Disclaimer: Since this is my 20th blog post I decided to make this one even more personal and for myself than usual. Since I’ve just finished Medaka Box and it’s become my favorite completed work I figured I write about that and my meditations trying to figure out what a minus even truly is basically since the concept was introduced. This won’t be in-depth or thought out at all as I just finished it. Feel free to skip this one.
Minus is a tricky concept to understand, even more so than the not equals introduced later on in the series. Sure Abnormals/Pluses are easy enough to get; They’re the geniuses, the ones who are a cut above the rest, the ones who bring something new to the table that is humanity, the ones who win. So it should seem simple enough to just think of the minus as the opposite of that. The dummies, the talentless, the parasites of the species who can only be seen as a net negative for humanity. And yeah that can all be said to be true, but looking at it that way is like looking at wiki pages of Samurai and Ronin and walking away. It doesn’t really get at the ideological, emotional cord of what the 2 groups are. Similar to Samurai and Ronin it is not a material difference between the 2 (as with the separation of one species from another for example) but really a social construct. To separate these two groups from normal people is entirely an act of the mind. Interactionist Theory (specifically Labeling Theory) basically asserts it’s how people respond to acts that determine if they’re deviant or not(oversimplification), and the manga itself even suggest at the end that there’s not really such a thing as irreplicable genius. The only real difference between a Samurai and Ronin is one has a master (both are separate from normals by their skill in the trade). Similarly, I think that the only real difference between a Minus and a Plus is one can choose to live for others while the other can’t live without others emotionally speaking(again skills being the only difference from normals). Kurokami Medaka, while being the ultimate Plus, was a normal high school girl. Kumagawa Misogi was not a normal boy (which is why Ashinin took interest/notice of him, not Medaka). Medaka had to find a reason to live, Misogi had accepted there was none long before but choose to continue anyway.
This has dark implications but also explains what the Minus are.
One might think by looking at the surface that the minus are the more emotionally resilient, if negative, of the 2. You may also think there is a fundamental difference between The abnormals and minus. But as the not equals showed this is not true. “Plus” and “Minus” are just labels to help measure the extremes of what is a natural duality of human nature. We are all either overall Pluses or Minus in reality (no value judgments should be assigned here, one’s not “better” than the other in any objective way, though perhaps in a subjective philosophical way.)
And to think that the Minus is more emotionally strong is a mistake. The truth is what the Minus are Emotionally Damaged People. This is why a minus can be reformed, or one can teeter on the edge between the 2. You may think it’s obvious when one says it, but it’s easy to forget what this means (at least for me). Things that may not make sense about the story become clear once this does. The reason a Minus always smiles/laughs in the face of the worst adversity is that only the ones who can are alive. The strongest of the weak. Medaka’s charisma is that of an extraordinary normal person, but Kumagawa’s is one of a person who has undergone the worst and as such understands the hardships of the weak. It explains why one takes the burdens of others problems (or at least eventually learns how to healthy work with others to help them solve their own) while the other till the end shifts blames on others, both rightly and wrongly. But most importantly it explains why one always wins and one always loses.
It’s a matter of cognition. See Kumagawa almost never has a true complete loss. As I explain in my last post he often loses in a way that gets him at least a result where he can satisfactorily keep going. But he never feels like he’s won. He has lots of genuine, by the books loses, but what really makes him a loser is his attitude towards it all.
And it’s not something easily changed. Though it’s not impossible Medaka had to learn the hard way you cannot force people to become better (yet). And damaged people have the hardest time changing themselves overall. So they deflect, they suck the resources out and are unable to put them back, they bring others down, they judge, and they lose. For this reason few people except select pluses and fellow minus like or even bother to associate with them, and many minus push others away too as to not hurt them more than need be. That’s what a Minus is.
But if they’re lucky there are those out there happy they’re still alive. Those who would tell them to keep getting up after they lose.
Those who inspire them to be a Good Loser