Title: Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts OVA Collection
Encompasses: Episodes 1-2
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand), Funimation (North America)
Based on: Light Novel Series by Kenji Inoue
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, School Life
Audio: Hybrid Dub
Runtime: 60 Minutes
Classification: This title has been classified as M for Sexual Themes
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this release to review!
Class F is back in the Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts: OVA Special Collection! Fumizuki Academy’s popular Refreshing Festival is quickly approaching, and the student body is busy prepping class projects. For Yoshii and the gang, there’s a lot more at stake than showing off for campus visitors. If Class F doesn’t profit from its festival project and buy some new gear for its dumpy room, Mizuki’s parents are going to send her to another school! Of course, even if the slack pack makes some money, they’ll have to win one of the toughest Summoner Test Wars of their lives before they’re allowed to spend it. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. But once the underachievers of Class F get motivated, they don’t give up – and they can’t even spell surrender!
For those who have read my earlier reviews on the Baka and Test season installments, you may recall my very mixed reception to the series. While I do love the concept behind the whole summoner war system, especially in the second season it ended up being more filler than being comprised of an actual storyline. In the first season Class F began their conquest to defeat the students of Class A in order to acquire their classroom and resources but this was put on hold a couple of episodes in until the final few episodes. In season two it was pretty much a directionless series of cliche episodes such as the “Beach Episode” the “Study Camp arc” and a “Halloween Episode”.
But there were a few references made in season 2 that hinted towards the “lost episodes” and thanks to Funimation they have finally decided to dub and release these two OVA episodes to the international market. It is now school festival time, another cliche episode in any school-focused anime series. But fortunately unlike the last season while it does come out being more fanservice centric than storyline based, these episodes use the series’ charm points well and turns out to be a rather comical and enjoyable set of episodes on par with the first season. But don’t take just these two paragraphs as proof to run out and buy the DVD or Blu-ray release…. divert your eyes down for my review of the Baka & Test: Summon the Beats OVA Collection.
Once again we are introduced to the rather interesting Class F, the lowest grade class of Fumizuki Academy who are comprised of a number of unique students – the schools probationary student, one of (if not) the smartest students in the school, a careful strategist who led the class to take over almost every grade in the school and a guy whose gender ambiguity has earned him his very own gender “Hideyoshi” amongst others. After their second defeat at the hands of Class A, their new classroom is looking so dumpy it is pretty much impossible to go any lower.
With the looming threat of having Mizuki leaving the school if the classroom doesn’t meet the standards of her parents expectations – they seek out a way of making enough money to earn themselves new desks. How? Did someone say Culture Festival? After deciding to create a cafe with a culture-clash of a name, they become the targets of the Tonkonatsu duo. After Yoshii and Sakamoto literally fight back against the two of them their Culture Festival becomes a lot more hectic – with sabotage, a phony kidnapping and perhaps the most challenging summoner test war that Class F have been up against yet – and the odds are not in their favor.
Baka and Test has always had two elements to its plot, the comical / fanservicey side and the summoner test wars – often with the former protruding into the latter. Perhaps given that there are a grand total of two episodes in this OVA and its more direct focus they actually managed to harmonize the two well, aided by a colourful and individualized character cast with a range of personalities, mannerisms and roles in the story. The first episode focuses more on the culture festival itself where the characters open up a cafe, take part in a row with some third year students, crossdress, provide plenty of fanservice and make use of many of the running jokes that have been in the series pretty much from the start. Granted some of the jokes have well and truly passed their used-by date but in moderation still manage a chuckle.
The second episode is a bit more up the alley for those who are into the summoner test war system that made the series stand out to me in the first place (and was almost completely absent in the second season). Given the unfair and almost convenient comical match-ups between characters especially in terms of the Yoshii and Sakamoto duo. Of course as you would have come to expect from the show it is not only about the students abilities (and in turn knowledge) but also about how low and deviously they will go to win and many a recurring joke are placed in here from Yoshii becoming a human shied for Sakamoto to another attempt to get Sakamoto and Shouko engaged.
The OVA doesn’t do anything unique in comparison to what it has done before, but at the same time makes good use of its core concepts and filled in the gaps with a sufficient degree of comedy which at just two episodes doesn’t get to the point where it is tedious to watch by itself. Sure they could have done more with the two episodes…. but at the very least they didn’t falter with the common “school festival” plotline as other similar anime titles have done in the past.
Design / Music / Voice Acting
On blu-ray at the very least, there is little to no noticeable difference between design quality and overall carries across the same bright and colourful aesthetic bolstered by visual quirks and general cuteness. Perhaps the biggest omission from the design was the usual summoner test war HUD that routinely appeared during the battles, instead replaced by footage of the scenes taking place in front of the competitors. While in my first review I did mention that I liked the “mock-RPG” menu they presented, given this is an OVA episode it was good to see they went above and beyond this.
While completely different songs, both opening and ending sequences make use of similar visual styles as their predecessors. The opening sequence Renai Koujou Committee by returning performer Natsuko Aso makes for a fun and uplighting sequence while the ending theme Getsuyou wa Kirai also by a returning performer milktub was a much heavier track oriented towards the male characters and had strong-impact occurrences of the word “Monday”. The remainder of the music backing would be familiar to those who have watched any other installments in the series while the voice acting also remains of the same standard as before.
In terms of extra on-disc goodies, the Baka & Test releases have always come through with a nice set of content. The content included in this release is as follows:
- OVA 1 Split: Hideyoshi Kinoshita, Mizuki Himeji and Minami Shimada: Not dubbed into English however are English subtitled. The end of the first episode features a point where the outcome could have switched four different ways with only one being aired. This OVA split aimed at showcasing the potential outcome for the other three. Interesting and a nice addition in concept, but for the most part doesn’t have impact on the actual scene.
- OVA 2 Split: Ending: Much of the same as the first OVA’s split although with only one divergence instead of three.
- Promotional Videos: Approx four minutes worth, subtitled in English.
- Original Commercials: 30 seconds worth, subtitled in English.
- Clean Opening and Ending Sequences: Both Renai Koujou Committee and Getsuyou wa Kirai.
- Trailers: For other Funimation Entertainment titles (I assume the Australian DVD release would feature trailers for their titles instead)
Final Words / Review
In the end, if you have enjoyed the previous seasons of Baka & Test then you are pretty much all set for the OVA series and in turn should expect much of the same. While they solve a few small plot-holes in the second season, you are not missing out on anything if you choose to pass it up plotwise. But on the episodes alone they are enjoyable and at the very least I was glad to see they chose to dedicate a whole episode to the summoner test war system… especially considering they are being quiet on if or when there will ever be a third anime season.