October 08, 2014

Ben-To! Ep09

I should be asleep.  I should be cleaning Pond Central, which looks like a tornado went through it... a solid year of 12+ hour days will do that.  I should be doing laundry.  There are a hundred things I should be doing right now, but instead I'm doing the writeup for Ben-To! Ep09.  The long awaited sequel to the writeup for Ben-To! Ep08, it is hoped that many questions will be answered.  For example, what is Left's real name?  Why is it called "Ralph Store"?  Just why did the twin sisters think that the Ice Witch was in the hospital?  And why can't the production staff just give us a good episode?

I already know the answer to that last one, by the way.

Morning, and Ms Fortune is looking... well, cute.  Too bad she's a walking disaster area, causing death and destruction where ever she goes.  Without knowing it, even.  If the people of the East high school ever figured out what was going on, they'd have to find a way to end her.  But how do you dispose of someone who causes horrible things to occur around her?  You're just as likely to end up being turned into a turnip than succeed in your mission.  Besides, she's cute.

Being cute (and oblivious), she's got a cute idea... she's going to make a bento for Our Hero!  Shaga wonders what the protocol is for burying a cousin, because dear god, he's gonna die.  That's the only result possible.  If he's lucky, the end will come quickly... though with his uncommonly quick healing factor, he's likely to live through the entire thing.  Ms Fortune skips away to prepare the Death Lunch, and...

...passes the Student Council President from the West high school.  Well.  That's odd... one might even suggest it's totally unprecedented in the world Ben-To! inhabits..   Shaga spies on her as she walks by, as the horrible sounds of a car accident pierce the air.  Later that day...

...Shiraume Ume, the previously mentioned Prez, decks Our Hero and walks away, without even asking permission the way she normally does.  Ooh, someone's pissed.  He gets up and makes it to the Half-Price Association's clubroom...

...oh hell.  The bento is there, waiting, and there's no way he can dodge it.  Still, it looks really good...

Oh the humanity

So do they mean meats cooked in the style of western Japan, or Western meats cooked Japanese style?  As previously mentioned, it looked really good, but according to Our Hero, everything in it tasted different from what it should have tasted.  The cutlet tasted like banana, the broccoli tasted like a mix of honey and syrup, rice was spicy, so on and so forth.  A nightmare, that's what it was.  For once, however, we get two bento in one episode: porridge.  I can't claim to be an expert on porridge flavors.  I like oatmeal, particularly with cinnamon, but Japanese porridge appears to be rice-based, flavored with salt and sometimes onions or miso.  I mean, I guess it'd be okay... it shows up often enough in anime being served to the ill... but... well.  Textures, man, textures.

FLASHBACK!  Shiraume Ume is approaching the East high school, and she is NOT pleased with... well, much of anything right now.  She's mentally describing what's about to occur as "a battle."  Well, that's terrifying.  She begins to walk towards the school, and...

...Ms Fortune goes running by.  Shaga hides in the trees, spying on the ultaviolent Student Council President as she approaches the school.  Then, there's a screech of tires on pavement and...

...dear merciful heavens, Ms Fortune strikes again.  Meanwhile, the girl with the A-Class Zettai Ryoiki stalks towards the East high school, her purpose firm but unclear.  I hate it when that happens.  Fortunately, there's medication for that now.  Not that I know anything about such medication from personal experience, mind you... it's all stuff I've learned about.  On the internet.  There are many things I've learned about on the internet.  Some of them might even be useful in the future.  Many of them are not.  There's a small subset of the two that I call "Wonderduck's Pond."  But I digress... why is the Prez visiting the East?

Oh.  Perhaps you remember all the way back to Ep05, when Our Hero was trying to visit his cousin at East High?  I could go off on a ramble here on how East High was one of my high school's rivals back when I was in high school, but really, only one reader (hi, Vauc!) would get any of the jokes, so it'd basically just be self-indulgent pap.  Not, I admit, that that's ever stopped me before, because if I'm not amused by this what's the point, but I'd really like my readers to laugh once in a while for reasons other than sympathy. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is Our Hero.  In solidarity, I too am not wearing pants.  Of course, I'm in Pond Central, the shades are drawn closed, there's only a single red CFT providing ambient illumination, and I'm not surrounded by high school students.  As an aside, I purchased this particular light over eight years ago.  It has been turned off only rarely, as my original reason for obtaining it was as a vision aid for any EMTs that would have to come to my apartment when my heart went berserk again, and it wouldn't be any use if it was off, now would it?  24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for eight years is over 70000 hours. If it's been off for more than one hour per year, I'd be surprised... mostly for vacuuming purposes, as that's the only outlet in Pond Central's dining room.  I have no idea what I'm going to do when that bulb dies... mount it on a plaque or something for meritorious service, maybe a viking funeral.  Put it on a cardboard raft in the Kishwaukee river and shoot bottlerockets at it.  My, but I have gone afield, haven't I?

Suddenly, things become clearer.  Prez isn't visiting East, she's been summoned by Left, East's Prez, to apologize for the transgressions of Our Hero.  This is going to end in tears, I can just feel it.

Say what you want about Ben-To!, and believe me I have, but it does fanservice very well, and nowhere better than this episode.  There's no other reason I've included this shot, just to highlight this talent.  Anyway, back to the main story.  Left and her sister Kyou formally demand an apology from West to East for Our Hero's intrusions.

Ooooh, busted!  Shiraume pulls out a screenshot from Ep04, points out that not only is Shaga intruding on West without permission, she's wearing a stolen uniform to boot.  Obviously, this insult cannot be allowed to stand, and a formal demand for an apology from East to West is demanded.  Somewhere, North Korean negotiators are taking notes and nodding their heads.

A decision is reached: both schools will apologize to the other before things become too heated, for the good of the community.  The comradely laughing of girls is obviously forced and stilted.  Oh, it is at this point that we discover what Left's real name is: Kyou.  That's right, her name is Kyou, and her sister's name is Kyou.  While this is not explained in the anime, the names are spelled with different kanji.  Left, the older of the two, uses the kanji for "bellflower," and the younger Kyou uses the kanji for "mirror."  As I refuse to type the word "Bellflower" over and over again, she's going to remain "Left."  Anyway.  As Prez West stalks out, she leaves behind...

....Left's behind.  Why, no, I didn't work two full episodes to get to that joke, why do you ask?  As ever, Kyou is the level-headed one, pointing out that while an apology was given, one was also received... and they now know more about West's Wolves.  Ominous, that.  Back at West High...

The Prez approaches Our Hero, and the circle is now complete.  He gets slapped into next week, then has to eat the bento from hell, and we've now caught back up to the end of the intro.  At least they did it in one episode... not like Ga-Rei Zero which took eight entire episodes to catch up to itself.  Of course, there were some subtle differences between the two series.  For one, GRZ was a really good show.  And has more Pocky.  Also swords.  And laser weasels.  Finally, a long day's abuse of power complete, Shiraume Ume goes home to relax.

I... uhm... well.  This is a surprise, isn't it?  Her uniform does not do her any favors, y'know?  She finds herself melancholy, despite the hot bath making her skin tingle and the sweat run tantalizingly down her delicately long neck.  There's only one thing she needs, and that's to talk to...

DESATURATION LASS, who's just putting the final touches on the latest installment of "Muscle Detective," starring someone named "Our Heero."  Note the difference in spelling.  Yup, she's a slashfic author.  Gets over 10000 hits a week on her website, too.  I don't know whether to be jealous or dismissive.  Anyway, as she's answering questions posted to her site (she even gets comments!), she gets a skype-like-thing request...

Ohfertheluvva... why don't I ever get video calls like this?  I mean, without the police knocking down my door a few seconds later, that is.  Not that... I mean, I have no knowledge of that having occurred at any time or place.  Wow, hey, Kansas City is in the playoffs, can you imagine?  I mean, really!  29 years since the last time, how cool is that?  *whistles tunelessly*

Perhaps I'm old fashioned.  Maybe I just can't adjust to the modern ways things are done.  But this, right here, is the right way to do fanservice.  It's not forced, it's not blatant, it's not oh-my-god-theres-a-girl-in-my-bathroom-and-shes-nekkid, it's natural.  And it works, grr stompa stompa!  Anyway.  She calls Desaturation Lass and notices that she's a little red in the face, is she feeling ill?  Um.  Heh.  "Muscle Detective."  As she protests that she's fine, everything's perfectly fine, she's fine, all fine here, thank you, how are you?...

...she knocks over her coffee.  Onto her laptop.  This sets off a chain reaction of truly Rube Goldberg-ian proportions that ends up with...

...the laptop being totally destroyed by a book that first levels Desaturation Lass.  Mind you, all of this is accompanied by shrieks, screams, and wails and is entirely broadcast via skype-like-substance to Shiraume Ume, who can't actually see what's going on.  When the call goes black, she fears the worst!

Jump to some short time in the future, and as Desaturation Lass begins to come around, she starts to wonder.  About her goals in life.  Her hopes and desires.  Can she really make it as a writer?  Is high school too late to decide what you want to do?  Where did this cool washcloth on my forehead come from?

HOLYCRAPONASTICKPERSONALSPACEPERSONALSPACE!!!  Shiraume Ume ran right over, found Desaturation Lass unconscious, moved her into bed and changed her into pajamas.  Understandably, DL might be a little bit uncomfortable about this, just a touch. 

"Can you show me on this doll where the Student Council President touched you inappropriately?"  Yeah, I think this went from "ha ha" to "um..." to "uncomfortable" to "unsafe working environment" pretty darn quickly.  Don't get me wrong, it's... um... y'know... but as a former manager that dealt with HR problems, part of me wanted to go screaming into the night before the lawsuits came down.

...and now for the episode's second bento, homecooked porridge et al for the person recovering from being ill.  Unsurprisingly, DL thinks it tastes really good, but really, it's all overkill, she isn't really sick yadda yadda yadda let's give you a sponge bath wait what?

Holy crepe, the Prez certainly does move quickly, doesn't she?  None of this, however, is DL comfortable with, to the point that there's arm flailing and a magazine entitled "Mussle" is knocked off an endtable.  The Prez, curious, picks it up and... leaves?  Huh?  What? (note: the music that accompanies this part of the scene is hilarious, but I can't obviously play that for you... oh.  Actually, I can.  Just imagine it acapella.)  The next morning, Our Hero is at school when he's approached by the Prez... who flourishes the magazine at him.

Oh dear god.  He's going to die.  The Prez can't believe that he'd stoop so low as to put his pictures in DL's magazine.  Cue protestations that that's the stupidest thing he or anybody else has ever heard, and obviously DL did it herself.  She retorts that her DL would never ever do anything like that and cue the beatdown.

Fade to black, roll credits.

Well THAT was certainly something.  Filler episode, sure, but one that went from eh to fun to wow in the blink of an eye.  It's episodes like this that make me both happy and a little embarrassed to be an fan of Ben-To!.  Ah well, it's just the cross I'll have to bear.

Next episode: more zombies!


Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:27 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 2199 words, total size 17 kb.

1 Great googly moogly, that's an eyesearing eyecatch.

So, fanservice and absurdity would be reasons to watch Ben-To on purpose, I take it.

Posted by: GreyDuck at October 09, 2014 05:54 PM (CUkqs)

2 What is it about silver haired women in anime that always catch my eye...

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at October 12, 2014 05:46 AM (8TxhX)

3 There used to be a TVTrope about that but theychanged it, for some reason: "White Haired Pretty Girl" became "Mystical White Hair".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 12, 2014 08:18 AM (+rSRq)

4 "What is it about silver haired women in anime that always catch my eye..."

And there are three of them in this show.  One from the West, two from the East.  Coincidence?

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 12, 2014 06:56 PM (BCjxQ)

5 Pair that white/silver hair with dark skin, and I'll watch anything....

Posted by: Mauser at October 12, 2014 09:20 PM (TJ7ih)

6 Are you sure? There's one like that in Maken Ki.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 12, 2014 10:41 PM (+rSRq)

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