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Baka And Test: Summon The Beasts OVA Special Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

Baka Test OVA Collection
Baka Test OVA Collection
The school festival has arrived but there’s a whole lot at stake here.

What They Say:
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!

Contains OVA episodes 1-2.

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 released in 2011, the transfer for this two part OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The OVAs have 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:
While the two TV seasons had some pretty good packaging to it with the boxes and all, this OVA set stands alone since it’s just one single sized Blu-ray case inside an O-Card slipcover. The slipcover and main cover are both the same and definitely appealing as it uses the same colors as the season sets with yellows, reds and oranges for the borders with some good dashes of blue to bring it all together. The middle has the three main characters, albeit Akihisa is in drag, with a lot of the avatars running around the rest of the cover. There’s a whole lot of color here and it’s busy in its own way but it’s definitely eye-catching in a good way. The back cover gives us another shot of Akihisa in this form and a strip of shots from the along the right that brings more colors. While the background is the same as the front of it, we get a bit more white space since it has to cover the premise as well. The production credits are tiny, but at least readable since it’s white on blue. The technical grid lists everything for both formats and covers it cleanly and clearly, though I wish the runtime was given more prominence in a cleaner way. The cover has artwork on the reverse side that’s very appealing as it provides two panels showing more of the girls in their festival costumes against a white background with more of the avatars running around.

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 for this release are pretty good in terms of the basics as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing song as well as some god promotional pieces, from the videos used to showcase the OVAs to the commercials. We also get two OVA “split” sequences which essentially gives us more of the show in a different light at times. The first one runs just under eleven minutes while the second one runs four minutes long.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While these OVAs were released in between the two seasons, they do largely stand on their own and are a good bit of fun. Having enjoyed the two seasons that have been released, the show is one that I definitely appreciate in smaller doses. Marathoning the seasons as they came out definitely gets to be a bit of overload as it goes on, so sitting down with just two episodes that tells one story, with a few variations on events, it hits some good notes without being too much at once. The show delves into plenty of silly character bits, school material and some avatar battle material as well, giving us everything that the TV series brings out. But it also doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The two OVAs each cover a different day of the culture festival that the school is putting on, which is a big event considering the generally prestigious nature of the place. The first day has a lot of silly stuff going on about the gang figuring out what to do for their activity and it leads to some bad moments when the cafe they eventually put on gets two guys sick, the Tonkonatsu duo, which sets them to badmouthing the Class F cafe in a big way. And that impacts their business, which is dangerous since one of the subplots of the story arc here is that Mizuki is going to end up transferring out of the school since she’s in such a bad class and her father won’t stand it much long. Their only hope was to raise a lot of money through the festival and upgrade the gear of their class, which would help offset some of his apparent distaste. Seeing the guys getting back at the duo is a lot of fun since it works plenty of familiar Baka & Test themes.

The second half is fairly traditional as well as it has echoes of the first season of the series. While the gang has managed to make some money, they can’t spend it without authorization from above. But they can only get it if their team wins in the Summoning Test that will close out the festival. That has Yuuji and Akihisa working together in order to keep Mizuki in the class and that means lots of fun with avatars, action and the silly nature of it all. Similar to what we got at the end of the first season, the two of them pull out all the stops to win and it’s just plain fun to see them go at it, the scores and the avatars themselves. The show has a lot of appeal in this area and getting it as a dominant part of this episode makes for a lot of slick looking animation and action.

In Summary:
Baka & Test is a property that I definitely enjoy, but it’s one that I really need in smaller doses. While I would have preferred to see this included in the season two set that was released recently, getting the OVAs is always welcome, even if it doesn’t impact much of anything. The two we get here tells one story across two days and lets the culture festival shine in a very good way as the Class F kids do their best, whether it’s playing it straight or playing dirty, in order to keep Mizuki in the school. Everyone gets a chance to participate here, some more than others, but it’s essentially two more episodes from the series that look great and just leave you smiling and enjoying the way it plays out.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles,

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

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 19th, 2013
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 60 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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