Hungry like the wolf
Ever had food so good you’d fight for more? So tasty you’d sucker punch your friend just for another bite? If you would, you might just get along with everyone in Ben-To.
Ben-To follows a young man named Sato who recently moves to a school away from home, and while his grades are fine, it’s hard to say the same about his wallet. Sato’s broke, so he has to find deals wherever he can. But one day when he reaches for some half price bento at the supermarket, he unknowing enters a battle of the beasts that fight each night to earn the glorious prize of cheap bento.
While at first he gets his butt kicked, it’s not long before Sato begins training and setting out to become one of the strongest “wolves” in the supermarket and getting some tasty bento.
From the premise alone you can tell this show is absurd. People fighting to the death just to enjoy half price food is ridiculous in itself, but add in how serious all the characters are and how over-the-top the action scenes can be, and you’ll find yourself one hell of an enjoyable time.
Taking place in a small section of a city, Ben-To sets up a small cast of vibrant characters and takes its time to focus and develop each one. Treating itself as if it were a kung-fu movie, every character has a heartbreaking story as to why they feel the need to fight for food. Some do it for honour, some for power, and some do it just because they’re hungry. It’s ludicrous how much the show is willing to expand its characters when in the end their fighting to eat dinner.
I laughed at how stupid the show got sometimes, but in a way it felt like the show was in on the joke and was laughing along with me.
The majority of an episode will start with characters discussing their plans for that night and how to most effectively defeat their opponents. But once that half price sticker is on the food and the doors close its go time. The show kicks it to eleven as fists start flying and bodies are flung across the supermarket, characters unleash their special abilities to annihilate their opponents as shopping carts are spinning through the air. It’s wonderfully animated chaos.
The only real issue is that when characters aren’t fighting, all you really do is sit and wish they were. Not that the daily life of these anime trope teens isn’t enjoyable (although sometimes a bit cringe worthy), but it’s just that the fighting is so fast paced compared to the rest of the show that all you really want is to see Sato team up with The Wizard again to see them lay the smack down on the rugby team and get some tasty food.
If there’s one thing I need complain about, it’s the overwhelming amount of fan service. There are so many times that female characters’ breasts fly about like helicopter propellers it’s crazy, and the fact that their swimsuits fall off as soon as a leaf falls on them really makes you question their manufacturing quality. What I’m saying is, if you’re cool with breasts being flung in your face while your trying to have an action packed good time, then you’ll enjoy Ben-To even more.
I’m also disappointed with the shows length. Being based on a still-running light novel series, I didn’t expect the show to have a proper ending, but I was still a little let down by the lack of a real antagonist for the main gang to overcome. Sure there were a few bad guys, but none of them seemed like a real threat to the wolf lifestyle. If there were to be a second series, I hope they expand to having some actual danger placed on the characters.
Comparing dub vs sub, either one is just fine. The dub does a good job at giving the characters life while keeping things goofy, the only real issue coming from when characters are meant to be cute or flirty and it doesn’t always hit the mark. But other than that the dub is absolutely fine.
I enjoyed my short time with Ben-To. I didn’t want anything philosophical or mentally challenging and I found it in this show. While I’m annoyed with its abrupt end, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy what little of it there was. If you want an action packed series that never takes itself seriously, Ben-To will have you howling with joy.
Should you watch Ben-To?
Thanks to Manga UK for supplying a review copy