Idiots, love triangles, and summoner test wars… Who doesn’t love that? Baka to Tesuto to Shōkanjū (バカとテストと召喚獣), or simply Baka and Test, is a romantic comedy anime series that revolves around the theme of survival of the fittest, but only in school. When I first watched this show some years ago, I wasn’t sure of what I was getting myself into. However, this series is one of my favorites. Allow me to discuss why Baka and Test has my love and scorn in the form of a simple series review. Are you ready? Let’s go!
The plot centers around Akihisa Yoshii, a bonafide idiot and member of Class F. Akihisa attends Fumizuki Academy, a special school known for its use of the Summoner Beast Battle system. This allows students to call upon summoner beasts that can be used for battle between two classes, also known as a Summoner Test War. Students that perform better on tests, such as Class A, have strong summoner beasts, while Class F has the weakest.
In addition, in a single grade, students are divided into six classes based on their entrance scores. Class A, being the most prestigious class, is the ideal learning environment that has free food and a comfortable lounge. Conversely, Class F is the lowest ranked class which has broken wooden tables, dilapidated learning equipment, and a formation of blood-thirsty losers known as the ‘Inquisition FFF.’
One day, a beautiful and intelligent girl suffers from a fever during her entrance exam. She soon collapses into Akihisa’s arms and is coldly told by the teacher that if she leaves, she will obtain an incomplete on her exam. Nonetheless, Akihisa argues with the teacher about the rule and she slowly passes out in unconsciousness.
Meanwhile, Akihisa fails his entrance exam and is sentenced to Class F, alongside his best friend and class representative Yuuji Sakamoto; the bishonen Hideyoshi Kinoshita; the tsundere of the group, Minami Shimada; and Kouta Tsuchiya, the ninja pervert, Muttsurīni. However, Akihisa is surprised that the beautiful girl from earlier, Mizuki Himeji, has been placed in Class F as well. Along with Yuuji, Akihisa devises a plan to make the conditions of Class F better for Himeji. Of course, the plan is a long-shot. It involves defeating the supreme Class A in a Summoner Test War and gaining their luxurious equipment.
Furthermore, one of the side plots of this anime series is the love triangle between Himeji, Minami, and Akihisa. While Himeji is in love with Akihisa, she is afraid to show her true feelings. Minami, on the other hand, is also in love with Akihisa, but bullies him as her indirect way of showing it. Nonetheless, Akihisa is determined to end the reign of Class A, but he has to get through the other classes to even have a chance.
Plot & Story
Where do I begin? Well, to start, I believe that the Summoner Beast system was probably one of the most creative plots in any anime I have ever seen. Basically, in Fumizuki Academy, the school is academically segregated. Class A students are the strongest. They are generally looked up to, and they are the model students for the entire Academy. After climbing down the ladder and going in the garbage can, there is Class F.
However, I just knew that if Class F was going to be the weakest and dumbest class in the academy, there was going to be a twist. Yuuji Sakamoto, the class representative of Class F, is actually a hidden genius, so Class F has that advantage. Also, because of Himeji’s illness during her entrance exam, she joins Class F as its ace in the hole.
In Season one, Akihisa and the gang waged war with all of the classes in an effort to gain Class A’s amazing equipment so that Himeji wouldn’t have to learn in a rough environment. Honestly, the first season was the best. Yuuji consistently developed awesome strategies to defeat each and every class. Well, except for Class A in the count of a technicality.
The first season also had the best storyline. The story’s pace was suitable and you always had a surprise at every turn. For example, in every episode, you had no idea of how Akihisa and Class F would defeat each class, especially Class A.
Honestly, the amazing comedy in the series did not show up until the second season. I particularly enjoyed the resort episode series, the beach episode, and the talking avatar episode which had me crying with laughter the whole time. However, the second season particularly was unstructured as far as the storyline goes, but it had tons of quality comedy scenes that made the season extremely entertaining.
In the second season, Class F just gave up on defeating Class A, and it just became all about comedy and flashbacks at that point. This was especially true with the background stories of Yuuji and Shouko, which had no relevance to the main plot. It was kind of disappointing.
All in all, the first season had a brilliant storyline and included events such as Class F’s rise to the top, Yuuji and Shouko’s adorable and competitive moments, and an amazing final battle between Class F and Class A. The second season, on the other hand, featured the incredibly comical resort trip episode series, some thought-provoking romantic scenes, and a storyline that was all over the place.
In my opinion, the storyline was great and the characters were definitely some of the most unique that I have ever seen. Come on, who has ever heard of a ninja pervert (Muttsurini), a genderless specimen (Hideyoshi), and the Inquisitor FFF? I believe that this series particularly took common anime stereotypes and expanded them into funny, memorable characters. You can’t go wrong with that in my book.
Additionally, I feel compelled to comment on the show’s theme in entirety. First, Baka and Test belongs to the romantic comedy genre. I’ll admit, some of the romantic gestures in the show were cringy. I didn’t necessarily fall in love with Akihisa’s dumbfounded nature when it came to his two crushes, Minami and Himeji. Also, Yuuji’s relationship with Shouko was cute, but it was sometimes irritating.
On one side, Akihisa acted like he didn’t know that the two girls were in love with him, while they both struggled to make him realize it. Then, Yuuji constantly treated Shouko horribly despite the fact that she was his only devoted love interest. Sometimes, I even had to pause the show to shake my head. Yuuji was uncharacteristically harsh, and he never got better. For example, he stubbornly rejects her in every episode to a fault.
Obviously, the romance part could have been better, but make no mistake. This show is a comedy! Believe me, watching Baka and Test truly was one of the funniest anime experiences in my life.
Essentially, I enjoyed Baka and Test when it came to its story and plot. The romance could have been written a little better, but the characters, story, and plot were amazing. However, I was NOT happy when the show ended without a proper goodbye. Don’t worry, we got you covered in the actual ending.
Art & Music
Baka and Test was released in 2010, so the visuals reflect that of a modern anime. In fact, the art was better than most of the anime I saw that year. Nonetheless, I want to talk about the music. Baka and Test is pretty underrated in terms of its soundtrack. I have to say, this series boasts an amazing soundtrack filled with catchy BGMs and opening themes.
Both of the opening themes were great. I especially loved the animation in each OP, and the music didn’t disappoint. Even for the OVA specials, the OST was on point. If I had to describe the music, I would say that the main OST definitely has some elements of JPOP, classical music, and a hint of JRPG tunes.
Specifically, I enjoyed how each character had a distinctive music score that defined them, There was the plucky and upbeat theme for Akihisa, and a solemn piano harmony for Minami. If you have watched this series before or plan to in the future, make sure you pay close attention to the music. You won’t regret it.
Themes & Trivia
In my own unique way, I’m going to give you some fascinating trivia and reference information that relates to Baka and Test in an education and comical way. Here I go:
- Akihisa means ‘Everlasting dawn’ in Japanese, and Yoshii is closely translated to ‘Well of Fortune’. There is definitely some irony there.
- Yuuji’s given name closely means ‘Second Male’, which makes sense because he is the second primary male character behind Akihisa.
- Yuuji’s learning ability was higher than Shouko’s in their childhood. Although, Yuuji seems to show glimpses of his high intelligence throughout the series.
- Himeji closely resembles Miyuki Takara from the anime series Lucky Star.
- Hideyoshi has consistently been ranked as one of the most popular male characters because of his hilarious gender neutrality gimmick.
- Hideyoshi is named after Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was previously known as Kinoshita Toukichirou. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a daimyo known for his failed attempts at conquering China and Korea.
- Hideyoshi’s weapon, the Naginata, represents his femininity, mainly because the weapon is akin to the history of female samurais.
From my experience, the theme of this series was its close resemblance to a JRPG. Baka and Test features 2D summoner battles that are similar to random encounters in Japanese role-playing games.
Now, we have reached the end of this series review, where I get to complain about all of the negatives of this series. Wrong! I actually have a lot of positive things to say about this anime series, and I definitely have some critiquing points as well. For one, the storyline was great in the first season, but it was nonexistent for the rest of the series. Nonetheless, the excellent comedy in the series made up for that.
I am very impressed with the characters, nonetheless. I don’t feel that it’s fair to judge the character development since the series ended abruptly, but I do feel that Baka and Test had one of the best character lineups in anime. Hideyoshi, Yuuji, and Muttsurini were my favorite characters in this series and made the show very enjoyable.
Hideyoshi constantly had to remind everyone that he was a male, Yuuji’s sense of humor was spot on, and Muttsurini was the show’s comic relief. I truly think that Muttsurini was Baka and Test’s MVP. His gimmick was something else.
Lastly, the soundtrack for Baka and Test is underrated and beautiful. I loved every bit of it, and I truly believe that it ultimately complemented the entire series. On the negative side, I didn’t too much care for the romantic antics in the second season. It wasn’t realistic or that much entertaining. I love romance just like anyone else, but some of the scenes were just dumb.
That was mainly due to Akihisa’s indecisiveness towards Himeji and Minami. I believe that every fan can agree to that. Though, other than that, this series is definitely a classic and something that I would recommend to any anime fan.
Endings, Goodbyes, and Conclusions…
Baka and Test is an amazing anime title. Here is my final grade for the series:
- Amazing storyline and plot
- One of the funniest anime series around
- Incredible soundtrack
- Lovable and memorable characters
- No traceable storyline in the second season.
- The plot ended abruptly.
- The romance was a bit too much at times.
Do you feel like this rating was fair? Make sure you comment below and state your opinions on this review and the show. We’ll definitely be watching. Also, check out more Manga.Tokyo reviews here for promising critiques on popular anime shows. I truly hope you enjoyed this review, and I’ll see you soon with another post. Until then, sayonara!
Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts
Official Funimation Site: https://www.funimation.com/shows/baka-test-summon-the-beasts-/