Every once in a while you get a show that gatecrashes in your life, take you by the scruff of the neck and throws you into a maelstrom of adrenalin. Ben-To is one such anime and yet when you try googling it, you get search results for Ben 10! or at least that’s how it used to be not too long ago. Anyway I personally thought the show was simply terrific and I’m going to elucidate the reasons behind my admiration and love for this show.
It’s totally offbeat. Based on the original light novel by the same name,the story is as bizarre as it can get for a slice-of-life/action genre. As the name suggests, this anime highlights the value of half-priced bentos in the supermarkets. The half priced bentos are exquisite, available in small numbers and are otherwise very expensive if the discounts aren’t given. Now this is exactly what leads to an indomitable hysteria for the bentos amongst the youth who are ready to fight to death with one another over them. They literally duke it out every night just to get the delicious bentos for half price. The rule is the same as any battle. Winner takes it all. At least if not anything, the winner takes the most prized bento the house has to offer.They are known as the wolves and each area has its own superstar like The Ice Witch, The Monarch, The Wizard, The Beauty by the Lake, Hentai/Wanko(Barky) [ROFLMAO!!!!!], Orthros etc. Sato (hentai) and Yarizui (The Ice Witch) are the protagonists. Sato’s life changes forever the moment he first steps inside a supermarket in the town and reaches out for a half priced ben-to amidst a war. He gets KOd and later is invited by Yarizui to join her Half Priced Ben-To Lovers club at school. From there on, the story kicks off like a shinkansen and it gets better and better with every episode. Not only does it have a never-seen-before theme to its name but it also makes that theme very, very palatable, just like a delicious half priced ben-to.
One word. Magnificent. It has to work with a such a bohemian story line that it’s always running the risk of falling behind its own pace that it sets in the beginning. But thankfully something like that never happens.The house that Jack built is as sturdy as a war tank. Never does it allow you to question the meaning of whatever goes on in the show even when you find it a bit strange. It stays that way right till the end. You’ll be thoroughly thrilled. It’ll be a wild roller coaster rider. The CG and the action choreography guarantees at least that much. David Production, as expected, has done a tidy job. Comic reliefs are abundant in the form of Sato’s brush with Shiraume, Oshiroi’s lust for yaoi, comedy of errors on a number of occasions and Inoue’s antics.
None of the characters is someone with whom you can identify yourself from the perspective of the situation this anime has to offer. It’s a situation that is unheard of. Plus the bulk of the characters are like bon vivants who spend 2/3rd of their life force on getting food. Having said that, none of the characters feel like a killjoy except for may be Shiraume and Oshiroi. It won’t take you long to fall for their passion for ben-tos after you have questioned it enough. They are truly wolves and they would leave no stone unturned to get their crumbs. They fight, they fall, they come back again. Sato’s character development is truly noteworthy. His unspoken bond with Yarizui and to some extent with Shaga sees him through to the end. His determination and undying spirit sets him apart from the rest. He neither shies away from a fight nor does he back down when he sees that he’s out of his league. This is one protagonist who wouldn’t bore you. Yarizui is your typical poker-faced indestructible stoic heroin that we so often see in most shounen and seinen animes. Her character development is stunted and the same goes for the rest except for Sato. Nevertheless, all the characters are very vivacious, none really feels underplayed. Wolves will be Wolves. They don’t bark, they fucking bite.
AWE-FUCKING-SOME!!!! EPIC! EPIC! EPIC! The OST is literally the launchpad of this anime. It’s bloody dynamite! The Mozart of Melodies, Taku Iwasaki-san is back!!! \m/\m/\m/ Really, Ben-To has the most revolutionary background scores from the entire anime lineup of 2011. If not anything else, it’s the OST that would make this anime most memorable.
Why the hell is this show so underrated? I have seen far worse that are actually let off the hook without much flak. Yes its a must watch. It so quirky that you must watch it no matter what. Once you have started watching it you would definitely be hooked on to it. It has a stonker of a OST thanks to the genius Taku Iwasaki-san which backs up the action packed script unlike anything else. The situations despite being so unrealistic would feel as real as foreplay. Go for it.
A fucking 10. I would have given it a 8 but this anime and its OST gave me the thrill of a lifetime.
So what are you waiting for?
[Reviewed by: Apratim Basu]