An Oasis of Thoughts

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Review: 80/100

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I had heard about BakaTest from seeing a review of the second season’s episode 01 from Random Curiosity and it piqued my interest so much that i began to plow through season 1 to catch up to the current season (Thank you FUNimation for the streams!). I had a bad feeling that a strong opening episode would be followed by very weak jokes, painful dialogue and a drop in animation.

The result?: None of those “Bad End”scenarios came to fruition. In fact, i was so thoroughly surprised at how great almost all aspects of this show were! The jokes were fresh and even if they did re-use some (Hideyoshi’s gender as an example), it still kept me laughing. It may look like a harem (season 2 is full of it – more on that in the next review..), but the main focus of the series is the slapstick humor provided from a swath of main characters, ranging from the bumbling idiot Akihisa Yoshii, the laid back Yuuji Sakamoto, the childhood friend Himeji Mizuki, the all-around Minami Shimada, the unabashed pervert Kouta Tsuchiya (Muttsurini) and the source of affection from men and women alike – Hideyoshi Kinoshita. As expected of such a large and diverse cast of characters, the jokes themselves were largely representative of the characters highlighted.

But the main draw of season 1 has to be the Summoner Test Wars, with a very interesting and creative premise that one must hone their studying skills if they wish to have stronger summoned avatars (higher test scores = stronger summoned avatars). Now for the above characters, they are unfortunately stuck in the lowest of the low, the bottom of the freakin’ barrel (as dubbed Yuuji would say) – Class F. In Fumizuki Academy, segregation is the norm. The smarter students get to enjoy the luxuries of school life, while the rest have to suffer with scraps. Though on paper they may rank the lowest, don’t count out Class F as they come prepared with a very dangerous secret weapon – Himeji. Unfortunately for Himeji, she couldn’t finish her entrance exam because she fell ill – as a result she failed the test and was moved to Class F, originally she was from……Class A! Taking into account the various quirks and strengths of Class F, Yuuji (as class representative) organizes various battles against their smarter classmates as they fight to obtain acknowledgment, respect and better school equipment.

Though the plot largely takes a backseat in favor of comedy, BakaTest does not forget about it like most comedies do and manages to weave in the final battle against Class A and the result is…frustrating to say the least. I wont spoil what happened, but it was so annoying that everything ended so simply like that!

What i did really like was the stylish background art and above-average animation from Silver Link, a very new animation studio. Though i couldn’t shake the feeling off that some parts of the series feel very SHAFT-like, it made alot of sense that the director of this series had worked on various SHAFT series such as the ef – a tale of memories/melodies series.

The music, while generally fun and upbeat, was largely forgettable afterwards. I can’t say the same about the OP and ED themes, they were completely stylish and fun to watch over and over again! I really liked the visuals used in the ED and the OP had a lot of great moments, including some nice colorful shots of the main characters.

 

 

Animation: 8/10 – Very stylish background art, each episode felt very fresh. Their is a little bit of SHAFT influence here, but it’s not a problem at all.

Story: 8/10 – There’s not much of a story with the exception of the last two episodes, and perhaps the first two or three episodes. But BakaTest knows how to be serious when it has to be without failing or making seem very awkward. Everything is weaved together excellently with a satisfying, yet frustrating finale.

Music: 7/10 – It’s fun, but mostly unmemorable, But the OP and ED are very stylish and upbeat.

Characters: 8/10 – A comedy series needs to have a strong cast in order to make those jokes work, and BakaTest knows that. Everyone has their quirks and they play those quirks exceptionally well. I got very tired of Shouko fast, however.

Enjoyment: 9/10 – It’s very rare that any anime can make me laugh for every single episode, but BakaTest did just that, the highlight being episode 3 for me. Even when the show is serious, it never forgets to add the right amounts of comedy to the mix. Such a fun series!

 

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