Baka and Test takes place in ‘Fumizuki Academy’, a messed up school where children are divided into six ability sets from ‘A’ to ‘F’. In class ‘A’, the highest achievers are treated like royalty with comfy reclining chairs, laptops, snacks etc. whilst class ‘B’ are slightly less extravagant, and so on. The lowest achievers are dumped in class ‘F’, a classroom that has desks that break regularly, pillows with little to no stuffing, and a constant draft blowing in through the crumbling walls. The class allocated to each student is entirely dependent on their test scores. Each student has an avatar with which they can do battle with other students. The power level of a student’s avatar is always equal to the score they achieved on the most recent test they took. Once an avatar’s level reaches zero, the student must take a remedial test. Our protagonist Akihisa Yoshii, is the lowest performing student in the school. This guy can’t seem to catch a break, not only is he completely oblivious to being admired by three different people, but he is constantly being beaten up by admiring classmate Minami Shimada, who is in class F purely because she can’t read Kanji and therefore cannot achieve decent test scores. She claims that the reason for this is that she was raised abroad (Germany). Also in class F, we have one of Yoshii’s other female love interests: a shy girl named Mizuki Himeji, whose test scores are high enough to be in class ‘A’. Mizuki was assigned to class ‘F’ because she was ill during an exam, and the school’s harsh policy meant that leaving to go to the nurse resulted in a zero score. Yoshii’s mission in life seems to be getting better conditions for class ‘F’ in order to make Mizuki happy, unaware that she is blatantly head over heels for him (he believes that her affections are for his more rugged classmate Yuji Sakamoto).
Also in class ‘F’ are Hideyoshi Kinoshita -a feminine boy who everyone believes to be a girl (and hence ends up being objectified because of it), a pervert nicknamed Muttsulini, and the FFF inquisition- a group of kids that dress in black uniforms remeniscent of the Ku Klux Klan who persecute other male class members for having girlfriends (mostly Yoshii). In one of the early episodes, it is revealed that Yoshii and Minami are both slightly homophobic, but it is also revealed that Minami has another girl after her. Similarly, Toshimitsu Kubo (a boy from class A) has a homoerotic crush on Yoshii, so I guess the creators meant no harm.
Now for some of the geekier points: The first ending theme is by Milktub (the same guys who did the opening for Uchōten Kazoku [The Eccentric Family] which to this day is one of my favourite anime openings ever). There’s also references aplenty from Metal Gear Solid to things I’ve never even heard of. There was even something I thought was a Gurren Lagann reference.
All in all, it’s really entertaining. It’s not all violence and slapstick humour either, some of the biggest laughs come from the harmless jokes. As I mentioned earlier, there are references galore, so if you’re a fan of the style of humour in Lucky Star, this is kind of similar but more over the top. In fact, I’d be more likely to re-watch this in the future than Lucky Star (which I watched because I needed something to keep me sane during my first year at University when deadlines were approaching). I’m not a fan of spots though, and this anime paints its backgrounds like Cath Kidston handbags (the spotty kind), so if you’re not a fan of spots either then you might have an issue with that. If you’re part of an anime society as I was (and bearing in mind that I assume all of my readers are over 18) then I would recommend this one for a light showing if you’re looking for a good mix of comedy and cutesy weirdness. And when I say weirdness, I mean: “it gets pretty damned weird”. There is a second season, which I will get right down to watching as soon as I have time.