Earlier this week, I began my viewing of Baka and Test. After viewing the first disc, I’ve seen test wars, gender humor, and adorable geniuses with weak constitutions. I’ve seen foreigners that can speak Japanese fluently, though they can’t read a lick of it. And, I’ve seen a rag-tag group of misfits try to push their way to the top of the social pecking order. There are laughs, the plot works, and the overall concept is engaging. However, it doesn’t really tread much new ground on the whole. The show avoids taking risks or pushing the envelope, and there isn’t anything about it that really stands head and shoulders above the competition.
In short, it’s a safe show.
This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. So-called “safe” shows are a decent way to spend an evening with friends. These are titles that are consistent in quality, and appeal to a decently large audience. They’re great for gatherings with friends or for nights in which that one special show eludes the viewer.
However, due to their very nature, “safe” shows fail to stand out in the market. They don’t excite viewers, nor do they have the staying power of the purple cows on the market. Unlike the extraordinary shows on the market, these titles make their presence, sell their allotments, and fade away fairly quickly. They don’t grow the market, they typically don’t make a major impact on the anime landscape. There are naturally exceptions to the rule, though they are few and far between.
Due to the breaking borders of the anime market, viewers are seeing just how many of these “safe” shows exist via streams. The DVD market, on the whole, seems insulated from this giant selection, mainly due to the fact that it would cost far too much to licnese everything that comes down the pipe. It will be interesting to see if we find the shelves seeing similar floods, as companies hunt and search for the next big thing in the near future.