|This one was a lot like the previous episode, with another implausibly cool opponent being introduced before getting quickly taken down. And, again, the crazy awesome – though poorly animated – action made up for the story that just keeps getting more absurd and convoluted by the episode. Medaka Box Abnormal shouldn’t be wasting its time trying to tell a touching tale about friendship. It’s not good at it.|
The Hiroshi Kamiya-voiced Kei Munakata got his spotlight episode. It seems “abnormal” has become a carte blanche justification for every crazy power, because he was basically a Looney Tunes character, pulling out an arbitrarily large number of arbitrarily big weapons from hidden on his body at will. A silliness that I can appreciate. I even enjoyed most of Zenkichi’s duel against him; the action wasn’t all that pretty, but the flow of the fight made sense, and everything was shown competently at the least. A great job of creating a surprise in using the sword deflection to the ceiling, then dropping it on us when we last expected it.
Unfortunately, everything surrounding the fight was kind of shit. Munakata himself wasn’t nearly as interesting as Shigusa was last episode. He’s just a psychopath with an incredible talent for hiding things; he’s not even that good at using those weapons. The show’s attempt at giving him character largely fell flat, such as his long soliloquy about everything being a reason to kill. Even worse was the ending, in which anything that made him menacing flew out the window thanks to the lame explanation of how he keeps his murderous impulses in check. The bitter loner cliche is a boring one. When Zenkichi won him over with the power of friendship, it pretty much destroyed any interest I had in him.
Why did Zenkichi have to fight him alone anyway? The show was very clear that Maguro was testing Zenkichi – with one of the results being Medaka’s confession, a very unexpected and welcome scene. But, like the entire 13 floor gauntlet of the Flask Plan, assigning the battle just to Zenkichi was an artificial challenge that was forced into the story. I suppose it ties in to the honor versus pragmatism dichotomy that the show has been hitting on since episode 1 when Nekomi cheated to defeat Myouga Unzen. Munakata started off the fight with a pretty simple cheat, but not only did Medaka not respond in kind, her entire side handicapped itself by limiting themselves just to Zenkichi, a “normal,” as they call him. It’s a rather contrived way of expressing the “hard work beats talent” moral, one that makes last episode’s reflex vs. full control conflict look subtle in comparison.
But for all its faults, this episode had me amused more than any other episode of Abnormal. I repeat, Munakata’s constant stream of increasingly powerful and impossible-to-hide weapons was wonderful. And, even if it’s a cheap cop-out, I could appreciate that Zenkichi pretty much willed his way back from death. That’s pretty badass. Gainax has proven with this show that it’s still capable of C-level action, sometimes even venturing into B-level territory (how the mighty have fallen). And the comedy is solid when the insanity lets loose. Let’s see more of those things; if it replaced its nonsensical plot and made its philosophical lessons less heavy handed, this show could easily climb from “mediocre” to “decent.”
I’m glad she’s spending more time eating this season, but I want to actually see it instead of just the leftovers.
Thanks as always to Fosh for the captions.