Leadup to Tri Week 6- Ben-To

MarcFBR

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Short 12 episode actiony series this time.

Ben-To!

Mild ecchi warning (very mild as I recall.)

Subbed on Hulu for free- http://www.hulu.com/bento
Subbed on Funimation for free- http://www.funimation.com/shows/ben-to/videos/episodes

This time we have a show that has some nice action, but no big world ending things if the person fails. Because they are fighting for a discounted meal.

Not much to say about this one other than it's generally amusing. It uses the well worn concept of 'take something normal, and make it abnormal' and they choose to go with discounted bento boxes becoming an all out brawl for students and others to get a cheap affordable meal instead of having to live on instant noodles.

Always nice to have shows that not only mix slice of life with action, but that it isn't a huge world ending affair if they lose. Is there something more menacing... I honestly don't recall, I stopped watching it to wait for the Blu-ray set (there was a bit of an oddity with the release of the show here, so it got delayed) so I don't actually know how this one ends... perhaps cheap bentos do end up having to destroy the world?

No major Digimon connections that I'm aware of.

Feel free to post as you want and to make any suggestions regarding how I made the thread. Improvements can always be made.

Previous Threads
Leadup to Tri Week 1- Haganai
Leadup to Tri Weeks 2 and 3- A Certain Magical Index
Leadup to Tri Weekend Movie- Lupin The Third: Green Vs Red
Leadup to Tri Week 3(ish)- High School DxD
Leadup to Tri Week 4- Buso Renkin
Leadup to Tri Week 5- Tenchi Muyo!

They haven't put episodes on Youtube that I can embed, so here's the OP.

 

Py687

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I've watched this one before! Picked it up based on the premise, and found it able to sustain my interest just enough. I'd call it a zany and exaggerated take on something normal, but I can't honestly remember enough of it to make further statements. It must've been amusing enough at least.
 

MarcFBR

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I've watched this one before! Picked it up based on the premise, and found it able to sustain my interest just enough. I'd call it a zany and exaggerated take on something normal, but I can't honestly remember enough of it to make further statements. It must've been amusing enough at least.
That could be the box quote!

Zany and... amusing -Py


It's a show that will never win awards, but it's enjoyable to watch and it'll put a smile on your face. Sometimes that's good enough.
 

Unknown Neo

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I've heard of it but never seen it. So it's ok then?
 

Theigno

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this is an anime I'm really enjoying right now. a pretty offbeat plot and good production values and generally I'd say it's biggest strength is that it never gets boring. The whole concept of fighting over bento is just completely bizarre and it's a pleasure to discover that intricate system of code names rules, territories and weird philosophies that the characters have built around that premise and how amusingly seriously they always take it.

The brawls are always fast and energetic, with one stylistic choice standing out above the rest: Sweat. It's flying and splashing with every punch and jump and it's hard to believe how big of a difference it makes. Not only is the effect really good looking, it also adds quite a bit of visual activity on the screen and makes the already really good animation seem even more fast paced and kinetic. It also highlights the characters struggles, you can literally feel the effort they put into their movements and how exhausting every hit is a character takes. Darker shows have of course used blood for that same effect but ben-to manages to create that feeling of impact without sacrificing its mostly lighthearted style during the fights.
as mentioned before the non-sweat parts of the fights are also quite good, consisting mostly of over the top flashy moves that are just fun to watch even if their effectiveness in reality is questionable, I know that's the bane of almost every choreography especially in anime but I just can't stop myself from just looking at scenes and goind "that's actually quite ineffective". Let's take Yoh's final punch out in episode two when his and the opponent's fists collide and they spend a few seconds just pushing against each other before Yoh outwits "goatee"... by simply pulling his fist back. even if we for the sake of argument accept that such a knuckle collision was possible without resulting at least one broken sprained fist which in itself is pretty unlikely, a pullback wouldn't actually have much of an effect except simply letting the opponent's fist through to his original target since it does not really anything to stop momentum or redirecting anything (god knows what was wrong with goatee's balance). The more sensible approach starting from this fist to fist position (although actually you'd want to catch the arm instead of the fist) would be turning your arm counterclockwise and pushing to the right while opening the hand. since the power of the opponent's pressure stems from his arm being lined up with his center of gravity resulting in his whole body mass pushing against you, this results in all his energy being directed forward while the outstretched arm offers virtually no resistance to sideways pressure. Meanwhile opening the hand while redirecting the push would change the primary point of contact with the fist from the finger bones to the more shock absorbing palm. Furthermore pulling the fist back gives the opponent time to change the angle of his punch while a push with your hand is still in contact with his arm can also negate any movement of the arm towards the own body. With that there's no way to get pushed back since the pressure from the opponent's center of gravity has been redirected to the side.
Needless to say I could write something like that about almost every other move used in the show... I guess I'll move on to some moves that are actually not dumb... surprisingly, shaga's use of chopsticks to twist hands could theoretically work. And by episode 4 Yoh has actually learned how to "catch" a punch properly, namely by stopping the momentum at the arm, above the elbow where the punch hasn't built up as much momentum.
speaking of Yoh learning things I was overall pretty surprised how fast he developed. In episode one he was thrown around like a rag doll but already in episode two he already punches and high kicks other people left and right and wins a special bento. It was really a bit too sudden especially seen we haven't even seen him training or anything and all they are doing in the club seems to play playing Go.
I'm also not sure what to think about Shaga's character in general... are we supposed to be amused or disturbed by her molestation antics? When it comes to Shiraume I'm generally on the amused side because everything she does is just so over the top but with Shaga it seems a bit different. Oh and what's with all this Sega stuff? Highschoolers having their walls and ceilings plastered with Sonic the hedgehog posters, playing decades old fighting games and all that? Just what is going on there, don't tell me in the world of ben-to there are actually good sonic games released in the present....
Oh and I really want to see more of that Wizard guy. He just showed up in the second episode, kicked some serious ass and then just disappeared without a trace for the next few episodes. I hope he plays a larger role during the rest of the show.
A few other thoughts... fitting for a show about battles for foods many of the non battle scenes focus on characters eating stuff which resulted in some surprisingly cute character moments. One of the biggest laughs I had was during that posts credits scene that just involved Yarizui reading Oshiroi's weird Yaoi muscle detective novels out loud in a completely deadpan fashion. Something about that just felt hilarious...

All in all I'm really enjoying this show... just lots of immensely entertaining stuff happening every episode.
 

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I've watched up through episode 4, and am enjoying it so far. The premise is kind of fun and odd without straying into the territory of batshit lunacy some anime series fall into. I could see a Western sitcom having an episode based around it, though only Japan (or perhaps another East Asian country) could turn it into an entire action series. The quirks of the main characters are funny, and I agree with Theigno that the fights do seem to have a more visceral, down-to-earth feel than is typical with anime. Seeing Yoh constantly bandaged in some way helps provide the sense that the action really takes a toll (except for that one time where he apparently survived being incinerated).

A couple other things to mention:

I'm glad Yoh resisted the temptation to join the KKK (didn't know they had a Japanese branch).

It's odd that we already get to our second opening by episode 4. They left the first opening behind before we'd even gotten introduced to all the characters that appeared in it. Looks like the show has four different openings, which seems a little like overkill for a 12-episode show. Digimon Adventure kept the same opening through all 54 of its episodes... but then again, I'm betting this had a considerably higher budget.

I notice that the cousins refer to each other by their surnames rather than given names. That seems unusual to me, but for all I know it might be normal in Japan. Also, I guess if anime characters aren't siblings you don't have to limit their incestuous desires to subtext.

Always nice to have shows that not only mix slice of life with action, but that it isn't a huge world ending affair if they lose. Is there something more menacing... I honestly don't recall, I stopped watching it to wait for the Blu-ray set (there was a bit of an oddity with the release of the show here, so it got delayed) so I don't actually know how this one ends... perhaps cheap bentos do end up having to destroy the world?
I think the most ridiculous thing about the fighting-for-bento premise is the hinting that there's something "big" going on in the shadows.

Oh and what's with all this Sega stuff? Highschoolers having their walls and ceilings plastered with Sonic the hedgehog posters, playing decades old fighting games and all that? Just what is going on there, don't tell me in the world of ben-to there are actually good sonic games released in the present....
Surely if there were they'd be playing those and not the classics. What with this and Cyber Sleuth it seems like Sega weasels its way into everything. Extra strange considering they're no longer one of the major players.
 

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Another four episodes watched over two nights. I don't really have much to say except to note a few little things. First off, something I forgot to mention in my previous post. It took me a while to realize it, but we never get to see Brunette's face. Usually when she's talking all we get is a close-up of her boobs. It's obviously something done intentionally, and I have to wonder why they decided to have it that way.

Episodes 5-8 give us some interesting background on the whole fighting for bento thing. Kind of funny that it seems to be something of a time-honored tradition. Episode 7 was devoted mostly to humor, probably to break up the tension from the preceding arc. It gave me what is so far my favorite line in the entire show, "Right in the face!" More on the badass side of things is the retort, "Compared to you, I think I'm doing pretty well," in episode 6. Finally, looks like the twins have a newer model from the company that made Koshiro's laptop.
 

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Oh god, I'm late but anyway here are my (kinda disorganized) thoughts about the second half this series.

At first I was very surprised to see the whole monarch arc being wrapped up in episode 6. From the pacing and Build-up in the previous episodes I would have thought that he and his organization would become the main bosses for the whole season but then it turned more into a two arc series which also worked. It's very interesting how with the whole theme of legacies the Ben-To fights also got a weird historical dimension. (But it was still weird for the wizard to show up just to go off again minutes later...)

The pool episode was a nice little transition between the two arcs, setting up some groundwork for the final episodes with Ren being definitely a good guy now and Yoh getting his "pervert" title. I'm kinda torn about wether he deserved it or not... I mean he has shades of it and he really seems to like to check out Sen, but then again he's 16 so it's nothing too extreme...
Oh and "Ompai" has to be the pun of the century...

The last few episodes were pretty much about Orthros. And I really liked those two, it always gave me a chuckle that the "younger" twin was the more mature and collected one while the older "onee-san" was just constantly making a fool of herself with her strange fluctuations between politeness and trash talk...
If there's one thing I kinda disliked anything about them it was the fact that their shadow baskets seemed to have weird shadow powers. As ludicrous as this series is, compared to all other abilities and effects shown in the fights the weird black energy baskets were just one step too far, especially since I'm not even sure what it was supposed to represent. It just had too much of a "magic" feel to it, that clashed with the rest of the fights. that said, the big battle in episode 11 was pretty much the highlight of the series. It was longer faster and more extreme than anything before and sadly what followed in episode 12 didn't really manage to top it from an action standpoint.
The finale did however work in a more emotional way. I don't really know how I feel about the club of hercules, being a rather generic strong final enemy suddenly introduced for the finale, but at least he was foreshadowed a little bit but I loved how Orthros' defeat years ago wasn't caused by being physically beaten but by simply being denied a fight. It's nice how Yoh managed to turn the situation around by simply appealing to the basic instinct of hunger but the fight that followed could really have been better.
Speaking of things that could have been better... Asebi really seemed like a wasted character. She just showed up for some jokes at her expense and didn't really do much else. There was a bit more of her in the second arc of the series so I thought she might become important but in the end she didn't. That might just have been because the anime tells only part of the story of a significantly longer light novel series (15 novels, wow) so it's possible that Asebi got her place in the spotlight during one of the later novels, because she really seemed like someone who was slowly pushed into the foreground towards some destination that we anime watchers just didn't get to see.
In the end that last episode really did a good job of highlighting the entire Ben-To philosophy; Fights without the purpose of Bentos are unacceptable and so are Bentos obtained without a fight. Of course this philosophy is still very weird... what if there were suddenly many cheap bentos? What if the students learned to cook for themsleves? There's not really a realistic need for those fights, they do it because it's fun and in this respect the premise reminds me a little bit of fight club but of course sillier and with bentos...
 
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