Review of Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts by Ian Wolf
"He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot." - Groucho Marx
Fumizuki Academy is unlike every other educational establishment around. The school's classes are strictly segregated in terms of academic ability. The top class, Class A, gets all the advantages any intelligent pupil could wish for, and everyone there is vastly intelligent. In Class B the pupils are still smart, although not as much as those in Class A, and their equipment is slightly less good.
This goes on, down and down the ladder until you get to Class F, which contains the school's biggest underachievers. In this class the standard equipment consists of low, easily breakable wooden tables, with cushions to kneel on that are losing their stuffing. Amongst the pupils in Class F is Akihisa Yoshii, a boy you knows just about nothing, and is the idiot ("baka" in Japanese) in the title. Not surprisingly he is so stupid that he ends up in the bottom class.
Yoshii finds himself alongside a girl, Mizuki Himeji, who is incredibly smart, but because she fell ill during her placement test and had to leave half-way through, she scored zero. Yoshii’s classmates include: class representative Yuuji; violent schoolgirl Minami who spent most of her life in Germany and thus has trouble reading Japanese; tomboy Hideyoshi who is a boy who keeps getting confused for a girl; and Muttsurini, a boy so perverted that he keeps a gigantic record of the breast sizes of each girl in the school.
Fumizuki Academy may sound harsh, but it does have a system in which lower students can climb up the ladder. Each pupil has their own special "Avatar" which they can use to battle other students with. Classes can declare wars on other classes. If the lower class wins, they win better rooms, better equipment etc. from the class above. If they lose, their classes get worse and any pupil whose avatar loses its entire HP (actually marks from previous exams taken by the pupil) is forced to take remedial classes. The series sees Class F trying to battle against those above them, as well as Yoshii’s pathetic attempts to earn better grades.
In terms of the show's content, while the plot is complicated and takes a while to explain, it is fun. It is nothing groundbreaking, but it is something nice to watch. It is like a bar of chocolate - not good for you, but enjoyable and in many ways rather naughty. The show's fan service levels fall on the right side of excessive as far as I am concerned. There is so much blood coming out of nostrils that one has to assume that the school's nurse also has good contacts with the local transfusion clinic.
The animation is good too, as are the characters and the way they interact with each other. My personal favourite is the relationship between Yuuji and Class A's Shoko, who, it turns out, is totally obsessed with him, to the point that she threatens to marry him via taser-point. If you imagine Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki but funnier, then you get a good mental picture.
I suppose the main problem is that these kinds of shows are so frequent that it is hard to figure out what new angle you can play. Yes, you have the battles between classes using the avatars, but then again there are plenty of other examples of children battling using small creatures. Pokemon for example.
Still it is a fun show. Not the greatest by any means, but fun to pass the time with, and there are plenty of extras to pass the time with too on this DVD.
Final score: 7 out of 10