A thoughtful response to current anime.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu 2 – Episode 8

Last time on BakaTest, Minami totally kissed Akihisa ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod.  I’m totally, like, squeeing times a bajillion here.  Usually I say I like tsunderes better when they’re tsun, but that doesn’t apply to physically violent tsunderes like Minami.  When physically violent tsunderes like Minami turn dere, you have the opportunity to unleash their furious vengeance on your enemies, rather than suffering it all yourself.  With the power of Minami’s backbreaking knee combined with Mutsurini’s intel gathering skills and Yuuji’s passionate tactical genius, Akihisa will be an unstoppable force. Next time he won’t stop at A-class, he’ll show them that an idiot can conquer all of Japan!  Mwahahahaahaha!  Except that probably it is all going to turn out to have been a silly mistake and everything will be reset to normal at the end of episode 8 of season 2 of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu.

…thirty minutes pass…

Judging women based on shallow physical characteristics is a universal language.

Wow, that was a great episode, not what I was expecting, but still great.  It managed to provide both laugh-out-loud funny jokes and moving drama.  It’s funny when people aren’t fluent in the local language and make buffoonish mistakes, but at the same time it’s terrifying to be unable to communicate with those around you, especially in the high-stakes social shark tank that is a high school.  I was laughing at her and empathizing with her simultaneously, which strikes me as a pretty impressive feat on the part of the writers.  And then Akihisa made an effort to reach out to her, despite his incompetence and despite her lashing out at him in frustration.  It was a beautiful finale.

I was struck by how different all the characters were in this flashback.  Not just, they’re a year younger and wearing outdated fashions, they feel like… starting points from which natural character development would have led them to become the characters they are in the show proper.  Yuuji is still full of manly passion, but he hasn’t taken F class under his protection yet, so he’s wasting his manliness on acting like a punk.  Minami is behaving violently on rare occasions (pictured above), but she lacks the confidence to break out the full-on torture gear; because of this, she’s noticeably more charming.  Akihisa is more open, cheerful and naive – he hasn’t had a year of being beaten down by life and Minami’s torture gear.  Interesting that Minami herself is beating out of him the thing she liked about him in the first place.  Mutsurini and Hideyoshi are pretty much the same, but they’re gimmick characters, they don’t get character development anyway.

I’m generally not a big fan of character development.  The way I see it, character development means that either your characters weren’t as good as they could have been before, or they aren’t as good as they could be now.  I prefer to leave characters basically the way they are, but focus more in depth on their motivations and background so that we get a better understanding of why they are as they are; rather than change the character, change your perspective on them.  This episode was nice, though.  I don’t know why it’s better to see character development in reverse via flashback, but it is.


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