Misogi Kumagawa: From Villain to the Background
A villain only wanting to bring destruction may seem like a cliché, but Kumagawa from Medaka Box manages to be interesting and bring something new to the role, for a while at least. As Medaka Box went from a high school story about a god-like teenage girl named Medaka and her friend named Hitoyoshi to a more action-packed story, Kumagawa started as merely a shadow. He was said to be the one person Medaka could never «convert» to the good side in Middle School, and instead, he broke her mentally. Now, this is all backstory. For his actual role in the manga, from villain to a side character, continue reading.
After the first prolonged arc of heroes vs. villains, Kumagawa appears out of nowhere, nailing a bunch of people to the walls, almost killing them. His rather sudden entry has impact(although some breathing room between the previous villain and him would have been nice), and a short introduction later we get the gist of his plan: to destroy any kind of elite being, any type of authority, any person who is better at something.
Yet, he does not seem overly concerned about his goals. As the heroes and villains clash, Kumagawa easily resigns so that he can torture Hitoyoshi, and through him, Medaka. His mind seem absolutely beyond salvation, and his powers are nothing to laugh at either. Kumagawa possesses the ability to remove things from reality, whether physical damage or a persons eyesight, even his own death. He claims that he would be able to remove the entire world if he so wished, and it almost seems plausible that he could . The only reason he does not win from the beginning, as he could presumably remove the heroes from existence, is the fact that he is more interested in the mental plane than the physical. He instead tries to trick Medaka into giving up on her morals by defeating him instead of converting Kumagawa or making him happy.
Change of Powers
Kumagawa's personality is that of a mask. We always get the sense that he is joking or playing a part, and he never lets anything of his chest. He provides some good comic relief, and it gets interesting as we start to see the mask crack. A sudden glimpse of rage, fear and shame, we start to get a sense of someone behind the gruesome monster.
Kumagawa is shown to care for his comrades, and becomes quite distressed when one of the other villains wishes to leave. As the heroes starts turning his game on him, Kumagawa makes the classic move of trying to get another power, but there is a twist. He has to give away his old one, the “All Fiction” as it is called. With his old power he could gain immortality, destroy or torture any opponent, and really remove any problems in his path. His new one is to me interesting because it seems so much weaker: his new skill, called “Book Maker”, simply turns anyone influenced by the power into someone exactly like Kumagawa himself. Just as strong, smart, similar emotions, although the person is still him or herself in many ways.
So Kumagawa gives up his ultimate power shortly before his final battle with Medaka. Why? In the end, Kumagawa only wanted to bring everyone down into the hole of despair, to make everyone feel what he feels. It may seem dumb that the villain only wanted to be understood, but with Kumagaway it works. That even this power of bringing everyone down to his level fails, goes without saying in a classic good vs. evil story such as this, but he does seem to finally get a little peace with himself.
Kumagawa did get something out of it all, though. He became the most popular character of the series, by far outshining the heroes. I also feel that Kumagawa, and possibly Shiranui, are the best reasons to read Medaka Box, and many seemed to agree. So Kumagawa was brought back, now as part of the heroes and without his powers. Now he was mostly comic relief, sometimes used for exposition, and I started to tire of him, which may be because I started to tire of the manga as a whole.
There was not any more character development for him, we only know that he somehow gets happier by being with the heroes. It seems to simple. There are not any more confrontations with Medaka or anyne else, and he largely just says strange things, although he can be interesting and clever. He also disappears behind his mask again, after finally revealing what kind of a person he really was. He basically returns to the person he was at the beginning, but less threatening and without any character development from that point out.
So Kumagawa, the one really interesting villain the show had, was moved to the background, which seems fitting for a guy who so much embraced his persona as a loser. Still, it is sad to see his growing happiness just happening on the side, instead of exploring what is changing inside of him. Medaka Box never had much character development for any of its character, so maybe that is why it hurts that the one character who really changed was then returned to his former state.