Baka and Test
At Fumizuki Academy students are given an exam at the beginning of the year to determine which class they end up in. Resources are allocated in accordance to exam scores, so Class A gets lavish benefits, while Class B is a step down in their resources and so forth. Akihisa has scored an F.
Class F is a decrepit place to attend school, but they're not taking things lightly. The class rep for F is rallying the morons to the cause. They have nothing to lose right? Each class can challenge other classes to fights using virtual avatars based on their test scores, and the winners can take the more elaborate resources of the other class. Class F now has a trump card. Mizuki got sick during the exam and had to leave which caused her to have a score of zero, however it turns out that she's a genus.
Baka and Test is another high school anime based around the same tired assortment of anime characters I've seen too much of, and it doesn't do anything new with them. On top of that the summoning avatars concept based on test scores is a REALLY dumb concept. So what else does Baka and Test have to offer? Um... not much, but you still might like it.
It scores an A with style that's for sure. It's heavy into pastels and unusual dotted shading and other things which you see more in anime computer wallpapers than in anime itself. And the results are very attractive. The animation compliments the design nicely, but doesn't do anything interesting on its own.
Characters get a C- for rote memorization. They're as average as you can get, considering they're essentially plucked out of a pre-made anime grab bag. Baka and Test isn't character driven as a comedy, so this isn't a big deal depending on how tired you are of this kind of cast. The show at least doesn't step into some bad spots I had expected. Even though Mizuki and Minami become rivals over Akihisa, they stay friendly and never drop to the level of squabbling over him. I never expected an explanation for Akihisa's indecisiveness between them, but the real reason turns out to be hilarious.
Baka and Test gets a big fat F for originality and concept. I hated the whole avatar idea before I even saw it in action, and hated it even more once I did see it in action. Students have test scores which determine the power of their avatar. This means that battles are essentially down to arbitrary numbers given out before hand and the one with a higher number wins. Why have an avatar at all? Yeah, I don't know either. This anime could have easily taken his to the next level and done far more with this concept by asking test questions on the spot which would have provided much more opportunity for comedy, action and suspense. Then again if I were in charge of this anime I probably would have scrapped the entire idea.
Some parts of Baka and Test make more sense than I expected. Especially the strategy of Class F rep Yugi. How could someone in the worst class be good at strategy (and later on drastically improve his scores)? Yugi wants to avoid his scary obsessive childhood friend Shoko above all else. As she's the second smartest in the school she'd end up in class A, so not scoring well to avoid her makes sense. Why not one of the other classes? Why the worst one? Because class F is located the furthest away from class A. The best strategy is to be in Class F, then take the resources from class A. Then he gets the goods and avoids Shoko. This is precisely what his plan is, and it's pretty well thought out. Then why does he screw up so bad early on? Ok you got me there, that part doesn't make any sense. (B-)
So for this semester, I give Baka and Test a passing grade, but just barely. I'm not sending it to summer school, but it most certainly needs remedial classes for subjects like creativity, non pre-fab characters, and concept. As a comedy it may or may not work for you depending on how tired you are of stuff that is mostly recycled (if you don't know what I mean by unoriginal characters, you haven't watched enough anime in the late 2000's yet to worry about it). I found the comedy hit and miss, but got enough laughs to make it worth the watch. You'll have to get past a lot of stupid to get to the humor, so if you're not that kind of person, you'll probably hate it. For that matter, the comedy is about all that Baka and Test offers. Only recommended if you aren't bored (maybe even disgusted) with anime that is constructed with "standard" elements.
Hazuki: You're that idiot.
Yuji: I didn't think the entire world knew how stupid you were.
Akihisa: Not the world, just this area.
Screen Caps: >