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Medaka Box Abnormal Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

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Medaka Box Abnormal
Medaka Box Abnormal
A more positive effort than the first season, it still falls flat in most places, though.

What They Say:
What started as a simple assistance program has escalated insanely out of control. Medaka Kurokami now finds herself exposed as something far more than human, but that’s only the beginning of a new series of shocking revelations that lead towards a dark secret plan that not even the unbelievable power of her War God Mode may be able to withstand.

Still, Medaka’s proving to be good at thinking outside of the box, and if she needs the full backing of every hidden resource of the Student Council to meet the challenge, then that’s what she’s going to get. Even the abnormal ones!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
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.

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.

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 in her Alternate God mode with the series logo in the bottom, left corner. The back has another picture of Medaka with Zenkichi in their school uniforms, 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.

The menu for this release is well designed, but also basic. To the right is a shot of some characters, with the selections available on the left. 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.

The only extras on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED and some Japanese trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Medaka Box left me a little cold. I found it hard to get into, but once I got used to the initial premise, I found myself enjoying it to a certain extent—it wasn’t great, but it was fun for what it was. However when it shifted into typical shonen fighter affair with the conflict between the student council and the disciplinary committee, then my interest disappeared very quickly. When it then promoted the second season, Medaka Box Abnormal, would just be more fighting, then I could not have been any less interesting. Having now watched Abnormal, I can say my disinterest was pretty much justified.

After the fight with the disciplinary committee, Medaka is called into a meeting with the main administrator of the school, and she is offered a place in the Flask Plan, a research project designed to discover how to turn “Normals” into “Abnormals.” Medaka turns down the offer, and instead focuses her attentions on the thirteen floor research lab under the school, forced to fight The Front Six—the other members of Class 13 who have decided to become part of the project. But with Zenkichi, Akune, Kikajima, and her brother Maguro by her side, she feels confident she can defeat their plans.

As I noted above, I cannot really say that I enjoyed this season of Medaka Box any more than I enjoyed the last. It’s not that it is particularly bad, because it isn’t. The problem is that it isn’t particularly great either. I really wanted to like it more than I did, because I genuinely enjoyed the main characters in it. Medaka’s unending airheaded optimism makes her a great leader, Zenkichi’s devotion and seriousness makes him perfect as her longtime best-friend/potential love interest, and Akune and Kikajima are fun as the lesser members of the student council. But for me, it was the introduction of Maguro that took the cake in this season, as he was fantastic. He is fairly cliché as the overbearing, perverted, sister-obsessed older brother, but he added a spark in a lot of places that needed it. Usually, these sorts of characters make me roll my eyes, but he was the perfect square-peg-in-a-round-hole needed to shake up the chemistry a little bit of Medaka and her friends.

The problem with Medaka Box, though, is that the storytelling is pretty uninspired. As noted above, I had trouble getting into Medaka Box initially, but once I warmed to the initial premise (Medaka using her status as Student Council President to help out students with their problems, regardless of how ridiculous they might be), I found it to be fairly charming. Once it settled into a school-based fighter, though, it became every other school-based fighter ever. Medaka is the strongest fighter, and has skills so hidden and powerful that even she doesn’t realize she has them, but she also generally abhors fighting and looks to it only as a last resort. Each opponent she faces has a stronger and completely different skill from every one before that forces her and her friends to approach it in a different way. Rinse, repeat. Again, it’s not bad, it’s just generic.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of shonen fighters, so they need to be pretty special to make me pay attention, and Medaka Box isn’t that. On the positive side, they seem to understand this, as during the final fight, Oudo (the Front Six’s leader) comments that Zenkichi has been reading too much shonen manga if he thinks he has their fight figured out. That made me chuckle.

One final—admittedly minor—irritation for me: the final episode of the TV series (there is an OVA at the end too) ends on a cliffhanger, introducing the villain of the next character arc. As it has been over a year since the end of Abnormal with no announcement of any further anime coming, it’s definitely more of a “Okay, please go read the manga now” kind of ending. As the manga is not available in the US, that means it leaves us a bit high-and-dry. It wasn’t a huge concern for me, as the main conflict of this season was dealt with, and that’s really what matters most to me, but it might be more frustrating for others. So, keep that in mind.

In Summary:
Medaka Box was a series that I wanted to like more than I did. Medaka Box Abnormal has not changed that opinion for me. I love the characters and some of the random interactions, but the pacing and the overall story left me generally uninterested. If you like fighting anime, then you can probably tack on a letter grade or so to my score below. Otherwise, thumbs very firmly in the middle.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 21st, 2014
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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