Medaka Box – 08

Onigase Harigane, officer in the school Disciplinary Committee AKA School Police, goes after the Student Council for their brazen uniform violations. Akune, Kikaijima and Zenkichi all relent, but Medaka refuses to change. Onigase tries to trick her with a fake suggestion box request, but Medaka foils her by jumping in a pool with all her clothes on. Onigase follows her in, and must borrow a revealing spare uniform from Medaka. Later, Zenkichi and Onigase accidentally get handcuffed together, and then to Medaka, and the three end up helping half the school out on the way to HQ. Zenkichi and Medaka deal with a pair of delinquents that had defied Onigase’s justice.

Color us pleasantly surprised with the introduction of the spunky, no-nonsense officer Onigase to the rapidly-expanding cast of supporting characters in Medaka Box. While initially a rigid wet blanket, who lives only to enforce the rules, a day of obsering how Medaka ticks leads her to bend a little. We like her personality and energy, and her tendency to change her voice from cold and scolding to warm and friendly at the tip of a hat. She exhibits good chemistry with Zenkichi, and even she is not immune to Medaka’s seemingly infinite charms. Thankfully, the handcuff bit never descended into fanservicey farce, and rather served as a kind of “tour” of Medaka’s generosity and popularity for the pink-haired policegirl.

Onigase doesn’t fit the mold of a villain-of-the-week, because like so many other ne’r-do-wells on this series, she has a change of heart and a humanizing moment after her experiences with the student council. The other potential villains of the week, “MetalWood”, don’t last long, as their wooden and metal bats are shattered by the Medaka/Zenkichi duo, who use their legs when they can’t use their arms. While we liked Onigase, we’re not looking forward to her chairman, Unzen, who is another one of those ten-year-old prodigys who is in high school for some reason, and breaks his PSVita (or whatever) for no reason.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Sakamichi no Apollon – 07

The day of the school cultural festival draws near, and Kaoru still won’t speak to Sentaro. Kaoru and Ritsuko are elected to the festival committee by their class, who have begun to noticce their mutual affection for one another. Sentaro makes a move on Yurika, but they’re interrupted by a bedraggled Jun, who Sentaro punches. Kaoru wastes an opportunity to clear the air with Sentaro, and the two drift far apart. When the festival arrives, the rock concert is cut short by electrical problems. On a whim, Kaoru decides to occupy the crowd by playing jazz on the piano. Sentaro joins him on the drums, and their jamming draws the whole school to the gym, spellbound. When they’re done their impromptu set, they run down the slope.

Whew…now that was a goddamn powerhouse of an episode. Just as jazz was the catalyst for Kaoru and Sentaro’s friendship, it’s also the salve that mends it when it’s asunder. The episode is a roller coaster of bleak emotional valleys balanced by dizzyingly estatic peaks. Beginning with a breif recap of Kaoru telling Sentaro off, potentially (though unlikely) for good, and ends with the most jaw-droppingly epic jam session in the most unlikely venue. The entire school witnesses their catharsis, and are so captivated they almost forget to applaud (Yurika gets it going). The scenes of students running into classrooms beckoning their peers to come to the gym adds to the energy. This week the school learned a lot more about Sentaro and Kaoru.

They jam for just over three and a half minutes, but times seems to drift away altogether during that period. We’re dared to not tap our feet or drum our hands on the coffee table to the music, and we can’t resist. The medley harks back to all the pieces they’ve played thus far – and one Kaoru played just for Ritsuko – but all of them have a new energy, which Ri’ko puts very nicely: “Like two princes arguing good-naturedly as they come back home.” It is an argument: between two momentarily estranged friends; between piano and drums; but once they’re both on the same wavelength and jamming away with such energy and purpose, not even a drunken racist Yankee sailor would deign to interrupt. Ri’ko’s dad mourns the loss of Coltrane at the episode’s start: it’s no time for silent halls or friends…and rock ‘n’ roll just ain’t gonna cut it.

10_masterpiece
Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

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