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