amado says:

    well, unless the show is a two-cour or more, im fairly sure plenty of people would be disappointed and maybe say the show is inconsistent.
    the series is known best for its genre-shifts. and we’ll only reach one with 12 eps, so you cant appreciate it.

    anyway, after seeing medaka say “those” words again, I felt like beating her up. lets just say that one of the things she’s saying is a LIE. and that’s what brings about one of the most engaging part in the manga.

Leave a Reply