Genre: Action, Comedy
Summary: After collapsing in the street bloodied and battered, You Satou has no recollection of what happened to him – the only thing he remembers is going to the supermarket to buy a bento lunchbox. After having bizarre encounters the entire following day including a stern warning to stay away from the store, You returns that night to buy dinner. But when he spies the shelf of half-priced bento and reaches out for one, the penniless teen finds himself thrust into a world where the rush to get a good deal becomes an epic battle in which only the strongest survive…
Review: You might be thinking I gave such a high score to such a strange anime. It was strange. Different. Unique. Fun. Ben-to turned out to be one of the shining examples of moving away from the norm and coming up with something new and exciting. I started to watch this anime as a joke. I mean who would take the competitive sport of lunch boxes seriously? I was hooked since the first episode. It was a good mix of action, comedy, and a little bit of ecchii. It had everything I was looking for in its genre. Possibly the only thing I didn’t like was it ended too soon. I’m craving for more and would love to see a second season.
The art for Ben-to was superb. The action scenes and casual dialogue were well portrayed. Obviously an anime focused around the violent sport of discount lunch box fighting, centering its focus on the fights. The choreography was filled with adrenaline pumping scenes and character-unique moves. They had everything from the standard brawler to a tactful warrior. I never knew grocery baskets could be used to completely obliterate an enemy. Ben-to had a good mix of believable and unbelievable fighting styles. I’ll be honest, I don’t look for realistic combat when watching an anime. I look for something that will blow my socks off. Ben-to did just that every single time. Moving away from the fights, the rest of the anime also had a lot of great artwork. The creators had a good sense of using backgrounds and facial expressions to keep the anime upbeat during slow moments. They used a lot of comedic tactics such as written haikus across the screen and distorted facial expressions. The lighting and character models played well in the more serious moments between Satou and the Ice Witch. However, it was not the art and fight scenes that made me enjoy this anime so much, it was the characters.
The story wasn’t that strong, as to be expected from such an awkward plot device. However, the characters made up for it because of their strange affiliations and complimenting personalities. The fights were more memorable thanks to the character designs and development. Characters such as Monk and Brunette who for all intensive purposes are considered background characters had their moments to shine. Even without the spotlight being directly on them you could easily spot them during one of the lunch brawls. I find that alone says enough about the character devices in this series. I don’t find it necessary to tell the backstory of every person if the audience already likes what they see. Not everyone has to be mysterious of have a dark secret to be liked. In fact, that was one of the great things about this series. What you see is what you get. Ben-to jokingly talks about how each of the character’s earned their titles. It was nice to know that not every anime is trying to be hardcore or have deep philosophical meanings. I think it is easy to say that the reason I enjoyed this anime so much is because it was different. I was tired of watching all these drama-filled hooplas and boring plot devices. I wanted to see something else, something new, and Ben-to gave that to me.
The soundtrack for Ben-to was another shining example of going for something new. This wasn’t the standard J-pop or typical rock ballet. The background music for Ben-to was, for lack of a better word, cool. It was a mix of rap-rock-dance madness. The comedic moments amplified and the atmosphere was set on full fight. Songs like I Gotta Turn it On made everything seem intense and the build up opening was brilliant. The lyrics to both OPs and ED fit the series like a glove. Mixed with some great artwork I was looking forward to every episode. Definitely a series that took me on a trip to remember.
Final statements: I’m really hoping the series comes out with a second season. I am not sure how much more they would do with it, but I would be excited to watch. The series is a high priority watch for anyone. A great alternative to the typical anime you see being released today.