Region: 2 - UK
Length: 325 minutes
Japanese Dolby Digital Stereo
In a school system where academic ability determines your social standing, students at Fumizuki Academy are segregated into classes and furnished with facilities directly proportionate to their intellectual achievements. With a rigid scoring system, students fight for a place in the higher tiers of the school, to become the elite of the academy. Mastery of subjects reaps remarkable awards at the academy as the students have the ability to summon creatures to help them fight their way to the top. The exemplary pupils of the school are not centre stage in Baka and Test. The focus of the series is Class F and the adventures of these irrepressible underachievers
Baka and Test (バカとテストと召喚獣, Baka to Test to Shōkanjū) is one of those delightful series that just works, which is miraculous for something that has an unusual, a disparate premise and a chaotic pace and plot.
Despite the academic failings of the students in class F, together they ace the equation of comedy and making an anime that really is a grade above the rest. Studio SILVER who are responsible for the anime adaptation of the ongoing light novel series, excel in bringing the characters and their magical world to the screen.
There is an undeniable stylistic resemblance to works by studio Shaft and this can be attributed to director Shin Ōnuma (Natsu no Arashi, Tsukuyomi Moonphase, Pani Poni Dash). He uses his experience working with one of the best known production houses for madcap comedy anime to make Baka and Test a stylish and fantastically funny show.
Yaoi, yuri, yandere, tsundere - in Baka and Test moe tropes abound. Of particular note (to this biased reviewer) is one of the world's most irresistible (and reluctant) trap characters Ė the ever exquisite Hideyoshi Kinoshita. (So popular is Hideyoshi that a plethora of sultry merchandise with his image is available, all that capitalise on his feminine allure).
I tend to be wary of any series that begins life as a light novel, particularly those which describe abstract magical concepts/action sequences. It can result in a lacklustre and insubstantial experience of the characters' world if handled without ingenuity. Baka and Test beats the odds, however, and exceeds expectations in its anime incarnation. The battles of the summoned creatures (or avatars) are well animated and fun to watch but are by no means what makes the series exceptional. It is the crazy cast of players make every episode a delight to watch and utterly addictive. The character development is reasonably complex for a series of this genre and you find yourself really rooting for the students of class F. The series resides in a place quite distinct from many other anime series where a character's passionate sprit is what is celebrated, and not so much their capacity to excel and achieve success. This is a real breath of fresh air for anyone who is looking for an escape from the social pressures of school and the workplace to gain recognition or to be the best.