OP: Kimi + Nazo + Watashi de JUMP!! (君＋謎＋私でJUMP!!)” by Larval Stage Planning
Note to self: do not tell hot girl on beach that she looks like a porn star.
It’s always great to welcome back an old friend like Baka Test. While the first season was occasionally uneven, pound for pound it delivered some of the biggest laughs of 2010. 2011 has been a good year so far and summer looks above-average, but it hasn’t been a great year for comedy – so the return of B-T is especially welcome.
Baka-Test, for those who don’t know, is based on a series of unique and hilarious light novels by Inoue Kenji. I think the visual style and unique humor really stand out, and the transition to anime has been greatly helped by the presence of Shinbou protege’ Oomnua Shin as director. I actually prefer the student to the teacher – Shin has a sort of “SHAFT-lite” style that manages to be eye-catching, nimble and edgy without the trickery overwhelming the material, as evidence by his fine work on Ef and the Negima OVAs. He’s a perfect fit for this somewhat manic source material.
Despite the disappointment of almost seeing Hideyoshi topless, only to be denied, it was a pretty solid first episode if not one of the series’ finest. A beach episode is hardly an original idea, but there were some terrific gags here. I loved Voyeur bringing his own plasma bag and IV stand, and that damn lifeguard intercepting Hideyoshi and foiling his plan to prove his manhood was pretty good. The episode began with Yoshi’s brocon big sister, who we hadn’t seen for a while. She isn’t one of my favorite characters – she fills the same role of torturer to Yoshi that Shouko (another less than favorite) does for Yuuji. That gag is one that gets overused on this series at times.
The heart of the series, of course, is Hideyoshi, who represents an interesting spin on the trap cliche in that it’s a completely involuntary issue with him. He and Mussolini (Voyeur) are the two funniest characters on the show for my money, and they got the biggest laughs this week (including Voyeur also unwittingly playing the trap). The second half of the episode centered on Yoshi and Yuuji trying to escape from under the thumb of their tormentors and hit on girls, and while it didn’t pack as many laughs as the first part, the “porn star” line was a classic B-T moment.
The other nice feature was seeing Aiko included on the trip. She was probably my favorite girl in the first season, though she didn’t get a lot of screen time. She represents a nice change from the over-the-top wackiness and tsundere (or deredere, or tsuntsun) of the other girls on the show. Next week it’s yukatas, which makes me wonder if we’ll see the image of Hideyoshi that inspired the S1 art.