Ben-To (Fall 2011) – The Winner Takes All

“Ben-To” is an astonishing show. It’s a show that you would think if this would end ridiculously bad. But, it’s not and it’s so weird to say that. How could you possibly write the most ridiculous story ever? It’s like a combination between “After Hours” and “Fight Club“. It’s about a group of people who fight each other over a bento. At night, almost exactly midnight, the wolves eat each other to get their dinner ration. But, there is pride and happiness when you managed to get it.

It’s like a representation of how an economic crisis and pressure under the system pits people to save their money. This light novel adaptation written by Asaura tells the story of You Satou (Hiro Shimono), a cowardly high school student accidentally stuck in the wolves battleground. After waking up in the morning, he was unaware of what had happened last night. He knows that there is a system where people brawl at each other and want to reach for a discount bento. We think that they are just trying to reach the bento, even risking their lives and others. But, that’s wrong.

This ridiculous show tells a straightforward plot without strings attached, but neither is it an anime or sophisticated philosophical story of allegory. It’s a shounen anime and it becomes repetitive, predictable, and so cliche as well. Although like that, this typical shounen never makes me stop watching and continue until the end. I was even curious and wanted to read the light novel when I finished watching this anime until the end of the episode. Yeah, this anime has a lot of unfunny jokes that seem out of place for me. But, it’s anime and anime is weird.

“Ben-To” has the potential in combining its concept. The universe is vast and 12 episodes just don’t seem enough. Only by introducing the basics of the universe is very anti-climax. It’s inspired by many stories about gangsters, territory, and conspiracy. Just mostly shounen anime but it doesn’t seem to focus that much. It’s just ended with so much fanservice, full of plenty of obnoxious characters, brawl, etc. If only the anime wanted to deepen the universe and expanded it wider, this might be a great show, unfortunately.

Regardless of this anime introduces many terms in its universe, I also don’t believe that this came from David Production. If you don’t know what the studio is, “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” is their major series of all their projects. There aren’t many major characters apart from this show many have minor vague characters like they just exist for no reason, I guess? The combat, if you don’t think the logic like how they learn martial arts or fight whatsoever, are decent. The designer characters are also not too memorable even for the protagonist himself. Maybe you remember this anime because of two major heroines because of their design but their personality is just nothing special.

The series can sometimes don’t know where it wants to go and it feels like there are specific forced episodes. There is a specific episode where there is no story to the premise and it just exists because they want you to know the jokes. This episode, for me, isn’t funny, annoying, and it drags you long and long even though you know how the jokes end. It’s so predictable that watching one episode is like watching a two-hour movie.

The songs, I don’t know, there are many varieties of genres. There is an electronic song where it comes to the ironic jokes especially when dealing with the protagonist’s misunderstanding pervert personality. But, the opening theme song is quite memorable and the presentation of what will happen in the story next was great. The ending theme song is fit with the episode and the Ayame Shaga opening sequence is nice too. Above all, everything about the theme songs, except the rest of the repetitive score, offered a variety of pieces.

“Ben-To” remains a lot with cliches and one-dimensional tropes. Yeah, I know, it’s shounen. But, every character especially the protagonist and the major two heroines as well are just so stereotypical. Pretty much, all of the characters don’t know where they go or how they want to make a decision. There is one character that just exists as part of the comedy but it’s not funny at all. This character is annoying, obnoxious, and… annoying. I don’t know. For me, slapstick is a traditional way to tell the humor. But, it’s not and it makes it get worse and worse. It may also be that the protagonist has subtle layers of his personality such as whether he is a masochist or not. No one knows.

“Ben-To” has a unique concept but the characters, tropes, and the universe as well are just so small. Fanservice, a comedy that just drags you over and over, several one-dimensional characters with annoying tropes, and of course, romance. Apart from that, this series offered a decent action of the brawl for 12 episodes. And yeah, I also can’t think that this is a reflection of our real-life. We often fight over something but are never grateful. Is that it? Is this a depth show? Yeah, we just can’t get enough.

3 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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