“Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts — Season One” (Funimation) – It’s Pokemon in high school in this new comedy from Funimation. And while it has its amusements, it’s lacking a certain spark that would really put it at the top of the pack.
Yoshii is a student at Fumizuki Academy, where the students are divided into six classes based on academic test scores. Class A has a plush classroom with personal laptops, a snack bar and more. Class F has broken tables, cushions that have lost their “cush” and drafty windows.
Yoshii and his friends aren’t satisfied with their Class F surroundings, so they have the option of challenging other classes to a fight to get their stuff. But instead of fists or the athletic field, the school goes digital, and the students summon avatars to fight in their place. The avatars’ strengths are also dependent on those test scores, but some have special abilities.
The central gang is a bunch of stock anime high-schoolers: the bossy girl, the slick guy, the dumb guy, the pervy photography guy, the hot girl, the guy voiced by a girl who gets jokes aimed at whether he’s really a guy.
Poor Yoshii is the victim of way too much violence, most of it by his friend Minami (the “bossy girl”), so there’s also a lot of annoying yelling. After the first couple bursts, neither have the comedic affect they’re going for. I swear, I don’t know how voice actors can work more than a year before losing their voices with all the yelling that goes on in anime.
One fun thing the series definitely has going for it, though, is the insane amount of crushes going on. Yoshii is the school’s biggest idiot, but he’s the clueless object of at least four. And they’re not all from his 2-F classmates. There are others, too, and they’re skillfully played for laughs and empathy.
Visually, the show is fine. It’s nothing amazing, but it works for the show. Like several others these days, the backgrounds use a lot of dots. It’s an interesting trend that adds a little flair without detracting.
Overall, the show seems pleasant enough and has some spunk (I watched the first four episodes), but it seems like it’s often just going through the motions, recycling cliche storylines and dressing them up only minimally.
Still, if you’re just looking for a bit of a laugh, it’s a good rental.
Check out free episodes at the Funimation website.