Look, I could write a million posts about how I liked the manga and how I therefore hate the pace of the anime but I’ll never be finished and you’ll never be entertained. Yet the reason why most people like the manga is due to its content…but only at face value. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Alright, so we know how this all goes down: next week, they recruit Kakaijima, the ace of the Swimming Team which had lost. She’s incredibly obsessed with money, and she became on rent for 300 yen a day. Also, she was kissed by Medaka and wears glasses, being probably the most intelligent one of the lot, aside from Medaka. This set-up’s interesting, no? We have the godly leader, the deadpan assistant, the flamboyant bishonen and the coldly calculating glasses girl. And later on we get a joke yet powerful character in the form of the Minus, Kumagawa.
Where have we seen this before – oh, right.
It’s your Haruhi cast all over again. In fact, it’s probably every single council or afterschool club you’ve ever seen repeated once again. But what the true parody is here is not just of Haruhi, but of pretty much everything. Both characters are godly for unexplainable reasons. Haruhi’s SOS Brigade members’ lives practically revolve around Haruhi. Kyon is in love with Haruhi. Later on, a character with an even stronger power appears. Similarly, everyone in the student council is practically in love with Medaka, whose abnormality, ‘The End’, lets her almost immediately master anything. Later on, an even more powerful character, Ajimu Najimi, appears as well. Both shows are also titled after their respective heroines: yet it is the suffering male lead that’s the true star of the show: the character from which the story is told.
But the true clincher is Medaka’s annoying superiority. She’s pretty much the exemplification of everything extreme in battle manga. She’s perfect. She has the heart and graces of God. She can master any skill instantly. Everyone is in love with her. She can take down the entire school’s students if she had to. She even has the biggest bust size of every single character in the show, as she constantly boasts about her ‘well-toned body’. Despite how powerful Ajimu is, she constantly admits how she would never beat her because Medaka was the main protagonist – her constant breaking of the fourth wall being brushed away by the characters as her own delusions.
The entire manga is unapologetic about its ludicrousness and absurdity. In fact, I’d say that’s its selling point, or rather its focus: bringing things to the extreme. This is something the show hints at as well, what with the image of Medaka holding the globe in her hands. She can literally master any skill immediately, and become invincible – her talents are extreme. This extremity is also reflected in the latest chapter when Ajimu uses a few hundred skills to take down 6 opponents in rapid succession. Battle manga gets our blood pumping through epic fighting and skillful tactics. But Medaka Box is different: it does give us action, but the effect is downplayed by the acknowledged fact that Medaka would win everything.
This is also something that is reflected when Zenkichi challenges Medaka by running for Student Council president, and winning, with Medaka only getting 2% of the vote. The reason they voted for Medaka earlier, they say, was due to being indirectly voting for Zenkichi and whatnot. Turned out that not so many people liked her after all. On several levels this is parody: the popular girl loved by everyone turning out to having lost to ‘an insect’, and the perfect girl being detested by plenty. Is it the point then, to hate her? That was what was being pushed by Nisoisin in the previous 80 or so chapters.
Then after Medaka gets out of the student council, she becomes a ‘problem student ‘, whose childish, free behaviour makes people like her again. Earlier she was so human to the point she simply wasn’t human anymore – like how Haruhi was a goddess with flaws trying to be human, she was a flawless human on the verge of becoming a goddess. She now eats a lot, talks a lot, becoming very relaxed. Despite her abilities she seems more human than ever.
So what’s the point then? Perhaps it’s Fridge Brilliance then, that the first few chapters have been building up to this -the bait-and-switch philosophy of Medaka Box. You thought it was a generic school council manga? Bam! Genre change to battle shounen! You thought the entire point was to make Medaka as inhuman as possible? Bam! She’s suddenly the most human character ever! You thought the parody themes had ended with Zenkichi becoming council president? Bam! Suddenly, suitors everywhere!
Point being, Medaka Box is an interesting manga which will entertain me for quite some time. I truly hope that as a result, the anime can pick up the pace so that we can truly get to what makes the manga so good.