|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
When I first seen Ben-to, I got quite hooked on the show special thanks to its nutty premise of struggling high schoolers brawling over discounted bento meals at local supermarkets. What made the premise fun for me was that these characters took the brawls quite seriously and we got to see some colorful characters with their own methods of getting the meals they want from a team of school athletes ambushing the efforts of the local "wolves" to ensure their team gets the victory to a fat lady shopper trying to butt in the fights with her shopping cart to a pair of twins who brawl using shopping baskets. One fun episode in particular decided to subvert the typical pool episode as characters had a pool brawl over food being served to them at the resort they were staying at. For the most part, the visual presentation to Ben-to was solid with a good amount of detail put into the design of settings, especially at the supermarkets. In addition, the various Ben-to brawls were fluidly animated in many instances and there weren't too many occasions I noticed shortcuts.|
The series does carry some major flaws for me though which kept me from wanting to give it a Buy. The series makes a running gag of male lead Yo getting humiliated in nearly each episode of the series, in some episodes to the point where he gets stripped of nearly or entirely of his clothes. While this was okay the first couple times when Yo was unfamiliar with the Ben-to fights, it got quite annoying to see this so-called top fighter getting humbled in enough embarrassing predicaments for a cheap gag. Ume, as a character, was very unappealing to me as her regular thrashing of Yo for the slightest repercussions and her obsessive lesbian interest in Hana was bad enough to the point where it was bordering on criminal. Two later episodes of the series were also less focused on the bento brawls and more on focusing on the two mentioned flaws I hated with the show as one episode is focused on Yo getting humiliated enough and the other on how far Ume is willing to go to satisfy her lesbianism on Hana. There were also points where Ben-to decided to push the envelope a bit on sexual content with innuendo, fan service, Hana's yaoi writing and Ume's lesbianism, which seemed done just to appeal to the otaku fanbase.
Overall, I enjoyed seeing Ben-to when it resorted to what it was doing best and that was its focus on the crazy brawls for bento and the colorful characters that took part in them. However, I didn't enjoy the show's occasional pandering to otaku with its sexual content, Ume's character in general and the repetitive gag of Yo being humiliated. It is a decent comedy title to check out, provided you are okay with its flaws.
Last updated Sunday, December 25 2011. Created Sunday, December 25 2011.
(Two episodes watched):|
It can’t be a good sign when I have a hard time telling whether a new show is supposed to be a comedy or a drama. For much of the first episode of Ben-To I was getting mixed signals: the protagonist claims to have died at one point, things sometimes happen in an eerie, dreamlike setting, yet there are also the usual stereotypical characters—the mysterious, gray-haired girl, the shy, fast-talking brown-haired one, and the elegant black-haired one. I quickly became frustrated and impatient with Ben-To; I need something different to grab my interest, and whatever sort of show this was supposed to be, it wasn’t doing a very good job of it. With time it becomes clear that comedy is the objective, and the clash between the two styles was meant as a major joke, but it wasn’t funny. Hardly anything about this show is funny. The protagonist winding up lying on the floor with blood on his face (more than once) doesn’t make me laugh. Apparently the “clever premise” of this show is that competition for marked-down bentos at the supermarket has become so fierce that it has developed into a sort of martial art. But given the amount of entertainment I got out of this show, it seems that that should have been the premise of a single episode, not the entire series. I detect no hint of personality or friendship developing among these largely repulsive persons. I had hoped this would be the one really witty show which would come from what has become an increasingly disappointing season, but at the end I can only write it off as yet another non-contender.
Since I can basically count the number of shows which seem worth watching this season on the fingers of one hand, I gave Ben-To a second look. But it merely crystalized my original impression: a show which isn't terribly offensive, but just doesn't have much of anything worth devoting my precious time to. In a way, this is more frustrating than a show which clearly tried to be outstanding but failed miserably. Perhaps in hard economic times SOP in the anime industry is to go with mediocre, milquetoast shows which are unlikely to be fantastic successes but more importantly are also unlikely to be complete failures. In other words, playing it safe.
Last updated Thursday, November 17 2011. Created Wednesday, October 12 2011.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://ben-to.net/|