I can’t for the life of me understand the appeal of the intentional, baffling mediocrity of this show. Maybe it’s the fact that Nisio Isin helms the writing, or the way it parodies or rips off the material of the same publication that it runs in, which is kind of neat, if the definition of “neat” has been recently changed to “Incorrigibly stupid”.
I don’t know whether it’s intended as a parody, but it’s too ridiculous and over the top for me to believe that it isn’t; so it either does a shitty job at that, or it has a nasty habit of throwing every cliché into one steaming mess, mangled well beyond recognition. Hell, I hear that it’s only gotten decent after several chapters, when it just becomes a straight fight manga, so that doesn’t bode well for an adaptation that doesn’t leave out a sizable chunk of the first few chapters.
Nearly everything in this damn show, from the opening to Medaka herself to the sheer apathy of what passes for a premise, seems tailor-made to press all my buttons and launch me into long tirades about how much I hate it. There’s aggressively mediocre, and then there’s excessively… this.
So anyway, the premise is that a busty Mary Sue has been elected the student body president by a landslide and vows to become fanservice Jesus or something to that effect. She does this by implementing a policy of accepting requests on behalf of the students and carrying them out, a plot that’s been done at least once before in another Jump adaptation that I feel too apathetic towards to actually watch. When your goal in life is to be actively worse than Sket Dance at what it does, that’s not exactly aiming for the stars.
Really, the lack of any sort of aspiration or enthusiasm is probably the most offensive part of this damn show. For all its pomp and vibrancy, there seems to be very little energy that’s gone into making it. The characters, the plot, the fucking animation of all things, none of this is paid the slightest bit of attention to, creating something that looks like it was thought up in a particularly lethargic fever dream. There’s a very strong disconnect from reality present, evidenced by the high school being the size of a small town or a very large university, and Medaka’s annoying perfection was enough to make me want to drop it halfway through the first episode just to get rid of her annoyingly self-assured sneer.
Of everything mentioned above, the worst of the worst, the cream of the shittiest crop imaginable, is the lack of any sort of likable character that shows any sign of development. I get that to a “comedy” character growth isn’t exactly the most important thing, but there’s letting everyone stew in their clichés, and then there’s making them into smug little puppet fucks thrown around by the plot as it sees fit, not doing anything that any rational human would do of their own free will. Of course in Medaka’s case this is kind of understandable since she’s pretty much intended as a living plot device, but there’s no reason for anyone else being so viciously worthy of loathing. This show chooses the latter method to avoid any sort of thought or creativity, hell-bent on making every single event seem absolutely token. I mean it turned a fight between Medaka and a group of delinquents squatting in the kendo building into nothing but a series of blurs and a narration by her dumb blonde sidekick. Get it, because shounen shows tend to do this a lot?
Look, I get that shounen tropes can lean on the annoying and obvious side of things, but parody is not just doing what other shows do, except intentionally a million times worse. Parody is mixing and matching various elements into a cohesive whole that works as its own piece, either on par with or surpassing what it’s mocking. A parody should be able to stand on its own, allowing the layman unfamiliar with what it’s lampooning to understand enough to follow.
Very little anime succeeds in this regard, though there are exceptions. I know that I might be in the minority for thinking so, but Excel Saga is a perfect example of how to properly implement a spoof of various genres of anime and film. Steel Panther, a band that I love and never shut up about, is a great musical example. If you haven’t heard them yet, take this as a cue to remedy that. It’s an art that requires effort, and no amount of slapping on halfhearted self awareness will declare otherwise.
Medaka Box has started off a failure on nearly every level, the worst kind of mediocrity imaginable. I can think of nothing redeeming about it and it has absolutely no original element that’ll keep it in memory after it finishes airing. There’s a difference between being a spoof, and exploiting every cliché imaginable to make something barely watchable, something that this abhorrent little shit doesn’t seem to understand. If that sinking feeling in my stomach is any indication, I think we have a long time before this’ll stop airing, and that means a long time before it can be purged from human memory. And yet…
Before I completely condemn it and burn any record of me watching it though, I’d just like to say that I’ve said similar things about series that I’ve ended up liking after showing some patience. So maybe, if it plays its cards right and behaves like a good little shounen ripoff, I’ll think kindly of it. Maybe if it decides to develop an identity of its own that isn’t cobbled together from the excess baggage of other, better series, I’ll look back fondly on this and gladly eat each and every one of these vitriolic words. I really doubt it, but I think nearly everything deserves a chance to prove itself worth the time. And unfortunately, for better or worse, that policy also extends toward Medaka Box.