New: Medaka Box, Kore wa Zombie 2, Sankarea, Polar Bear’s Cafe

Medaka Box has nothing you haven’t seen in other anime shows, student council presidents, sarcastic narrators, moe-blob side characters, bouncing boobs, kendo goons, etc., but if feels odd.

Look behind you, Zenkichi.

The show (and apparently the universe) revolves around Medaka, 1st year student council president with delusions of grandeur that, all her life, she has lived up to. The other main character, Zankichi, is her childhood friend and male tsundere (he even admits it) who has watched her overcome every challenge in her life with nagging jealousy. The plot (clean up the kendo club) is straightforward, the little twist given by instigator Hyuga only a minor hitch to give Zenkichi the chance to prove he’s not just a snarky wuss.

The kendo boys never stood a chance.

What’s more interesting are the questions raised, usually by Zenkichi, about the fairness of talent. He doesn’t have the natural gifts Medaka has and occasionally resents her for it. There are some times when failure is the only option, but so far Medaka has yet to encounter that. On the other hand, you can’t argue with her goal to help people, and if she seems naive, well, she’s always on the good side. And we have the pair’s odd dynamic even beyond Zenkichi’s tsundere act and Medaka’s near-insanity. Tsundere Zenkichi claims he can live without Medaka, but you know he can’t, and Medaka says more than once that she needs him by her side, though in what capacity I don’t think either of them have figured out. The show itself jumps here and there without warning and it’s full of wild, expressionistic touches, such as when Medaka lectures the kendo goons we get a burst of light and suddenly she’s looking down at the entire planet. All this, as I said, feels straightforward and odd at the same time, like they haven’t yet figured out how to work all these parts together into a working machine. It’s worth watching to see how they do it.

A typical day for Ayamu.

I don’t know if the world really needs another season of Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, but we get one anyway. And episode one is actually pretty good. From what I remember, last season threw a lot of weirdness at you but really didn’t follow up on most of it. And shows like this are usually lousy when they try to get serious. But there’s nothing like that here, it’s all played for laughs. We get reintroduced to the regulars and reminded of the basic premise: Ayumu is a boy who got killed and resurrected as a zombie by the silent Eu. He’s also a magical girl because he stole the powers of ultra-genki Haruna. Meanwhile Sera insults him at every turn, Yuki’s his “wife,” etc. There’s a story in this episode but the only two things that come of it are that the class now thinks Ayumu’s a pervert, forgetting that he just saved them from a giant flying perverted squid. More interesting is the drunken fairy he befriends. I’m sure we’ll get more of her later. Yeah, this episode kept the fun level up. Let’s see if they can keep it that way.

Speaking of Zombies (This blog will never get an easier segue ever), we get Sankarea, a show about a zombie obsessed high school kid. His cat Babu is run over, and he decides to try and ressurect it into a zombie. A couple of things to keep in mind before we jump to conclusions: the boy Chihiro is perfectly normal. He’s free and open about his zombie-love to his friends, but they just think he’s a little weird. His attempts to revive Babu are partly out of his obsession and being young, also he dearly loved that cat. Also, he doubts it will work and also wonders if Babu would like it. Anyway, while he’s trying different potions he sees Rea, a beautiful rich girl who hates her sheltered life and takes out her frustrations by yelling into wells, like we all do. It’s sort of a meet-cute. He wants a zombie girl and she hates her life enough to die and become one. But there’s a foreboding here. They obviously like each other, even though Chihiro sort of looks like a cat and Rea looks like she’s hiding something, like her frustrations might lead her to do something rash. You can’t tell if either of them is joking, or if this is a comedy or a horror show. And what’s with the bowling theme in the ED? Interesting stuff going on here. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

A panda is served curry.

No zombies in Polar Bear’s Café, but if there was I’m sure Polar Bear would politely find him a seat and make him feel comfortable. But this first episode is more about young Panda, who’s forced to look for work by his mom to get him out of the house. You think he’s going to get a job at the café, but he’s no more qualified than the badger, tortoise, anteater and mandrill who also apply. He finally gets a job at the zoo as a part-panda, making you wonder why he applied anywhere else in the first place. At its best this is a peaceful, laid-back show with both humans and animals hanging around. A lovely bit where the panda chases a butterfly for no reason. The penguin, a long-time café customer, and the polar bear are the best characters. At its worst it’s slow and filled with dumb jokes and bad puns (even the penguin gets tired of it). The panda’s voice got on my nerves. We’ll see.


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