Baka to Test began as a series of light novels written by Inoue Kenji, of whom I could find no information. The anime adaptations currently consist of two seasons and an OVA, but The light novels are still going so there could be more of them in the future. For now, I’m just going to look at the first season. Still haven’t delved any further into this franchise even after several years.
The story is about a school where students are separated into different groups based on their grades with the dumbest students getting the worst room and equipment. The students can challenge each other to battles using summoned creatures with power based on their test scores and lower ranked group can use this to take the room and equipment of a higher ranked group should they win. A young girl named Himeji ends up in the lowest ranked group due to having been sick during the test and the other students decide to challenge the other groups to get a better room, mainly so that she can have a better environment to recover. The premise is pretty stupid and the execution is extremely shoddy. The over-arcing plot is full of holes and the writer constantly forgets or ignores how the created world was set up which means that the rules for summons change several times for no apparent reason. But it’s primarily a comedy, so the lousy story doesn’t matter as much as the humour. Unfortunately, the humour fails on every conceivable level. There are three joke types that are frequently repeated throughout the series. 1. Gay jokes, which aren’t funny. 2. Jokes about abusive relationships, which also aren’t funny. 3. Jokes about how the characters are all morons, which are only funny once or twice. Aside from those you get a lot of repeated jokes, most of which aren’t remotely funny the first time but even those that are cease being funny almost immediately through being repeated over and over and over again. It’s like a twisted experiment to see how long you can tell the same bloody joke before it becomes/stops being funny. Incidentally, the answers are it will never be funny/with jokes like these, once.
The characters are incredibly flat. Most of them have a couple reoccurring jokes they’re involved in and their characters revolve around those jokes. A few of the major characters get more than a couple jokes but they’re still less compelling than wet cardboard. Another character issue is that every single character is an idiot, even the ones that the audience is told are intelligent. The only sign you get of intelligence is that they get a higher number for their summon. They don’t act or say anything intelligent, ever. It’s almost like the writer has no idea how to write intelligent characters, or even how intelligence works. Even characters of average intelligence don’t exist in this. They’re all absolute morons. I should also point out that the main protagonist’s sister has romantic feelings for him. Because this anime didn’t have enough other things to hate about it.
The art is decent, for the most part, but there’s this odd tendency to change the artistic method completely at random times. It’s like the anime was drawn by someone who really needed a dose of Ritalin.
The voice acting is atrocious. None of the characters show any depth or range of emotions. They all have one ridiculously exaggerated voice and either yell or whisper to illustrate “emotional range.” Which doesn’t work that way, I might add. If I wasn’t familiar with Harada Hitmoi, Kato Emiri, Mizuhashi Kaori, Miyata Kouki, and several others from other anime I would think that they just got people with the most obnoxious voices possible. But it’s just that the direction is terrible. The music is also really annoying.
The yuri factor is a 4/10. There’s an openly lesbian character who has a one-sided crush on one of the major characters. Of course, she’s just used for highly problematic gay jokes and nothing ever comes of her feelings. So it just ends up being infuriating.
Baka to Test is an unpleasant, unfunny, uninspired and unintelligent series. I feel ashamed of myself, and less intelligent, for having watched it. It was painful to sit through. The humour is either problematic or lackluster, the characters are insipid and the sound is an assault on the ears. My final rating for Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu is a 1/10. The only aspect of it that any effort went into was the art, and even that isn’t good. This was the first anime I hated enough to give a “1.” There have been more since and probably will be more in future, but this was the first and its creative team should feel ashamed of themselves.