Kurokami Medaka, a first year, is elected as Student Council President, and the first thing she does is establish a suggestion box, later dubbed by students the "Medaka Box." Medaka encourages students to submit any problem to the box without hesitation and promises to take on any issue from anyone.
Since Medaka won the Student Council elections with a staggering 98% of the vote, she ends up as the Council's only member. She asks her childhood friend, Hitoyoshi Zenkichi, for help and he grudgingly agrees, becoming the Student Council's lowest ranking member. Soon Medaka recruits two more people to the Student Council, the former judo club member Akune Kouki as secretary and the current swim club member Kikaijima Mogana, on loan for 300 yen a day, as treasurer.
Now the Student Council members spend their days solving the problems submitted through the Medaka Box, whether they be hooligans in clubs where they don't belong, girls who need help writing love letters or people who've lost their pets, gradually earning the respect and admiration of the entire school.
In every story, every setting, every book or novel, there always seem to be that one character who just stands out a bit more than others. No, I don't mean that in an intimating way. What I mean is that there's the one character who stands out who is able to define him or herself in a different way than others. Why am I saying this? Well, long story short but there's a particular character in Medaka Box who fits into that category. Her name is Kurokami Medaka; just your everyday Abnormal Student Council president of Hakoniwa Academy. After gaining an overwhelming 98% favor of
the student body, she stands now as the leader of both the academy and a role model of the students. She is seen with a million dollar body, an intellectual mind, an unrivaled charisma, and a commanding presence to the audience.
Color me surprised here but this girl just seems too perfect, huh?
In a nutshell, Medaka Box is a manga written by Nisio Isin with artwork by Akatsuki Akira. The author is known for his other famous works such as the Monogatari series that features exclusive dialogues that invites entertainment to readers and manga fans alike. Did Medaka Box achieve entertainment? Well, in some ways yes but in other ways a bit of no. But what it did achieve however is interest and maybe after reading this review, it will spark some interest in you too.
The manga takes place at a school life setting at a location known as the Hakoniwa Academy. It all seems pretty normal with the daily activities and school life themes. In fact, one can hardly tell that there is abnormality at all. However, you might want to change your mind once you meet Kurokami Medaka. As stated before, she is not your normal typical girl. In fact, she is a woman to be both feared and respected. The way she behaves in the manga often puts her on the edge of a superhuman with her achievements and actions. Luckily though, she seems to be using herself to help others which led to the formation of the Student Council. The club's goals features a little tool known as the 'Suggestion Box'. Literally, it's a box that accepts any suggestion from students at the academy. Whether it'd be problems related with parents, school, relationships, or just life in general, Medaka is willing to go about the end of the world to help those in need. Why? Well, I guess it's the root of her personality that makes her dominant and a person who is just willing to help others out of kindness. In fact, every time Medaka helps others, she would rewards herself with a pot of flowers. One day, Medaka hopes that a garden of these flowers will emerge in the academy and truly show her ways of kindness.
The club isn't just run by herself though. If that was the case, she'd be dead tired about now. Luckily, the other members of the club each holds his or her own position to help Medaka with her goal. Among these members includes Medaka's childhood friend Hitoyoshi Zenkichi who reluctantly joined. He is seen as someone who is more aloof and the type who tends to keep to himself. Additionally, there's Kouki Akune who seems to be infatuated with Medaka. His violent past as well as tough personality has given him the title the 'Prince of Judo' and is considered the oldest member of the club. Last but not least is Mogana Kikaijima who plays the role of the school treasurer. Her past is also seemed to be not one of the happiest but her own will as well as obsession with money keeps her going. She eventually joined the club and becomes the treasurer. There you have it, the club. Four members all with different styles and backgrounds formed together with one single purpose: to help out others.
Oh but that's a lot easier said than done.
The problem is that there are people who goes against kindness and lives more on selfishness to fuel their own decisions that results in consequences. For example, there's a group of individuals in the series who tries to operate a secret plan for their own purposes. They ignore the fact that there are consequences while making the claim that it's for the “common good” of the people. The truth is that such a plan will result in collateral damage and only people like Medaka with a heart of gold are able to stop them from their ambitions.
At any rate, the series follows its format of a seemingly chapter-by-chapter daily activities in the beginning. Later on though, the series immediately takes off with full throttle action in the form of battle shounen. Yes, folks, this is considered a battle shounen rather than the typical shoujo or a slice of life story. It takes that genre and often makes exaggerations of it through extended dialogue (curtosey of the author Nisio Isin) and action sequences. Of course, it always tries to poke fun with word play and the action itself here and there. The manga in fact is divided into 9 different story arcs with each of them featuring a different way of presenting the series.
The action in the series itself is balanced but occasionally have problems in being a bit cliched. Additionally, Medaka is somewhat bit of being too overpowered and displays her overwhelming power constantly. This is especially true in the beginning chapters where everything she seems to make everything she does so simple. However, there is a lot of action later on and most of it is presented with a way that a battle shounen should be. Luckily, there are a lot of characters in the series (with more making debuts each and every arc). Some of these characters makes returns and brings interest while making his or her own spotlights for themselves. Examples such as Najimi Ajimu, Youka Naze, Misogi Kumagawa, and Hansode Shiranui make strong impressions in the manga and sometimes or not, outshines Medaka herself. There are also characters who have their own uniqueness that defines them who they are. In essence, there are many characters in this series and each and every one of them plays a type of role to progress the various arcs of the manga.
The arcs themselves aren't meant to be taken too serious though. It's more like one of those excuses where the manga over-exaggerates itself with the comedy and gags. In fact, there are many gags in the this manga such as the dramatic tones, the egos of some of the characters, the catchy poses, and speech mannerisms of some characters. In a way, Medaka Box is one of those manga where if you decide to read it, read it like you're having fun rather than analyzing the battles themselves.
Despite all the fun I had while reading this manga, I did ran into some problems with the pacing as well as the overall conclusion. I guess it's like reading a book and once you get to a certain point, you ask yourself if this is what the author wanted to happen. Among other factors, I find the artwork of the manga to be a bit generic, even for a battle shounen. The way the characters are dressed shows that they are students but more than just your every day kid with his or her head stuck in the books. Rather, most of the characters seemed to dress in an unique fashion but hardly shows anything besides that besides some of the more prominent characters. Medaka also seems to lack any sort of true emphasis behind her character despite being a title character. Throughout the manga though, I did find that her relationship with some of the other members, in particular her childhood friend Zenkichi Hitoyoshi to be more detailed. However, the rest of the club members' relationship with Medaka seems to minimized and sometimes frustrates me.
Overall, this manga is a battle shounen that can be enjoyed at various levels. In many ways, its dialogues and humor will definitely spark some interest. Give it some time though as the first few chapters may seem normal but the later arcs will shift quickly to abnormal. Once that catches your interest, Medaka Box can be a fun read. In every story, every setting, every book or novel, there's always something that stands out. For Medaka Box, it's the fun that never ends with Medaka-chan and her friends.
I've come to realize that people who watched the anime series will have an hard time to grasp what the series is trying to accomplish, as it only shows it's true colors by the third arc (I'm counting Uzen has first arc, since everything before it was just establishing characters).
It goes something like this:
Pre-First arc: Mneh.
First Arc: Okay, things are picking up, this may become interesting.
Second Arc: Generic yeah, but it's fun (This is where the anime ends, as far as I was told, btw)
Third Arc: The author comes at this point and laughs at you for having liked the first two arcs.
Box is simply a satire of shonen mangas tropes. It basically grabs Goku, Naruto, Ichigo, Luffy, Jesus Christ and boobs and mix them together in the most overpowered, ridiculous, bland character of all time. Why is Medaka so strong? Well, the explanation is "Because she is the main character", you can't argue with that.
But I'd say that the strong point is, rather than the main character, everyone else. From Kumagawa, the boy who always loses, Zenkichi, the true main character, or even a villain that, even though she's the most OP thing in the story of OP things, simply refuses to fight Medaka because "Main characters always win against last bosses."
The third and fourth arc are what make Medaka Box what it is, because it's the one that really explores the ridiculousness of battle mangas, but not in a bad way. It's never "Shonen mangas are so stupid and ridiculous, you should be reading actual good things." it's more like: "Shonen mangas are so ridiculously stupid, but so what? They are supposed to be, it's what makes them fun, and that's why you should read them." And that's true, no matter how many complex and serious stories are there, there will always be space for simple fun stories too, and we should enjoy both.
So that's why Medaka Box exists, and you'll either love it or be pissed off by it.
Before I start my review I wana say that this manga is underrated.
This manga is my fav and I think that until now no manga effected me like this one did.
At first I watched the first season of the anime, to say the truth more half of the first season was like a very strong and smart girl helping who needs help.
When I read that this is an action anime I said to myself where is the action?! the after more than half the series ended and nothing special happened.
I was surprised when it changed after that.
And then came the second season where I
was a lot surprised of the changes that happened in it.
Medaka Box became one the animes i felt excited about.
But at the end of the second season the anime stopped at a weird moment, so i decided to read the manga.
AND IT WAS AS COOL AS THE BEST SHOUNEN MANGAS.
Story: A greatly superior girl helps who needs her help at her school by becoming the student council president. and forcing her childhood normal guy zenkichi to help her.
The student council gets another members and solves the students problems so I give it 9.
Characters: The characters is the main reason that will make you love the anime and this role will be for one of the support characters called Kumagawa,
To be short Kumagawa is the kind of character that you never expect what he will do, just a perfect mix for good and bad like (smart-stupid or strong-weak or even cool-lame) and this character may be the main reason for you to love Medaka Box.
And for our MC, its ok if you love her but its ok too if you don't love her, its not going to effect your opinion of the manga at all.
For the abilities in this manga, its not that kind of abilities that will make you wanna do cuz its cool its just cool cuz its weird, so I give the characters 10.
Art: The art in the manga or the anime isn't that attractive in fact the anime's art is something like the 2000's animes
but the art isn't that effective in the manga so i give it 7.
Enjoyment: I guess after reading all that I wrote, you know what is the rating. but well lets just say it perfect 10.
NOTE: there is one thing that I want to say, at least for me unlike all the shounen manga there is 2 things that are alil bit different from the others
1) Normally you are waiting for the fight to get excited, but in this manga the trongest wepon is the character's personality and the words that characters say.
2) Normally in any anime te 4th wall breaking is meant for comedy but in this anime its kinda different and actually is kinda cool.
Ever wonder what happens when you try too hard at something?
Well, in the world of Japanese entertainment, you get Medaka Box. Minor spoilers ahead.
I can't even call this entertainment. It's more akin to torture; a joke gift you give to a friend. There's literally no way to read this manga that will leave you with a positive feeling when you're finally done.
Why? Let's start with the story.
If this is your first time with any anime or manga, this story will seem innovative. If you have seen at least one anime or read at least one manga in your entire life, then you've most likely
witnessed a similar plot to this or better.
If you're more experienced with the medium, you'll be rolling your eyes. Set in a prestigious high school where there are seemingly no adults, first-year Kurokami Medaka wins the position of student council president by a whopping ninety-eight percent of the popular vote. How? Well, it's Medaka Box. More specifically, it's Medaka herself. She's good-looking, super smart, super strong, super persuasive, and super busty. I'd love to go on, but I'll save that for later.
As soon as she's given the position, she sets up a suggestion box (or "meyasu" box, from where the titular wordplay comes) and encourages the student body (A.K.A. the entire school) to drop in suggestions or problems, for which she offers to help 24/7/365. Having the mention of this box in the title itself would infer that it's a really important item throughout the whole story, right? Wrong. It's completely forgotten a couple dozen chapters in. Only about two to three times is the box ever brought up later. Additionally, most plot points or backstories aren't brought up until very late, usually for the sake of pure convenience or to make a gag, which always fails to extract even a mild chuckle.
Time to address the most glaring problem with Medaka Box: Until about chapter 20, I was reading it under the impression that this was a manga written with lots of effort, was meant to be taken seriously, and reflects what the author (and artist) wanted the reader to take away from it. It was not only until I did a little more research that I found out this was a satire, or parody. Upon reading that, I said out loud to myself, "what the fuck?"
That's right; this manga is meant to be a satire of every imaginable generic shounen trope. It's too bad that NisiOisiN has no idea how to do satire. Never is there a single tell or sign in the beginning that it's of that genre, and instead goes on happily assuming the reader already knows what it's doing. I had to go out of my way to have someone let me know that it was a satire, and it was only after that realisation that every attempt to subvert some trope became more and more jarring, as if it were saying, "Guys, just to let you know, this is all ironic. You know what would normally happen in a generic shounen? Well, that's what we're doing, except ironically!" It goes from being incredibly ambiguous with its purpose to having so little faith in the reader's intelligence that it feels the need to constantly point out when it's subverting something, which is about 90% of the time. Also, its attempts to cleverly break the 4th wall are played so childishly that it'd make even a fan fiction look amazing.
As a side note, I'd like to point out that Medaka Box was serialised on Weekly Shounen Jump. Constantly throughout the series we get characters saying how rudimentary and childlike manga in that magazine are, while it sets itself up to be so much more mature simply because it subverts everything. People make this out to be a taboo of criticism, but I'm not afraid to say Medaka Box is utterly pretentious. It thinks it's so much better than the rest, yet is exactly the same, if not worse.
Furthermore, how the hell would you criticise something like this? If it's always being ironic 100% of the time, then it's impossible to rate it; it's always going to be an instant 10.
Manga did some stupid shit? Hah, no worries, that's the point, it's SUPPOSED to be bad! We just set ourselves up for an impenetrable defense against criticism! A foolproof excuse for every time we may falter!
The reason it's so detrimental for Medaka Box to try to subvert literally everything (emphasis on "try") is because that's all it eventually becomes: A manga that's just pointing out typical shounen tropes and how clever the author is by announcing that it's subverting them. It does this so often that it destroys its own identity, and any later attempts to create one instantly fail. Not only that, but it's also devoid of genre. What IS Medaka Box? A slice of life? A drama? A battle shounen? A sports manga? A martial arts manga? A psychological manga? A romance? A comedy?
The correct answer would be, "everything." But a more correct answer would be, "nothing." It crams so many genres in one package and tries to pull them all off at the same time that none are ever fully realised. In trying to be a little bit of everything, Medaka Box succeds at being a whole lot of nothing.
It's difficult not to associate "art" with just the quality of the drawings; however, in manga, "art" also refers to other things like style, backgrounds, paneling, expression, and consistency.
Akatsuki Akira's art in Medaka Box is pretty detailed by itself, even though most characters have bags under their eyes all the time and a criminal case of sameface. Fortunately, in terms of quality, it's not bad. It's in everything else that the problem lies.
Character designs are exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous and downright offensive to look at, with a few exceptions. The most notable examples of this are the villains, especially ones like Miyakonojou and the generic antagonists in the first few chapters. But oh wait, they did it on purpose, so it's okay!
No it isn't.
If that was on purpose, then was the questionable paneling, disconnected movements and the artist's lack of ability to draw hands also on purpose?
Yes, the artist can't draw hands. You can see how hard he tries to hide hands in his art, whether they be out of panel or in pockets, but when they show, 90% of the time, they're all in one single position. I recommend you see for yourself and imagine that for 194 chapters.
Backgrounds are done well enough, so I have no complaints there, though it's what you'd expect in your average manga. One gripe I have with the backgrounds is that they never make anything truly stand out in the world. Everything looks just as much like everything else as, well... everything else. All in all, they're average. They do their job, but I never found myself in awe over how a certain background was drawn.
On a smaller note, it looks awful in color. Characters that would be drawn with black hair have a really ugly brown color, and Shiranui's bright blue hair gets on my nerves. And speaking of characters...
And now, the moment of truth.
Characters can make or break a series. For Medaka Box, it's the latter. Apparently, in a satire like this, there has to exist at least one character whose sole purpose is to subvert a certain trope. I know I'm sounding like a scratched disc, but this manga absolutely LOVES drilling in the fact that they're trying to be meta right into the reader's brains.
You have your average guy who tags alongside the protagonist because he's her bitch, is average at everything, does average things, and reacts accordingly to every situation. In other words, the most boring conceivable human being. Now, later in the story, he has some basic development, but it's all so predictable that you wonder why they didn't make him like that from the start, since pretty much no other character gets any development, aside from bad guys turning good.
And it's not like the rest of the main cast is any memorable, either. Not only are they pretty much idle for the majority of the story, but they only show up when absolutely necessary, save for Kumagawa, but he comes later.
As for the rest of the cast... who the hell are these people? Their names are completely forgettable, their designs are not even worth mentioning, and they all only ever get a few lines before the manga decides it's had enough of them. As a desperate attempt from the author to convince the reader that these characters didn't just phase into existence as soon as the story saw fit, they throw in a vague, quickly mashed together backstory during a battle. Seriously, six characters were introduced in one chapter only for them to be instantly defeated in the next and never brought back. Speaking of characters, there are many. And I mean like, more than this manga knows what to do with. They're all different variations of the same generic archetypes anyway, so if you just skip every page where they appear, you'll miss out on absolutely nothing. It's a privilege to even call these soulless, concave shells, "characters," anyway, given how many times I just used the word.
But you don't want to hear about them (and frankly, neither did I); you wanna hear about our lovely, beautiful, strong, athletic, busty, generic, overpowered, conceited, arrogant bitch of a protagonist that is Kurokami Medaka.
What is the point? As in, what is the point of Medaka existing? She's perfect in every way. She can do everything right, and if she doesn't know something, she'll just learn and master it in the blink of an eye. "Mary Sue" would be an understatement for this sort of blemish on the art of writing itself. She's good at everything, she never fails, she's popular, and there's no way to defeat her. Coupled with the fact that she has about five different god modes, in what way do you ever expect any battle with her to have any sort of tension? There simply is none, because you always know she'll win. It's established from the beginning that she'll always win. You're plowing through 194 chapters simply just to see Medaka win over and over again by pulling something out of her ass or bending the rules of storytelling itself to her favor. Was she made to be this formulaic and boring by design?
Of course. Medaka is singlehandedly a worse protagonist than even Amagiri Ayato or Kirito, because they at least have a personality. Medaka has nothing. She does things for the sake of people. For the sake of the reader. She does what the reader wants her to do all the time. The entire concept of this character is so inoffensive; so formulaic; so safe, that you never expect anything out of her than what you always would. Medaka will always win, whether you like it or not. She'll never do anything stupid, or screw up, or say anything out of character. She exists for the sake of filling in the protagonist slot.
Oh yeah, Kumagawa.
Kumagawa Misogi could be considered the saving grace involuntarily stuck between this trainwreck. His role in the story is that of "the loser," and in no lighthearted way. He serves the purpose of being the person who is always destined, or cursed, to lose. He can never beat the main character or anyone simply because he's the bad guy and not the protagonist. He's come to terms with this fate and puts himself down with those who are weak to study them in order to strenghten himself. That sounds great. If only the author didn't make him talk about how it's all so different from a stereotypical Shounen Jump manga, then I'd like his concept even more. On top of his power being cool--though not properly used most of the time--his design doesn't give you eye sores, which is always a plus in Medaka Box, saddening as it may be. Unfortunately, he's not our main character, but he's still redeemable and memorable enough to stick in your mind even after the PTSD has worn off.
What is there to be taken away from this manga? All that's visible is a perfect example of how not to write anything ever. In fact, this series would be more informative than anything if read from that perspective. There's just nothing enjoyable about this. The characters are bad, the interaction is bad, the art leaves much to be desired, and the story is dreadful and just keeps going. As soon as you think it's reached a satisfactory conclusion, it suddenly keeps going, immediately jumping into a new worthless arc that by the third time would make anyone go, "there's more...?" The more the story goes on, the more you want to see Medaka dead and everyone else doing something with their lives. What you've seen here you can see anywhere else, and done better. Please do not waste your time on Medaka Box, even if by mere curiosity.
A 1 might seem harsh, though. After all, I just mentioned some redeeming aspects that would save it from the title of absolute worst.
However, this isn't a review that tries to appeal to a general audience; it's one that expresses an opinion. If there was no such thing as perfection to the mind, the 10 on a rating scale wouldn't exist, making the highest score a 9, and since a 9 would be highest, an 8, so on and so forth. The same applies for the 1. Simply having some redeeming factors doesn't mean one can't think something isn't absolutely bad, and vice versa. The nice animation in Sword Art Online alone doesn't make a person want to keep watching for forty-eight episodes; similarly, okay art and one good character don't make a person want to read through the entirety of this mistake.
This manga is not fun. This manga is not interesting. This manga is not engaging. Please, by all means, stay away from Medaka Box. Please, don't watch the anime thinking it'll be better. And if you ignore all of this, then at least don't raise your expectations too high, otherwise you'll be as criminally disappointed as I was. I wanted to like this series. I went into it thinking, and hoping it would be good. But by chapter 12, I simply couldn't continue. I gave up on that notion. As soon as that happened, everything fell right into place exactly how I thought it would. It's predictable, it's degrading, and it's insulting. Not just to the reader, but to itself. I wish Kumagawa could make this manga have "never happened."