O-New: Now Extinct Website

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Manga Quarterly Review

[Announcement: since some pictures are rather large, I’ve shrunk them to 768px width; clicking on those pictures will bring you to a full-size version. Thanks.]

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu; a.k.a. ‘the Baka, the Test, and the Long Japanese Name that I Can’t Read, and Also You Just Realized that I Didn’t Actually Translate the Title All that Well’, is about a Baka, a Test, and a Long Japanese Name that I Can’t Read, and Also You Just Realized that I Actually Copied the Title Pretty Well.

..Not.

In reality, it’s about a school with a really stupid caste-like system of putting students in classes based solely on one exam performance. The classes themselves have huge discrepancies in resources.

For example, Class A has things that cost money, and Class F has things that don’t cost money.

That wasn’t a very good example, was it.

Anyway, our stupid protagonist, Yoshii Akihisa, is an otamot of otamots; e.g., he’s stupid, and he’s a protagonist. Nobody can get more otamot than that.

He’s stuck in Class F with his arch-frenemsys, Sakamoto Yuuji, a child prodigy who, from birth, was determined to break the world record for ‘steepest constant decrease in IQ over a period of 5 – 10 years’. As you’d imagine, Yuuji is in reality, extremely successful – hence why he’s now Class F’s representative.

Class F has many other original (never mind) characters, such as Shimada Minami, a violent girl who knows how to read and write over 47,036 distinct sinographs and 4,703 kanji, but whose pencil/eyeball always fails when she needs to read or write them; Himeji Mizuki, a retarded idiot who also happened to sneeze during the exam and thus was put in Class F (normally her cheating skills would have made her the second ‘smartest’ student in the school); Kinoshita Hideyoshi, a girl pretending to be a boy; and Mussolini, the 40th Prime Minister of Italy.

Of course, a manga can’t be about a bunch of idiots studying all day, so there’s FIGHTING BATTLES too!

It looks something like the above (e.g. nothing’s happening).

Apparently, the higher test score you have, the more power your ‘summoned being’ has. A summoned being is a summoned being that has been summoned by a human being so that the summoned being can participate in the human being’s summoned beings war.

Yoshii is ‘special’, so you should treat him ‘specially’ too.

I mean, his summoned being is more ‘in sync’ with him, allowing him to control his summoned being with greater fluidity and… control. Unfortunately, this also somehow means that whatever his summoned being feels, he feels too – but at least his summoned being is way stronger than he is.


This image is to make you read the entirety of this post, dammit

The plot goes something like having the disgruntled idiots of Class F fed up with their cardboard-box-desks and newspaper-chairs, who under the fearful leadership of Yuuji crush Class D E-sily. One of the rules of the school is that once a class beats another class, they can switch classrooms – thus, Class F would have gotten Class D’s ‘normal’ desks. However, Yuuji’s goal is Class A’s super-cool desks, and thus attacks Class B next.

Class B’s representative is rather sneaky, forming a coalition with Class C to defeat class F; however, Hideyoshi dresses up as her twin brother to provoke Class C to attack Class A and fail, resulting in Class B’s death as well.


SIDNET

Class F challenges Class A to a five-on-five battle, both winning two of the first four rounds. Yuuji faces Kirishima Shouko, the slutty representative of Class A (see, sluts represent class A), in an elementary-school quiz on Japanese history with a max score of 100%.

Shouko, unsurprisingly, doesn’t ace the test, with a mere 97%.

However, Yuuji, surprisingly, passes!

WIth 53%, of course.

The end!

Minor points first, major points later; scroll to the bottom for recommendation if you haven’t read this yet. (as usual).

I can’t tell whether Mizuki’s cooking is too /good/ (causing them to pass out because all they eat is salt and water), or too /bad/ (for obvious reasons). I suppose it doesn’t matter much – all just mean that Mizuki’s on a different plane of existence than the ‘regular’ bunch.

These school-type manga always remind me of Angel Beats (seeing as that was like my first anime) – all have weird characters that are only weird because if they weren’t weird, nobody would remember who they were. I don’t know, it’d be cool to see some show attempt characters that were completely normal (in character and appearance) and yet still memorable – even Hyouge Mono, for all its unconventionality, doesn’t reach that.

You’d expect more smart people in Class F; I mean, even if this is a really major test, how many students are there? 300, by my estimates (50 / class x 6 classes). How many times do you usually get sick a year? For me, usually /at least/ 10 days in a year, I’m sick.

With, say, 370 days in a year, that’s a 1 in 37 chance of being sick on any given day. Even if people do their best not to be sick, and some show up even with fevers, even with a 1 in 50 chance of any one person being sick on the day of the test, there’s a 0.002% chance of nobody being sick, 0.014% of what really happened, 0.043% of 2 people being sick, and 0.162%, or about 1 in 6 chance, of six people being sick – and a 2 in 5 chance of more than that being sick! Even knowing that about 1/6th of all sick people should be in Class F anyway, having one sick smart person still just isn’t right…

The humour for this story is forced. It’s forced, but it’s still funny at times; at other times, I seriously want to punch the author in the face because it’s so obvious it was meant to be funny but it wasn’t. Humour like this, when it works, is the same as regular comedy; when it doesn’t work, the humour just really sucks. To counterbalance this, at least the art’s nice; seems there’s a writer (for the light novels) and an artist (for the manga) – the same person who draws Lotte no Omocha.

Anyway, final big point:

BakaTest is basically an ironic reflection of modern educational institutions – e.g. tests tests tests and at the end everyone forgets gets gets. It’s taken to the extreme with everything relying on test scores and hardcore cramming all the way. For some educators, a highly-competitive school system like this which shows blatant lack of care for the mentally challenged and glorifies high test scores as everything would be the school equivalent of Hell – after all, even when people do study all day, at the end, they really wouldn’t have learned much. I’d bet Shouko wouldn’t use any of her knowledge to actually /do/ something later in life. This, added to the complete disrespect towards those who actually /need/ help in school, would definitely make some people faint.

Yet, some may praise this system. Of course, it’s a whole other matter regarding whether or not tests are good, but a system like this may actually encourage those less mentally inclined to study. If you don’t study, you’re stuck in this crappy setting, humiliated in various ways, and generally treated as garbage for a whole, I don’t know, 7 hours every day. If you do, you’ll advance up the ranks for GLORY, HONOUR, and COMFORT. Of course, nobody cares about learning, but as I said, that’s a whole other matter…

In fact, even the principal acknowledges the lack of funding for the lower classes, admitting that there’s a reason behind that. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Yuuji was the principal’s grandson or something, intended as a catalyst for Class F to become… smarter.

If you’ve read the manga already up till now, reread it – you’ll be surprised at just how much was orchestrated by Yuuji.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In conclusion, my posts are getting waaaay too long. I should’ve gotten more pictures…

Baka to Test is a decent manga for those who have nothing better to do. It’s not really all that great – old concepts, standard characters, and dull battles. Even the art is nothing to write home about. If you’re not interested by what I wrote, don’t read it (you’ll notice I purposefully made this post uninteresting).

I haven’t watched the anime, but with the sequel coming out next season, now may just be the time to start…

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Ao no Exorcist Half Season Review « O-New

  2. Pingback: 2011 Summer Anime « O-New