Medaka Box: Kindness is stronger than anger.
Truthfully, I find it hard to write about a series like Medaka Box. From even before it aired, one could already tell this anime was going to cater to fanservice. Yet, this series first caught my eye with its sharp and flamboyant art style, as well as the fact the manga was written, though not drawn, by light novel author Nisio Isin (Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari), so I decided to give it at least a first episode watch; maybe it would have an okay story.
Now, I avoid excessive sexual fanservice like the plague. I’ve never seen any worth in it at all, nor in any of the series that use it to attract fans. Yet, Medaka Box didn’t annoy me, despite having more than a little sexual fanservice (that was caused by the main character, as you can probably judge from her picture). In fact, even in spite of this, I found the main character quite interesting and rather noble.
Medaka Kurokami, of course, is our main character. She definitely has a enough huge presence to be a main character, as well as the fact she’s….well, she’s made out to be perfect. I recall reading a blog post about halfway through the series airing, complaining about Medaka being such a perfect Mary Sue character. And in truth, she is painted in that light.
Not only is she the student council president, but she is talented in EVERYTHING it seems, from martial arts to swimming, to having the perfect body and perfect personality.
Actually, her personality is what is the most interesting. It’s seemingly impenertrable. Nothing can phase her with her through the roof self esteem and she’s outgoing towards everyone.
Yet, while the show does appear to be all about her, it’s really about how everyone is affected/changed by her.
The premise of the show (at least the first season, I’m told that the manga makes a major genre shift and things change a lot, so I’m only speaking from the first season of the anime) is simply based around Medaka as the new student council president of her high school and her idea to have a “suggestion box” so that any student in the school can come to her with any problem and she will solve it.
Big question here is “why?” Because it’s her duty? Because she’s so perfect that she can solve all the problems of the school/world? Maybe. But I always found it fantastic how she deals with each request as it arises. Instead of trying to make herself look good, she focuses on all the people involved.
The first important thing to know about Medaka is that she has this quirk about mimicking a person’s pose as she begins a conversation with them.
I can imagine that most brush this off as a trifling “anime” thing, but it got me thinking about the idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Why can’t the same attempt at understanding a person come from mimicking their pose?
Whether the technique is simply Medaka’s way of introducing herself or whether it does give her a sense of understanding the other party is unclear. Though, an interesting note about Japanese communication relates a bit. It’s done with little to no verbal exchanges and observing body language is essential for understanding another person, moreso than any sort of words.
Next thing to know is that Medaka is a pacifist, as accused by a later rival of hers. And her treatment of even the most unruly students shows this mindset and it illustrates a famous verse from Proverbs quite nicely.
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
Even with her overpowering personality, she still speaks kindly to everyone she encounters, as well as trusts them, even when the rest of the student council members don’t think that’s the wisest decision. Because of this kind response from Medaka, all of the problems she is dished out are solved to not only benefit the asker, but benefit all those involved as well.
It’s only at the end of the series when you see how much good giving a gentle answer could be, and how bad things can end up if you let anger stir up.
Granted, the end is an exaggeration; half the school get’s destroyed in a battle between Medaka and Discipline Committee’s president, Unzen, after he pushes Medaka so far as to make her genuinely mad at him and lash out in anger in the form of an over the top and destructive battle. (for background info, this kid almost killed all the student council members by setting off explosives in the student council office)
Yet in the end, the battle is won, though not by violence, but by a gentle answer.
Medaka, still enraged and about to finish off Unzen, is stopped by her friends, the other student council members. They encourage her not to fight anymore, even though she probably could win. Medaka was able to snap out of her anger because of this peaceful gesture and support from her friends and she apologizes, admitting fault and even thanking Unzen for helping her overcome her own fears, that she’s actually very lonely. She even attempts to make up with Unzen, who will not have any of it, but is shocked all the same and decides to not stir up trouble with the student council anymore.
So, in a series littered with fanservice and crazy antics, what can be learned? In most cases, you learn that you’re time can be spent elsewhere. But in regards to Medaka Box, the lesson of giving a gentle answer made the series worthwhile and enjoyable to me.