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Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts — Season One Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: AB (No Region C)
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Discs: 5 (2 x Blu-ray + 3 x DVD)
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 2, 2011
  • List Price: $69.98

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BestBuy.com:
Baka & Test: Season One (5 Disc) (W/Dvd) - Box Limited

Also Available: Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts Season One (Regular Edition) (DVD/Blu-ray Combo) [Amazon.com]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

Like a naughty Hello Kitty video game come to life, Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts is an amusing, silly, yet enjoyable high school anime based on the light novel series by Kenji Inoue. It flips gender roles upside down by providing androgynous characters, like the bishōnen, Hideyoshi Kinoshita, who somehow seems to always end up in girls’ clothing looking just like his twin sister, and lesbian stalkers, like Miharu Shimizu, one of the series’ comic relief characters who has an uncontrollable lesbian crush on one of the lead characters, Minami Shimada.

Baka & Test focuses on Akihisa Yoshii, the biggest idiot at Fumizuki Academy. It’s a school where learning is turned into one big video game and classes are assigned based on your test scores; the better your scores, the better your classroom. Akihisa ends up in the bottom, Class F, but his classmates have a plan. The school allows each class to declare war on each other to move up in the ranks and they can use avatars to do battle. The avatars gain their strength from the students’ latest test scores – so it’s war!

But Akihisa is too big of an idiot to do battle against anyone, even though his avatar has a unique skill; his is the only one that can actually touch things, because he has to help teachers do chores. He and his fellow Class F students put their hopes in the cute Hijemi whose Class A level skills are best in the academy and Shimada, the class’ only other female student, who’s great at math, but can’t read kanji.

It’s brief, but it’s cute and well worth watching. Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts is loaded with charm and good fun that is only helped by its candy colored animation.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Baka & Test doesn’t look as good as it should on Blu-ray. I’d like to think that much of it has to do with the artistic intent of the series itself, which has a very veiled appearance; almost like a foggy patina covering the entire image. But, with how soft and diffuse the image looks as well as how much the colors seem to be so restrained, I can’t say that it all just comes down to artistic intent in this 1080p/24 AVC encodement. At least the transfer seems free from aliasing, video noise and any sort of macroblocking.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Both Japanese and English tracks are provided in lossless Dolby TrueHD. The former is a 2.0 Stereo mix and the latter a 5.1 surround mix. Both offer clean dialogue and wide breath of dynamic range with natural sounding highs and a punchy midrange. The Japanese track, as seems to be the case most of the time, provided more upfront dialogue. Naturally, the English 5.1 track offers a wider spread of sound and is a bit more aggressive, using the surround channels for some discrete panning and atmospherics, but it mostly mimics the Japanese track.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

There is a good offering of supplements related to the series here mixing a few brief OVAs, promo materials, and the obligatory textless opening and closing songs.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Mission: Impossible Baka Preview
  • Baka-Only Cross-Dressing Contest (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – See the male characters from Baka & Test in a cross-dressing contest
  • Mission: Impossible: Baka Mission 01 (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – Baka & Test character Muttsulini is on a mission to get a picture of the androgynous Hideyoshi undressing, but gets sidetracked when he finds the girls Himeji and Shimada showering together.
  • Mizuki Himeji Girls’ Meal (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – Himeji gives instruction on cooking a particularly deathly meal.
  • The King Game in Fumizuki Academy (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – The students of Fumizuki Academy play a few embarrassing rounds of The King Game.
  • Special Christmas Footage (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – Special Christmas promos.
  • Promo Videos
  • Original Commercials
  • Original DVD Spots
  • Baka and Test Tales
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song #1
  • Textless Closing Song #2
  • Trailers – Funimation trailers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Short, sweet, funny, and simple, Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts is a solid bit of high school anime. The Blu-ray release itself looks a little disappointing, but may still offer a decent upgrade over DVD and is certainly worth it for anyone who doesn’t already own the release.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004TP55U2[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Baka & Test: Season One (5 Disc) (W/Dvd) - Box Limited

Also Available: Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts Season One (Regular Edition) (DVD/Blu-ray Combo) [Amazon.com]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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