Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts ReviewElizabeth Williams
Baka and Test is a show about two main subjects: "bakas" (Japanese for "idiots") and tests, which Fumizuki Academy seems to be obsessed over. And of course, it is about the biggest idiot in the school: our hero, Akihisa Yoshii, who attends this academy.
At the beginning of their second year in schooling, the students are required to take an exam. Their grade on this test will determine what "class" the student will end up in. The classes are A-F. Class A is the best of the best. The students in class A make the highest grades and are considered the smartest by default. Needless to say, lowly class F is the complete opposite. They are often the subject of ridicule and their classroom is a dump.
But class F is not necessarily stuck with the junky classroom. They are allowed to take part in "Summoning Wars" in which the students summon avatars and they fight an RPG style battle. The power of their characters is based on their latest test score. A teacher has to approve of the summoning, and the points for the battle are based on the subject the approving teacher is in charge of. The war ends when the class representative is taken down, and the class that wins the war has the option to switch equipment with the losing side.
Akihisa is eager to get into the summoning wars because he wants to get better equipment for Mizuki's sake. Mizuki is very bright, but because she was ill and had to leave the room during the placement exam, she received a score of zero points. He feels bad that she is stuck in class F, but she doesn't seem to mind. Akihisa is too stupid to realize that Mizuki has a huge crush on him and doesn't mind staying in F class because she gets to be near him.
Mizuki's affections aren't the only thing that Akihisa is clueless about. He doesn't do too great at academics, and he also seems to be inexperienced about social interactions at times. There are at least five different characters fawning over him, and he doesn't seem to notice any of this. He also lacks common sense and will spend all of his money on anime and videogames instead of food. Akihisa is under the belief that if he keeps only eating half of his final block of ramen, he will have an infinite food supply that can feed him well.
Despite the fact that Akihisa is stupid, he is one of the most likable characters in the series. His redeeming quality is that he will go out of his way to help someone, even if it means putting himself in danger. Unfortunately, he has done some ridiculous things, such as running in the middle of a busy street to pick up a child's toy.
Akihisa's friend, Yuuji, is also in F class, but for different reasons. Yuuji doesn't want to bother studying, and he feels that there are more important things in life than grades. While he has this attitude, Yuuji is surprisingly bright, and he is a wonderful strategist. Yuuji is the representative for class F, and it was fun to watch his strange tactics in motion. For me, watching the battles take place was the best part of the show.
As for the rest of the Baka and Test, I felt that there was way too much filler. There was an entire episode revolving around Mizuki and Minami fighting over who was going to give Akihisa a lunch box. While the episode did actually touch down a bit on Minami and add a bit of desperately needed depth to her character, the useful scenes totaled about twenty seconds. I understand that this show was supposed to be a parody of traditional anime shows. Therefore, they included an episode like this, along with an obligatory bathing suit episode. As a matter of fact, a lot of the students of Fumizuki Academy are caricatures of different anime stock characters.
We have Kota, the token pervert. He is rarely seen without his camera and a nosebleed, just waiting to snap the perfect panty shot. Mizuki is big-busted, shy, and innocent with horrible cooking skills. Hideyoshi is a boy that looks like a girl, and there were actually some pretty good jokes about people being confused about his gender (one joke being that he is his own gender). There is Shouko, who is calm and quiet, but whenever Yuuji is around she becomes sadistic and uses over the top slapstick humor while keeping her quiet demeanor.
The show did score some good points with me, despite a few dud episodes. Baka and Test had various references to other popular franchises, including Code Geass, Evangelion, and Darkstalkers, and did so without relying too heavily on these for the humor. They gave a proper shout out to the franchises without interrupting the episodes. The show often referenced itself and while the show had its own predictable episode formula, a few brilliant jokes were enough to keep me watching.
Baka and Test was a pretty good anime as long as you don't take it too seriously. Yes, most of the cast is pretty flat, but the ones that aren't make up for it most of the time. The running gags are well done, and the summon battles are fun and exciting to watch. The summoned avatars are pretty amusing. If you watch it for nothing else, the high pitched war cries of the avatars and their over the top battle sequences are entertaining enough in their own right.
Besides, the avatars are so danged cute.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
I started playing games from a young age, but really got into it when Santa left a SNES in the fireplace. My other hobbies include reading, writing, gardening, and playing with my two cats.
About the Author: Elizabeth Williams
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