Hey doods and peeps, welcome to another episode of the G-Views. I stand here before you with a face of astonishment. I still can’t believe the following show I’m about to review was as kickass as it turned out to be. I was expecting something decent but in the end I got one of my fav shows of 2011. This is Ben-To.
Plot synopsis: While innocently reaching for some half-priced bento, Yō Satō finds himself beaten up on the floor of a supermarket. He soon learns that getting half-priced bento is an all-out brawl between students. Yō is invited to the Half-Priced Food Lovers Club by one of the top fighters, Sen Yarizui, in order to train to compete in these battles.
To explain this concept, I’ll use the following equation: “Multiple women out shopping + discounts = chaos.” It’s an equation I created to describe the terrifying battlefield known as a shopping centre. The location can refer to any area where women can buy things: Supermarkets, clothing stores, jewelleries, the school cafeteria, etc. Women are depicted of doing almost anything to get discount items such as clawing, biting, kicking, punching head butting, you name it. Heck if this sounds discriminating, otakus are also known to become wild savages when it comes to obtaining items limited in stock for a cheaper price. I used women as a stereotype for this because they are usually the stereotypes used to describe the dangers of Shopping Wars. Now take all I’ve explained here and replace women and savage otakus with hungry high school students who fight for low priced packed meals.
This show’s summary is all you need to know about the anime in terms of story because very little happens in terms of plot progression. It’s an action-comedy in every sense of the word and I love it! Not one episode that has comedic elements in it, excluding the monarch 2-parter, has left me unsatisfied. You see there are times when I want to watch a show that has no sense of direction or progression and merely goes with the flow. Ben-To is one of those shows. You don’t need to worry about the plot to enjoy the show. It’s that good in my opinion.
I mentioned character interaction as being more important than the plot. What I mean by this is that this whole fight for bentos is actually a very well organized gang war. Hear me out. Each fighter who competes for the prizes has a type, a rank and fame.
-There are “wolves”, which are the most common hunters who go for broke. They do hunt in packs but in the end it’s all about two things: the thrill of the hunt and obtaining the best quality bento you can get your hands on. Sometimes wolf packs will help each other out by fending off rival wolves and once they’re taken of, it’s an all-out brawl with the last person standing having the right to claim the ultimate meal while weaker wolves choose to dodge enemy attacks and go after any morsel they can obtain.
-In one episode we are introduced to “dogs”, which are more defensive than wolves and prefer to work as a team at all times and take what they can get without getting their hands dirty. Pride or the “thrill of the hunt” are irrelevant to them compared to wolves.
-The rare species are boars, described as selfish oafs who care only for themselves and rely on their mass to push everyone away on their war path to the promised broth.
Heck, territories play a role here as well. If you’re not from a certain school and you enter a supermarket in their territory, expect no mercy.
Needless to say in this world, shopping for discount bentos is serious business. If you want to enter, you have to make sure you’ve got what it takes to survive. Only the toughest can claim the best quality bentos and revel in their victories as the patches are placed in albums to commemorate their triumphant victories. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and when you’re out hunting, be prepared for kick ass and get your ass kicked at the same time.
Another reason this show deserves to be praised is that not a single character annoyed me, not even the monarch. Every single character, both main and side, was entertaining from beginning to end.
The action is, believe it or not, pretty good. All fights in this show are battle royals. From the 1st introductory battle royal to the ones that followed, every single match was a treat for the eyes. I honestly didn’t feel like I was watching a clustered mess during the fights. There aren’t any laser beams or flashy attacks here, it’s all good ol’ fashion “mano a mano” and that’s the way I like it. Fist to face contact baby, yeah! Each battle felt like it had meaning and I was pumped every time.
The comedy revolves around slapstick and male lead humiliation, with style! I like my male lead humiliation comedy to actually be amusing. As strange as it may sound, the way Ume Shiraume constantly destroys Yo Sato never gets old. It’s just the way she does it works. I’ll tell you right away when I get sick of watching male lead humiliation because it loses its flavour, for example, in Maken-Ki. There’s nothing unique about how the male lead gets beat up or humiliated. Where’s the pizazz, the unique execution of how the girl proceeds to crush the boy’s integrity all the way down to the Netherworld? It’s difficult to explain but in order for male lead humiliation to work and not get stale, it needs to be presented in an acceptable fashion. Other forms of comedy on this show will be explained in the character section of the review.
The animation: I’ll say it right now, out of all the fall anime this season, this show has the BEST drawn anime beauties I’ve seen. The busty babes are gorgeous and the other girls are cute. As I mentioned In the action part of the review the battle choreography is pretty impressive. The blows look like they hurt without having to resort to a bloody mess.
The music: I really like the OP and ED very much. Being an action comedy, this show obviously needs tunes that fit each scene, rockin’ hard during combat, calm when needed and quirky when being funny, which it has and made me want to look for the OST. Okay the main reason I want the ost is for all of Ume Shiraume’s themes. Her battle and sexual Asian goddess themes always fill my soul with bliss…yeah I think you’ve figured out who my favourite character on the show is.
Yo Sato: nom de guerre, “Hentai”.
The main character, a high school freshman who finds himself dragged into the battle for half-priced bento. He enjoys playing retro video games, particularly Sega games. Though at first shown not able to even hold his ground in a bento brawl, he soon shows remarkable strength.
When he isn’t on the battlefield being cool and all, giving it his all, he’s a cool dood whose actions are understandable. He isn’t a pain in the neck and is a likable guy, especially when he’s in pain and agony. It also helps he’s voiced by Akihisa Yoshi’s seiyuu, Hiro Shimono. I tell you that guy has a knack of making teenage boys who are born to amuse me by enduring as much humiliation and suffering as humanly possible, sound awesome. He makes up for his casual suffering by being pretty good in battle so this balance is much appreciated.
A second year student who is the president of the Half Priced Food Lovers Club. Her skill in bento brawls has led her to be known as the Ice Witch. She’s monotone most of the time and serious when it comes to planning and fighting for bento, but she kinda lacks social skills and still comes out as both adorable and amusing. Oh and she ain’t no ugly duckling either. Despite looking like a cold hearted brawler, she’s actually quite kind when she needs to be.
Yō’s first cousin who is an avid gamer and will often use her wily ways to get him to do what she wants. There’s little that’s more dangerous than a beautiful woman who is fully aware of her sexiness and uses it to her advantage. Thankfully Shaggy only uses it on Sato when most convenient. I call Shaggy The Total Package because…LOOK AT HER!
The student council president and a lesbian who constantly abuses and slaps Sato due to her jealousy of Hana for whom she has feelings, despite also being prone to flirt with other girls like Ayame.
What can I say about Ume? She’s the fairest one of all the girls on the show (Heck even the show acknowledges this fact as the sexiest scenes in it involve her), she has a commanding presence, is always in control and a professional at what she does both at work…and that other place. She has the best music themes on the show and is so powerful that even Misfortune Kitty’s curse has little to no effect on her. Her one and ONLY weakness is her relevance in the show. As much as I hate to admit it, the show would not be heavily affected were she not in it. Basically she’s a secondary first and foremost and as such she doesn’t get much screen time. HOWEVER, she’s praiseworthy enough to have one episode be 90% about her. Oh Ume, I am not worthy to be in the same room as greatness itself.
Lastly, it amazes that the seiyuu voicing this omnipotent deity is the same woman who voiced “Memna” from AnoHana. Imagine that.
An easily excitable girl who joins the Half Priced Food Lovers Club. Her hobby is writing yaoi erotic novels, having its characters inspired on other bento brawlers. Not a fighter type at all, Hana usually resorts to sneaking past the other bento brawlers while they are fighting to grab a bentou for herself.
I can’t exactly describe why she’s awesome. All you need to know is that she’s voiced by Aoi Yuki and ANY GIRL VOICED BY HER IS AUTOMATICALLY FUN TO WATCH…even Madoka.
A schoolmate of Shaga who is also in the gaming club at their school. She is cursed with bad luck which spreads to anybody she touches, though she is oblivious to her curse and has a happy-go-lucky and childlike personality otherwise.
Her character description pretty much explains all you need to know about her. She’s cute and inadvertently causes Sato to suffer and chaos in her wake. Nuff said.
Oter noteworthy characters worth mentioning:
The Brunette, aka Sara Bellum’s distant cousin from Japan and her buddies, the monk and “LL Cool J”. I compare the Brunette to Sara Bellum because both characters’ bodies are equally visible but their face is never shown on screen (or in the brunette’s face, the upper part). I don’t get why but I suppose it’s to either make the viewer belive she’s so beautiful that the screen can’t do her beauty justice, or she has really freaky eyes and a wide forehead. I dunno but a mystery beauty type character is interesting since she only appears on the battlefield. A for Monk and Cool J, they’re just extras.
For long time animeniacs who know enough stereotypical traits, it’s pretty basic for twins to have the following personalities: One is energetic and easily overreacts and the other is calm and usually in control, or shy. Kyo-1, the long haired one, is energetic and Kyo-2 is calm. Kyo-2 usually worries about Kyo-1 because of her of self control and her tongue slipping during inopportune situations but what’s undeniable is their bond as sisters both in everyday life and on the battlefield.
In conclusion: Unlike Boku wa Tomodachi Sukunai, this show is easily one of my top 20 anime this year. Not one week has gone by without me rolling on the floor laughing or paying attention every second. Heck it’s so good I watch the episode RAW, then subbed when it’s released. This show is glorious!