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Baka And Test: Summon The Beasts Complete Series Season 2 DVD/Blu-ray Limited Edition Review

9 min read

Baka & Test Season 2 Box Set
Baka & Test Season 2 Box Set
The class is back in session and the wacky antics ratchet up to eleven.

What They Say:
Yoshii’s a good-hearted goofball enrolled at a school where students settle their differences by summoning Avatars, pint-sized stand-ins with battle powers based on academic ability. That “academic ability” part is bad news for idiotic Yoshii – he’s stuck in lowly Class F with the slackers. If these misfits want to escape their dump of a classroom and earn some respect, they’ll have to fight their way up the ranks and take on Class A, the brightest students on campus. It’s going to be tough, that’s for sure, but once the underachievers of Class F get motivated, they don’t give up – and Yoshii can’t even spell surrender!

Contains episodes 1-13 of season 2.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release contains two tracks encoded in Dolby TrueHD that lets the show shine pretty well. The original Japanese language is in stereo while the English gets a 5.1 mix to it. The Japanese track is pretty solid as it hands a lot of action and well placed dialogue throughout with good placement and depth where required. I liked this track a lot as it played out as the characters managed the higher pitches well and it jumped from active dialogue to bigger action without missing a bit. The English 5.1 mix takes it up several more notches, especially with the action, as the matches are even more active across all the channels. The series isn’t one that you’d initially think would have a lot of big moments like this, but it works very well across both tracks with an obvious, if louder, winner in the English mix. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The HD native series is spread across two discs with teb episodes on the first and three episodes on the second with a good dose of extras. The series has a very good look to it as it moves between the standard school fare with some really fun designs to the way the lower classes work to the virtual reality scenes that lets a lot of brighter and more vibrant colors. There’s a lot of fast paced action here with very busy scenes and the encoding handles it well without any noticeable breakup and a smooth, clean look to the backgrounds throughout. There’s almost nothing in the way of dark or night time scenes, so it doesn’t have to contend with some of those tougher to encode areas. The transfer for this series lets the vibrant look of it all shine through well and handled the variety of animation styles that showed up without a hitch

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is quite good and works well for the property as the limited edition comes with a heavy chipboard box filled with lots of character artwork. The front of the box has the primary characters along the bottom of it where it’s larger than the rest, but as a whole it just has a lot of characters running towards the viewer that looks great. With the white background that mixes in pinks, blues and greens with some purple for the various shapes, it’s just full of rainbow colors that pops out when combined with the character artwork. It’s hugely eye-catching and I can’t help but to smile when I look at it. The back of the box goes a bit simpler as it continues with the same background, a bit less busy, while focusing on the trio of Akihisa, Minami and Mizuki as they’re all pretty close. There are some cute avatar versions of the cast in general spread around the helps to beef it up a bit.

Inside the box we get the two standard sized DVD keepcases which are of the clear variety. Each cover is made up with a colorful border that works well while the interior has lined paper or graph paper as the main background while an array of characters are spread over it. It works in costumes for some and avatar versions for others that’s pretty cute and sets the mood well. The back covers are quite different as it goes with an elaborate piece of character artwork, one for Minami and one for Mizuki, where they’re done up as elegant knights. The breakdown of episodes by numbers and titles as well as extras for the second volume. Each disc also has reversible artwork for it where it uses the same layout and design as the front cover but with different character configurations. No show related inserts are included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for this series is of the simple variety where the majority of it is given over the clips from the show that are cute and definitely highlights what kind of series it is with its comedy and character designs. The navigation part of the menu uses the cute school style to it that’s seen in the logo to some degree and that’s kept along the bottom with the usual standard minimal selections that keeps it clean and easy to access. Submenus load quickly and the navigation menu itself doubles as the pop-up menu. The only frustration continues to be the smaller font and size used in general when it comes to areas like episode selection and the extras. Even on a large screen, it’s small and not exactly the most size-friendly thing to deal with when it comes to reading. The series defaults to English language with sign/song subtitles instead of reading our players’ language presets.

Extras:
The extras are pretty good here and similar to what we had in the previous edition. We get two commentary tracks with this release, one on the first disc and one on the second, and a slew of other things. Te main one is the Spinout! Bonuses, which has nine sections to it that run a couple of minutes each of varying length. They’re more gag items and silly low-budget comedy bits that work well and are just plain silly. Sadly, there’s no play-all feature which is really a necessity here, especially with the way a lot of TV’s readjust and check for resolutions between episodes like this. The release also serves us well with a collection of the original promo videos, another of commercials and the clean version of the opening and the three endings that are used here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a successful first season back in the winter of 2010, Silver Link returned for a second season that landed during fall of 2011. With the director and production team returning for the season, it’s a pretty seamless move from one to the other and it doesn’t spend much time gong over what came before. The first season had its bit of fun and I found myself enjoying it at times more than I thought it would, but I also knew it for what it was, which is a somewhat empty show since it’s not going to actually progress anywhere in terms of relationships or characters. But it does have some fun with what they do and how they act with each other so it definitely succeeds.

While the first season felt like it had a lot to work with in terms of an overall storyline, this one comes across weaker as there isn’t anything that really binds it as a whole. Which is, honestly, the only downside to it in comparison to the first. What it does do well are the standalone episodes though, including starting things off with a good bit of fanservice. Setting the first episode at the beach where everyone is there for an overnight trip is a good deal of fun. It’s filled with swimsuits and silliness, including the usual fun of Hideyoshi trying to prove that he is a he, but being forced by perfect strangers to dress appropriately, which ends up infuriating him. The swimsuit side is well played, if obvious, but that’s a lot of the shows charm in showing how the guys go after the girls and the girls are often really pleased by it, no matter how much they protest. That’s not a general statement, but it’s how this show works.

The same can be said with the second episode as it does the whole yukata angle and brings that kind of fanservice into play. With the girls all dolled up and competing, there’s even the goofy nature of Yuji jumping into the competition and wearing a wig as she dresses as the girls. But the girls are feeling a bit in the spotlight with how the guys are all fascinated by what’s underneath, some which make things awkward talking about how they’re going very traditional in this regard as they’re not wearing anything underneath. Yukatas and swimsuits for the first two episodes definitely makes it an easy series to get back into since it’s frantic and energetic with what it does and plays up the abuse that everyone gets heaped upon them, or heaps upon others.

The show does start to work some bigger arcs into its run though, but they’re not exactly hugely important in terms of story. The first one is probably the best overall for humor and fanservice as the guys discover that there’s some blackmail going on with one of the guys and they get the clue that the person doing it is a girl and she has a particular mark on her posterior. That sets the guys to wanting to figure out who it is and that means going after all the girls in the hot spring while on the class trip. Of course, there are numerous obstacles along the way, from class reps to teachers themselves, and the real issue behind the blackmail where it’s someone wanting to make it clear their position in regards to someone else.

The story that impressed me the most was one that really surprised me as it involves Minami in a big way. While I liked her well enough early on, I always leaned more towards Mizuki when it comes to who fit better with Akihisa. With Minami’s story, we get to see what it was like when she first came to Japan from Germany as a returning student and was completely out of it in terms of language and how student culture works, especially in such an odd school like this. Seeing it from her point of view where she can’t understand them is interesting and we get to really know her from the inside, one of the only characters that really gets this treatment. She ends up having a somewhat adversarial relationship with Akihisa, but it’s a language barrier issue in the end and watching her figure it out, which in turn drives home why she’s interested in him, is something that turns my opinion of her.

In Summary:
While the first season of Baka and Test wasn’t a show that made me a huge fan, it’s one that I enjoyed a good deal for its silly fun, the mildly perverted nature of it and the whole avatar aspect. The avatar material is pushed to the side for awhile and isn’t quite as strong as it was before, but it does factor into it more in the second half. The character material is pretty much the same but there’s a stronger focus on who likes who as Mizuki knows that Minami does like Akihisa, but she wants her to admit so that they can finally start to figure things out. Mizuki gets less of the focus overall, which is unfortunate, but it’s pretty good to see how Minami stands stronger here and becomes a more interesting character. Fans of the first season will enjoy what’s here and it definitely hits some good notes even if it doesn’t feel like it’s as cohesive as the first season did.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 3 & 13, Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Spinout!, Promo Videos, Original Commercials, U.S. Trailer, Textless Songs

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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