Ben-To – 03 Review
Exactly, let’s just fight for food again like back in the good ol’ times (with which I mean the Stone Ages)!
So, I’ve decided to blog Ben-To simply because it’s more entertaining for me at the moment. Un-Go definitely has a deeper story to offer but I think the characterizations are dull and the storytelling is flawed. Whereas Ben-To is simple fun.
On another note: I will review Shakugan no Shana III Episode 3 together with the 4th episode since the 3rd was basically a recap.
The episode starts with Shiraume harassing Satou again and how the unfolding events lead to him jumping into the school’s incinerator to get his uniform. Later as Satou and Oshiroi go to a nearby supermarket to fight again for half-priced bento they are greeted by Yamahara. He shows them how the kendo-club acquires bento without any difficulty due to their teamwork. Yamahara invites the two to join the ‘Gundogs’ as they call themselves. Reluctantly Satou agrees but over the course of time he realizes that he’s missing something and at last he realizes that it’s the thrill of fighting others for food by himself instead of getting it easily due to teamwork. As he together with the rest of the are about to implement their tactic again he betrays them saying that the way they fight isn’t fun. Having made one step forward on his path to enlightenment (at least as far as half-priced bentos are concerned) he and Oshiroi go back to the clubroom where Yarizui gives them the key for the clubroom.
It also hurts a lot and the part where you could die is a bit distracting as far as the fun-part is concerned…
One thing that I’ve always liked about series like Ben-To was this idea of taking a small limited concept and build a one-cour -series around it. The series depends on this one concept and everything else just works because it’s connected to that one concept. That approach is actually something you see more often in Slice-Of-Life-series like Natsume Yuujinchou (with a boy who can see spirits) and episodic anime in general like xxxHolic (where the core-concept is The Shop). But the approach to using one single concept and make out of it a story is the ‘modest’ one shown by Ben-To.
Naturally I can’t say whether the whole series will stay that way but what I mean with ‘modest’ is that the story surrounding the core-concept of it isn’t episodic or Slice-of-Life-like since there’s plot-development as well as character-development. But where the ‘modest’ part comes into play is when the story sort-of limits itself by concentrating on the core-concept. This is a story with a very simple structure and no great ambitions of saying anything besides the inherent message of its concept.
This episode shows another way of how people fight for half-priced Bentos. The ‘Gundogs’ approach is one of teamwork but that doesn’t appeal to the spirit of Kou. What the series does here is actually worldbuilding even if that sounds strange in context of how the series lacks seriousness. But what the past three episodes did was showing aspects and variations of the concept at the heart of the series. Like that the whole concept of people fighting over half-priced Ben-To actually becomes a word of itself which makes the grotesqueness of the setting a less grating experience but more a sort of ‘fantastical world’ that’s not part of our known world. By giving the setting rules and its own ‘traditions’ the series furthers the readiness of the audience to suspense their disbelief about things like the main-character becoming a fighting-machine only due to his attitude.
One of the funniest parts of the series how serious the characters take the setting’s imagery. The best example for it was when stuff like ‘OMG, it’s a Boar in a Storm.’ was said in the second episode to describe the situation. It’s just funny that they would go so far as to assign names to people in this ridiculous setting.
But there are also jokes not connected to the core-concept of the series but rather character-related. These jokes aren’t bad but aren’t the best stuff out there either. Instead like the approach to the core-concept is ‘modest’, the approach to these character-related jokes is ‘constrained’. These jokes don’t get too obnoxious by becoming a persistent running-gag you see in every scene like some other shounen-series handle their fanservice-jokes for example or certain character-attributes. What the character-related jokes in this series do is being consistent and only being present every episode which makes them less obnoxious and a more convincing part of the characterization. The timing play a great role here since reducing the appearances of these character-related jokes it’s easier to give them variation since it’s easier to devote a few scenes each episode to them instead of trying to cram the running-gag into each moment of the episode.
The problems of Ben-To are a thing of the future since its way of storytelling only works so long as it doesn’t repeat itself unnecessarily. But right now Ben-To is a solid charming shounen-battle-series and even if it doesn’t deliver anything astonishing it also doesn’t make any missteps in developing the plot and its setting.