There was an anime show that is considered one of my personal favorites, and it was named Baka and Test. I loved that show so much that it was one of the very few shows (inside and outside of anime) that I had watched more than once. There were even times that I watched it more than Inazuma Eleven, a soccer anime, and I love soccer so so much.
Why I love Baka and Test
I love Baka and Test because it was an extremely funny and touching show in my opinion and because while it does show the average anime stereotypes here and there, it really does make you drawn into the show. The characters were really engaging, the plot was really interesting and stand out from the average school anime series (even Classroom Assassination), and the life lessons there does fit for viewers in the real world.
I am not saying that Baka and Test are the only ones that have valuable lessons, but it's more than it fits the right pieces for a particular audience that does have trouble with school altogether.
Their unpredicted motives for the entire show made me laugh a lot and that's why I was really drawn into the series. So, I would like to explain what's the show is about first and what was the biggest lesson I learned from Baka and Test.
What is Baka and Test About?
Baka and Test is about Fumizuki Academy, a Japanese academy that stands out against the average Japanese school (or any school for that matter) by placing students in their class by the overall test scores they made in the placement exams.
The students would be split into six classes: Classes A, B, C, D, E, and F. Class A are mostly filled with child prodigies that have exceptional scores in their placement exams. So because of their high scores, Class A would receive the most luxurious supplies and classrooms the school has to offer: recliner chairs, their very own high-quality kitchen, etc.
Class F would be home of the worst of the worst students. Students have extremely low scores that it's kinda surprising they still attend the school in the first place. And since they're the worst of the worst, they receive the worst supplies: cardboard boxes for desks, worn down tatami for chairs, and almost everything that considered broken down and abandoned.
Basically, Fumizuki Academy is like the Japanese school version of the caste system. The students would summon their avatars and battle against other students from different classes based off on school subjects (with the teacher's approval of course).
So that means classes would go to war against each other in order to get their classrooms and privileges. If an avatar reaches zero, then the student has to go to remedial classrooms in order to pick their scores back up.
For example, if Class D would defeat Class A (with that shocking odds) then Class D representative would have the opportunity to either keep their current classrom or switch places and receive Class A's classroom.
Class F has a really "special" student named Yoshii Akihisa.
The reason he's a special student is that he's a probationary student because of his extremely terrible grades, so that means his avatar is different from everyone else's.
Why is it different from anyone else's?
The reason is that since he's a probationary student, his avatar can actually touch objects while others can't, which is a fair advantage if used with the right strategy. So in the show, there will be many misadventures such as going to the pool, having a summer vacation on the beach, a romantic get-together at the amusement park, and other things that are in an average anime series.
There will be funny moments, romantic moments, and others that are kinda hit too close to home. And yes... there will be fanservice there...
The Valuable Lesson
There was this one episode on Baka and Test that stands out the most, and it was the second to last episode of the first season.
After Class F's shocking upset against Class B, Yuuji Sakamoto (Yoshii's closest friend and the representative of Class F), told his girlfriend, Shouko Kirishima, that grades and test scores don't really matter much in life.
Which is honestly true in today's society. I heard from many occasions that students with straight A's in their report cards and becoming one of the top 10 students in the school, ended up not even having a decent job and vice versa.
The students that would constantly get academic awards ended up just barely surviving at Starbucks. There are several reasons for this.
Book smarts vs street smarts
They only know about school and nothing more. They can know as much information for almost all subjects in their school, but anything outside of school, it's a complete blank... it's more of they are extremely book smart but never street smart.
Not beeing able to handle adversity
There are some overachieving students that don't know what's it like to actually fail at something or handle adversity. It's not that people that are in the bottom and work their way up. I'm talking about people that started from the top for almost their entire lives. Once they have a reality check, everything comes down. It's like the golden student that always being praised by their grades, but when college comes, they're utterly average.
Always following the rules no matter what
They don't like to break or bend the rules. I mean the goody-two-shoes or the "teacher's pet" that never get on the teacher's bad side at all. There are many successful people that tend to break the rules or at least bend them from time to time because they're not OK with being in the social norm. The "goody-two-shoes" just blindly follow the rules because they're forced to do so.
That lesson from Baka and Test kinda reminded me of the song "Good Morning" by Kanye West. Valedictorians and child prodigies would end up having almost dead-end jobs, and mediocre-at-best students would end up becoming millionaires.
It was mainly the reason that despite being in Class F, Yuuji was a really great strategy that would end up beating almost every class in Fumizuki Academy. The way he adapts to any setbacks kinda shows that he's kinda not fit for Class F. So for Yuuji Sakamoto and the entire anime series, it's more of a wake-up call to not blindly follow social norms and to not underestimate a person's abilities because of their bad grades in school.
The person that would have bad grades might end up being successful in life, and the ones that are valedictorians in their school and made a lot of good grades would not have the glorious life many people predicted they'll have and their expectations won't be reached. In my opinion, it was a really nice lesson for me because, in all honesty, I DO NOT LIKE child prodigies and valedictorians.
The reason I don't really like them is that the majority of them would be pampered, arrogant, and spoiled since they have a high intelligence compared to the average. Also, the child prodigies would have extremely high expectations that would eventually break almost 80% of them (in my calculations). And they'll be reminded as the prodigy that never fulfilled their expectations.