Saturday, 13 October 2012

Medaka Box Abnormal- Episode 1

For all of the hopes placed upon it, Medaka Box turned out to be a decidedly poor and broadly dull showing from GAINAX - with better source material ahead and a second bite at its proverbial cherry, can this second season fare any better?

Following on directly from the first series, Abnormal's first episode brings us to the aftermath of Medaka Kurokami's defeat of Unzen, leaving a hefty chunk of the school requiring rebuilding and a gap normally filled by Unzen's role... not simply in the school disciplinary committee, but also in the secretive "Flask Plan" made up of members of the mysterious Class 13.  Called to the office of Hakoniwa Academy's chairman, Medaka is regaled to a brief explanation of the Flask Plan's existence, with Chairman Shiranui (yes, he is related to that Shiranui keen to get Medaka on-board as one of the purported "Abnormals" that the plan is looking to find and perfect.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn't exactly sound like Kurokami's cup of tea, and thus she refuses - a decision which is about to put her into a whole lot of danger when it comes to her interactions with the other Abnormals of the Flask Plan.  Before that however, it seems that Medaka has a direct rival for her place within the Flask Plan - Myouri Unzen's sister Myouga, a girl who wears (and attacks with) iron balls and chains and literally talks in numerical form.  With Medaka insisting on taking a pacifist stance in the face of what she sees as Myouga's unprovoked attack, things aren't looking good for the student council president... luckily for her Nabeshima has no such qualms about getting involved in an unnecessary fight, which sees her face-off against Unzen via her own unique style.

Only one episode in, Medaka Box Abnormal already feels like it has far more life to it than its predecessor, with more action and a plot far more interesting than simply answering requests in a suggestion box.  That isn't to say that this episode is a resounding success - it still feels as if GAINAX are "phoning in" the series in terms of animation quality and the like, which is a real worry as the show's action quote looks likely to ratchet up in this second season - but it at least has a lot more going to it from its insanely quirky characters through to the glee with which it compares itself so knowingly to other shounen offerings.  While even this show's source material can be a love/hate affair at the best of times (yes, I have read through the manga to date between the end of the first series and the start of Abnormal), simply recreating those feelings would be a definite step up from the dislike most people felt for the show's first season.

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