Baka to Test – That Little Extra Thing Called Charm

Baka to Test to Shōkanjū

Image via Wikipedia

Well, you know how if you go by a check-list you sometimes end up not knowing where the wonder had come from; how you cannot really put your finger on what separates the great from the mediocre, but you do know that it’s there?

Well, that’s the case with Baka to Test (to Shokanju). If you would try to compose a check list of what “Light-hearted anime comedies” should include in them, you’re probably going to mark most of what appears in this series. Well, it’s likely also going to appear on a list of many lewd jokes…

(This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such covers more my thoughts, and is less focused as an actual bona fide review. There will be next to no spoilers in this post.)

We have the flat-chested tsundere, we have the buxom girl with a soft personality (Did anyone notice how “soft” is often tied to being well-endowed and being “hard” is tied to being not as well endowed in anime?), we have the voyeur who is even addressed as such by everyone (and the accompanying nose-bleeds).
We have the yandere who wants someone who doesn’t want her, we have the guy who is too cool for school, with great black and white line-art scenes where he convinces the eponymous character to trust him, and he always gets burnt, we have the trap boy who everyone addresses as a girl, and the butt of jokes closet yaoi boy.

We also have the eponymous baka, though in a way it’s about a class of “idiots”, but let’s be honest, it’s all about one character in particular, who is the baka of all bakas.

So, we covered most of the tropes you’d expect to see in such an anime above, and the amount of shows who have them all is also staggering, so if all you want is a show that has these in them then you will certainly not be left wanting. But seeing that they are this common, it probably caused most of us to want better ones, because they all have these tropes, so may as well find those who have something extra. Heck, it’s almost always our desire to find those shows who have this special something extra.

The mandatory NGE reference. There are more.

It’s not even enough to have the shows subvert what their tropes are about. Tropes are usually ran “straight-laced” and in a straight forward manner for several years, but it’s already been several years where such tropes had been subverted, often in other zany comedies (Gintama, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, etc.). I mean, the fact that the trap says they’re male and no one believes them, having a class of bakas, and the baka not being (only) in a relationship… well, that’s also been done to death until now. That and the inter-textual jokes of which I’ve talked before… such as the Neon Genesis Evangelion references, and some other shows.

But Baka to Test, I don’t know exactly why or how, it does bring that special something extra. I can’t put my finger on it, but then again if it were so easy, then all shows would bring this something. This something is probably not a single component, but something that rises from the gestalt of all these thrown together.

That thing, that special something, I can only call “Charm“, it’s that feeling of joy and light-heartedness that you get as a result of experiencing this show, as you do not get annoyed by the mindless silliness on screen, or any other thing that gets in the way of your enjoyment.

The Yandere!

So, what is the show even about? It seems to revolve around the question of “Might makes right”, at least that is the framework of the hijinks that go on screen. It’s a school where your placement exam dictates which class you’ll go to, and the better your class, the better the facilities. The “warm” Mizuki Himeji is sick during her test so receives a score of 0, and though she’s “Class A” material ends up with “Class F”. There is upward mobility in this system, and you the students can engage in fights using chibified versions of themselves to fight with the other classes, with the victor and loser trading places.
Our Baka of bakas, Akihisa Yoshi, decides to go on a crusade to get Himeji the facilities she deserves. And that’s how it begins.

I also really love chibis (and that also spawned my love for nendoroids). The second season had already been licensed, so there’s hope! The first season is 13 episodes, and is based on a light novel series by Kenji Inoue, illustrated by Yui Haga. It’d probably surprise no one to find out there’s also a manga adaptation.

Chibi-sequence. You can already see the nendoroids coming…

Score: This show gets 9/10 light-hearted charms on the charm-o-meter.

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15 comments on “Baka to Test – That Little Extra Thing Called Charm

  1. kluxorious says:

    this show is getting 10/10 from me. I am still saving the last episode though

    • Guy says:

      Be careful not to save it for too long. I’ve been saving the last three episodes of Pushing Daisies, and it’s been like 4-5 months… heh.

  2. Blacksun88 says:

    this series is going to in my watch list ^^ no no , it is not because of hidyeoshi ><

    • Guy says:

      Minami is my favourite, I think a large part of it is her proactive voice. The same voice actress that did Chika Ogiue in Genshiken. And actually, they don’t give you any reason to not get attracted to Hideyoshi. He’s basically only a male in his declaration, but there’s very little to push it forward, y’know?

  3. lovelyduckie says:

    Ok, you’ve won me. I’ll give it a try. I’m e-mailing myself right now so I remember to look it up when I get home :)

  4. Yi says:

    Agreed. These days, it’s hard for a show to stand out from the crowd without having an extra something. Just relying on tropes does not cut it anymore. This is a show that seems well liked by many, and it does sound interesting.
    Hopefully, I can one day add it to my list.

    • Guy says:

      The thing is, it stands out as a show, but it’s hard to say and pinpoint an element that makes it stand out. But it’s just as well, or we’ll have had that over-done as well.

      It’s the right show, in the right time. And you can’t plan for that. Except by making the same show endlessly and hope one time will be the right time, to wit: “Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.” ;)

  5. Canne says:

    The show is actually sitting in my laptop for a month now. Maybe I’ve been waiting for some signal to start watching it for real. I am a little surprised to see you get swayed by an anime of this genre so the fact that you like it means a lot. I’ll definitely watch it soon :)

    • Guy says:

      Heh, what sort of anime do you think I like/dislike?

      I don’t like zany crazy anime too much, and I can’t watch more than 2-3 episodes at a time. I really should get back to watching Gintama though.

      This is a school comedy series. I LOVE comedies. I love well-made series, and that’s what is really important. The thing “zany comedies” tend to have that I dislike the most is that each episode is zany on its own, and there’s very little build-up, continuity. There is an actual story-progression in this series. It may not be much, but it was enough to keep me engaged.

  6. hikky says:

    Hm, yah I guess you are right. Back then if someone asked me what I was watching and I mentioned Baka to Test, they looked up the plot and where wondering if this show is really worth watching.. any I just couldn’t explain WHY either. The plot is nothing completely new, not are the characters. It’s just that special something some shows have that let them stand out.
    Looking forward to the seconds season. Epic Shouko screenshot btw xD Really like her.. oh snap.. lol

    • Guy says:

      I’m also not sure who it was, perhaps Roger Zelazny, who had said there are no new stories, merely new ways to tell them… it’s the compositional effect, yeah. Also, the right show at the right time, I wonder how we’d have taken it 5 years ago, or if it came out five years from now. Watching it again in the future is a completely different issue, obviously.

  7. Reltair says:

    It was simply fun to watch. A multitude of scenes had me chuckling to myself, which is accomplishment enough for me.

    • Guy says:

      I should talk some day about this aspect of humour. If a show can make you laugh when you’re alone, it’s a really funny show. My mother laughs so hard when she watches The Big Bang Theory that no room in the house is safe, heh.

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