January 6th, 2016.
Everything in the show feels flat. The colours are definitely distinctive on their own, but they don’t pop out of the screen, but rather seem to recede in it. It’s not garish, but it’s not much of anything, really. Pretty bland. Surprising considering how the colours in the beginning as Fujiwara was running were much starker in contrast and thus more vivid, and the scene of Sakurai sitting in the flower-field was quite lovely.
The sound was nothing to write home about, not really memorable in any way. The voice acting, was, well, eh. There are a lot of great voice actors here, but Daisuke Ono in particular exemplified a problem all of them but Shimono Hiro had, which is where he seemed to try and make his lines sound stiff and way too cool, and they just ended up sounding stuff and unnatural. Shimono Hiro sold every scene he opened his mouth in, being hilarious. Those were the only scenes I really cared for, and they were good. Very good. I like laughing. Baka to Test is a gem.
OP – Energetic, doesn’t sound like all the other generic OPs, but also doesn’t sound like much of anything. Takes some skill to have something semi-unique, that yet leaves absolutely no impression, but here we are.
Theme / Story:
The biggest problem with this story is how “shouty” it is. Nothing flows, but is rather pushed out forcefully, take for instance the extremely cheesy and fan-ficcy monologue from the beginning:
Two hands clashing together, a perfect relay, as if they had no doubt this would happen.
The introduction of Yagami Riku to Sakurai was the same, and felt very VN-esque, but could probably be attributed to Riku’s character.
But… nothing flowed, while nothing stood out. The other clubs talk down on Stride Club, but here we see them helping them organize things. “The senpais told us not to get involved with them,” the teacher who growled at them. The two third-year students who quit. There’s a lot of work done in this episode, but which character are we supposed to root for? None of them are interesting in the least. Not “cute trickster,” not “creepy, silent, and serious runner,” or “The happy-go-lucky runner who needs reminding of who he is…”
There’s a lot that’s well done here, structurally, such as presenting the “straight runners” versus “the tricksters” with experience, focusing on how amazing the new kids are, and yet how outmatched they are by the upperclassmen, focusing on past and future conflicts, and hopes and dreams… but none of it interests me, and the presentation is so very flat. Just like the colours, there’s nothing wrong about it on the face of it, but it just doesn’t actually add up to anything interesting. And I don’t think it’d change for me, so I’m gonna pass on this one.