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Medaka Box Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Medaka BoxIt might start decently, but it takes a nosedive late

What They Say:
When newly elected Student Council President Medaka Kurokami instituted her idea for a suggestion box where people can suggest problems that need to be solved, she was expecting things like rescuing lost puppies and giving advice. What she and her best friend Zenkichi find instead, however, are the first hints of an unbelievable secret and their school, Hakoniwa Academy, and Medaka herself, are somehow at the very center of the growing maelstrom!

As what seemed like an innocent pasttime turns into a dangerous game, Medaka and her recruits to the Student Council discover new depths to both themselves and their own unexpected abilities… and then things get really out of control!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing, I took in the English dub; both languages are available in 2.0 stereo. While the mix was fine, considering the amount of action here, I was a little disappointed in the lack of a 5.1 mix. I think it could have added a lot to the atmosphere, but it’s not that big a deal.

Video:
This series is available in its original widescreen, and the transfer looks pretty clean. Colors are bright, and the animation is pretty solid, though the character designs are fairly generic. I didn’t notice any technical issues with the transfer, so no complaints there, either.

Packaging:
The three discs for this release are contained in a single amaray case, with a center insert for two of the discs. The front cover has a shot of Medaka and the rest of the student council (i.e. the good guys) with the series logo in the bottom, right corner. The back has another picture of Medaka with Kikaijima in their swimsuits, along with the series summary, some screen shots, and the technical details of the set. Overall, there’s a focus on Medaka’s cleavage, which considering that’s a large focus in the series too, it’s pretty appropriate. This is a well-designed package, but is nothing particularly special.

Menu:
The menu for this release is well designed, but also basic. To the right is a shot of some characters (Medaka on the first disc, Kikaijima on the second, and the School Police on the third), with the selections available on the right. The selections are large and bright and stand out well. While the menu is up, the OP music plays on a 45 second loop, long enough that it won’t get old quickly if you leave it up for a bit.

Extras:
There aren’t too many extras on this release. The second disc has clean versions of the OP/ED, and the third disc has a number of trailers, including a teaser for the second season.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Medaka Box is a series that I knew nothing about before agreeing to review it, and the first season ultimately left me with mixed feelings. Overall, I found myself enjoying the initial premise, but they flushed it all away with a twist later on in the season.

Medaka Kurokami is special: she’s beautiful, well-endowed, and has the ability of finding the best in everybody. As such, everybody tends to like her in return, and she finds herself in a rare position: she has just been elected Student Council President despite being a First Year. In order to spread as much good as she can, she has decided to implement the use of a suggestion box: any student who had an idea or needs help can place a request in the box, and the Student Council will do their best to solve the problem. It doesn’t matter if the issue is something as simple as finding a lost dog or as complex as sorting out a group of delinquents monopolizing the Kendo Hall, they will fix anything put in front of them. As Medaka and her longtime friend Zenkichi are initially the only members of the Student Council, and therefore are at the forefront of all early attempts, the suggestions become known as the Medaka Box.

All of their efforts see Medaka and the Student Council quickly become the envy of the school. Medaka refocuses the energies of the delinquents in the Kendo Hall and gets them interested in bettering their skills, she helps the Judo Club pick a new captain (as the old captain is getting ready to graduate), and she shows the swim team that life is about more than just the rigorous pursuit of more money. And through it all, she settles Zenkichi’s frustrations at being forced into the Student Council, and manages to sign up two more members to help out. But there’s one group that does not see Medaka as a benevolent force for straightening out the school: the School Police. Led by the child prodigy, Myouri Unzen, the School Police see fixing the school’s ills as their domain, and view Medaka’s tender efforts as their enemy and set out on a path to destroy the Student Council.

And frankly, this is where Medaka Box loses me. When the series started, I found it took me a few episodes to get into it. The humor was decent but lacked depth, and the plot suffered from the same issue. Medaka’s ample cleavage was the best developed part of this. But once I accepted it for what it was, I found it to be fairly fun. I wouldn’t say it was great, but I was enjoying it. There’s a lot of charm to Medaka’s somewhat airheaded attempts to get everybody to be good people, and her unending optimism is infectious.

The problem, as I said, starts with this conflict between Medaka and Myouri. Before the arrival of Myouri, Medaka is just a girl with an irresistible personality who always manages to have the right answer. When Myouri arrives, we learn that they are part of a group of “Specials” with tremendous powers who often feel the need to show their supremacy over humans. Myouri’s arrival is punctuated when he slaughters the entire Band Club because their practicing is distracting to other clubs. We then find out that the rest of the School Police are Specials, as are the people that Medaka has chosen for the Student Council. The first season basically ends with Medaka and Myouri battling it out and wrecking the school in the process.

This “twist” was about the last direction I expected this series to take, and it was a completely unwelcome one. As I said, once I accepted Medaka Box for what it initially was, I found myself enjoying it to a certain extent. Once the truth was revealed, though, it just became another in a long line of fighting anime, and not one of the better ones. I’m sure I will see the second season whenever they release it, but I’m not going to pretend that I am excited about it.

In Summary:
Watching the first season of Medaka Box gave me a roller coaster of enjoyment. It took me a while to get into it, but once I settled in and accepted it for what it was, I found it to be fairly enjoyable. Then the conflict with the School Police happened, and it basically ruined most of my good will. The school being the grounds for an ongoing war among the “Specials” is roughly the last thing I wanted to see. Considering that the foreshadowing of the second season hints at the impending arrival of group of malevolent specials Medaka and her friends will have to fight, I’m not exactly dying to see the rest. Thumbs very firmly in the middle.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Jump Festa Promo, Teasers, Home Video Spots, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 24, 2013
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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