The new winter season shows keep coming and in this case we have the story of an idiot, tests and monsters summoned by students. Sure there’s a lot more to Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu than that, but it’s hard to say how much. While there may be an intended social message coming out of the first episode, it amounts to an unintentional advocation of a caste system.
The episode begins with placement exams for the 2nd year of a high school where a new educational system is being introduced. Yoshii Akihisa plays the idiot here and assists Himeji Mizuki, who is sick at the time of the exam and has to leave resulting in a zero score for her. After that, the system is revealed. The top students in the A class get world-class facilities to continue their education, and conditions deteriorate to the not up to code conditions in the F class where most of the action takes place.
The point of this system is to get students to strive to be in a higher class next year, but they can also declare war on other classes to get access to better facilities and perks. With nothing to lose the F class declares war on the E class. At this point in the episode, summon monsters are introduced which have attributes determined by the user’s scores on the last test. Himeji, who is really an A class student, takes another test and ends up destroying the E class on her own as Yoshii embarrasses himself with his special monster than can inflict pain on himself when hurt. The episode ends with the A class challenging the F class.
Now my issues with the episode, at several times the episode stresses a certain non-importance of grades. That would be a bold stance were it not for the fact that the story actually makes grades the only thing that matters. Also, it seems that if the system were to continue, the only 2 characters worth anything intellectually would be in better classes the next year anyway. Though, I’m probably missing the point there.
So in conclusion, there is a perfect storm of advocating a terrible message, uninteresting characters with design failures in the first episode, and a story which seems like it has a black hole in the middle of it. Yet, I’m going to continue on to episode 2 in yet another baffling decision.
Completely Subjective Episode Score: 72/100
Winter 2010 Ranking So Far
- Ladies versus Butlers!
- Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
- Chu-Bra – Dropped Episode 1