Critic's Log - Earthdate: April 5, 2013. Review #43: Baka and Test: Summon The Beasts
To those that love movies, we have lost a particular voice on April 4, 2013. We still have our thumbs to decide if a movie is good or bad but this man was known for being part of that. We have lost an influential film critic known as Roger Ebert. Yeah, the guy that was with Gene Siskel before Siskel died from complications of surgery. Roger Ebert was dealing with a health issue and I think everyone knows the story here. He had thyroid cancer, had to have part of of his jaw removed, the cancer came back and then he suddenly passed away. I can honestly say that Siskel and Ebert was kind of a big deal when it came to movies because they both shared their opinions on specific movies and that might seem a little boring to some but when these guys have differences in opinion, that does tend to be more fun to watch and it's fascinating that these guys are arguing through opinions...over A MOVIE! Yeah, I know movies are supposed to bring escape from reality but these guys take it very seriously. It is a bit silly to take a movie way too seriously but that's what Siskel and Ebert were good at. They both had a passion for the movies. Hell, even Roger Ebert had Gene Siskel over the phone while Siskel was in the hospital and they were reviewing a film, call that a bit strange. Even though he has seen and reviewed animated flicks, He even saw and reviewed some anime films as well such as anime films like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Grave of the Fireflies and Princess Mononoke. One of his headlines back in 1999 said "Japanese animation unleashes the mind" and he did once say that he likes the fact that Japanese animation isn't all limited to kids. I actually did agree on that. He is positive towards anime but he only reserves this towards movies. This is perfectly obvious because he was a film critic. Roger Ebert is considered to be an advocate for anime even if that does sound a bit sketchy. Even in his final years when Roger Ebert couldn't speak anymore, he still wrote his film reviews and kept doing so without giving up. I think he was more than just a critic, he was a voice for the moviegoer, he was like a friend to us even if one of us never met him face to face or even if some of us have a difference in opinion with him. But most importantly, he is like everyone else that loves to watch movies. He was a moviegoer, just like us. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert may have not been a major influence or inspiration as to why I do anime reviews but I will say that their passion for movies really left an impression on me. I am also passionate about anime which is exactly why I review animes in the first place. I may be a self-proclaimed Anime critic but I do want to lend out my voice through my reviews and I want to be like a friend even if you don't agree with me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I am like everyone else that has a passion for anime. Now that Roger Ebert has left this world, all we can remember him by is that his career, passion, life, and legacy deserves a "Two Thumbs Up". Roger Ebert is probably re-united with Gene Siskel up in the balcony. They'll see you at the movies in spirit and in memory.
Now with that said, I actually do have a review under way. As a self-proclaimed anime critic, can you please remain seated while I give you a lecture on how I do my anime reviews? If the answer is yes, then let me teach you how it's done. This will be a lengthy lesson that does involve questions. So, please remain seated while class is in session because here is Baka and Test: Summon The Beasts!
Question #1: Should I mention the sypnosis of the show while reviewing it?
You should just in case...
Being into a school of higher grade proof-reading is decided by the results of the Promotion Test strictly for certain class types. Ranging from A class with the best facilities anyone can offer all the way down to F Class which is composed of low dining tables, rotten tatami mats and other worn out facilities. Students can change classes by competing using the Examination Summons Battle system or ESB for short. Students summon virtual avatars with their equivalent test mark scores and use them to compete with other classes.
Question #2: What should I mention regarding the animation?
I simply mention that the show is done by the studio that made it and then explain the animation a little further.
To be technical, This is a Silver Link production.
I said "Silver Link", not Dark Link! Anyway, Baka and Test does look pretty good for the most part, but there are some shortcuts that are a bit noticeable. Does this really hamper with enjoying the animation and artwork? No. The animation is quite possibly the strongest attribute to Baka and Test.
Question #3: Should I mention the composer of the soundtrack to the specific anime you're reviewing?
Please do, it is part of the show after all.
The music is by Nijine, and that's all I'm gonna point out because the soundtrack is a bit forgettable in this show. I will admit the opening is catchy and some of the closings are good too, but that's pretty much it.
Question #4: Should I mention the voice acting? Should I mention the "Dub" too?
Yes, mention the voice actors that are part of the show, unless there's not much to say about it, that all depends. As far as the Dub, I only discuss the Original Japanese Cast and the English Dub cast since I reside in the U.S. Discussing the English Dub is purely optional. Just don't write the entire cast down. List down who you thought stood out in their roles. I also mention the ADR director of the dub because the ADR director is essentially "The Director" of the English Dub.
When it comes to voice acting, The original Japanese cast is pretty good... for playing the generic character types. Hiro Shimono is alright as Yoshii and everyone else is alright too, this particular cast really isn't all too special and I don't know what else to say. I could say the same for the English dub. Josh Grelle is okay as Yoshii, and Brina Palencia does pull off a convincing voice for Hideyoshi. That's pretty much all I can explain about the dub. This show doesn't really rely on voices all too much, it's just generic character casting for the seiyus/Voice Actors and Voice actresses. Terri Doty did alright as ADR director I guess.
Question #5: Should I mention the characters?
Absolutely, the characters are an important factor to a fictional story, they are possible reflections to certain people and that's why some people feel that they could relate to the character.
I have to admit, the characters are poorly developed for the most part. But what does make this show work is the humor. Some of the events that take place are somewhat hilarious. It was a little interesting that a certian 1979 Vietnam War movie was actually referenced in an anime especially on Baka and Test. You'll have to see it yourself because I won't give it away. I did give out a few chuckles over that scene though since I have seen that "1979 war movie". I can imagine "the horror" that Yuuji had to go through while being in that situation. Great, I kinda hinted what the movie referenced was. Oh well, just watch the damn show and you probably will get it. If you already seen it, then good for you. There are some slightly overdone jokes that can be a little old but I guess it wouldn't hurt if it was overdone but not excessive. Kouta on the otherhand was funny at first but his perverted nature was joked around a little too much. It doesn't bother me too much but I can see that the jokes revolving this is a little excessive. Even if the characters are a bit poorly developed, some of the jokes are great but that's pretty much it. Also, If you are not into the Yaoi/Yuri stuff or if you're not into Gay and Lesbian topics, I have something to tell you about Hideyoshi...
Hideyoshi doesn't bother me for a second, In fact. I actually like his character.
Question #6: Should I mention more of the story even though a sypnosis would already explain that?
Why yes, The sypnosis should (or can) be the starting point of a review. Going more in-depth of the story does help too. After all, like the characters... The story is important too.
When it comes to the story, Baka and Test does feel a bit episodic and the plot does feel a bit aimless because of this. I will give this show a pass because Baka and Test is a comedy and comedies are not story-driven. Comedies are laughter-driven. However... The humor is slightly overdone and I only found myself laughing at 35% of the show. The show was a bit boring at times and I am glad that this particular season was short, because I wasn't sure if I could take 12 or 13 more episodes of the show and then see a second season of it of the same length if that really did happen. Besides that, I was patient enough to see the first season all the way through and I will look into the continuations of this show.
Question #7: Should I mention the writer and director of the anime that is specifically being reviewed?
That's up to you, I usually do this just for those that want to be technical.
It's also interesting to point out that the writer for the show is Katsuhiko Takayama and the director for this show is Shin Oonuma. The reason I pointed this out is because they also worked on the anime Ef: A Tale of Memories and its sequel Ef: A Tale of Melodies. I have reviewed those shows in the past. I did comment on my Ef anime reviews that there was a visual gimmick that was present throughout the entire series and I have been seeing this on Baka and Test and I'm starting to notice that this might just be Oonuma-san's style. Except with Baka and Test, it's done with humor.
Question #8: Should I mention the availability of this show as well as mentioning supplemental material?
I do this just to inform if the show is currently available through the licensor or if it is out of print. I also mention the supplemental stuff to mention what else is made outside of the anime. You mentioning stuff like this is totally up to you.
Baka and Test is available from Funimation. An OVA of the series is also available by Funimation, The second season to Baka and Test is also available by Funimation. The only things that have not made it stateside are the light novels, a couple mangas, and a video game.
Question #9: Should I make a closing statement?
It does help to make a closing statement before you're finished reviewing an anime. This is optional I guess.
With all that said, Baka and Test is a 13-episode comedy that may give you some laughs but you're gonna have to stay patient in the long run because some jokes are a bit overdone. It may not have good character development, and it might not have a good sountrack. What it does have is some funny character moments.
After grading everything that this anime has given me. I give Baka and Test: Summon The Beasts a 6.2 out of 10, it is DECENT!
Question #10: THERE IS NO TENTH QUESTION! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?
You do realize that this whole "Question" thing was just a little inside pun for this anime, am I right?
Feel free to comment below, and if you have read all this. You have passed the test.