November 16, 2014

Ben-To! Ep12

And so we have come, not to the end of the beginning as Winston Churchill might say, but just simply to the end.  This final episode of Ben-To! in and of itself is nothing important, just another final episode in a long line of final episodes for a long line of series.  But just as no two snowflakes are alike, so to are no two final episodes the same.  Each has its charms and failings, characters you'll be sorry to see go and ones you wish had disappeared half a series earlier, and the same holds true for our feisty discount meal punch-em-up.  For example, I could have done without Desaturation Lass and her taste for slashfic hardcore yaoi starring Our Hero, even if she does come part and parcel with Shiraume Ume, the obsessive Western Student Council Prez with the zettai ryouiki and the slap that can shatter a planet.  On the other hand, if they felt like spinning off a show starring Shaga, aka "Beauty of the Lake", I'd be perfectly okay with that.  Alas, it is not to be, at least anytime soon. Ben-To! did not sell well in Japan, and with Funimation coughing up a hairball on their release of the show domestically, it seems unlikely that we'll ever see a Season 2.  So gather around, my friends!  Let us remember not the bad times of Ben-To!, but the good.  Let us go forward into Ep12 together in comradely comradeship.  Let us show the production company that we are unbowed, that we are still strong, and that tonight, we are all one united.  I see an entire army of my readers, here in ridicule of bad production staffs, here for the one chance to... y'know what?  Instead of getting all dramatic and stuff, let's just finish this show up, shall we?

"THEY MAY TAKE OUR LIVES, BUT THEY WILL NEVER TAKE... OUR POCARI SWEAT!!!"  It is 6pm the evening of the Summer Solstice, when Supermarket Audrey has their famed eel bento.  It goes on sale at 10pm, and the Ice Witch is trying everything she can to be ready.  Bananas, nyquil and gatorade... sounds like an interesting Saturday night.  As she drifts off to sleep, Our Hero turns off the alarm and leaves a note saying that he'll bring her back eel.  How romantic can you get, huh?  In another part of the city...

...Left is on the verge of a monumental breakdown, just because maybe the Club of Hercules might show up since it's been three years to the day.  Kyou, the closest thing we have to a sane person in this show, does everything she can to calm her down, short of a cattleprod.  I don't know just how much that'd calm her sister down, but it'd be worth watching.  Is there any way we can make that happen?  Somewhere else in town...

...PCB explains what he learned about Orthrus and Club of Hercules last episode.  Needless to say, it's not something the show cares to share with us because why would it do something like that, but Shaga seems somewhat disturbed by it.  Finally, in yet another part of this village...

...Club of Hercules makes contact with Our Hero in a way that Desaturation Lass would find as inspiring, throwing him up against a train trestle support and whispering in is ear what the plan is, and how it guarantees the Ice Witch some eel.  Needless to say, it's not something the show cares to share with us because why would it do something like that, but Our Hero seems somewhat disturbed by it.  There are moments where I want to commit unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty upon this series, and right here is one of those moments



Eel.  Unagi.  No, no thank you.  Perhaps grilled the way it is in this episode, it might be edible, but all prior experience I've had with eating eel has been, shall we say, negative.  As in, who the hell came up with this idea in the first place?  Seriously... "hey, I've got an idea!  Let's stick this really really long fish on a stick, then put it in the fire, then eat it!"  No, I'll let the battlers have this one, and more power to 'em.  I'll just have some rice, please.  And a cheeseburger.

Monk, Goatee and the Brunette arrive at Supermarket Audrey in time for the Iron Chef Battle eel bento, where the see Our Hero.  Just as they are about to greet him with the traditional insults and good-natured belittling that seems to accompany the schmuck where-ever he goes, he runs off.

To say that the three Wolves are befuddled would probably be an understatement.  He's too stupid to run away from a threat!  Just as their confusion and consternation reaches some important level, the Club of Hercules appears behind them and explains his plan to them.  Needless to say, it's not something the show cares to share with us because why would it do something like that, but the Three seem somewhat disturbed by it.  Mere minutes later...

...Shaga and PCB arrive at Supermarket Audrey and are struck by how wrong the atmosphere feels.  Nobody is willing to meet anybody's eyes, there's a lot of awkward shuffling of feet and cleared throats.  Kinda like the morning after the drunken orgy you had in college with three girls, two other guys, a grapefruit, two cans of creamed corn, a couple of rats from the psych lab, and a jar of pickled herring in cream sauce... not that I have any first-hand knowledge of such an experience... much... that I can talk about... um...

Orthrus appears, makes their usual slightly snide remarks about the quality of the combatants arrayed against them, then begin to head towards the battlefield... the slightly smokey battlefield, it's pointed out for some reason.  It's actually quite strange... Left points out the smoke, Kyou suggests it's because Supermarket Audrey's ventilation system is perhaps unable to keep up with the grilling eels, and then nothing is mentioned about it ever again.  If they hadn't of made such a thing out of mentioning it, fine, but there was no good reason to do so unless it was going to be a plot point.  Chekhov's Gun, meet Ben-To!.  But then...

...Club of Hercules comes out of the dairy department, all happy and bubbly.  "Kyou!  Left!  Boy, you two look great... long time, huh?  How's the folks?  So, I heard you're getting the band back together, huh?  I thought you learned your lesson!  Well, look, just scram, pretend you didn't come back.  Go away."  Meanwhile...

...Our Hero continues to run, a shooting star across the sky.  Back at the Supermarket...

...Left and Kyou refuse to just leave.  Then, according to Club of Hercules, who I'm going to just start calling Herc from now on, history is going to repeat itself.  He's already talked to all the Wolves in the Supermarket tonight, and to a person they've all agreed to the plan.  Needless to say, it's not something the show cares to share with us because why would it do something like that, but Left and Kyou seems somewhat disturbed by it.

Out of frustration, Orthrus finally asks why?  Why do such a thing?  The answer is quick and simple: they're too strong.  Like an Adrian Newey-designed F1 car or a movie with music by Philip Glass, they imbalance the playing field.  And then, finally, we begin to get a glimpse of the plan when Left says that it's going to fail, because Our Hero-san will surely fight them.

"Him?  He ran away already."  This pronouncement is met with general consternation by the assembled Wolves, in the style of "if he left, what of us?"  Except from Shaga and PCB that is. Both of them curse his name, literally so in the case of the bishie.  They can't believe that he'd acquiesce to such a plan.  WHAT PLAN???  We haven't heard anything official about a damn plan!  Oh god, it's FLASHBACK TIME again... Ben-To!, I'm glad this is the last episode, because I'm gettin' pretty tired of your sh...

Middle-school Kyou and Left?  Okay, I'll forgive you this time, Production Staff, but remember, you're on short time with me.  It's clear that it's three years ago, and Orthrus has just arrived for the Summer Solstice eel bento fight, all excited and perky.  Everything seems normal, even Herc greets them with a ganbatte ha-ha-hail-and-well-met.  Then, when the Half-Pricing God finishes his duties, it all turns nasty in an instant.

His speech goes, in effect: every single stinkin' night you two show up, kick our butts up around our ears, take the best bentos, and leave us fighting over the leftovers.  Ain't gonna happen no more.  Here's the gig: take what you want, get out, and leave us be.  It'll be just like every other night, just without the whole gluteus/cranial excursion bit.

Disbelievingly, they take their eel bento, and the night's activities begin as normal... just without them.  Deprived of the thing that gives them the most joy in life, Orthrus slips away and disappears for three years. 

End flashback, and now that we finally know the plan, it's safe to say that Herc is a monster of the first rank.  Not many of the currently assembled Wolves are keen on this idea, but the force of his will is keeping them all in line.  Orthrus, realizing they've been defeated once more, quietly turn and walk away from the prepackaged eel, this time perhaps for good.  As they make their way sadly to the front doors...

...the runner is now past-tense.  Much to the delight of Orthrus, Our Hero has returned to Supermarket Audrey!  Surely he will break the will of Herc and give them someone to pound on.  Their delight turns to pain immediately, for he walks in, veers away and goes to stand with the massed Wolf pack.

Orthrus is just about to leave, when the Half-Pricing God announces the "wreathed bento", which as we know is the one that has earned his favor for the night as the best out there.  As above all else, they're still hungry, they decide to go back, get their final bento, and at least end Orthrus on a belly full of eel.  Herc sniggers at them, and the rest of the Wolves look crestfallen.  The wreathed bento will fall without a fight.

And then, Our Hero says "that smells good," and his stomach gives an ungodly growl, one that reverberates off the miso, pocky and ramen on the shelves.  His impromptu run (oh god, I want that lighting rig!) through the rainy city was simply to make him hungry?  Suddenly, one by one, the other Wolves realize that they too are hungry... hungry, dare I say it, like a Wolf?
...
Oh come on, you knew it was coming.  Of course I was going to use that joke, it's too darn easy for me not to and if there's one thing I'm not afraid to use it's the easy joke.  What you should be doing is congratulating me for waiting until the final episode to trot it out.  Heck, I suspect that the title of the song is the original source material for the whole darn Ben-To universe in the first place, why shouldn't I use it in my writeup?  Allow me to point out again: twelve episodes.  Twelve stinkin' episodes.  You should thank me for waiting this long.

In any case, almost immediately the Wolves do what Wolves do.  Orthrus is tentatively euphoric; Herc is flat-out enraged.  Our Hero is hungry.  And at least the Western Wolves know the score: if they had walked away from a fight, the prizes would not taste as sweet.  One by one, they make their disgust with Herc clear, and leap back into the fray.  Herc, not particularly known as  a good loser, says fine whatever and begins the beat the crepe out of the lesser Wolves.  Once he comes up against Our Hero, though...

...it ends not well for him; it gets worse when he is knocked into an uppercut from PCB, which sends him into a flying kick from Beauty, annnnnnnd he's done stick a fork in him.  Then, just to make sure they knew what was going on...

...Two Dogs strike a manly pose and challenge Orthrus, much to the tearful delight of the Student Council President and Veep from the East.  There is one little matter to deal with first, however... the still moving corpse that is Herc, who leaps to the attack one last time.

Ouch.  Then, looking at the assorted Wolves and mongrels arrayed before them, Orthrus does what an Orthrus do.

Gotta give 'em points for enthusiasm, those two.  Fade to black, amidst much sounds of screaming, blows being landed, and general mayhem.  Then...

...fade up to most everybody sitting in the park, eating their hard-won bento, except for Orthrus, bruised and battered and eating riceballs and ramen, but happy about it.  Heh.  Of course, you can see who's missing, right?  Yup, Our Hero... he's where you'd think he'd be.

Ice Witch's apartment.  With, of course, the laurel-wreathed eels.  Needless to say, she forgives him for turning off her alarm.  With a few words of gustatory excess, they praise the eel and we fade to black for the final time, bringing Ben-To! to an entertaining end.

So that's it.  We're done here.  A genuinely silly show, with moments of pure exasperation mixed with some wonderful stupidity and entertainingly goofy characters.  As fighting shows go, it's pretty plain, but it's certainly more than just that.  There are morals here, lessons to be learned, things that are too darn serious for a writeup of my sort, but they're presented in an fun, dumb way.  Is it a great show?  Are you kidding?  Have you been reading these things?  But can it be a good time?  Oh yes, very much so.  My hat's off to you, Ben-To!, on the whole ya dun good.

Next episode: There is no next episode, but there will be more zombies!

EYECATCH:

(note: the final episode originally aired on 12/25/2011, ergo the xmas costumes)

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:23 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 2367 words, total size 18 kb.

1 Japanese-style grilled eel is -great-. Thick sauce, rich and fatty (though it does tend to have a bone or two). Definitely on my Top Five Things I'm Going To Miss Because Nobody Serves Them Without Rice.

Posted by: Avatar at November 16, 2014 05:16 AM (ZeBdf)

2 Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Wait.

So the secret plan is "don't fight them, just let them have it?"  Because the only reason they do any of this if for the fighting.  Which Hero ruins by insisting on fighting for the eel bento.

And he won?  I think?

Posted by: Ben at November 16, 2014 11:20 AM (66Drl)

3 So the secret plan is "don't fight them, just let them have it?"

Yes.  Because reasons.

Which Hero ruins by insisting on fighting for the eel bento.

Yes.  Because reasons.

And he won?


Yes.  Because dinner.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 16, 2014 02:37 PM (jGQR+)

4 ...well, that eyecatch could cure Ebeneezer Scrooge's issues with Christmas cheer, I tell you what.

Posted by: GreyDuck at November 16, 2014 06:06 PM (AQ0bN)

5 Song link, song link... I wonder "how is someone approximately my age not using that Flock of Seagulls song in here?" ...next link, there it is. Faith in humanity restored.

Followed by a joke about obvious new-wave song links. Now I'm wondering about mind-reading and time travel...

Posted by: Mikeski at November 17, 2014 12:10 AM (luDkn)

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