The original Baka and Test was a funny, entertaining ride that I happily gave a 7.5 due to that fact. With the second season I didn’t expect the original formula to really change, but what I did expect was some form of plot or progression or something of the like. Not that Summon the Beasts had a fantastic story or anything, it was kind of weak in that regard. But the second season just doesn’t go anywhere or do much of anything. Now, I’m not saying things don’t happen, because things do happen. But the problem I have is that it mostly feels like filler. And when you have a whole thirteen episode season of a show and eighty percent of it feels like filler, you know you’re doing something wrong.
The beginning of this season feels like an episode of the Powerpuff Girls or something along those lines with the show divided into two halves, telling two different stories. So I figured we were dealing with just a silly straight up comedy, the show understanding where its strengths lie and exploiting them. The problem was, it wasn’t that funny. Especially compared to the first season, we were getting pretty much the same jokes from before. After that we get a story arc about a summer camp and peeping and some generic trivial business to that extent. This arc did provide a bit of a story, but once again I found that the comedy wasn’t really there. What I did like from this part was the romance (though accidental) that began to develop. The series was missing any form of romantic development in the first season, and it seemed to be moving along quite nicely at this point. After that we get two episodes of backstory. The first is about how Minami transferred to Japan from Germany and met Yoshii. This was a really good, heartfelt episode. It is a good first person narrative on a stranger in a strange place. It helps Minami come across as a good, three dimensional character as opposed to her counterpart (we’ll get to that later). After that we see how Yuji and Shoko wound up together (or more precisely, how Yuji got stuck with Shoko). This episode seemed a lot more like filler. It went on, and on, and on. I could feel the heart, I could understand its purpose, but the internal dialogue Yuji goes through when watching Shoko get bullied is pretty unbearable and he comes across as a complete ass. I get the feeling I’m supposed to like this guy and have sort-of feelings for Shoko. But that episode makes me feel like Shoko is really the more likeable character, despite her violence and craziness.
Then there are about three episodes and *SPOILER ALERT* Minami and Yoshii appear to finally be getting somewhere! But nope, the writer doesn’t want to piss off anybody so continues to leave Yoshii’s romantic interest open. The continual cockteases of Yoshii liking either Minami or Mizuki more and wanting to be with her is annoying. And that’s the problem with love triangles like this, most of the time the writer won’t get the main guy together with either character because he/she doesn’t want to enrage fans of the other character. For me, I want to see Yoshii get together with my favorite character, but that’s where the series really finds it has problems. I mentioned that the romance doesn’t go anywhere in my first season review. Well, the romance does get somewhere here, but it’s quickly shot down before it goes anywhere and played off as Yoshii being an idiot.
And this opens up another can of problems. The first season really made me feel like Yoshii and Mizuki were closer to dating than Minami and him. But, this season it makes it feel like Minami is the real romantic interest, focuses on her a lot more, and then turns around and makes Mizuki once again seem like the main love interest.
And I’ve got a variety of problems with Mizuki that I’ll get to in a moment.
The animation is the exact same quality as the first season. It’s got that manga look and sometimes it can be resort to still images for a few seconds. It’s not fantastic quality and none of the character designs really stand out in the crowd.
And with sound you get a really childish opening that I guess fits the show but isn’t that fantastic. The closing is another study in basic. There is a second closing that they use once for whatever reason. I never figured that one out.
Now to the classic characters section where I complain about romances and bad characters. The romances won’t go into my overall score because that’s bias beyond belief but characters are always a good portion of the scoring.
I’m just going to start where I left off a few paragraphs ago. Why does Mizuki seem to be the main romance interest? What am I supposed to see in her that makes me root for her and Yoshii to get together? Is it the study in contrasts, one being an idiot, the other smart? Is it the fact she’s cute and girly and has big boobs? I mean, I don’t understand wherein I’m supposed to find her likeable. She can’t cook, she’s smart, and she’s pretty much the polar opposite of Yoshii. So why does he go after her? Because they’ve known each other since grade school? She seems more like a friend than a lover.
Meanwhile Minami actually gets a lot more time as the focal point of the romance, yet is thrown aside later on. Despite the fact she is violent, she is totally likeable. I thought she was one of the best characters in the show, especially due to the fact we see her past and we see her outside of school talking about her feelings a lot more than Mizuki. She genuinely likes Yoshii, loves him even, and we can tell that really easily, we see that she is mad about the fact he keeps choosing Mizuki over her. Meanwhile Mizuki has no character definition and just gets jealous and bitches about his feelings about her and we never see a clear definition of her feelings or why she feels that way. The series never shows exactly how she met Yoshii and why she really likes him. She’s completely two dimensional and basic and the series never does anything to show any other side of her than the “I like Yoshii” side. Minami on the other hand is shown as having a lot of troubles, as having problems with jealousy, of really trying to get together with him but failing.
I just have a feeling that I’m supposed to root for Yoshii and Mizuki because she’s got big boobs and is cute and girly. But boobs do not a good romance make.
And Yoshii as a character is annoying at points, likeable at points. He swings back and forth. He’s so stupid and oblivious to everything but that’s his character. But he’s usually unbearably stupid. His stupidity is the reason romances go nowhere. Though I must say that a heartfelt moment he shares with another character about Minami does come across as the most heartfelt lines of the whole series. I felt he was so much more likeable and in his element when he admitted his liking Minami, but then it reverts back to the love triangle thing and ends in utter dissatisfaction for the viewer.
I’ve already talked about Shoko and Yuji. Shoko is cute, she’s funny, and while she may come across as crazy I feel like Yuji is a total ass to her. Though the series does throw out some hints that Yuji does like her too, maybe even loves her.
Other characters such as Kouta and Hideyoshi resume their positions as the exact same characters from the first season. Hideyoshi as the boy everyone thinks is a girl is so overplayed by the time the summer camp happens, it gets to be totally unfunny. Kouta as a pervert and nosebleeding everywhere gets old as well.
That’s just another fault with this second season is that there is very little character development aside from Yoshii and Minami. Otherwise, everyone is the same old, same old, and acts the same and has the same character gags we laughed at during the first season.
In summary, Baka to Test’s second season is pretty much filler. It goes somewhere, then steps back to the start to keep fanboys/girls happy. The comedy of the first season is here, but is very rarely funny and the reuse of jokes becomes almost painful. Not that I didn’t like parts of it, some of the characters I genuinely like and enjoy watching. But overall, I feel like the second season is pointless most of the time. Minami’s character may be the only thing that saved this from being anything less than merely “meh”.
Baka to Test 2 is a 4 out of 10.
Minami Shimada, the best character of Baka and Test, as well as it's saviour.
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