August 17, 2014

Ben-To! Ep06

They say that just claiming to have decided to continue on with a series that you dropped isn't enough: you have to back it up with action.  Well, I did that to a certain extent with the writeup for Ep05, but one episode does not a restart make!  Nope, it's gotta be at least two before you can take my claims seriously.  And this, my good and dear, is the writeup for Ep06... or will be, when it's done.  I mean, yeah, right now this is just the usual opening paragraph that usually has absolutely nothing to do with the writeup itself... it's more a chance for me to warm up.  And by "warm up," I mean in the sense that a pitcher has to warm up before he comes into a game.  Sometimes, I'm like the closer: jogging in from the bullpen with the crowd going crazy and a high-octane theme song blaring, with a rubber arm that needs but a few moments to get loose.  And then there are the days where I'm the fleabitten, mangy old pitcher who needs an hour to get loose and only throws slop, junk and trash, all of it at 82 mph.  But in the end, somebody has to get the outs, no matter how hot or bad the arm is.  Good rule of thumb would be the longer this first paragraph is, the closer I am to being Jamie Moyer than Masahiro Tanaka.  Well, either way, I'm in the major leagues.  Which might be more than I can say about Ben-To!, but perhaps I'm being unkind.

The preceding warmup paragraph was written just about two months earlier.  Much has changed in that time, to say the least.  Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka tore a ligament in his pitching elbow, went on the disabled list, and realistically shouldn't be expected to return this season.  Jamie Moyer is still old.  Your scribe was put on waivers, then released.  Funmation postponed the release of Ben-To! indefinitely.  Heck, even the original viddy I selected for Trevor Hoffman went away.  So yes, much has occurred... and yet, Ben-To! is still in the exact same place it was when we last saw it, just aching for us to return.  And so we shall!

Surprisingly, this is kinda similar to the way I blog.  Except I sit at a desk, use a tower computer, have an incandescent lamp above and to my right, and red accent lighting for the rest of the living room (not bedroom), and I'm a duck.  Desaturation Lass up there is taking the events of Ep05 and making them into one of her yaoi fanfics, and that's just about all the lead-in we get this episode.  It's actually rather disturbing.  Not the lack of lead-in, her writing.  I mean, very disturbing.

OH GOD WHAT DID THEY DO TO THAT POOR RABBIT?!?!?!



The second Hokkaido-based bento in a row, this time a piece of chicken marinated in soy sauce, garlic and ginger, then coated in flour and fried in a light oil.  Specifically called "zangi" in Hokkaido, as opposed to "karaage" in the rest of Japan, I assume there's some subtle difference in the preparation or ingredients.  Whatever, it sure as heck sounds tasty... though considering all I've had to eat today was some mac & cheese, pretty much anything not involving mushrooms and brussel sprouts sounds tasty. 

The stupidest war meeting ever.  It only looks like the Ice Witch is talking to a fountain. In actuality, the other leaders of the Western Wolves are hiding in the treeline, speaking through avatars... like that trepanned bunny, or the garbage cans, or the incontinent child.  In short, none of them believe that The Monarch's plan to take over the West is a threat... they'll defend their home bases (aka grocery stores), as usual, and defeat Gabriel Ratchet.  Not willing to push it, she turns her command over to Our Pervert Hero and says she'll go beard the lion in his own den.  And by "beard", she means "kick his silly tucus all over Ralph Store."  Oh, and grab dinner while she's at it.

Meanwhile, over on the East side, The Beauty of the Lake gets some backstory on the reasons for the coming conflict.  See, back in the old days of... last year?  Whatever, back in the old days, Macchan (the half-pricing god of last episode) and the Wizard (aka Bishiemon from Ep02) were great rivals from the East and West, respectively.  At some point, they fought a climactic duel where Macchan lost, but the Wizard didn't have the strength to get home and passed out in the street nearby (after eating his hard-won bento).  Macchan retired shortly after, and her protege, now known as the Monarch, took over.  Well, gee, that's interesting, but... Wait!  It turns out the whole War is but a ruse!  What the Monarch really wants to do is fight the Strongest Wolf in the West, the one who was personally trained by the Wizard, and gain revenge for the defeat of his mentor.   Huh.  Sounds stupid, but okay.  So who's the target then, he asks as if he didn't know because it's been so blatantly telegraphed?

In another part of the anime, the Ice Witch continues to walk to Ralph Store, unaware of the gang of thugs gathering behind her.  Unlike her, these are not bentobattlers, but just malcontents and neer-do-wells who see something they like just ahead of them.  She disappears, never to be seen again, and the show, deprived of its most interesting character, grinds to a halt.  A few years later, her remains are found in a shallow grave just beyond the lobotomized lagomorph, and Our Hero, having given up his time as a cheap eats fighter, drinks the night away, grieving the great love of his life, whom he never had a chance to confess to.  Oh, he moved on, to be sure, but even his passionate affair with his cousin, the Beauty, did nothing to make him forget.  Or maybe I've just put more energy into a plot than the show itself did.  We'll see... cut to:

War has come to the West side.  Or is about to, as the Half-Pricing God has yet to arrive.  Y'know, looking at this picture, I've finally figured out what this music video is all about!  Suddenly it all makes sense!  However, just as The Man with the Stickers makes his appearance...

Shaga arrives and drags Our Hero out of the combat zone, leaving everybody else from the West to wonder what the hell just happened.  Out in the parking lot, she explains everything she learned a few pictures ago so I'm not going to repeat it, and the decision is made to warn the Witch... who's phone isn't picking up.  As they wait, a couple of normal kids walk by, talking about how a high-school girl was attacked on the East side.  Oh dear.  Off they go, first to the scene of the attack, where it's found that it was perpetrated by a gang of men in black. Dammit, J and K have gone too far this time!  Just so you know, if you follow that link, you may see something called "the 50 best outtakes of all time" in the sidebar.  Whatever you do, don't follow it.  I'm not entirely sure how the creator of that accomplished it, but he somehow managed to to choose fifty unfunny bloopers for his video.  Just sayin'.

One thing that Ben-To! seems to like is shots like this one.  It screams "atmosphere!" and "drama!" and it's all entirely ruined by the fact that they appear to have cropped the Ralph Store from another scene, reduced the size to fit, then stuck it onto this scene without even trying to disguise the sharp edges of the crop.  It's rather jarring when you notice it...

See what I mean?  "Go ahead, nobody will notice!"  Well, production staff, someone DID notice... okay, yeah, he's an anime blogger with nothing better to do than pick on your show, but I noticed!  Dammit, give me that, will ya?!?!  *ahem*  At the Ralph Store...

...The Ice Witch walks in.  Well, staggers.  It's the biggest stitch-job ever seen here at The Pond, and I for one am thrilled with the way it turned out!  But I digress... let's get back to the action, shall we?

Macchan sees her, and demands to hear from Pointy-Chinned Bishie (PCB) exactly what the plan is.  The response (which we've now heard three times in this single episode) does not fill her with warm fuzzies: "I merely work here now so I can't action, but you people are loathsome."  This is not exactly what PCB wants to hear from someone he admires.  He takes a long, hard look at his life, and specifically his recent actions, and finds them wanting.  So much so, in fact, that when The Monarch challenges the already damaged Ice Witch, he intervenes.

He's all like "dude, you'll never be The Wandering Butterfly" (aka Macchan's Wolf name) "and you know it, so you're fighting for the wrong reasons."  Monarch is all "nuh-uh," and PCB goes "uh-huh," and Monarch is like "OMGWTF?" and then PCB says "haq" and Monarch punches him so hard PCB's brain is splattered all over the floor and everybody else is like "blearrrgh, we're not hungry anymore!"  And then Monarch demands Macchan apply the half-price stickers.

A flashback reminds Macchan of how things had been, how things should have stayed, but for male ego, some less-than-stellar planning, and truly stupid, stupid writing.  As she leaves the field to those who will battle, she mentally apologizes to the Ice Witch, who nods her thanks in return.   And then...

...the true War begins, and the camera gets all blurry and artschooly and dramatic and stuff.  But a yell from person unknown brings him up short, which is pretty impressive seeing how the Monarch is already airborne in his leap over the table.  Confused, he looks up.

"Big damn heroes, sir."
Monarch is less than impressed: a traitor and a tenderfoot as the Ice Witch's backup?  Puh-leeze... and y'know, he's kinda got a point, except for one thing the Witch points out.  They're still Wolves, and everybody Monarch has working for him are just Dogs.

Sure are a lot of the pesky suckers though.  Still no match for three hungry Wolves, as we see over the course of the next 45 seconds or so as Our Heroes clean Gabriel Ratchet's collective clock, restore it, put a new coat of varnish on, then sell it on eBay for a couple hundred dollars.  In other words, everything is going the way of The West until...

...the Monarch gets personally involved and turns Our Hero's face into water, which you've gotta admit is a nice trick.  As an aside, I really quite like ZoomPlayer, I've been using it pretty much exclusively for years and years.  However, the current version has a weird bug in that it will not allow you to take a screen shot of a scene you've paused then frame-advanced.  As a result, it just took me five minutes to get this specific screenshot, all because I thought the throwaway gag of turning Yo's face to liquid was funny.  Only you, the massed readers of this post, can tell me if I was right by continuing to read The Pond.  Tell your friends.  Burma Shave.  As he gloats over how much power fasting for three days has given him, for only hunger gives strength on this battlefield...


...Team West counterattacks.  Back in Ep04 when the Beauty and the Ice Witch first squared off, the Witch emerged victorious because Beauty was there only to test her might against Witch, not to get a half-priced bento.  The Ice Witch repeats those words to Monarch here, and I can't believe I actually remembered that plot point from nearly two years ago.  It looks like the Big Bad is done for, when suddenly...

...SHOPPING CART!  Y'know, when you stop and think about it, what Monarch is doing here is pretty damn impressive.  He's swinging a fifty pound shopping cart around like it's a toy, and he's doing it with one hand... and it's not like that handle gives you much in the way of grip or anything.  However, Ice Witch barely notices the prodigious feat of strength going on.  She punches him, he reacts, Beauty jumps on the shopping cart, Our Hero leaps for him, Witch sweeps the leg, and...

...pow, right in the kisser!  The reign of annoyance terror been ended!  Let there be a sumptuous feast for all the victors consisting of the finest meats and cheeses!

Oh.  Three Wolves, two benti.  The Ice Witch takes the non-wreathed meal, and lets the other two decide who gets the Specialty Hokkaido Deep-Fry Bento.  Hm.  It is quite the conundrum... who will get the food?  How will they make up their minds?

Right, sure, forgot. This is Ben-To!, where teamwork and camaraderie only goes so far.  The epilogue, such as it is, shows that PCB survived having his brain punched out of his skull, Macchan dissolves Gabriel Ratchet, and that...

...Our Heroes enjoy a complete and total victory.  The East invasion was defeated across the board, Western Wolves defended their bentos, and even here, Yo beat Shaga for the wreathed meal.  Fade to black, roll credits.

Such drama over so little!  Next time, it appears we're going to a waterpark.

A waterpark. 

This business will get out of control.  It will get out of control and we will be lucky to survive it.

Oh, and more zombies!

EYECATCH:







Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:59 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 2274 words, total size 17 kb.

1 That is one hell of a stitch job, sir.

So everyone in this show is as nutty as all get-out, and nothing ever has to make sense, is what I'm getting from all this?

Posted by: GreyDuck at August 18, 2014 07:16 AM (CUkqs)

2 Martial artists in duels to the pain over day-old prepackaged meals, GD.  That right there should give you an idea of what we're up against.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 18, 2014 11:59 AM (SZL1X)

3 I had, in fact, managed not to take the premise into account when commenting. The error in my ways is duly noted.

Great eyecatch on this one, though.

Posted by: GreyDuck at August 18, 2014 02:36 PM (3m7pZ)

4 Nice stitch.  I know some Anime seem to have a permanent vignetted border around them that can make a stitch impossible.

MPC doesn't have that limitation on screenshots, so that's what I use.  I haven't been doing as many screenshots lately... it's a lot of work so you have to know if it's being appreciated.

Posted by: Mauser at August 18, 2014 02:38 PM (TJ7ih)

5 I automatically assume it's appreciated.  If I didn't, I'd be doing a half-arsed job on my writeups, because my writeups have screenshots.

I've already screwed up everything else I can think of, I'm not letting my writeups go down too.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 18, 2014 03:53 PM (SZL1X)

6 So... you don't think the Ralph Store was purposefully surrounded by a Dark Aura of Evil?

Oh, wait, that has to be purple and pulsing, doesn't it?

Also, you didn't mess up your job, unless you think guys stuck in Benghazi without backup also messed up. You worked harder than anybody could expect, and maintained loyalty to a company that wasn't loyal back.

Eat some eggs. They have good nutrients for building you back up after extreme stress, and they have a nice steady glycemic level. Oatmeal is another good food for this.

Posted by: suburbanbanshee@gmail.com at August 18, 2014 06:25 PM (iXS2r)

7 Point taken.  Although wanting to do it right has totally stalled out a few posts that have been in draft stage for ages.  Just too much work at work.  Pesky day jobs.

Posted by: Mauser at August 19, 2014 05:37 AM (TJ7ih)

8 Pesky day jobs.

Yeah.  Tell me about it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 19, 2014 08:34 AM (RUGfq)

9 Sorry. I wasn't thinking about that.

Posted by: Mauser at August 19, 2014 02:29 PM (TJ7ih)

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