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Thursday, 21 October 2010 00:00

Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts

What do you get when you replace the usual system of school tests with something a little more high-tech - like, say, a fighting avatar whose power equals your test scores? Baka and Test, that's what. Class F should suck at this game, being the thickest students in school, but they have a few surprises to spring on the classes above them...

Episode summaries and screenshots are on the following pages. The school in Baka and Test is al little bit unusual, to be honest - for starters with the idea of having classroom facilities commensurate to the class's abilities (the 'A' classes live in the lap of luxury, lounging on sofas while they learn and having everything available to them; class 'F', on the other hand sit on the floor, use cardboard boxes for desks, and have chalkboards instead of notebooks. It provides something of an incentive for the lower classes to outperform - beat the class above you in a challenge, and you get their room, along with the better facilities. The challenge comes by way of a Summoner Test War, where the students' avatars - with powers based on their test scores - do battle to decide the winner. Study hard and improve your scores, and you have a chance of moving up in the world. Be a genuine idiot, and you're stuffed.

Class F, it must be said, is mostly idiots - especially the nominal star of the show, Akihisa Yoshii. He's so thick that he's on academic probation, which gives him a rather unusual avatar. Fortunately, though, the class also has brainbox student Mizuki Himeji, who would be in the 'A' class is she hadn't passed out during the streaming tests; and class rep Yuji, who's a tactical genius where Summoner Test Wars are concerned. Put them all together, and even Class 'A' needs to watch out...

But while the Summoner Test Wars are a large part of Baka and Test - there are two significant arcs in the series devoted to them - the real fun comes in the middle episodes where the series is simply having fun with the characters. Akihisa's in love with Himeji, but fellow classmate (and violent tomboy) Minami is in love with Akihisa, and much hilarity ensues of how that triangle plays out; Yuji has unwanted attention from Class A girl Shouko, who may be possibly the most scarily-possessive woman on the planet; and everybody loves Hideyoshi, a boy who is otherwise identical to his twin sister Yuko - which leads to plenty of fun to be had at the expense of just what sex he is (although with the school having toilets and changing rooms for a third sex, "Hideyoshi", you can guess how that works out).

Put them all together, mix well, and have plenty of fun at their expense, and you end up with Baka and Test. It's not to be taken remotely seriously, and as long as you go into it with your mind thoroughly switched off there's plenty of fun to be had. It's a supremely silly idea, made to work purely by the collection of weird and wacky characters who take part, and well worth a look.

Rating - ***