Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baka to Test to Shokanju

I mostly gave this a shot because the light novels have become really popular. I didn't have much hope for it -- the last time I enjoyed a standard hyper anime comedy was Hare Nochi Guu, and I've sort of decided I'm just too old for that shit now.
I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this, though; it certainly doesn't bend the brain the way the old stuff does, and the jrpg parody stuff is hardly original. Jokes are still delivered as loudly and quickly as possible, and all the characters are cookie cutter stereotypes. But it sort of makes up for all that with enthusiasm.

The basic gist of the thing is an elaborate parody of exam-focused education in general (not that the show is self-aware enough to be qualify as satire.) All students in school take a placement exam, and are ranked into classes A through F depending on the results. Students in class A sit on comfy chairs using free laptops; students in class F have the most rundown hell hole on earth. "Real hell!" as the Engrish-rich end credits cheerily proclaim. The classes are then free to battle each other in hopes of exchanging rooms; each student summons an avatar, and the avatar's battle stats are based on the scores in the last test they took. Withdrawing and taking make-up exams to increase your stats appears to be a key element of battle strategy.
Man, even as I type that I find myself a little embarrassed by the show. But the show itself has so little shame it actual uses a squeaky technopop opening song of the type I thought had died a much deserved death nearly a decade ago. There's a bit of nostalgia for when I loved this sort of thing going on, but I think it's safe to say this is the first promising stupid hyper-comedy in a while.

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