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Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Season 1 – The Complete Set (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 26, 2011 by  



“Baka and Test” is a fun and enjoyable series that can be easily described as wild, crazy and even perverted at times.  Very cool visual presentation, cool concept and definitely a fun series worth recommending on Blu-ray!

Image courtesy of © 2011 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Baka and Test Season 1 – The Complete Set (DVD/Blu-ray)

DURATION: 13 Episodes (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 14 and Up

Release Date: August 2, 2011

Originally created by Kenji Inoue

Directed by Shin Oonuma

Seriest Composition by Katsuhiko Takayama

Music by Nijine

Original Character Design by Yui Haga

Character Design by Miwa Oshima

Art Director: Kohji Azuma

Anime Production by Silver Link

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Akihisa Yoshii

Hitomi Harada/Alexis Tipton as Mizuki Himeji

Akio Ohtsuka/Kent Williams as Sōichi Nishimura

Ayana Taketatsu as Miharu Shimizu

Emiri Katou/Brina Palencia as Hideyoshi Kinoshita/Yūko Kinoshita

Kaori Mizuhashi/Leah Clark as Minami Shimada

Kenjiro Tsuda/Anthony Bowling as Shin Fukuhara

Kouki Miyata/Greg Ayres as Kōta “Muttsuriini” Tsuchiya

Mana Hirata/Lindsay Seidel as Hazuki Shimada

Takuma Terashima/Joel McDonald as Toshimitsu Kubo

Tatsuhisa Suzuki /Scott Freeman as Yūji Sakamoto

Tomomi Isomura/Jamie Marchi as Shōko Kirishima

Yoshino Nanjou/Trina Nishimura as Aiko Kudō

Akio Ohtsuka as Narration

Daisuke Kageura as Hasegawa

Hiromi Igarashi/Terri Doty as Yūka Koyama

Hiromu Miyazaki/Todd Haberkorn as Kyōji Nemoto

When a fight breaks out at Fumizuki Academy, nobody throws a single punch. Instead, the students utilize the school’s technology to summon Avatars, pint-sized stand-ins with battle powers based on academic ability. That “academic ability” part is bad news for Yoshii: he’s an idiot, stuck in lowly Class F with the slackers. If these misfits want to escape their dump of a classroom and earn some respect, they’ll have to fight their way up the ranks and take on Class A, the Academy’s brightest students. It’s going to be tough, that’s for sure, but once the underachievers of Class F get motivated, they don’t give up – and Yoshii can’t even spell surrender!

“Baka and Test” is a fun and enjoyable series that can be easily described as wild, crazy and even perverted at times.  Very cool visual presentation, cool concept and definitely a fun series worth recommending on Blu-ray!

In 2007, “Baka to Test to Shokanju” (Baka and Test) was created by Kenji Inoue.  Featured as a light novel series and featuring the illustrations by Yui Haga, a total of 12 volumes have been printed thus far and a manga adaptation by Mosuke Mattaku began in 2009 in the magazine “Shonen Ace” and also on “Famitsu Comic Clear”.

An anime adaptation began in 2010 and a second season which begins airing in Japan in July 2011.  And now the first season will be released in America ala a Blu-ray/DVD box set release courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment under the title “Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts”.

“Baka and Test” revolve around a not-so-smart teenager named Akihisa Yoshii.  Because he is not so smart, he is constantly called “Baka” (in Japanese which means stupid). Akihisa is also living on a very tight budget and because he doesn’t have much money, he often has to cut his ramen noodles in pieces and eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Akihisa goes to Fumizuki Academy where staff separate their students based on their test scores.  The better the grade, the better their life will be in school.  For example: “A” students have great furniture and desks and luxurious studying areas, while those with F’s have  regular classrooms but have crates or cardboard boxes as desks.

But there is a way that lower grades students can get things from higher grade students and that is to challenge them in a battle for facilities.

How this works out is that a student can call forth their “Shokanju” or Avatar and during the battle, a teacher supervises the battle.  While students compete in various subjects, avatars can lose HP when struck by an opponent and when their point count reaches zero, they are disqualified.  But a student can leave the battle before reaching a zero, take a supplemental exam and return back into battle.

For Akihisa, his first day at Fumizuki Academy is to take a placement test.  Its pretty much a given that Akihisa will be in the lowest class but when the intelligent student Mizuki Himeji is sick as is unable to complete her test, unfortunately she is given a zero and must join Akihisa and other delinquents in class F.    The other delinquents include their class rep Yuji Sakamoto, the oftenly mistaken for a girl Hideyoshi Kinoshita, the perverted Tsuchiya Kouta and the tomboy Minami Shimada.  Interesting enough, both Mizuki and Minami have a crush on Akihisa.

But because Class F has the intelligent Mizuki (who should be an A student), it gives them an edge in battle.  Also, despite students being in F class, they may not be good in certain subjects but some may be great in one.

“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Season 1” focuses on the students taking part in battles but also features stories that give us an idea of the life of the various Class F students.

The main characters of “Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts” are:

Akihisa Yoshii – The protagonist of the story and is known as “baka”.  Despite his stupidity, he is good at heart and has a problem of spending his money on video games (thus making him poor and so he tends to eat cut up ramen in pieces).  Unknown to Akihisa is the fact that a few of the female students in his class like him but he is too stupid too notice.  He is also a great cook.  His avatar has also a special ability to break inanimate objects (which others can’t do).

Mizuki Himeji – One of the smartest students at Fumikuzi Academy, because she was sick on placement day, she is forced to be in F class.  She is Class F’s secret weapon because of her intelligence.  She is shy but always adapts to get close to Akihisa.  Known for her bouncy chest and terrible cooking.

Minami Shimada– The tomboy who likes Akihisa and often hurts him when he behaves badly to her.  She lived in Germany, so she is weak in kanji and hurts her in class.  She is good in math, unless there are mathematical word problems.   Often teased for not having big boobs like Mizuki.

Yuji Sakamoto – The head of Class F.  He is cool, intelligent and very good at strategy and it is unknown why he is in Class F, especially since he was a child prodigy when he was younger.  He is also held in a ball and chain with his childhood friend Shoko Kirishima of Class A. Because Class F had lost a battle with Class A, he is forced to date Shoko and if he even looks at other girls, she will poke him in the eyes.

Hideyoshi Kinoshita – A male student who is always confused to be a girl.  He is the fraternal twin of Yuko Kinoshita of Class A.  He is bad in school but great in acting.

Kota Tsuchiya – Very perverted and will do all he can to snap photos whenever his fellow female students are in uncompromising positions.  He is terrible in all subjects except Health Education and is great in battle.

Shoko Kirishima – The top student and Class A rep who is very intelligent but is infatuated with Yuji Sakamoto.  She is shy and soft-spoken but will definitely poke Yuji’s eyes out if he looks at other girls.

Toshimitsu Kubo – The calm second ranked student of Class A.  He thinks that Akihisa is trying to hit on him and so now he has developed a crush on him and is jealous when he sees Akihisa with other girls.

Yuko Kinoshita – The eldest twin sister of Hideyoshi Kinoshita.  Unlike Hideyoshi, she is very arrogant and often arguing with her brother.  She hates her brother because he once masqueraded as her and did something to really upset her.

Miharu Shimizu – A girl from Class D who has an attraction to Minami of Class F.  She can’t stand Minami being close to Akihisa.

Hazuki Shimada – Minami’s younger sister who wants to be Akihisa’s bride in the future.

Akira Yoshii – Akihisa’s older sister who graduated from Harvard.  She is often trying to tease Akihisa by acting as if she is going to kiss him and also upsets her when she is scantily clad. She observes Akihisa and decides how much allowance he can get.

VIDEO:

“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  I actually like the look of the series and the concentration of really elaborate artistic backgrounds. A very colorful series with good pastels, also use of poka dots on backgrounds and foregrounds.  And also there is quite a bit of detail for a TV anime series and I think the efficacy of the animation and backgrounds is because SILVER LINK is a company that is used to doing in-between animation and “Baka and Test” is their first major anime production.

So, unlike other major anime production studios who are often busy with other anime series, to have a company who is able to focus on a series definitely makes for a better production.  Picture quality for this TV series is very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  First, the good news is the voice acting for soundtracks are very well done.   I watched the series in both soundtracks and typically I am biased to the Japanese soundtrack but for this series, both are well done!

Second, because the English soundtrack is presented in lossless 5.1, there is better use of the surround channels and musical score.    The series is not truly immersive because battles don’t happen every episode but there is a good amount of sound effects that are presented through the surround channels.

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Season 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Mission: Impossible: Baka Preview – (1:19) A “Mission Impossible” preview.
  • Baka-Only Cross-Dressing Contest – (3:56) It’s a cross-dressing contest and who will win?
  • Mission: Impossible: Baka Mission 01 -(3:39) Hideyoshi Kinoshita stars in his first “Baka Mission”.
  • Mizuki Himeji Girls’ Meal – (3:19) Mizuki (who is the worst cook) teaches people how to cook.
  • The King Game in Fumizuki Academy – (4:54) The F class plays the “King” game.
  • Special Christmas Footage – (4:21) “Baka and Test” characters talk about Christmas.
  • Promo Videos – (3:35) A hilarious never-before-seen promotional videos for “Baka and Test”.
  • Original Commercials – (:49)
  • Original DVD Spots (:49)
  • Baka and Test Tales (4:47) is a sort of mini-mystery involving tragedy in a locked room.
  • Textless Opening Song (1:32)
  • Textless Closing Song #1 (1:31)
  • Textless Closing Song #2 (1:31)
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Season 1 – The Complete Set” comes with a slip over cover case and the DVD versions of the series on three DVD discs.

The actual concept of “Baka and Test” was pretty intriguing.  As a big fan of RPG games, I felt that the concept of classes getting into battle, especially the underdogs – The F Class challenging the other grades was pretty cool and also the introduction of the Avatar system.

But I have to admit that from the earlier episodes, I was expecting more of a battle-based anime series but you quickly learn that if the writers did focus on it too much, the series would get too boring, especially without any character developing episodes.

So, right after episode 2, the storyline focuses on the characters.  From learning that Minami and Mizuki are vying for Akihisa’s affections, the introduction of Minami’s younger sister Hazuki, we learn why Shouko is infatuated with Yuji, the introduction of Akihisa’s sister and then the battles commences in the final three episodes as Class F prepares to challenge Class A.  Who will win?

Needless to say, “Baka and Test” turned out to be a pretty entertaining series.  There is a good balance of the RPG-like battles, humor and of course, fan service.  If anything, the series strikes a fine balance in showcasing characters that will appeal to both the guys and girls.  You have a taste of harem with the girls falling for Akihisa, you have the fan service as we often see Mizuki’s boobs bouncing, the pervertedness with Kota always trying to take pictures of girls in their panties,  you have a yaoi/yuri situations, you have Minami and her tsundere style and more!

So, there is a little bit of everything for anime fans.

And as for the animation and character designs, as mentioned earlier, I felt that SILVER LINK, a newer company did a great job.  Especially since they are not a major studio and their talent are focusing on several series at one time, SILVER LINK had more time to dedicate to the overall look of the series.  From the detailed and artistic backgrounds to the character designs, for a TV series, “Baka and Test” looks pretty good on Blu-ray and also another plus is the fact that you get a considerable amount of special features.

And also, with FUNimation Entertainment focusing on Blu-ray/DVD set releases, if you don’t have a Blu-ray player now, but only a DVD player, you don’t have to pay the extra costs of upgrading because you all discs in one set.

Overall, “Baka and Test” is a fun and enjoyable series that can be easily described as wild, crazy and even perverted at times.  But it’s great to see FUNimation Entertainment bringing out a series that focuses on comedy and for those who want a break from the serious or violent anime series on Blu, will definitely enjoy “Baka and Test: Summon the Beast Season 1 – The Complete Set”.

Recommended!






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