It’s summer time, and even when they’re not at school, the students of Class 2-F are as idiotic as ever. With Akihisa and Yuji attempting to pick up girls at the beach and a simple trip to the festival turning into a cross-dressing beauty pageant, the holidays are proving to be just as stressful for the boys. But even back at school, life doesn't settle down. With Hideyoshi and his sister swapping places for the day, games of "strip doubt" after class, and academic training camps, it seems this semester will be just as hectic as the last.
StoryLast year, I discovered a fun, albeit dumb, little series called Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu. While not a grand masterpiece, it was highly entertaining and easy to watch, so when series two was released I was looking forward to more of the same idiotic fun, battles and nosebleeds. Sadly, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni became little more than another example of when sequels suck. In no uncertain terms, the plotline’s quality has dropped since series one – and considering its predecessor wasn’t exactly epic, that’s saying something. The “Exam Summoning Battle” system forms the core and central hook of Baka Test’s first season, yet instead of serving as the anime’s linchpin, it can barely be found here. Much to its detriment, Ni has demoted the ESB to little more than a background gimmick to facilitate cheap laughs. By removing any competitive aspect the show’s various “battles” lose all purpose, and with no particular overarching plot, this season feels like thirteen episodes of filler. Where the first season creates a solid narrative around the system – having the idiotic underdogs of Class 2-F attempting to best the genius students of 2-A – Ni decides to see how many ridiculous and perverted situations it can get its hapless protagonists into and relegates the battles to mere facilitators in the boys’ many dubious antics. Unfortunately, Ni also plummets into the trap which ruins many other series: it relies on the same tired gags to get laughs. This season depends more on its characters than any attempt at plotline, but when the cast remains static the small scope of jokes fails to make up for missing narrative. Elements such as Hideyoshi’s effeminate nature, Mizuki’s toxic cooking and Shouko’s sinister stalker-like obsession with Yuuji were previously amusing, but have restricted mileage, and they rapidly wear themselves out in this time around. So while the boys’ idiotic capers can still raise a smile (particularly when coupled with a smack down from Tetsujin), certain jokes get far too repetitive. For example, episodes five to seven make up a short arc where Akihisa et al attempt to unmask a blackmailer, which they must do by tying to peek into the girls’ bath. Though it still has odd amusing moments, after three episodes of the exact same joke, the novelty wears a bit thin, something that unfortunately spills over into the other ten installments.AnimationBaka Test’s visuals are by far its strongest element. The dynamic nosebleeds and various battle stages remain as impressive as ever, as do the odd changes in colour palette and style for comedic effect. The pencil sketch-like shots of the various protagonists giving “serious advice” look gorgeous (even if they’ve been overused and now don’t quite have the same impact as before). Meanwhile psychedelic edge effects to denote a frenzied scream prove just as humorous as the standard blue wibbly lines of GLOOOOM!SoundWith the same seiyuu reprising their roles for series two, Ni’s vocal cast performs just as admirably as they did during the first season. Muttsurini’s nasal inflections remain as creepy as ever, while Akihisa’s cheerfully dumb voice continues to make him endearing rather than just plain irritating or moronic. For me, however, the star of the vocal show is Kenjiro Tsuda’s deadpan narration. Certainly, the straight-laced delivery (which almost borders on the disinterested) of his lines adds a decent serving of humour to proceedings, or at the very least will make you grin.CharactersIf you’re going to build a series around characters then you need to do something worthwhile with them, not let them stagnate in a fetid pool of their own overused quirks and hope that a bit of nostalgia will save the day. This season relies on its cast to drive the show, and as such Ni needed to bring something impressive to the table; sadly, it didn’t. The characters personalities are the same as they were in the prequel, and they don’t develop in any way during the course of this series. Every individual has their designated oddities and they stick to them like a barnacle on a fifty-year-old fishing boat. That being said, the series does place more focus on depicting the characters’ pasts and the “love triangle” between Akihisa, Mizuki and Minami. Sadly, this has little impact on their behaviour, doesn’t move the story forward and in the case of Yuuji and Shouko’s flashback episode, blatantly refuses to even attempt to make you laugh.OverallWhile not a ground-breaking anime, season one of Baka Test managed to strike the right balance between its central themes and entertaining humour. Sadly, while it does still have its moments, Ni decides that pervier = funnier and instead of a well-rounded comedy series, it’s all idiots, no tests and only a handful of summoned beings.
Story The story was practically non-existent up until the second half of the season, when things got really emotional, which was super unexpected but also really beautiful. There isn't so much to talk about storywise without me going on a super extensive essay length page regarding the Minami episode along with the love triangle episode where Akihisa says he thinks Minami is hot. Animation The animation was really good for the first couple episodes. I find that the animation for the summer camp was lacking. That may simply have been because the summer camp arc lasted like 3 episodes or something, which was entirely way too long. I really enjoyed the first pair of episodes and the emotional episodes regarding the backstory for the characters. The rest of the episodes were fairly bleh for me, but as long as there were some super bright spots, it covers up the dull ones. Sound Pretty much on point with the background music here again just like in Season 1. Definitely a lot more sad and cheery music compared to serious battle music, due to the lack of summoner test wars. The opening and ending were really nice. I feel that both openings for S1 and S2 are about equal for me in terms of enjoyment. The first one really gives me slice of life and positive happy vibes. The second one is more upbeat but also emotional at the same time because it's a girl talking about a stupid boy she likes. It's also emotional because there is no S3, therefore it's the final opening. Characters Not much changed here aside from the development of a few of my favorite characters: Minami, Yuuji and Miharu. I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional episodes regarding their backstory. Not much else to say here, really. The second season was a little bit of a letdown aside from the first couple of episodes to start of the season to remind us what Baka and Test is about half the time. The lack of Summoner Test wars was annoying and the times that they did happen were for filler purposes only and weren't enjoyable to watch. The emotional backstory episodes saved the season from being a complete disaster, which would have put any thoughts of a S3 in the garbage. 6 years later and no S3, but I've come to accept the fact that there won't be another one. Maybe in a few years, Kenji might decide to return to the Baka and Test project and give us another season before putting the show to rest. It's a really nice series, if you've got a free weekend, definitely consider watching both Seasons along with the OVA after S1. Really good show, leaving you wanting more, until you realize that it's probably for the best that there isn't. *My last sentence is simply supporting the fact that a Season 3 could kill the reputation of the show itself if the storylines aren't done correctly. The only possible thing that could happen would be a S3 filled with a bunch of Summoner Test Wars in the students' final year and Fumitzuki Academy. Along with some more character background (Akihisa, Himeji, Kouta, Aiko don't really have them yet) and some even more comedy and serious emotions regarding the love triangle, there isn't much else to build off of, without any material from the light novel. It's best to accept that what we have now is all we will have from this show, which is both depressing, but realistic.
Story: Baka to Test was never big on plot, and the second season is no different. Starting off with a pair of beach episodes and a festival, then moving to an onsen that begins to feature some of the Shoukanjuu, and finally moving back to the school setting for... stuff. Do I care that the plot isn't particularly good or memorable? Hell no! I just care about the comedy and events that lead up to comedy irregardless of actual plot or depth and it delivers the comedy from the first season in spades, mileage may vary. The same jokes get reused here and I still found them enjoyable. It's easy to see how others can find it repetitive though. If it appeared in the first season, it's liable to appear here. Also of mention is how romance plays a larger factor. Primarily Yoshii, Minami and Mizuki, (Excluding any others except for the last episode, that was fun) is a step in another direction that replaces comedy for drama. Can't say it's my favorite part but before, if it was a bit of romance, it would be played for laughs. It's more about the comedy than romance in the end but it really shows up when the peeping tom arc is over and takes a bigger presence overall. Animation: Looks great, everything from Hideyoshi to those penciled scenes between Yoshii and Yuji, it's more of the same and while it didn't get much better, it didn't get any worse. Props for it keeping the same pleasant style. Sound: I wasn't floored by the music but there was one ending about eating rice in the bathroom and curry in another stall, all in the lyrics. Absurd but oddly enjoyable. The voices make up for it and the deadpan narrator always gets me smiling. Characters: You aren't watching this for deep characters and they're pretty much the same as before, except for some backstory episodes that sometimes takes away comedy for drama seriousness. Once again, I could care less if they're deep, dramatic, tragic heroes and heroines; they're there for comedy and laughter, even if some may be one-trick ponies, I love them all the same. Overall: I had lofty expectations of it being funny (Just funny), and it met that. It's hardly deep and one shouldn't expect much from it but more of the same comedy, despite the more heavy romance aspect from it. It being so much like the first season is both good and bad but for those who don't mind some old jokes, it'll be a blast.
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