Updated Thoughts on Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (2nd Season and Matsuri OVA)

(2nd Season)

Does this deserve a third season?

Yes. Absolutely.

The source material has ended, so why not? It would be deserving of such a spirited anime to wrap up on a high note. Then again, I have yet to finish the light novel as of my typing this, so I’m not sure if the previous statement is correct.

The second season of Baka-Test is better than the first season. How much better? Very, very little. Tremendously little. Like the size of a baby ant. Why is it better? I’ll tell you.

The first season was very tedious with its jokes. It would constantly bombard the viewer with a vast array of zany situations and off-the-wall humor. It’s enough to leave even the biggest anime junkie tired. Well, maybe not the biggest. It also had a little bit of serious “battle-strategy” to it. It had serious moments, however these moments played off the random and illogical atmosphere the show created for itself.

The second season plays out a tad different. This season does absolutely nothing with its plot. There are no major wars between classes. Instead, we are given more fan service and the same non-stop insanity that the first season harbored so well. That is, until the last few episodes.

It’s almost as if the second season had given up on the shenanigans and decided that it was time to develop the characters. Now, how do you develop characters that are archetypal in nature? Very carefully. Baka-Test may not come up with the best choices for how to develop its characters, but it comes off as genuine in the long run, and enjoyable all the same. Although, one giant complaint is that they focus too much on characters who have a potential love interest. The most interesting episodes later on were the ones involving the past relationships of some of the male and female pairings. However, this transition from wacky to serious may turn many off. It probably would have for me, had I not seen this before until now.

The characters remain largely the same. They have one trait, and that’s pretty much it. During the second half of this season, particular characters get more development than others. As I mentioned above, these characters are all male/female pairings. Yuuji and Kirishima, Akihisa and Shimada, and Akihisa and Himeji. If there’s potential to induce romantic tension, Baka-Test will manipulate that shit until it’s dead. Is it meant to be insightful? Is it meant to be impactful? Probably.

The art has cooled down for this season. It doesn’t try as hard to be as in-your-face this time around. This is both a blessing and a curse. It makes Baka-Test less entertaining, and starts to show how trivial and bland the plots of the show are. However, the overexcessive expressions and mannerisms that plagued the first season’s time slots were debilitating on their own. In terms of overall design, nothing really changed much. Perhaps the characters got brighter. I didn’t really care to try and notice.

Thinking about it more, I may have been wrong to say that this season was better. It’s just better in certain regards. Both seasons of this show are obnoxiously showy, and have enough parody fluff to make you excuse its fallacies. The first season had a more carefree nature. The second season tries somewhat to distance itself from its roots. The success of this transition is hard to place concretely. It really all depends on the viewer’s subjective taste. I personally preferred the first season, until the last few episodes of season two showed themselves. The first season was consistently batshit, while the second took its time to show its underlying nature.


Spirited battle-shounen fodder.

Updated Thoughts on Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (1st Season)

Yeah. I overrated the shit out of this title.

When I first watched Baka-Test, I was impressed with two things: animation and effort. It’s so upbeat, so zany and fun that it almost seems like there’s more to this title than meets the eye. When in reality, there isn’t.

Baka-Test has stupid logic, repetitive jokes, cardboard characters, a plot that conveniently provides room for a lot of fan service, and gets old fairly quickly.

One of the most irritating things about this title is that I used to have Sakamoto Yuuji among my favorite characters. Re-watching this, I cringe. Sakamoto is an okay character. He has some depth to him, but is ultimately just the buddy/rival character to Akihisa, the main character. Speaking of Akihisa, he’s subject to most of the jokes in this show. He’s an idiot. Prepare to hear and see that for thirteen straight episodes as three women (one is his sister) and a guy fawn over him from a distance. Actually, it isn’t even from a distance. This anime is very not-subtle. But it’s okay! Akihisa will never figure it out because he’s an idiot!

Something else that should be noted is that this series is a parody. The characters, the stupid shounen logic, the random shout-outs to other popular anime series, they all exemplify Baka-Test’s parody nature. But is that enough to excuse all of it? Perhaps. Looking at it from one perspective, this show is a great example of trying to showcase what you could get away with with genres such as shounen, comedy, and harem. On the other hand, it’s stupid. I like to go in-between. It’s humorous at times, but they went too far in many different cases.

The art style of this series is really gorgeous. I have a lot of respect for Silver Link for this one title alone. The amount of effort it must have took to produce even a single episode of this show is mind-boggling. There’s more to this show than there is in eight episodes of Lucky Star. The characters move in ways most anime don’t see. A professional wrestling match in the form of school life. The characters are vibrant and colorful. The only ones who aren’t are the teachers and background characters. It’s like staring at a bowl of Lucky Charms. It’s really impressive. If more anime were like this, I’d probably still enjoy watching anime.

Some jokes are funny. Some aren’t. I remember chuckling at the line “I’ve come here to teach you because you’re all retarded.” That was fairly funny. However, the words “retarded” and “faggot” are thrown around more in number than Peyton Manning’s pass attempts. This is another thing I didn’t care for about this title: try-hard humor. Nearly every second is a joke, whether it be about Akihisa being an idiot, Yuuji being whipped, Hideyoshi being a girl, or Kyouta having nose bleeds from peeping up girls’ skirts. The same jokes circulate over and over and over and over. It gets tiresome for someone like me, who’s seen this already and is tired of anime’s shit.

The only break from the humor is with the battle system the synopsis is known for. In this series, one can summon little beasts that battle each other, with their power levels being determined by the sumonee’s test scores. How this is all implemented and regulated is through the use of “latest technology.” That’s code for “bullshit.” The level of seriousness skyrockets when the battles take place between students of different classes. However, with all of the fan service and zany jokes that kept fisting your eye sockets beforehand, it’s hard to really take it seriously. So, you don’t. You take it all as a joke. You are watching a twenty-four minute joke. Thirteen times over.

The score I have for the show currently is far more subjective than objective. Objectively, this show is above-average fan service fodder. The amount of effort that’s shown through its humor and desire to entertain shines through with bold colors. This is certainly an anime that fits the phrase “turning off your brain.” If you think about anything that happens in this show, you will probably become depressed with your own lack of creativity. Or perhaps, you’ll be induced into an unfathomable rage. A rage that stems from being entertained by the same thing that entertains inexperienced vermin the world over. I know I didn’t, because I once was that inexperienced vermin. That little piece in me gave me the ability to rate this show more than it probably should have. Congratulations, inner vermin.