I really must stop doing these anime reviews monthly. Granted, this is mostly because nothing contained within the Fall 2013 anime season caught my eye, so I had to go back to watch a show I thought sounded fun and never heard of before. Unfortunately, I kinda wish it had been that way, because I didn’t like it. Long version’s after the break.
Studio: David Production
Availability: Available on Funimation under a subscription
Ben-to revolves around a very odd concept where every night, across all Japanese supermarkets, young men and women battle for the ever elusive half priced bento. A cheap and nutrition rich meal for those who lack much income, and a prize only obtained by those who rise above the common dogs and become true wolves! It is among the mostly moronically awesome concepts to act as the framing device for a show, and would be very appealing if it had a very clear end goal to go around with it and perhaps characters who partake in this crazy way of life.
Unfortunately, neither of those goals are met as the show centers around a character who I believe would be considered the protagonist, but probably should not even be in the show, Yo Sato. Mister Sato is an everyman character who is enrolled in a pricy school that leaves him with little money for food, so he learns the art of, well, fighting by joining with a school based club where he proceeds to become the best darn fighter in the county, or some hogwash liked that. Bottom line is that he is a character whose most unique traits are how he really likes Sega Saturn and is a follower of the ever delightful trope of accidental pervert who may as well not even have a penis. HIs involvement in what little structure the show brings forward is minimal at best, and he seems to act more as a vessel for unnecessary comedy, which of course results in more tropey characters.
The erotic thriller writer who sees Sato as inspiration and has no involvement other than being an excitable girl. Her cold and protective friend who would flat out murder Sato if she could as she wants her friend to remain pure and untainted by his perverse measures, not realizing her friend was the real pervert. A black guy who wants to shove batteries up Sato’s ass. And, my genuine favorite, a socially awkward girl who can manipulate luck at the two extremes and sets forth Sato’s ultimate downfall into revealing himself as a truly unnoteworthy protagonist in what is probably the funniest sequence events the show has to offer, in its fifth episode.
However, come the seventh episode, the aforementioned tropes go from being the background noise to a pretty endearing overly dramatic series of history filled convenience store brawls. For example, episode seven is a pool episode where everybody sees Sato’s penis and there is a dish that looks like breasts. Episode eight introduces a very unwanted new antagonist, who unlike the prior one have little history behind them and are only threatening because they cheat in the art of store based scuffles. With their first act being to mistake Sato, who was covered in bandages, for another far more interesting character, ending with the antagonist and a hospital seeing Sato’s penis. While the following episode ends with Sato knocked out on the ground as two girls rather spitefully call him a pervert because of acts that were beyond his controls.
This leaves the role of interesting characters up to two advertisement friendly babes, one plat-blonde and one normal blonde, to act as the interesting protagonists, but even they are pretty tropey, even if the tropes are less aggravating to observe. As they are respectively a reserved and colder professional who does not know a horny man when she sees one, and an upbeat childhood friend who can still don a serious face when she is not being the second most fun character. It’s just a shame that the traits often felt secondary to the… just look at the header image, it explains it better than any overcomplicated way I could say the show has too many tits. It honestly got to the point where they and a character’s hair color are her primary characteristics.
Not that I found the actual visual representation to be all that on the cheesecake side… except for when it was unavoidable. Not that it is meant to be a highlight of the show, as there are plenty of fight sequences which are where the show as a whole shines the brightest. However, these very intricate and energetic sequences are hampered by what I can only view as a very cheap manner of animating them as it often feels very claustrophobic and can jump between shots rather frequently. Leaving the battles as ones where it is hard to get a very firm grip on where all of the participants are in the fight, though the focus on one individual fighting another does prevent the bombastic segments from losing their flare.
As a collective whole, I feel as if Ben-to is a prime example of a show that fell flat on its face halfway through, stumbling around for the next half before sitting in a conclusion to a story that I’d struggle to tell beyond its concept. Even then, the amount of ancillary details added and their implementation could only be viewed as trivial to me that amounted the bulk of the review. Which is all I have to say, because I ceased to give a care as the show concluded.
Will return in March with a KIll La Kill review, followed by a couple bi-weekly ones. Hopefully I can keep up that schedule. If not, eh, whatever.