As we’ve previously seen, Medaka Box is the story of a strange highschool’s Student Council President, Medaka, and her Student Council as they help to reform problematic students and take on requests from the Medaka Box. This second (and final) season of Medaka Box sees the group taking on the challenge of finding out what all these “Abnormal” students are up to as part of a grand experiment known as the Flask Plan. This particular season is much more action orientated and more story focused than the previous and is something that viewers may find interesting.
In Abnormal, the lore between the three types of humans is explored much more in-depth along the main story during the season. In Medaka Box, people are divided into three categories: Normals, Specials and Abnormals. As you can guess, the fighting levels of characters are somewhat implied based on their type, for instance, Normals are normal people, Specials are implied to be stronger than Normals, and Abnormals have the strangest powers and are seen as the strongest. What’s cool is that across the main story, the battles often showcase how a Normal or a Special can take on Abnormal if they do things intelligently. Even more, it never feels like these kinds of battles are incredibly one sided or end in asspulls. A really good example of this is the battle between Zenkichi and the Abnormal that has the ability to conceal weapons and has the disposition of a serial killer.
What was most impressive about the Medaka Box Abnormal story was that it was incredibly focused in comparison to the previous season. The last season kind of felt like a bunch of sort of related stories being told next to each other about the student council and their happenings up until near the end when the main story kicked in. Abnormal, on the other hand, focuses entirely on the student councils plunge below their school, through a labrynthe of Abnormal students that are all a part of the oddly titled Flask Plan. In this season, the characters move from floor to floor to meet and beat various Abnormal students, in order to investigate the secrets of the Flask Plan. Along the way, Medaka and her team somehow find a way to connect with their foes and bring them down a better path, so to speak.
Having a strong objective build up from the start and seeing the group take on the challenges that it provides adds a massive level of tension to the story. Seeing once silly characters take up the mantle and fight for their beliefs, and Medaka’s sake, really makes this season quite interesting. Although, the team doesn’t just fight for Medaka’s sake, but also their own, as well as the people around theirs. It is mostly Medaka’s sake though, and this carries through almost to the end. Zenkichi and Medaka even fight at one point as enemies. It’s interesting how it gets to that point, and something to keep watching to see.
Once again, Gainax have returned for animation duties in Medaka Box Abnormal and have brought along their incredibly unique style and direction to the series. From the first season to this one, the character designs haven’t particularly changed all that much, but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad. In fact, just like the previous season, the designs are pretty impressive.
Medaka Box Abnormal’s story and more action orientated direction has allowed the art team to truly shine. In particular, you can see a lot of influence from Gainax’s previous works in regards to both character designs and action sequences. If you look carefully enough (as in, not all that much) you can see quite a few references and parallels to works such as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Top wo Narae: Gunbuster!. For example, one of the main villains carries a look very reminiscent of Gurren Lagann characters, while the councils treasurer wears swimming gear very reminiscent of Noriko’s Gunbuster suit.
The characters are still unique though, and they’re still interesting to look at, which is something great that’s carried over from the previous season. Actually, given that a lot of the characters in this season are unique Abnormals, there are a lot of interesting character variations that reflect each members unique personality and abilities.
So far Medaka Box Abnormal has been an impressive package. The Story, the visuals, the action, the awesome. Even the Japanese dub is exceptional. But once again, the English dub marrs an otherwise excellent series. It, just, doesn’t, sound, right. It’s like the voice actors weren’t acting their characters at all. Instead, it’s more like the actors are just reading off a script, or even worse, narrating the script.
Watching the final battle with the English dub completely removed any and all tension from what was being watched. Seriously. We do not recommend watching this as an English dub unless you absolutely can not read along with the action. For example, there is one incredibly intense and sad scene there, and it marred by this atrocious acting. What should have been an emotional hit, made me laugh my ass off so hard. Converse to all of this, however, is the exceptional Japanese dubbing. It just had this power and emotional smack to it. It’s as though the actors understood their characters and could take them to their limit. We really wish for the day where we’re not constantly repeating the same thing about English dubs. -sigh-.
Overall, Medaka Box Abnormal is an exceptional followup to a fun first season. It brings back memorable characters, invents some over the top enemies and has an interesting story to tie it all together. We had a lot of fun watching it, we enjoyed the story and was throroughly interested throughout. Medaka Box Abnormal is definitely a must watch, even if you skip out on the first season.
Medaka Box Abnormal is published by Hanabee here in Australia. This review is based on the superior Blu-Ray version with superior visual and audio fidelity. It can be purchased from the Hanabee store at ~$65. Image swiped from Random Curiosity (as usual) thanks!