Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni! Overall Review~

The second season of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu! Back at the beginning of summer this series was much anticipated by both old and recent fans. But did it live up to their expectations?

Storyline and Plot

Season 1 introduced us to the main storyline, which was quite simple really. Fumizuki Academy has a unique system in which Shoukanjuu, or summoned beings, are mediums for the students to fight it out – and their test grades make up how strong their summons are. However test grades also affect what class a student is put into, and the classes themselves are segregated. Class A gets fancy reclining seats and a luxurious environment while Class F gets tea tables and a shitty teacher. BakaTest tells the story of Class F’s Yoshii Akihisa, who, with his circle of friends, attempt to beat Class A in an Exam Summoning Battle (ESB) and swap for their facilities.

Season 2 therefore continues on Akihisa’s plans, as they think up crazy and epic ways to beat Class A. Or…that’s what I’d like to say at least. By Season 2, the whole heated rivalry over Class A’s facilities has dwindled down, and over the first half of the second season was spent on filler-y comedic sketches (as well as a filler arc) which would have been nice if BakaTest was something like Lucky Star, but it’s not, is it? Fortunately, the second half of the season shaped up considerably, and from there the episodes got continuously better, with some love drama and rivalry added into the mix. There were several flashback eps too, but surprisingly, both of them were extremely strong and ended up being favourites of mine throughout the anime.

However this category is all about the plot of the anime after all, and for such an interesting premise it was quite mediocre in the end, and a step-down on the whole from Season 1.

5/10

Characters and Development

The character cast of BakaTest is definitely one of its fortes, and even with repeated gags, I never tire of them at all. The main characters are obviously the inner circle of Class F (sometimes joined by Shouko and Aiko from Class A) and each and every one has their own defining features that make them hilarious to watch. From Himeji’s huge boobs to Voyeur, the biggest pervert in the world that no-one minds for some strange reason there is never a lack of comedic action. And how could anyone forget Hideyoshi, the famous bishounen trap that turned so many characters gay? The characters’ ruthless nature also kicks in at times for extra comedic value, as they all sacrifice Akihisa to save themselves from the slapstick torture – why else would only Akihisa’s Shoukanjuu have the physical damage ability?

This show takes great care into developing certain characters such as Minami, Yuuji and Shouko, and though complete episodes were dedicated to them, I felt like I enjoyed them more than the episodes at the start of the season. We followed Minami as she was when she first came to Japan, all her insecurities as well as the reason she crushes on Akihisa were all fleshed out in detail. Yuuji’s childhood was also another highlight for me – who knew he was such a child prodigy turned punk?

Tis a pity the same can’t be said about the love development throughout though. While Yuuji has started to accept Shouko’s love a bit more and rightfully so, there’s still this huge love triangle between Akihisa, Himeji and Minami. When Minami kissed Aki, I finally thought that the development would get somewhere – and the verbal bitchfight that followed would have plainly told anyone that they were fighting over him. Except for Akihisa, who still thought that they were fucking ACTING. So while I absolutely loved the character cast and their backstories, the love development was pretty sub-par, and overall I give it a…

8/10 (because the characters were just that great)

Animation and Music

While not as catchy as Perfect-area Complete!, the OP was pretty decent for the second season, and I liked Eureka Baby (the ED) much better than Season 1’s Baka Go Home. I found the animation to be top-notch, every single character was designed and animated beautifully – sometimes even the animation was used as part of gags ^^ The drop in quality was extremely noticeable when I downloaded the 480p instead of the 720p, it bothered me so much that I decided to stake it out until the 720p release appeared. While I remember disliking the Shoukanjuu themselves at some point during the first season, I absolutely love their chibi styling for them now, and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

8.5/10

Recommendation

Hmm, would I recommend this? Well, there are lovers and haters of this show to be honest, and I’d like to think I fit somewhere in between. The series as a whole I would definitely recommend for its unique premise and characters, but hardcore fans of the first season would find their expectations short-lived, as when compared to everything else, the first few episodes did not get off to a great start. Fans of slapstick and comedy will love this, but as with almost every anime series in existence, your mileage may vary.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Vantage

I love cute things.

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