Fans of school comedies will be pleased with FUNimation's
latest release: Baka & Test Summon
the Beasts. An amusing show with just a
dollop of action, he full 13-episode first season is available in a
that includes both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the show. Not sure why you'd need both formats (it's
not like a Disney film where you might want to let the kids have the
the adults will keep the Blu-ray unmarred for family viewing. I guess it would be nice if you are planning
on upgrading to Blu-ray soon but haven't made the leap yet) but in any
they're both included if you need them.
Akihisa Yoshii attends Fumizuki
a very strict high school that employs new cutting-edge techniques for
their students. First off, everyone is
placed in a class based on their entrance test scores.
Class A is where the brightest people are
placed, and they get the best of everything.
Being in Class A is like living in a five-star hotel. Next is Class B, which isn't so nice, on down
to Class F, the lowest, where Yoshii finds himself (he's the 'baka' or
of the title). Class F sits on the floor
and they have old boxes for desks. Their
teacher doesn't care at all, and even starts to moonlight as the show's
The real innovation has to do with how students resolve
conflict and advance. Each person can
call forth (with a teacher's permission) an avatar that will fight for
them. The avatar's power is equal to
that student's last test score. Any class
can challenge any other class to a duel, and if the lower class wins,
the nicer facilities that the other group had.
Yoshii thinks the system in unfair, especially since his smart
(and attractive) friend, Mizuki Himeji, ended up in class F. She was sick during the placement exam and
passed out so she got a zero. As the
teacher said, staying healthy is part of the exam.
Other classmates include: Minami who grew up in Germany and
is very good at math but bad in all other subjects since she has
reading Japanese; class rep Yūji who is calm and cool and comes up with
brilliant plans that sometimes even work; Hideyoshi, the prettiest one
class and the envy of all the girls even thought he's a boy; and Kōta a
who is constantly trying to peek at the girl's underwear and frequently
The show is a typical high school comedy, and it is pretty
funny. Early on Yoshii takes Mizuki and
Minami out on a date and spends all of his food money for the
future. For the rest of the season
has almost nothing to eat, a running gag that gets more and more
amusing as the
series goes on. He ends up salt soup
with sugar water for desert, and feast on a bowl of bread crumbs. He thinks he's hit the jackpot when Mizuki
makes him a fabulous lunch, but when some friends steal a bit of it and
incredibly sick, he realizes that maybe it's not such a good thing. Mizuki's horrible cooking becomes another
running gag, with guys fighting each other in order to be the one to
her offerings (I mean they couldn't all turn her down, that would hurt
Another subplot that earned lots of laughs involves Shōko
from class A. She's the top of that
class, and the best student in the school, but she has a crush on Yuji. A very passionate and violent crush. He's terrified at what she'll do next,
because not only does she stalk him, but she's very jealous. As she says once after clawing his eyes with
her long fingernails "Love hurts... but it can hurt worse if you allow
Happily the avatar battles, which are pretty prominent in
the first few episodes, fade into the background for most of the rest
found that aspect of the program the least
interesting and I was fearful that it would devolve into a
show, which it didn't.
This release includes season one of the show on both DVD and
Blu-ray. The single-width case includes
three DVDs with the same material repeated in HD on two Blu-ray discs.
Viewers have a choice between the original stereo Japanese
audio track and an English dub in 5.1 (DD 5.1 on the DVDs and Dolby
on the Blu-rays). I viewed alternated
between the two tracks for a while and settled on the original language
option. The dub was very well done with
talented actors who did a great job of not only matching their speech
animated lip movements but also brought the characters to life, and it
engrossing with nice use of the full soundstage, but I thought the
language track suited the show a bit better.
Neither track had any dropouts, background noise, or other
This is a nice looking set.
I only screened the Blu-ray discs, but the anamorphic 1.85:1
crisp and clear with tight lines and a great amount of detail. The colors are vivid and strong and really
make this transfer shine. There aren't
any digital defects, with even aliasing and blocking, the two most
animation flaws being totally absent.
Fans will be very happy with the way this set looks.
The final disc on both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the
series is where you'll find the copious extras.
First off is a Mission:
Impossible: Baka Preview a trailer for a Mission: Impossible type show
Baka characters. Those who enjoy that
will certainly like Mission: Impossible:
Baka Mission 01 a 3 ½
-minute adventure. Baka-Only
Cross-Dressing Contest is a 4-minute short that features
the men from the show in a cross-dressing beauty contest.
Himeji Girls' Meal has the females preparing food, and The
King Game in Fumizuki Academy has the characters playing a game
where one is selected to be 'king' and that person gets to give one
any other person. Special
Christmas Footage has the kids from class F talking about
Christmas and what it means to them and Baka
and Test Tales is a short mystery.
. In addition there are several
commercials, promos videos, and DVD release spots.
Overall this is a great set of bonus
items. They're all at least marginally
funny and some of them have solid laughs.
Good goin' FUNimation.
Some Japanese comedies leave me cold, but not this one.
Baka & Test was funny, silly, and
interesting with some great running gags that thread their way through
first season and a set of enjoyable characters.
Check it out, it gets a strong 'recommended'