Chibi Review: BAKA and TEST Episodes 1-2

Topic started by gia on March 7, 2010. Last post by jlanzer 4 years, 9 months ago.
Post by gia (3,032 posts) See mini bio Level 13

Introduction:

BAKA and TEST - Summon the Beast was just freshly licensed by FUNimation in the middle of the show's run in Japan (actually more towards the end-- I believe there are 13 episodes expected for the show, and they're up to episode 9 in Japan currently). They posted the first two episodes of the series (subtitled) on the FUNi video site, so I thought I should stop by and take a look.
  
  
BAKA and TEST Episodes 1-2
Release Date: 03/05/10
Studio: FUNimation
MSRP: Free

    

Plot:

From the publisher:

"Fumizuki Academy’s students can summon Avatars, pint-sized versions of themselves that battle using special powers. The students are grouped by skill level, and those in Class A are the brightest. Then there’s Akihisa Yoshii’s group – lowly Class F. They’re the worst on campus, and they’re about to take on the school’s best."


Akihisa is a moron among morons, and somehow he got the bright idea to go to a school where the quality of your daily life is determined by your test scores. Joining him in class F are a childhood-friend type female, an upskirt photographer, a nice effeminate guy, a "cool" guy, and one of those sweet, buxom, kinda dim but booksmart gals, who would probably be in class A were it not for her poor health, which forced her to leave the testing room and get a zero.

This last bit seems quite odd since we later learn that the tests are infinitely long and students can take them for as long (or as little time) as they want in order to boost their scores well above 100, so as long as she answered ANY questions she should have scored above a 0...but oh well, it's all in the name of art! Right?

Why would they do it? Well, in this unique school's setup, students can summon an "avatar" (they're not blue), whose power and health is equal to their score in the subject which they choose to battle in. The battle has nothing to do with the subject itself, usually.

Another interesting facet of the school: any class can challenge another class to a battle, and whichever class wins can choose to swap equipment with the defeated class. So, class F can trade in their shoddy tables and drafty classroom for the swank of class A, if they can win in an avatar-battle.
 

Tone:

All of the above adds up into a tale that is sort of like a wacky parody of an MMO. Actually, throughout episode one's descriptions of how all this stuff works, I was thinking that I'd be amused to play a game like that.

As for the anime, its over-the-top parody is mostly derivative of other titles, right down to the shot of the upskirt photographer finally getting a good peep and turning his face all grown-up and dramatic, which was ripped almost directly in style from Kyou no Go no Ni and Minamike (assuming that these series didn't already take it from somewhere I'm not familiar with, of course).

Which isn't to say it didn't have some amusing moments, but at the end of the first episode I was pretty nonplussed: the show had moved so fast that I almost felt like I had just watched an amusing one-shot special, and didn't feel particularly interested in watching more.
 
But watch more I did, and while I also found the second episode amusing, I still didn't feel like I needed to see more of it. So, while I wouldn't say the show is "bad," I can't say I'm likely to become a regular devotee, either, although I could certainly imagine myself watching it idly in the background while bored or working on something else.
 
The director here is Shin Oonuma, who has assisted Akiyuki Shinbo on several productions before, and some of that influence is visible in Baka and Test, particularly in terms of pacing and dialogue. But it never feels as sharp or as clever.

Those of you who like a very light-hearted comedy with some fanservice jokes and nothing very much to think hard-- or who just want something to watch as a timewaster --will probably enjoy Baka and Test's online streaming, and even I may watch more of it in this context.

But as for buying a DVD collection? Based on this sampling, I just didn't find anything in it really all that funny-- you've seen these characters before, and you've seen these kinds of jokes before, and odds are good you've seen them done better, too.

Screenshots:



Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Cute character designs
  • Interesting setup
  • Good animation

Negatives:

  • Stereotypical characters
  • Stereotypical jokes
  • Payoff on interesting setup not as good as I'd hoped so far

If, Then, But:
If you like these then you might like Baka and Test. But...

 
Well, I've said my piece. Share yours in the comments!
Post by FLStyle (423 posts) See mini bio Level 12
The concept of battling with avatars isn't what bothers me, it's that their stats are based of your test scores, so you've automatically lost the concept of the person or the avatar getting stronger. The only way they can put up a fight is if they study and get better test scores, but who would want to watch people head deep in books? And I'm all for interesting battles but there's surely only so many times an underdog can win.
 
It all seems so limited to me and if the funnies aren't even that great then the whole thing seems pointless.
Post by Chengy (1,711 posts) See mini bio Level 17
Its actully a good anime, just started watching it and im on episode 10 now, its pretty funny.
 
Most awesome character is "Voyeur" no forename or surname just "Voyeur" lmao
Post by DocHaus (936 posts) See mini bio Level 18
@FLStyle: Actually, the show isn't all about the Summoning Battles. It's more about cheap laughs and poking fun at anime tropes, usually at the expense of Akihisa Yoshii. It's great if you don't take the show too seriously, but your mileage may vary on the humor.
Post by FLStyle (423 posts) See mini bio Level 12
@DocHaus said:
" @FLStyle: Actually, the show isn't all about the Summoning Battles. It's more about cheap laughs and poking fun at anime tropes, usually at the expense of Akihisa Yoshii. It's great if you don't take the show too seriously, but your mileage may vary on the humor. "
Definitely not my cup of tea then, thanks.
Post by ThePsychoGamer (1,835 posts) See mini bio Level 10
The look reminds me of a cross between the art styles used in MoonPhase and Best Student Council
Post by Agent_Lost (1,124 posts) See mini bio Level 10
I really enjoy BakaTest. Also, great use of a trap in that series.
Post by Myhnegon (12 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Yeah, I have to agree on the general kinda meh feelings on this one. I have only caught the first episode thus far, contemplating more, but it left me not really caring one way or the other whether or not i continued.
Post by Lan (621 posts) See mini bio Level 13
I loved it, maybe because I'm not over saturated with all these anime stereotype jokes. It's so wacky and over the top that it works if you don't take it seriously. I laugh so much during each episode. It's all good fun.
Post by John_Martone (2,992 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Hmm... I think I'll check it out. You can't beat free.
Post by jlanzer (117 posts) See mini bio Level 16
@FLStyle: when you watch some more episodes you'll see the strategy behind using tests to get new scores and also you can battle on individual subjects so if a char is good in math they'll just use that score against an opponent.  as far as growth its all done by the actual char's growth.  the show isn't meant to be an action show with comedy its a comedy with some action so they ignore yoshii possibly "leveling up" because well it's funnier that way.
 
i love the series and to the point about the same ole same ole humor, this by far has been the best at it because it doesn't just throw the jokes out there it also makes fun of how common the jokes are themselves.  the bloody nose for example - i've seen it pop up over and over again but never have i seen a kid in a swimming pool surrounded by an ever growing area of blood.  its the traditional joke squared.
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