Merry Christmas! …I’ll take three. Of each.

I have long talked about the show which brought me to RandomC, the one which, when dropped, made me go “Hmmm…maybe they need someone as crazy as me?” (C’mon, don’t make me say it…you know the one). That said, I have long held something back – there was another. There was another show that same season that was sadly left adrift, which wounded me deeply. It was ridiculous, and silly, and bizarre, and let’s face it, batshit crazy–but it was also hopeful, and inspiring, and sexy, and funny; in short, a low-calorie romp that anyone can enjoy. This is a little bit late, but let’s finish it off in style – here’s why I love the ridiculous super market battling comedy Ben-to, and why you should too!

This doesn’t make a bit of sense, and I love it.

The first thing, which is what both drew me to it and so deftly kept my attention, is that it’s totally nuts. I’ve talked about this before, but one of the things I enjoy about anime is that the premises on which their based can be some of the craziest things I’ve ever imagined. When I first heard about this show, my reaction was “…did I just read that right??” Like that other show, it was almost too weird for me to contemplate! Fortunately, contemplate I did, and dove in. Premises like these are so crazy that you can’t help but unhinge your jaw and completely suspend your disbelief before you even get started. A weird way to approach things, certainly, but it has a marvelous aspect – when you’re willing to accept anything (potential lawsuits? Fah, no way!), nearly anything they deliver will be enjoyable, and when what they deliver is done very very well, you’re blown away. Any kind of joke can work, any plot line can be tried, and any character can come out of the woodwork to make it a good time. Once disbelief is suspended, you can do anything – and with Ben-to, it frequently does.

To recount the jokes, plot lines, and characters that were amazing would take too much time. From Ume randomly abducting her yuri crush Oishiroi, to Oishiroi’s super-yaoi delusions, to Shaga’s relentless use of sex appeal (also, dat long sexhair, HNNNG!), and all the way to those glorious, amazing, utterly fantastic twins (oh gods!), amazing characters aren’t in short supply. The jokes were hilarious too – some of my favorites were Ume abusing Sato, Sato jumping into the incinerator after his clothes, Shaga getting yuri molested and costume-raped by Ume, and probably other things that don’t involve Ume’s Jupiter-sized jealousy towards anyone that gets close to Oishiroi! Oh, and the security guard who was very protective of Shaga, Sato’s tastebuds going insane from Asebi’s cooking, and when Sato pulls on Oishiroi’s ponytail and she gives that cute little “Hau~!”…but I’m just listing things off, and that’s no fun. What is it about Ben-to, really?

Sorry, what was I talking about?

It’s the little things, the small details that both the original creator Asaura and studio David Production did to make this such a superb adaptation. Have you heard of the male gaze? (trope!) Ben-to has a strong fanservice component, but unlike other shows it never came off as exploitative because the male whose gaze the camera was following was Sato’s. It makes sense for a high school boy who gains the nom de guerre “Hentai” to ogle girls, right? Besides, he apparently has a thing for delicious thighs, which I can totally get behind. Plus, there’s one other thing – when it comes down to actually fighting there’s none of that “I don’t hit girls” bullshit. All ookami are equal on the field of battle.

In fact, the character’s nom de guerres deserve special mention. Ben-to is at its best when it mixes the serious and the ridiculous, as their nom de guerres illustrate – though some may sound awesome, like Yarizui-sempai’s Hyouketsu no Majo (Ice Witch) and Shaga’s Mizuumi no Reijin (Beauty by the Lake), most are silly (Agohige (Beardy), Bouzu (Monk), Chapatsu (Brunette)), and even the cool ones typically come about for silly reasons (like accidentally trying to buy beer or falling asleep next to a lake). But best of all is still Sato’s nom de guerre, bestowed because of Nikaidou’s (tsundere) jealousy and roundly earned thanks to a hilarious spat with public nudity (hah!). Serious and silly, ridiculous and meaningful, Ben-to mixes the two like water in cup ramen after a failed fight. Except they’re good at it, and it’s a good thing. Also, it’s far more delicious. I lost this metaphor, so moving on.

Left out of the fight, left out of the fun.

Yet there is depth here as well, wonderful depth that makes me smile each and every time I think of it, or go back for another quick watch. Sato’s experience with the gundogs early on was one of my favorites, as he learns about the respect and pride of the ookami, and the tastiest meals are the ones fought for against the strongest enemies. So it is in anime, so it is true in life – it’s always the hardest fought victories that I’m most proud of, and the meals I slave away in the kitchen for hours to make that taste the best. Then there’s friendship, camaraderie, and the honor among wolves. The tale of Orthros – of those delicious twins Kyou (梗) and Kyou (鏡), which was coincidentally the first time I saw Yukarin and Hocchan do their awesome twin act! – was absolutely my favorite of the two larger arcs, and not just because of the delicious twincest (I would do horrible, unforgivable things to see through that glass. Just sayin’). The looks of sadness on Orthros’ faces after Heracles Combo’s original gambit was heartbreaking, and the moment that Sato came back and rallied all the ookami to fight like the proud wolves they were – wonderful, beautiful, fantastic! Ben-to is about survival of the fittest, to be sure, but it’s also about respect and pride, about fighting hard for what you want and never using dirty tactics to achieve victory. For a story so silly, it’s awfully uplifting. Also, I literally dream about that final unagi bento. Ugh, I’m hungry. Where’s the nearest super?

I’ve gone on for too long as usual, so I’ll end with one more thought. To me, it’s a testament to how awesome RandomC is that Ben-to posts always got huge numbers of views, meaning that most of you probably already knew how awesome this show is. (Or it means that Kiiragi was a great writer…or that you’re all a bunch of perverts. Probably that third one.) Did I even need to write this? Maybe not, but screw it! For some families, X-mas Eve is a time for each person to open up one gift, to sate their curiosity, start the fun a little early, and quite possibly to try to shut up the loudest and most annoying of the children.

So, consider this my X-mas Eve gift to you. Whether a romp through the fields of nostalgia or a reminder of a gem you missed the first time around, enjoy this brief dip back into the world of Ben-to, that world full of delicious thighs and crazy battles and close friends that fight so much they might as well be family. And who knows – if we all wish really, really hard, maybe Santa will bring us more Ben-to next year. We can only hope–is what I would say, but that’s not the way of the ookami. An ookami fights for what they want! Respect, pride, half-priced bentos; wait for the God of Discounts to finish, aaaand…fight!

Yes, the main character is ignoring the angry guy behind him in favor of the hot twins. Smart man.


  1. I never did finish this show due to time constraints, but whenever I saw them fight to some bentos I wondered: where are all the cops? Well anyways, I’m going to try to finish it, thanks for the post Stilts.

    1. In the words of the immortal Jack Burton: “Cop’s got better things to do than get killed.”

      I loved this show, the second episode with the Wizard vs the Boar had me rolling.

  2. i thought the series had a fairly crazy and addicting concept, would love to see another season………………..which probably would not happen…and btw who wasn’t glad when Show Spoiler ▼

    and i would love to see Sato battling the grey-haired girl (i forgot her name)

  3. Stilts, you dog~~~:P What’s with this choice, huh??

    As expected from the in-house ecchi king, you didn’t disappoint us (however, good self-control for not choosing Highschool DxD instead. Now that would’ve been way too obvious. At least with Ben-to, we can all “pretend” that it’s just an “action” show, fighting over some food and not much more).

  4. The concept alone of “the survival of the fittest hungriest” enticed me to watch Ben-To. Mixing the ingredients of supermarket food, comedy, nutcrack action and fan service will surely leave you asking for seconds.

  5. Ben-To is the type of non-sense people like to do randomly in a sunny September Saturday. Dumb, of course, but SO HELL LOTS OF FUN. The concept is pretty original and the fight scenes isn’t second rate. Plus the characters are pretty fun. Make no mistake, it looks stupid at first but it’s one of the better anime of it’s season.

    The Moondoggie
  6. My anime watching buddies and I watched this show at our weekly viewing sessions and really enjoyed it. We developed a routine of watching it just before going to get take. Though in spite of that our dinners were generally pretty civilized.

    Someone seriously needs to license this show and release it over here.

  7. I would love to actually see a group of people in Japan get together with a bunch of other people, go to a convenience store that sells bentos, then just start a huge flash brawl there to get them and see just how everyone else around would react, or at least have such a stunt done for one of their TV shows or something, lol.

    But yeah, this was surprisingly one of my favorite anime of that season, especially after Ayame finally showed up <3<3<3 (and even having her own original OP too). Ume was tolerable (and delicious to look at) as long as she wasn't needlessly abusing Sato, and Oishiroi and Asebi were just so damn adorable. (Gotta love how Oishiroi never actually had to fight to get her bentos and just slips right on by people, lol.)

    Sometimes simple (and a little ridiculous) ideas can really work out just so long as you use them properly.

  8. Ben-To is one of the shows that attracted me just on the pitch alone. “Shonen battles for cheap lunches in a convenience store” is so crazy stupid I had to see how it went. What I got was funny comedy, cute girls and surprisingly well choreographed battles. There was even a bit of food Pr0N, because damn did those meals look delicious to eat. In a weird sense, you could understand why they were fighting so hard.

    Its unfortunate that it faltered at the end, it felt a little anticlimactic and the battles started to feel unimpressive. Still it ended up being a lot of fun.

  9. I think Ishida Akira’s antagonist character said it straight at the last episode as the final brawl began:

    “What the hell do you guys think you’re doing in a supermarket??”

    Man, that line cracked me up, especially after all this time when nobody, not even the supermarket staff (who happen to be revered as god-like judicators of the game themselves), bother to stop them.

    I really wish they’ll make a second season. Even if it means risking putting up with Ume’s antics, yes.

    Kinny Riddle
  10. I miss Shaga. Second season please!

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Show Spoiler ▼

  11. Yeah, this was a fun show. It’s insane premise led to a lot of fun and awesome battles (like the one in the third episode, where he fights alongside the Wizard). The characters were mostly fun (all except for Ume, who was a bully, though even she had her moments, and Monarch, who was an annoying bastard), the comedy hit all the right notes, the fights were really quite visceral and it had so many delicious things in it (from food to, y’know, twincest).

    That’s not to say it didn’t have flaws though. The show’s attempt at introducing some serious elements and an asshole antagonist in the first arc fell kind of flat; I got a hatred against him for all the wrong reasons, because I felt he was ruining the show. The twins arc was better, but it kind of dragged on and it ended on a complete anticlimax (I wanted to see the final battle, dammit!).

    Still, a memorable show regardless and I’m still hoping for a second season (slim as the chance may be).

  12. when i read this post all i could think was my plan in my previous college was to recreate this in real life, where students would fight for free bentos during sports fest day. well not exactly outright fight but with hand and feet gloves, a but load of cameras and 10 well place bentos in our school maze with the prize of “whoever wins gets first pick on the newly constructed organization rooms”, im sure it wouldve been great. (DAMN STUPID GOOD-FOR-NOTHING KILL-JOY PROFESSORS).

  13. If you guys like Ben-To so much, I would recommend checking out the prequel manga, Ben-To Zero: Road to Witch, which talks about how Sen Yarizui became the Ice Witch. Wizard story is also inside.

  14. Lol Great pick Stilts! I’ve battled my way to some half-priced deals and this is a meticulously exact recreation of the events that unfolded behind the sliding doors of Sainsbury’s and Tesco. xD

    And you are totally right. Guardian Enzo was blogging this, and even though his no stranger to unorthodox shit, he couldn’t handle it. Poor show! This is why RC needs you, and totally the reason I have two favourite animebloggers.
    I thoroughly loved it and if Ume was a flaw, Oishoroi more than weighed up for it. I would watch the shit out of Oishoroi’s fantasies-come-anime, don’t you agree?

  15. Wow I had totally forgotten that Kiiragi blogged Ben-To on RC. what a train wreck of reviews that was. Don’t try to get any enjoyment of that, instead look for reviews at Guardian Enzo’s own site.


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