「バカとクラスと召喚戦争」 (Baka to Kurasu to Shoukan Sensou)
“Idiots, Classes, and the Summoning War”
Now why didn’t my school have a summoning war system? Not that I needed it as motivation, but if it entitled me to a high-tech facility, first-class treatment, and meant I could own everyone with a digital personification of myself, it sure as hell wouldn’t have hurt. If you’re looking for a comedy to watch this season that has everything from a “pervert ninja” to the ultimate trap, look no further than Baka Test!
Before I get into the wacky yet unbelievable awesome premise we have here, let me start off by saying that the production here is amazing. The screencaps speak for themselves, but I have to give credit to SILVER LINK for doing some incredible work here. They’re a relatively new studio that formed in December 2007, and is comprised of ex-employees of FRONTLINE. This is only the second series that they’re heading the production for too, with the first one being the relatively low-profile Tayutama – Kiss on my Deity- last year. As a whole, Tayutama was nothing to write home about, but it was fairly good animation-wise. Baka Test on the other hand? It feels light-years beyond their work there. Let’s just take the animated digital backgrounds for starters, followed by the simple yet unique overhead camera views.
While the stills look pretty good on their own, it’s a totally different story when things are put into motion. What’s even better though is that the comedy is spot on, and had me laughing more than the manga I skimmed through last season at Patrik’s recommendation. (He’s still the resident backseat blogger/on-call translation checker here.) Some of you may remember he wrote a post about the light novel some eons ago (i.e. May 2009) and while I can’t speak for the novel’s content, this first episode does go about things differently than the manga. However, therein lies the beauty of it all, as the screenplay behind the jokes are really well done, plus we get right into the thick of things with a taste of a Shiken Shoukan Sensou, a.k.a. Exam Summoning War.
I almost feel like I should direct you to Patrik’s post for a rundown of the premise, but the story here follows one Yoshii Akihisa (Shimono Hiro), whose high school Fumizuki Academy has an experimental summoning war system in place. Students are required to take a placement exam every year to decide which class they end up in, which not only range from A to F in name, but also in the quality of the classroom facility itself. The smartest students get placed into class A, where they have everything from reclining seats, notebook computers, and a free self-service snack bar. At the other end of the spectrum, class F gets rundown tatami mats, shoddy tables, broken windows, and floor cushions that don’t even have enough cotton in them. Naturally, to make things hilariously interesting for our sake, Akihisa is a complete idiot and winds up in class F.
It’s intellectual discrimination at its best, but oh-so-funny when their class representative Sakamoto Yuuji (Suzuki Tatsuhisa, Eishirou from SoraOto) rallies everyone into taking part in a summoning war. In this teacher-supervised event, a class may challenge another and fight using digital personifications of themselves (a.k.a. Shoukanjuu/Summoned Beasts), whose powers are directly proportional to the student’s latest exam score. Evidently, this puts the stupid kids at a huge disadvantage, but the incentive is that they can take over the facility of the better class should they win. All participants risk reducing their beast’s score to zero in the process however, in which case they have to take hellish remedial classes to bring it back up.
In this first episode, the pace picks up quickly when class F challenging class E to a war, which has three of Akihisa’s friends, Kinoshita Hideyoshi (Katou Emiri), Shimada Minami (Mizuhashi Kaori), and Tsuchiya Kouta (Miyata Kouki), holding down the front lines and unknowingly buying time for their pink-haired secret weapon, Himeji Mizuki (Harada Hitomi), to take recovery exams and improve her beast’s powers. As it turns out, Mizuki is actually a genius but got a zero on the placement exam because she came down with a fever and had to leave. She’s able to return just in time with a supercharged beast and annihilate the entire class E single-handedly.
Akihasa on the other hand is so dumb that he’s a Kansatsu Shobunsha 「観察処分者」, i.e. “A Person Under Observational Punishment”, which gives him the “awesome” privilege of experiencing all the pain and hardships that his beast does. It’s basically punishment for being the ultimate dumbass, but comes with the benefit of allowing his beast to handle real-world objects and be stronger than his test scores would indicate. In reality though, the ability to handle objects is just so he can be the teachers’ errand boy.
I won’t get into describing each of the jokes and ruining the fun, but some of the screencaps probably speak volumes about what you’re in store for. I will mention that you are staring at some serious “male ass” in this scene however, which already puts Hideyoshi as the number one candidate for Best Trap of 2010. The best part of his trap is that he doesn’t even dress like a girl, yet everyone sees him as one, especially Akihisa who wants him to come out and proclaim that he’s a girl at heart. I actually didn’t pick up that it’s Katou Emiri (Kagami in Lucky Star) playing him, but she also doubles up as Hideyoshi’s hot twin sister from class A, Yuuko. As for the aforementioned “pervert ninja”, that would be the upskirt-peeking, camera-snapping Kouta, whose Miyata Kouki also plays Hanatarou in Bleach.
When I found out that Shimono Hiro was going to be playing Akihisa some time ago, I really couldn’t have imagined anyone else in the role. If you want stupidity and comedy, Hiro’s your man. Sure he played Hirono Hiro in ef – a tale of memories, but this is Ikuto from Nagasarete Airantou and Jin from Kannagi we’re talking about. I got a good chuckle from him buying into Yuuji’s spiel about being special and talking smack when they were cornered, only to end up owning himself with his beast. That was absolute comedic gold, but wouldn’t have had the same effect if he didn’t try to act cool just before. The one voice that I found terribly off though was Himeji’s, but it was bearable given her character’s timid nature.
You know, I was really hoping that no new shows would compel me enough to blog on a regular basis this season (due to lack of time in the upcoming months), but Baka Test is damn hard to ignore. I still can’t say I’ll commit to it, but it’s high on my consideration list. If you haven’t watched it already, do yourself a favor and check it out. It doesn’t have any fan-service like the other new shows I’ve covered thus far and the jokes are clean enough for anyone to enjoy. Don’t let the strange premise dissuade you from doing so, as it’s pretty damn funny and the production is “stupidly” good.
* I’m not going to bother uploading OP/ED videos anymore, since not many people tend to download them. The streams are still available as usual. If you want a copy of the videos, please see the Community section on the sidebar for sites where you can get them.
* Added them this time as requested.