(So, I guess it’s my first time to review a pure comedy anime. It is important, therefore, to explain my criteria for judgment for this specific genre of anime. Since most pure comedy anime obviously focuses on delivering the most laughs as possible, we cannot really evaluate their plots with the same standard I’ve used for my other reviews. After all, ridiculous, sometimes to the point of being nonsensical, plots are themselves comedic elements, and so it would be unfair to hold this against the anime creators. Thus, for such genre of anime, I shall judge its comedic value instead of scrutinizing its plot. Just so we’re clear.)
When the topic of pure comedy anime rises, given my prior experiences, Baka to Test to Shokanjuu quickly comes to mind. Starting out as a light novel written by Kenji Inoue and illustrated by Yui Haga, Baka to Test was subsequently turned into an anime by Media Factor, producing what could be one of the funniest “mindless” comedies to date.
Comedic Value: 9/10
Baka to Test focuses on Akihisa Yoshii, who, together with his friends, is studying at Fumizuki Academy, which is notable for its revolutionary teaching methods. For starters, your grades directly translate to the school facilities you’ll be using alongside the class section you’re gonna be in: Class A, the class with the highest grades, enjoys a luxurious, five-star hotel-like classroom, complete with a self-serving bar and a whole bunch of fancy stuff. On the other hand, Class F, the lowest class, have old rickety coffee tables that break all the time, plus moldy cushions. And it’s gonna get worse from there.
To escape from this misery, a class section may opt to initiate an Exam Summoning Battle (ESB) against other sections. This makes use of virtual beings summoned by students with attack power directly proportional to their grades in a specific subject (dependent on the teacher supervising the ESB). If a lower class wins against an upper class, they get to switch classrooms. By now, you should have an idea just how ridiculous and stupid (and, possibly, cool) this whole thing is. This element of stupidity is the main ingredient of the anime’s humor. And guess what; it works like a charm.
You just can’t help but laugh at the misfortunes of the characters as they tirelessly struggle under this oppressive educational system. The punch lines are hilarious, as well as the slapstick humor employed in the show. Baka to Test makes use of different themes for its hardcore comedy: terror profs, voyeurism, sadism, and traps, among many others. On the whole, the show is well-paced, with a healthy dose of comedy along the way. There were times when the jokes tend to get overused, or are simply aren’t that funny. For one, I don’t really find the scenes with Miharu Shimizu that funny (not hating on the character, though). Still, such small flaws don’t stop Baka to Test from becoming one of the funnier anime out there.
Character Setup: 10/10
I love how the humor elements are distributed evenly among the characters. This gives the viewer a sense of diversity, such that he/she won’t get tired of seeing the same person doing the funny act over and over again. It is also worth pointing out how the characters are meant to specialize on a specific type of anime humor due to their personalities/characteristics: we have Akihisa Yoshii (just plain stupid), Yuuji Sakamoto (stupid but smart at times, submissive) Mizuki Himeji (cute airhead), Minami Shimada (tsundere), Kouta Tsuchiya (perverted voyeur), Shouko Kirishina (sadistic) and of course, Hideyoshi Kinoshita, who is arguably the most acceptable trap in the anime world. It’s nice to see how different characters are meant for different brands of comedy, ensuring that you don’t end up watching the same laughing material in the entirety of the show, which can be tiresome and boring. Props to Baka to Test for doing just that.
I like the anime’s art. The bright colors suit the lighthearted and crazy nature of the show. The artists also make use of halftones, giving the settings a cute, unique look. The characters are also well-drawn, though I think the eyes could use a little more work; they look a little lifeless to me. Animation and facial expressions (and their exaggerated counterparts) are well-executed. On the whole, Baka to Test, aside from being a nice comedy, is also a visual eye-candy.
The show boasts a good choice of background music and opening themes. The music employed fits the show perfectly, improving the mood and giving the hilarious moments more impact.
Most comedies are “replayable” anyway, and Baka to Test is certainly no exception. Reliving its humor (which doesn’t require much thinking) is one of the better things you can do when you just want to unwind and have fun in the comfort of your room without having to think too much about anything.
Baka to Test with its brand of “stupid” humor is a fun experience, especially when you just want to have good, clean, fun. Of course, this show might not be suited for those people who feel like being grumpy critics and wholly dedicating their lives to watching only anime with uber-deep plot elements and dismissing lighthearted comedies like Baka to Test as not worth watching. Well, it’s their loss. While watching deep and insightful anime is a fulfilling experience by itself, the world of anime is not limited to such a genre, and so there’s no reason for you to confine yourself to a specific type of show. You just can’t compare comedies to legendary classics like Akira and Ghost in the Shell; it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Some anime are just meant to be enjoyed without having to dig deeper or read between the lines, and Baka to Test is a perfect example of that. After all, in the end, the main goal of watching anime is having fun. So go and have some good, “mindless” fun with Baka to Test. No one’s gonna judge you for that.