Anime Review: Ben-To Episode 2

Anime Review:
Ben-To Episode 2

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Ben-To is a 12-episode weekly anime television series based on a light novel series, airing between October and December 2011. Yoh Satou has recently started attending a private high school, and heads out in search for a cheap meal for dinner. But little does he know that he gets sucked into an all-out battle royale for half-priced bento lunch boxes at the local supermarket.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Very Quick Episode Summary: Yoh joins the “Half-Priced Food Lovers Club” and begins his apprenticeship in the fine art of fighting for ben-to lunch boxes. He meets other fighters, including Yuu “The Wizard”, as well as obstacles like “The Boar” who absconds with the food before battle, or “The Wolf Pack” that descend on the supermarket in overwhelming numbers. Despite this, Yoh emerges victorious on his first night, with a special meal sticker that earns him kudos with Sen.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

Yes, yes…the very concept of the show is utterly ridiculous. And yet, I think part of the charm lies in that very fact. Once you accept the idea of teenage kids fighting tooth and nail for cheap food — as an underground sport — it all seems to come together. And as long as they don’t try to take it all too seriously (and they’re *not*), all is good.

But I think ultimately the series will succeed or fail based on how interesting the characters become, and how well the interact with each other. We start with the main character Yoh, playing the part of the hapless deer-in-the-headlights guy dumped into the middle of it all. At first, he could be going down the route of the indecisive weakling (the “Shinji”, a character type that has infected and ruined so many shows of late, and which I’ve lamented about before); but in the middle of this episode he has a moment of revelation when talking with “The Wizard”, and basically says fuck it, I’m going to go for it. Hooray for characters with a bit of spine!

There’s also Sen, who really takes a bit of a backseat this time around, but it seems she’s not going to be as much of the emotionless, unapproachable character type (the “Rei Ayanami”), but may actually show hints of emotion, hooray for that as well. The club is rounded out by the always-eager-yet-useless Hana…I’m not so sure where she fits in the series yet. Nor am I certain about the comedy relief of the student council prez Ume, who is downright obsessed with Hana. We also get glimpses of some of the other food fighters, such as The Wizard, and I’m sure we’ll be introduced to more to come.

So far, so good. Ben-To is nothing special, but good for a lightweight diversion, although I wonder if the concept can really carry a full season of shows. Then again, as I said above it’s not so much about the all-out battles themselves, but the characters bouncing off each other. Let’s see how that develops.

The verdict:

Oh yeah, and I definitely noticed how repeatedly the first-person point-of-view through Yoh’s eyes kept gravitating downwards whenever he was speaking with a woman…down away from the eyes towards the chest. I found that hi-LARious because it is so true. Sorry girls, but when you’re a teenage boy drenched in hormones, it is all to common to try and steal a glance (awkwardly turning into a stare when you think no one is looking) whenever possible. But what makes it so funny is how they do it, with the camera view slowwwwwly panning down… Yes, it’s true; all teenage guys are horn-dogs at heart.

For more information:

  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:

    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • “The reverential pomposity of a samurai epic combined with the outrageous humor really works. You’ve also got a very strong cast and a visual style with a ton of flair. Put it all together and you have a solid comedy with a lot of potential.” – Lost in America
    • “I’m too busy having my mouth open the entire time than to complain that Satou has no personality at all as a character, is completely uninteresting, and keeps wandering his vision to breasts…The pacing’s really nice though, speeding through what could have been dragged out to be several episodes, and combo’d with the frenetic fights sprinkled between scenes, it’s hard to stay bored.” – Random Curiosity
    • “This episode does an amazing episode of showing how that this anime is more than just a senseless battle for food. The writers look as though they put real thought into certain aspects in this anime that are so surprising and clever, it actually makes sense. I also appreciate how this anime utilizes Sato’s attraction to women. Go Ben-To.” – Media Beast
    • “The notions of Pride, Strength etc are forced upon the setting of fighting over bentos and none of it felt natural to me. The writers had tried to integrate the generic morals of fighting into the setting of fighting over food and having pride in a fight but because of the whole concept, it felt cheap and questionable instead. Everything was simply a “what the hell” sort of thing for me.” – Otakuness

      ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

      Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go, Chibi Devi, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Episode 2, Ben-To

      Thumbs-down for Round Two: Working Season 2

      Coming up next: Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero,Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

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