Monday, July 18, 2011

Anime Review: Baka And Test

The little guys are called avatars, you know, like Yahoo, but way more awesome.
The first anime I am going to review on here is one that has been hotly awaited for by its fans, so I thought I would give you guys my thoughts on it as I have already gotten it!  Baka and Test is a comedy-parody anime about a group of students that go to a special school where they battle avatars whose power is based off their test scores.  There are a lot of specific rules to the battling system, but I will leave it at that since, sadly, this first series doesn’t focus a lot on that plot device, which is odd since the subtitle of the American release is “Summon the Beasts”.

The students have to take an entrance exam in order to see what class they belong to.  The smartest students are in class A, the next smartest are in class B, and so on until you get to class F, which is comprised of students who scored the lowest on the exam.  The students in class A have the best state-of-the-art classroom and each successive classroom has crappier and crappier equipment all the way down to F, which I feel violates many health codes.  One would imagine that the class would be made up of complete fools, but in actuality, at least for the characters that get screen time, the kids in that class all have their strengths and one is actually a super genius.  The series focuses on the students in class F.

The two main characters of the series would be Akihisa Yoshii who is considered one of the dumbest students to be admitted to the academy, and Mizuki Himeji, the well-endowed girl who is a super genius but ends up in the lowest-level class because she is sick during the entrance exam and couldn’t finish all the questions.
Other notable students include Yuji Sakamoto, the lazy class representative that actually possesses incredible tactical genius, Minami Shimada, a flat-chested girl who is accused of being masculine and is an expert at mathematics, Hideyoshi Kinoshita, a boy who is often mistaken as a female, and Kota Tsuchiya, the class pervert who is one of the best athletes in the series.

The main plot of the series involves class F challenging the other classes to summoner battles, where the winning class can exchange classroom equipment with the losing class if they so desire.  The main motivation for this is that Akihisa wants better classroom equipment for Mizuki since her health isn’t the best at the start of the series and as she really deserves to be in class A.  It actually isn’t a horrible plot and the summoner battles are both interesting and comical.  The sad part is that over half of the series doesn’t use this plot and instead focuses more on the parody and fanservice of the main characters.

If this series was simply a parody or comedy series, then maybe I would have a more forgiving attitude towards the show, but sadly the first episode sets up a plot that really doesn’t pop up until the end of the series, with the other episodes feeling more like filler.  In other words, similar to Pokemon, just with much more fanservice, light yaoi, light yuri, and more adult humor.  I wouldn’t recommend this series for anyone under the age of 13, or maybe 16.  There isn’t any out-and-out nudity, but the fanservice alone is enough to warrant Funimation’s rating of the series as TV-14.

The animation for the series is slick and has a moe feel to it, which is actually the kind of animation style that I prefer.  Just the opening credits shows off the enormous potential of the animation style and the series utilizes this well.  I never felt confused about what a scene is trying to show me and it was very hard for me to peel my eyes away from the fluid drawings.  Funimation has also decided to release the series in both DVD and Blu-ray formats together which is very welcome.  I watched the DVD version and if the animation style was good on there, I can’t even imagine how nice it will look in HD.

The music for the series is a mixed bag.  Both of the opening songs and the closing song are very catchy and I never found myself skipping them like I do with most releases.  The rest of the music for the series is regrettably forgetful, but at the same time wasn’t horrible and suited the mood of the scenes well.

The voice acting and dubbing were done pretty good.  It is another Funimation release, so you know what to expect as far as the cast and acting are concerned.  I had no problems with the cast that was chosen for this series and I feel everyone involved did a great job with the parts they were given.

This thing is about the size of a postcard, so it's hard to write on.
Funimation did a great release for the series.  They released both a regular and limited edition (I got the limited edition, which comes in a chipboard box and comes with a spiffy, but too small magnet/marker board shown above).  They packed the series full of all kinds of extras, most which I didn’t check out.  Most, if not all of them are only in Japanese, but they are a nice inclusion for the Baka and Test enthusiast.

Series Gradecard

Characters: C – Generic, Most are one-dimensional, Little to no character growth.

Story: C- – Aside from battles, the series would just be another comedy show with fanservice.

Animation: A – Fluid, detailed where it needs to be, stylish.

Music: B – Great opening and closing songs, forgettable BGM.

Release (extras, editions): A – Funimation released this show right!

Rewatchability: C – I had no desire to rewatch it after one viewing and it isn’t near the top of my rewatch list.

Overall Grade: C+ – The series has potential, but it is ultimately squandered for the sake of fanservice and parody.  If they had focused a little more on battles then the series might not have suffered as much as it did.


If you enjoy school comedies like School Rumble, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, or comedy like Hetalia, then you will like this show.  Also people who enjoy moe or fanservice will enjoy this show as well.  Fans that enjoy heavy action or drama might want to stay away from this series.

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