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Back to school with Baka and Test

Sunday 27th May 2012

It’s back to school for Matt Kamen with Baka and Test!

Baka and TestAt Fumizaki Academy, students don’t just face the usual trials of homework and exams to get the best out of school – if they want the best, they’ll have to fight for it! Championing an alternative approach to education, teachers maintain a modern day warrior caste system – the top performing class lives in luxury, the lowest suffer the worst conditions on offer. It’s not their academic rankings that determine status though – to win or retain the best equipment, a class needs to win no-holds-barred avatar summoning battles!

With battles overseen by teachers, the power of the kids’ avatars is decided by the results of the most recent test taken. The victors move up, while the losers are forced to take remedial lessons to restore their avatar’s health! Unfortunately for Class 2F, they’re less a classroom and more a storing room for the dumbest kids in school, meaning their avatars are weak and their resources poor. Enter the hidden aces – Mizuki Himeji is one of the smartest girls in school, who only missed out on placing in the top class due to falling ill and missing the entrance exam. After catching up, her avatar is one of the toughest available. Akihisa Yoshii, in turn, is idiotic enough to be the ‘baka’ (idiot) of the show’s name, but his avatar is the only one that can interact with the physical world around him. Guided by the dubious leadership of Yuji Sakamoto, Class F’s president, Mizuki and Akihisa are the edge the class needs to battle their way to the top of the school league!

This unlikely take on academia first appeared in the form of a series of light novels in 2007, published by Enterbrain. Written by Kenji Inoue, with illustrations by Yui Haga, Baka and Test has racked up an impressive ten volumes since its debut, with more to come. The series’ mixture of comedy and action, along with a peppering of romance and drama, has seen it explode in popularity. Three spin-off manga are currently published – one a straight up adaptation, one a four-panel joke strip and one focusing more on the students’ personal lives than their frequent avatar battles.

The anime adaptation is produced by the relatively fresh-faced studio Silver Link, which was also set up in 2007. Like the residents of Class 2F, Silver Link has been battling its way up through the anime industry since its inception, doing grunt work such as inbetween animation on the likes of Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, then assisting on key animation for Eden of the East and Astarotte’s Toy (another series by Yui Haga, coincidentally). Though 2009’s Tayutama: Kiss on my Deity was the first show Silver Link provided full Animation Production on, Baka and Test has been the company’s biggest success to date. The series is directed by Shin Oonuma, a veteran who worked as animator on the balletic drama Princess Tutu and comedy series Strawberry Eggs, before directing madcap shows such as Negima!

The complete first series is available for your revision needs now. Improved exam results not guaranteed. (Please do not try this at a real school – Ed.)

Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts is available in the UK from Manga Entertainment.

Back to school with Baka and Test


Baka And Test: Summon The Beasts Complete

was £29.99
Fumizuki Academy’s students can summon Avatars, pint-sized versions of themselves that battle using special powers. The students are grouped by skill level, and those in Class A are the brightest.
Then there’s Akihisa Yoshii’s group – lowly Class F. They’re the worst on campus, and they’re about to take on the school’s best.



Fairy Tail

Matt Kamen is your guide to the world of Fairy Tail!
Welcome to Earthland, where magic runs rampant and professional wizards sell their talents to the highest bidder! Populated by all kinds of mystical creatures, it’s a place of wonder but also one filled with peril.

Cosplay: Fairy Tail's Obra

Paul Jacques snaps some more Fairy Tail cosplay
Cosplayer Kyle McDonald suits up as Obra from the Raven Tail guild in Fairy Tail, available now in two box sets from Manga Entertainment on UK DVD.

Fairy Tail and Japan's Shonen magazine

Matt Kamen on Japan’s Weekly Shonen Magazine
Mystic action abounds in the second thrilling collection of Fairy Tail, as flame-spewing Natsu, ice-mage Gray, summoner Lucy and the rest of the gang take on sorcerous threats across the world of Earthland. The series is based on the long running manga by Hiro Mashima, and as the anime closes in on its 150th episode in Japan, it’s clearly shaping up to be the next Naruto or Bleach, delivering ongoing adventure to a devoted audience. Unlike a certain orange ninja or black-garbed grim reaper though, Fairy Tail’s roots do not lie in the pages of the famous Weekly Shonen Jump anthology.

Fairy Tail music: MAGIC PARTY

Tom Smith on the music behind Fairy Tail 5
It’s been said that two’s company, three’s a crowd. But for Japanese electro-pop duo AIRI and Koshiro, two is more than enough to party – to MAGIC PARTY! At least if the cutesy name of the pair’s musical project is to be believed.


Tom Smith on the band behind Be As One
Unlike a number of the bands featured on the Manga UK blog, W-inds haven’t had much of a history with anime tie-ins despite their massive success. In fact, in 14 years they’ve only ever done two anime themes; their first in Akira Amano’s Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, and more recently with Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail, where their 29th single Be as One became its sixth ending.

Fairy Tail Music: Daisy x Daisy

Tom Smith on Fairy Tail Part 7’s opening theme
Little Mika still has a long way to go, but since signing to Pony Canyon she has managed to have a crack at the anime universe, featuring heavily in one series in particular; Fairy Tail.


Who's Who in Dragon Ball 1

Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth?
Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!

Tokyo Night Life

Japan Underground's Tom Smith on how to rock and roll all nite in Tokyo
I wanted to see bands playing live music, experience local pubs and bar culture, and not get back to my hotel until it was light. Now, my nights in the city are as busy, if not busier, than my days. Here’s a quick look at some of the Tokyo hotspots worth hitting for music fans.

The King and the Mockingbird

Andrew Osmond on Miyazaki’s love for a French classic
The King and the Mockingbird was one of the films which taught Miyazaki and Takahata that you could make an animated feature without following studio formulae – something they strove for themselves as early as Takahata’s 1968 Marxist epic The Little Norse Prince.

Mamoru Oshii: Lifetime Achievement Unlocked

Ghost in the Shell director honoured at Canadian film festival
Congratulations to director Mamoru Oshii for his lifetime achievement award, handed out last week at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Creating Nausicaa

The story behind Hayao Miyazaki’s first and greatest heroine
“There has come the advent of the angel of light, the one who will lead you to the pure land. She who loves the forest and talks with the insects… She who calls down the wind, and rides upon it like a bird. And that one shall come to you, garbed in raiment of blue, descending upon a field of gold, to forge anew our ties with the lost land.”

Who's Who in Dragon Ball #2

Continuing our round-up of the usual suspects
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!
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