Baka to Tesuto to Shokanju or simply, Baka and Test is one of the funniest anime I have ever watched. With its classroom setting and storylines making fun of otakus, it’s like a cross between Ouran High School Host Club and Lucky Star.
Fumizuki Academy is a unique school where students are grouped into 6 different classes according to their intelligence and test scores – with the best and brightest students in A Class and the stupid students with the lowest test scores all the way in F Class. The quality of teaching as well as class materials and equipment, such as desks and other amenities also vary depending on the class you belong to – A Class with their free-flowing snacks, laptops and high-class equipment, and F Class with fruit boxes for desks.
Another unique quality of the school is that each student can summon their unique avatar and fight with other students’ avatars, using test scores. Classes can also fight other classes, using their avatars and test scores. Lower classes, like the F Class can challenge higher classes, and the victors will swap classrooms (and equipment) with the losers.
The protagonists of this show, is, of course, not the best and brightest students, but the students of the lowest class – the F Class. The main character, Akihisa Yoshii is not only an idiot, he is also a special student – a probationary student! Despite being stupid, Akihisa is a very kind-hearted and generous character, often helping his friends and other characters with their problems, and getting in trouble in the process.
Along with Akihisa, there is Yuji Sakamoto, the president of the class, and cool one in the group, Kota Tsuchiya; the pervert with a camera, also known as Muttsurini; Hideyoshi Kinoshita, the pretty boy who is always being mistaken for a girl (and is always put in situations where he has to where girly clothes), Minami Shimada, a smart girl who got low test scores in Japanese because she grew up in a foreign country, and Himeji Mizuki, who is smart enough to be in Class A but failed her placement exam because she was sick during the examination. There are also other characters, such as those from A Class who are in love with the different characters from F Class.
Season 1 of Baka and Test focused more on the members of F Class challenging the other classes for better classrooms and equipment. Though they win some battles, their classroom conditions don’t improve for one reason or another. After every win or defeat, F Class become more and more confident and challenge each of the other classes until the only ones left are the students of A Class.
Baka and Test is fun to watch because besides the stupid antics of the members of F Class, the animators use different styles to make the anime more interesting. The students of F Class, though mostly strange in their own ways are not necessarily stupid, just more focused on other things, such as their hobbies and personal lives. Despite having the lowest test scores in the whole school, the students of F Class prove that they have their own unique abilities which sometimes prove more useful than academic intelligence, and that being book smart is different from having street smarts.
Rather than championing stupid students and promoting slacking off in school, I think this anime tries to show that you don’t have to be in the best class or have the best scores in order to be a good person, or be successful. Sometimes, hard work, determination, passion and having the desire to learn and better oneself is enough to ensure success.
Baka to Tesuto to Shokanju (2011)
Light Novel written by: Kenji Inoue – 15 volumes
Manga written by: Mosuke Mattaku – ongoing
Anime: Season 1 – 13 episodes; Season 2 – 13 episodes
Personal rating: 4/5