Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu S2 – 08: WOW WOW WOW Bad Communication!
That was probably along the line of what I was thinking. We had a thrilling episode last week, and they decide to throw us off the pace with a flashback that spans the entire episode this week?
Thankfully, I threw away my prejudices that no action = bad, and found that it was beautiful in its own right.
So to the producers, the kiss last week was significant enough for them to dedicate this week’s episode to one long flashback, to build up the backstory.
Handily, it reminded me that Minami and her family once lived in Germany before migrating to Japan. But aren’t they from Japan? So what’s the correct term for it?
Oh never mind that. I shall fixate myself with the beautiful countenance of Minami, whose frontal shortcomings are more than compensated by the stylish side-ponytail.
I did get a kick hearing Minami’s seiyuu mangle her way through gaijin-tinged Japanese, Japanese-tinged German and Japanese-tinged English. Sounded so contrived that I wish the producers had stuck to subtitles instead.
I really hope Japan can engineer a new breed of multilingual seiyuus, so that their incessant use of Engrish can, at the very least, be coherent.
The standard fare of classmates crowding around new transfer students is commonplace in many anime that encounter this situation, but BakaTest chooses to tackle it from the perspective of the culture-shocked Minami, with her carrying out a monologue (surprisingly in perfect Japanese).
Adoption of a new language is initially tough, as it involves deciphering the words that are being spoken, then placing a meaning to it in your native language, then piecing it together to fully understand the sentence.
As such, the verbal assault from the many curious classmates may sometimes come across to the non-native speaker as unsettling.
And it is illustrated to great effect here. The words come to you as a garbled mess, and you struggle to pick up familiar terms as starting points to guess the context. The image is jarring and impactful, aptly showing how lost a new person can be in an alien environment.
Minami was agitated at her inability to get a grasp of her new environment, and Akihisa’s constant attention on her was getting on her nerves.
But I guess this flashback is all about displaying Akihisa’s naive persistence in his extending his goodwill to people in need, and how Minami came to like him.
Being dumb did have its drawbacks, though. Akihisa spoke to Minami in French, a totally different language to German, despite the geographical proximity.
And his slowing down to enunciate each word so that Minami could hear it properly had the opposite effect as she thought he was trying to mock her.
Just like Minko, who was spurred to find a better insult for Ohana, Minami thought of finding a way to get back at Akihisa for supposedly trying to mock her.
And just like that, Minami slowly discovered, word by word, that Akihisa only had good intentions.
It’s a nice visual touch here. The chains that bound her, causing her to shirk away from the unfamiliar, gradually broke away, releasing her and giving her the freedom to adapt and accept.
And that’s how Minami made her first friend in the form of Akihisa, which eventually grows to affection, hence the kiss.
Quite sure that with this amount of backstory, Minami has a clear lead over Himeji, who a few episodes back came to like Akihisa because of his generosity to Hazuki. It was only a short segment of the episode though, and she was watching from afar, so you can guess who might take the lead if this romance is to be continued in the later episodes.
I did expect more epic classroom battles to be honest, and I was quite surprised that all I got was a full episode of flashback. However, this was full of nuance and imagery, and you can really feel the strong emotional impact of Akihisa being the only one to extend out a hand of aid to Minami, as the only who could instinctively sense her being unsettled.
It’s also quite refreshing to see such a docile Minami, as what we’ve really come to expect of her is being an acolyte of the Temple of Yandere. I really want to see a romance work out for once, as we’re almost always left hanging in other so-called romance anime. And romance is not even a main theme of this series. Sort of.
A flashback within a flashback??