Ben-To – 01 Review
So today, I am going to purposely pick the half-price one again and get myself beaten to a pulp.
Reviews by Saranaufogus and M0rg0th:
What the hell is wrong with this show?!
This Ben-To anime is based off the light novels of the same name by Asaura. I have not read the light novels and so I can only tell you what I feel about this episode and what I have learned from it.
Sato Yu is a high school student to wakes up on evening in a super market bleeding from his head, he is sent to the hospital when he collapses and forgets everything that had happened that night.
The next morning he wakes up and is greeted by a girl named Oshiroi Hana who seems to have an injury fetish and is a natural airhead character. The episode then continues to follow Yu as he goes back to the supermarket that night to buy a half-priced Bento where he once again gets knocked out and this triggers his memory over what had happened. He gets warned by the employee of the store about the situation and that the territory is under the Ice Witch (whom we later find out is Sato classmate Yarizui Sen).
The following night, he once again heads back to the supermarket and this time he stands back to witness the fights over the bento and he is inadvertently attracted to the situation and joins in the fight.
This series is one of those series where you just watch it and think, “I seriously don’t get the point of it”. I kid you not. After watching this show, I am left with the wonder of how this story of people fighting over half-priced bentos (from a supermarket mind you) can be explained in a rational manner that may justify a show revolving around that idea. No normal person would risk their lives to fight for a bento and no idiot who can’t fight would risk it when they don’t even need to do so. Yet we have our main “hero” deciding to do exactly that. Perhaps it is the calling of food that is driving him to act so insane, or perhaps it is merely the one-too-many knocks to his head that have left him momentarily insane. Whatever it is, only watching more of this series will tell us that.
The story itself has a few light comedy moments which are meant to be funny and while I didn’t find that type of humor all that funny (mostly due to the questionable and sudden nature of everything that happened in the episode) I am not cringing in pain and can understand that there would be people who will like it.
If we to discount the story and focus on the characters, we are left with a whole bunch of stereotypical characters that leave little impression on us. We have Yarizui who takes on the stoic female character role and treats the main character like a useless weakling. Then there is Oshiroi who, like I had said above, is an airhead that follows the main character around for no apparent reason. Then we have Shiraume Ume who is the long haired beauty and class leader that accuses Sato of things that he has not done. Of course, what show would be without its main hero? Sato’s character is a perverted high school boy surrounded by these girls and is left in a position where he has to deal with all this attention from them for no real justified reason as of yet. Oh, and lets not forget his fixation with bentos and food.
The animation of this series is also average. Nothing really stands out that much apart from the character designs. The main thing that I took away from watching this show is that the animators were not satisfied simply portraying Sato’s perverted nature through a 3rd person’s view but instead decides to drag the audience into Sato’s mindset by making us witness what he is seeing and thinking from the first person viewpoint. There were a few nice touches in the creative direction which I sort of like, for instance, the scene for Yu being brought to the hospital was slightly comical. But other than that, the show has an issue of being mediocre in so many ways.
I love food as much as the next person who lives to eat but this is just sad to watch. Especially since it is food from a supermarket.
Overall, it was a very mediocre show with a illogical plot that pulls it down even further. Out of all the other fan service harem anime of the season, this is probably one of the better ones merely for the fact that it actually seems to have a solid direction in its story (even if it is an odd one) and the show attempts to take itself seriously. Perhaps the next few episodes might be able to explain more and redeem itself, but judging based on just this episode, it is definitely lacking in substance. But hey, it was slightly fun to watch these nutcases fight over half-priced bentos for no reason. =P
(Found this image on the net)
I would kinda understand if one were to fight for a bento that looks pretty and is somewhat like an art that is merely perishable.
Episode Rating: 4.5/10
Ben-To tries to apply Darwinism to how people handle sales in their nearby supermarket… Seemingly violence is still a valid way to settle conflicts.
Absurdity on that level is a very easy way to be humorous but the difficulty with concepts like these that they really need to be original. Like for example, imagine a setting where the hundred year calendar is completely right and you know exactly what the weather for the whole year will be. But this is true only for one little town and now the protagonist is confronted with these people that seriously have a hour each day for people to make appointments with them for their freetime in the next fourteen days or something because it all depends on the weather, right? You don’t want to play video-games when the sun is shining and you don’t want to play soccer when it’s raining cats and dogs. And because people know SO much about the weather of the future they start to take stuff like air-humidity and pollen of ultra-rare flowers really serious. They will say stuff like ‘Oh my god, we can’t take a walk in the forest today! This endangered bird-species has its mating season and only today they have proper weather-conditions to do it! We shouldn’t disturb them!’ or ‘You know, what’s funny, the hundred-year calendar is supposed to help farmers do their job. But what it does instead is preparing them for another year of somehow messing things up due to not having perfect weather. So actually it’s a guide how to make excuses about messing up their job. Every winter farmers are like “Oh, this will be a bad year, we don’t have the right weather next year so don’t expect anything…” ’.
And this is how the idea of this series works, too: You take something ordinary like people sort-of fighting over special sales shortly before the supermarket closes and exaggerate it to the point where people are literally mimicking ‘Street Fighter’ just to determine who gets these Bentos.
Weirdness is palatable throughout the whole episode because it doesn’t make sense why anyone would fight that fiercely over a Bento with a reduced price. We’re bound to the point of view of the main-character and as he’s thrown into the situation of this little supermarket with its daily fights over these Bentos he’s thrown into a world he can’t explain. And it seemed kinda funny when that employee made it sound like it was a kind of philosophy that’s connected to these ridiculous fights.
Child: ‘Daddy, what’s he doing there?’
Daddy: ‘Stop it, Steve! You shouldn’t play with dead things. Just let him lie there.’
Where the episode fails is first of all making these ridiculous fights part of the atmosphere for the whole episode. The setting seems to be disconnected from the fights as there’s still a normal daily life to be lived. It could be that the immersion into this absurd world happens rather slowly with the main-character as he learns about the fights and because of which kind of weird thinking they matter to some people. But it sets limits for the weirdness as well when the weirdness is that confined setting-wise. Because of that the plot is fairly standard character-driven SoL-comedy-fare that drifts off into Action-Comedy when it enters the weird part of its setting.
There’s again the ‘Strange Club’-plot-point that is the starting point for characters to join the adventures of the main-character as they join also this club. And it’s certainly obvious that this series will also try to focus on a different character each week to give them a sort of background and a problem that needs to be solved.
Despite the localizing of the weirdness the series still tries to keep all its humour in the vein of the absurd but with the main-character it went a bit too far, I guess. Why the hell would he try to fight for a Bento? Especially since he has no real fighting capabilities we know of. One could say that this can be explained in a later episode but for a first episode it would’ve been better if the series would already have shown why the main-character is in this story and why it should matter to him. Just showing the setting and all is nice and there are some good ideas there that could be used but it’s not clear where the plot wants to go. And that’s something the first episode should explain for the audience to make clear what one can expect of this. Right now, it does seem pointless overall and more a kind of one-note-joke that drives this series.
“What do you, the viewer, think of a woman called a ‘witch’? Doesn’t it sound sort-of anti-feminist to still call women witches in this day and age?”
I have to admit that I love ‘weirdness’ as a type of humour and therefore I liked the ideas this series presented. What I didn’t like was how the series despite the way the ideas appeared to be it still tried to be a sort of Slice-of-Life-comedy with a school-setting. It also lacked a convincing plot-hook with the main-character as his actions made as much sense as the fighting in the supermarket. Perhaps it’s slow-paced or it’s simply just my hope that deludes me here but I think this series could be a really good comedy-series.