Ben-To – 04
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Quite the contrary to last week, this is the best episode so far, by far. Starting off with Shaga, the massive fanservice vehicle, certainly didn’t let my mind wander this week, and while I’m usually bugged by fanservice, this works. Why? Because the anime doesn’t go out of its way to do it. Almost all fanservice in the episode is related to her, and the close-ups and pans have their reasons, eg. Satou-can’t-help-it. It also fits her outgoing personality, and represents the close relationship she has with Satou (though I wonder how many of you were comfortable watching knowing she’s his cousin), which leaves erection fuel dead last on the list. It’s like as blatant as you can get to incorporate fanservice into your work to make money, and still come out with some dignity as a writer. I approve. I also really like Shaga’s character. Who wouldn’t? The episode sold her everything. She makes every character even more likable, even the annoying one, because who isn’t going to love Ume now for generating a lesbian scene? She’s also skilled, endowed, outgoing so your introverted ass doesn’t need to do anything, and roleplays every single archetype there is. Throw in Kagami’s fanbase from Lucky Star, because that’s her voice actress (Katou Emiri). Fuck, she’s so amazing, she got her own opening. Brain twist of this week is to reimagine this whole episode with Shaga as a guy instead. Suddenly it’s creepy, rape-y, and disturbing. Yay double standards!
Shaga wank aside, the “story,” as feeble as it is right now, tacks on an antagonist who plans on sacrificing the wolves to achieve worl-bento domination. Yarizui and Shaga create a rivalry due to territory intrusion, and if it wasn’t obvious enough with the foreplay, Shaga’s reason in keeping such a rivalry is a desire to keep close to Satou, which she probably won’t admit to for a while. Satou most likely impressed the fox-haired guy that probably threw the fight, so more of that “chosen one” development. The rest were random skits for humor and selling Shaga, which, as promptly explained in the previous paragraph, was quite enjoyable. Oshiroi and Ume are still a mystery, but I’m starting to think the fujoshi antics are her outlet to deal with the influx of lesbian trauma. In general, I’ve decided a coherent enough of a story to match together eventual fights is good enough for me.
I’m still seeing the same lectures/morals during fights, which isn’t actually the main problem. The problem is that they’re not molded uniquely enough to Ben-To’s world, which has too much flavor not to have something memorable. Nonetheless, the fights this time around destroy the past few episodes thanks to some actual tactics in trading blows. Chopsticks are used by Shaga to defuse punches detailed succintly in animation, with Yarizui countering by switching to her boots, and hey look, I’m watching a Jackie Chan film. This is way more incredible than it seems, since the only studios I can think of that can match style/coolness in fight choreography is Gainax, Madhouse, BONES, A-1 Pictures, Funima- okay there’s a lot, but you won’t see a better known studio like J.C. Staff care to pull this off. David Production’s matching the top-tier studios through some way other “better” known studios won’t/can’t, so props to that. Either way, my mind is blown probably as much as their budget is right now. Hope it doesn’t affect the later fights.
So, girls, fights, and food. If you eat while watching, you can complete a trifecta of testosterone-inducing heaven. Keep this up Ben-To, and you’ll be second favorite only to Chihayafuru this season. Only watching 3 though. The monotone erotic fiction bit from Yarizui alone was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen (probably because it was so unexpected), and ended the episode even better than it already was. The only question remains, will Shaga be the only thing you’ve got?