“Ben-To” Review

How is everyone?

Zanafor here with – you might have guessed it – an anime review! As many of the series of the Fall 2011 lineup slowly reach their midway points, I hope to be able to write some reviews of what I’ve seen so far. Without further hesitation, I present a short review of Ben-To

Ben-To (ベン・トー) is a series of light novels written by Asaura and first published in Febuary 2008. The anime adaptation, produced by David Production, began airing in October 2011. Six episodes out of the scheduled twelve have been released as of now.

I find myself saying this a lot, but Ben-To really suprised me. After reading a handful of confusing summaries, I was left feeling skeptical. Nevertheless, I decided to check it out. What I saw completely bypassed my every expectation. Instead of getting the type of random, hyperactive anime that I expected, I was greeted with a solid, action/school comedy series that has won its place as one of my personal favorite anime series this season.

At the very beginning of the series, we have our main character lying unconscious in a supermarket moments after he was reaching for a half-priced bento. Unfortunately for him, getting cheap food isn’t as easy as it seems. As soon as the half-price stickers land on the leftover bento, viscous battles break out between hungry “wolves”, aka those who follow a specific honor code and fight over the discount bento. And we’re talking serious brawling here – punches are thrown and blood is spilled. This series immediately goes all out, and never really hits the brakes. At first you might wonder how an anime could be made from this concept, but I can assure you that it is executed is the best possible way, complete with a legitimate plot.

First of all, these battles for bento go way beyond just hungry shoppers dueling. Some of the battles can get very serious and personal, with a lot of conflict spawning from the war between wolves from the East and wolves from the West. However, some stores or groups of brawlers follow under the control or leadership of other individual warriors. Some wolves have earned themselves a “nom de guerre” which in turn grants them respect and displays their experience. The wolves also use different lingo to signal various hazards or other shoppers who interfere with their honor-bound fighting, one example being the “boar” who grabs all of the leftover bento before the discount stickers are placed. All of these little details make the show more in-depth than the underlying concept.

The animation itself is rather impressive. I enjoyed the use of bright colors, and overall it is very smooth. The action scenes in particular are very fluid, and really adds to the high-tension, “edge of your seat” feel of the show. The characters are fun and unique, and there is a good variety. As I stressed earlier, this fighting goes way beyond the simple concept, and some scenes that relate the fighting to the characters personal experiences can be very serious. As for how the character interaction goes, its fairly fleshed out, and there is some pretty good development, but nothing that goes beyond simply keeping in line with the story. Finally, I’ll point out that there is a good amount of humor. I’m a big fan of jokes that are told quickly, and then the show moves on. One cute, comic relief character delivers the type of quick, sometimes purely visual, humor that I enjoy, and it all flows nicely. There is a bit of – for lack of a better term – “bathroom humor”, but it’s all in good fun.

The main point is, while the whole idea of the show just sounds incredulously outrageous and silly, it works out well. That might be why Ben-To is such a great experience, and why I advise all of you to at least check it out.

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3 responses to ““Ben-To” Review

  1. I must admit, I didn’t know anything about ben-to, but i caught a glimpse of the action in one of the youtube ‘Sakuga MAD Oct 2011’ video.

    The show seems promising so far for me, I’ll probably finish this series.

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