In my previous review of Baka & Test: Season Two, I raised a number of complaints about that particular season, but I had failed to mention therein two complaints I had about the season that did not make it in to the review as they then seemed petty, but are now relevant. There were notable gaps in the storyline between the series’ first and second seasons, and, more importantly, the Year 2 students of Fumizuki Academy were targeted in the latter half by upperclassmen who seemed to hold a grudge against the Class F, but for what I couldn’t say. However, with the release of FUNimation Entertainment’s Baka & Test: OVA Special Collection, available February 19th, 2013, I realize my failure to properly interpret these elements when I first viewed the second season was in fact no fault of my own. After all, who would have guessed that the collection of Baka & Test OVAs FUNimation slated to release three weeks after their release of the second season would in fact feature a storyline bridging the two seasons?
Needless to say, once I overcame the shock that I had skipped these two key episodes in the Baka & Test narrative through no fault of my own, the contours of the second season became decidedly clearer to me. But does a greater understanding of it actually make the second season any better? I grappled with this notion for some time before sitting down to write this review and I can tell you this much at least: the overall narrative of the second season works better in context of the OVAs. Understanding who the Tokonatsu (or Tsunekawa) Duo are before reaching the climax of season two certainly adds weight to the proceedings, even if the season’s climax is then rendered highly redundant. And we see here how certain first season plot points came to be intra-narratively rescinded prior to the second season, whereas out of context they had simply looked like continuity errors on the part of the writers. Viewing the OVAs after season two does, however, highlight many of the failures of the second season, namely the failure to build to a satisfying climax (which the second season tries to do twice, unsuccessfully).
The story of the OVAs is simple, Mizuki may have to change schools if her friends in Class F cannot find a way to improve the appearance of their class, and thus they determine to operate a Chinese food café at the Academy’s “Refreshing Festival” in order to raise money for new equipment. In two episodes, the affair rapidly escalates from customer complaints about food poisoning to kidnapping to a rigged Summoner Test Tournament (see my previous Baka & Test reviews here or here for more on Summoner Test Wars). The story is simple, the stakes are high, the pace is fast, and it’s all rooted in the characters’ relationships, which admittedly are starting to show how one-note they would become in the second season but have yet to lose their funny. But if you were a fan of the first season, but have perhaps heard discouraging things about the second season (perhaps even from me) and thus have yet to decide whether or not to move forward with the series, I strongly encourage you to check out the OVAs. These two episodes are far more in keeping with the first season than the second.
FUNimation’s Baka & Test: OVA Special Collection comes packaged in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The DVD of the OVA looks fine, but of course the Blu-ray transfer stands head and shoulders over the DVD’s SD transfer, living up to FUNimation’s prior Baka & Test releases in terms of both the stellar visuals and dynamic audio. Given that the OVA consists of but two episodes, the running time of this release’s main program is indeed a bit slim at just under an hour, but the quality of these episodes is high enough to warrant their individual release, I can attest. As for special features, the OVA Special Collection includes alternate endings for both episodes, promotional videos, commercials, and the textless opening and closing.