Anime of Tomorrow
Medaka Box (review)
Impression – sometimes smart, sometimes weird but always fun (7/10)
Spring 2012 (12 episodes)
At Hakoniwa Academy, student sovereignty is of utmost importance in the curriculum. As such, nearly everything for the students is also by the students. And the new, super-popular student council president, Medaka Kurokami takes this idea to the extreme. In her obsession to help people she opts to accept and address any request from a member of the student body by allowing them to write down their problems and put them into a suggestion box that informally becomes known as the “Medaka Box.” With the energy of a caffeinated squirrel, the concentration of a hunting wolf and the compassion of a mother dog she commences to become everyone’s heroine—even the enemies who would reject her kindness. But even as she turns hostiles into friendlies, Medaka is going to find out there are some minds she just can’t change.
Medaka Box adds itself to the list of quirky student council anime among titles like Seitokai no Ichizon and Seitokai Yakuindomo or even Kaichou wa Maid-sama. The biggest difference that separates Medaka Box from the crowd is its focus. Where other student council anime tend to deal with just its members and their misadventures together, Medaka Box constantly flits around to other characters and clubs that require assistance. It’s a very smooth way to keep things fresh, random, but still all thematically tied to prevent the story from sinking into chaos.
One things I think a lot of people will have trouble overlooking is this anime’s fanservice. Medaka’s semi-exhibitionist attitude about her body seems like a pitiful excuse to get her to show some skin, but Medaka Box handles this potential pitfall in a surprisingly deft manner. First, this trait of Medaka feeds into her uninhibited, outgoing personality that is devoid of almost any shame as well as her desire to be the center of attention. And second, while it took me a little while to realize it, Medaka is the only truly fanservice-y character in the whole series. So in a weird way, I’m going to have to call this a rare case of ecchi resulting in positive character development.
Towards the end, Medaka Box purports to tread into philosophical territory, but it ultimately feels a little silly and off-tone when compared to the rest of the series’ much freer attitude. That’s not to say that the messages, “trust your friends,” or “stay true to yourself,” aren’t important themes or morals of the story, but it’s not entirely sincere given the circumstances surrounding how these values are conveyed to the viewer. But even with this slightly misplaced stylistic shortcoming, I can’t help but be excited for the second season that will be starting in just a few weeks.