December 10, 2012

Ben-To Ep03

Well.  It HAS been a while, hasn't it?  Nearly three months since I did the last episode, I'm back with Ep03 of Ben-To!  For those of you who've forgotten just what this series is about, and I can hardly blame you considering how much time has passed, the first episode writeup is here, the Ep02 missive can be found at this link, and here's sixty pounds of bacon on a counter.  Now that you've gotten yourself caught up on our little martial-arts-meets-prepackaged-food series, let's get onto some new content: Episode 03!

As you may remember, in Ep02 Our Hero officially joined the Half-Pricers Club, learned the rules of bento battlin', and took home a miso-mackerel bento for his first victory.  Right, that's where we stand.  Let's see what wonders the show shall bring us next, shall we?

Oh, this can't be good.  The school incinerator, surrounded by police tape and guarded?  What, did Dale Sveum walk by and decide to end it all or something?  Yes, it's a Chicago Cubs reference, even though it's December.  At the time I wrote it, it was interesting and topical... or at least topical.

Oh god, no, it's worse than the Cubs' 2012 record.  Our hero comes charging out of the school dressed only in his skivvies for reasons we're... apparently not going to be let in on, because suddenly the credit sequence begins. 

Well.  Okay then.  If that's the way you want to play it, Ben-To, fine.  I'm game.  And while I'm at it, camouflage boxers?  What, are there Vietcong in your shorts?  Is that what kids are calling it these days?  "What were you and Jill doing, Bob?"  "I had Vietcong in my shorts."  So wacky, these kids.  Next you're going to tell me that somewhere there's a recipe for White Castle Sliders Stuffing... but I'm cheating, because I knew about that one already.  Maybe not as good as 60 pounds of bacon, but it still sounds pretty tasty.

While we're on the topic of stuff that sounds tasty, there's this episode's foodstuff of choice!  The color isn't particularly appetizing, but Cheese Cutlet Curry?  It has possibilities.  Not enough possibilities to get my head kicked into the next time zone, but it sounds edible.  Depending on the curry, that is.  If it's a nice mild curry, I'd be all over that.  Curry with the spiciness of a thousand suns?  Maybe not so much, I prefer the back of my head to remain attached after I eat dinner.  Somewhere in between?  Sure, I'm game.  I like a bit of excitement in my meal, but having it rabbit punch me after a forkload isn't tasty, it's painful.  Kind of like sitting down to watch Haibane Renmei and discovering that you've actually got a DVD of Rio Rainbow Gate!.

Wow, that is what the kids are calling it these days!  Who knew?  I'd like to say that it's not what it looks like, but I'm not going to.  Instead, I'm just going to say that Shiraume is looking for Our Hero's cellphone, so he won't "bother" Oshiroi (aka "Desaturation Lass") any more.  Because, as we've seen, she's got an unnatural (but imaginative!) fixation on our bespectacled slashfic writer, and wants her all to herself.  As admirable as that may be, at least for the viewing audience, it's still not an excuse to strip a classmate buck nekkid in homeroom.  Bad class rep, bad!  One high-pitched scream later...

...and Our Hero is blubbering in the clubroom about how he's been defiled and his zipper is broken and he's ruined for marriage and just shut the heck up already, good lord you're a whiny little puppy, aren't you?  That's not just my reaction, either... The Ice Witch just tells him to take off his pants and, after a moment's worth of stupid "shouldn't we take our time" statements, she pulls a sewing kit from a cabinet.

The animators seem to have this... thing... about Stalkergirl Ice Witch Sen's mouth.  First there's the eating scene at the end of Ep02, now the care and detail they put into the act of wetting the end of a thread so it'll go into a needle better.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, heaven's no.  Just goes to show what sort of series this has the potential to be... you hope.  As she works on the broken zipper (with a needle and thread?  What?  Just how does one fix a broken zipper with stitching?  Oh, right, it gave them a chance to show her lips again...), she begins to lecture on the finer points of bentofighting.  Alas, Our Hero and Desaturation Lass aren't listening.

Because Oshiroi is being a little perv... again.  As they begin to squabble, Sen simply finishes the stitching then flat-out asks if Our Hero is paying attention.  Well, no, because he's got an insane slashfic-writing fangirl taking pictures of him in his camouflage-patterned boxers (and what she's doing in his boxers, I don't want to know... maybe she's Vietcong?), and ohbytheway he's getting cold and can we please have this conversation after Sen's done fixing his pants? 

Thus the problem is resolved and Our Hero can pay attention to the Lovely Seamstress' lecture on half-priced sushi, which has problems that one does not face with normal bento.  As he gurgles and whimpers about his pants going away, there's a knock on the door and Shiraume walks in.

First, she apologizes to Sen for her thinly-veiled death threats of the previous night regarding Oshiroi... she heard the whole story from Desaturation Lass and since it's all research for Desaturation Lass' novel, it's okay.  A novel.  On bento buying.  Right.  I'd read it, but I liked Rio Rainbow Gate!, so my opinion is naturally suspect.  Second, it turns out that Shiraume is now a member of the Student Council, and she's there to announce that the two n00bs have had their membership applications approved, meaning that the Half-Pricers Association is now an official club.  Which is good, since one entire wall of the clubroom is plastered with half-priced stickers; it'd be a cast-iron beeyotch to scrape those off for the next club.  Having completed delivering her messages, lil' miss Zettai Ryouiki says she's going back to Student Council activities... picking up and incinerating trash around school grounds. 

Oh.  Realization dawns in Our Hero's lima-bean-sized brain and he goes charging out of the clubroom, down the stairs, out the door and...

...and we've looped back to the beginning of the episode.  The Production Staff has apparently been watching Ga-Rei Zero, and learned entirely the wrong lessons (correct lesson: 2 girls 1 pockystick).  Of course, just as he approaches the incinerator, the two girls are in the process of throwing his clothes in.  At this point, any sane human being would stop in his tracks, sigh heavily, and change into his gym clothes for the trip back to the dorm, where he'd then put on different clothes.  But this is Our Hero we're talking about here.   He dives headlong into the incinerator, much to the astonishment of the two girls.

Somehow, the one on the right grabbed his boxers as he flew by, and she freaks out.  Oh sure, like she's never taken some guys' underwear from him before.  As the two freak out over a piece of fabric, the wonderful odor of frying bacon emanates from the incinerator.  Before you think too hard about the dichotomy of a young man burning to death and the smell of sweet, sweet bacon, we draw a veil over the scene and...

It appears that Sen's training two new fighters has not gone unnoticed... a group calling themselves "Gundogs," headed by the Japanese instructor, wants to recruit the two before they become Wolves.  I... there are no words for the stupidity involved in this, but what the heck, it's not like I was expecting something deep and thoughtful in a show about fighting for half-priced bento.

After Our Hero's extensive skin grafting and subsequent release from the burn ward, he and Oshiroi make their way to the dangerzone grocery store for that night's food fight... and whadda coinkeedink, Yamahara of the Gundogs is there on a recruiting expedition.  No pressure, but hey, let's give it a test drive, huh?  He promises that they'll get a bento.  Well, how can one say no to that?  The Chief Dog throws Our Hero a spare jersey, just so everybody'll know what's what.

These Gundogs, I think they need to work on their logo.  I remember when I first saw this episode, I actually did a classic spit-take (probably a cowardly butler, but without the stupid face) at this.  I'm sure the initials mean nothing whatsoever in Japan and it stands for something like "kendo, karate and Kuala Lumpur".  Right.  Exactly.  And Ikkitousen is a step-by-step guide to learning martial arts.  Suddenly, it's dinnertime!  The Wolves surge forward, and...

...the Gundogs, working as a pack, block them all.  On one hand, clever.  On the other... well... it kinda takes the fun out of it, doesn't it?  I mean, it's like ordering a rubber duckie that I've wanted for a long, long time via the internet.  On one hand, yay I've got it!  On the other hand, I didn't find it, I just ordered it.  I'm probably not making much sense, but then again, neither does this show.

Amazingly, Our Hero, never particularly perceptive, seems to feel the same way.  As the Gundogs chou down (see what I did there?), he's detecting a certain lack of flavor from his bento.  Maybe it was the tofu and konnyaku cutlet, or perhaps something deeper?  He asks for more time before he decides to join, and eventually makes his way to the clubroom.

Our Hero tells the Ice Witch about the night's activities, and admits that things didn't feel right.  Probably the skin grafts... or it's because, as Sen puts it, "the half-priced bento is one of the best foods, the challenge of acquiring it included."  The thrill of the hunt and all that.  She, of course, fought for her dinner, and eats it in front of them.  When she sees the hangdog (I did it again!) looks on their faces, she allows them to eat a little...

Oh god.  I just... hnnnnnggggh... there's... excuse me for a moment, won't you?
Right, I'm back.  A montage of the next few nights shows Our Hero running with the Dogs, and simply not enjoying his kibble.  One evening, he's sitting in the Clubroom, listening to The Ice Witch describe some of her victories ("This one was from an epic fight on top of a snowy mountain..."), and he brings up his addiction to Virtua Fighter II, and how the best players got nicknames, kinda like how the best Wolves get nicknames, and how he looked up to them and aspired to be... like... them... oh.  He gets up and leaves.

That night, at the grocery store, Yamahara points out that it's high time he got an answer from Our Hero.  Being the international man of mystery that he is, Burn Victim says he'll give his answer tonight, and in his own way.  The leader of the Gundogs smirks; he knows he's got his newest member.

Answer given, beeyotch.  Our Hero basically treats the Dogs like... dogs, then after pointing out that Yamahara will never know how good a bento he had to fight for can be, obliterates him with one punch.  Later, Our Hero and Desaturation Lass present their spoils of war to their Glorious Leader.

After gently chastising them for taking so long to come back to the One True Way, and making sure their intentions are pure (and that they think of a half-priced bento as more than just cheap food)...

...she gives them both keys to her dorm room the club room.  All is sweetness and light, and we fade to credits.

AFTER the credits are over, Our Hero is asleep in his dorm room, all curled up in his blankets, which seem oddly... lumpy.  Like there's more than one body under there.  He wakes up in a state of surprise to find...
...he is not alone, and by the way he screams a name ("SHAGA?!?!?!"), it seems like he knows her.  Fade to black, end show.

Another intro episode, of sorts, as it presents us with the correct mindset of a bentowarrior.  One does not eat for eating's sake, nor fight for the sake of fighting.  All are intertwined.  Oh, and the Ice Witch is awfully cute.


Next episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 I like your thoughts on curry, I tend to the more heat side of the spectrum but truly find goodness in them all. I've traveled a bit and recommend United Noodle here in Minneapolis for just about as varied a selection as one can find.
PS: I plan on my re-watch of Ghost in Shell this week, is there a better SF anime ever? 

Posted by: vonKrag at December 11, 2012 01:04 AM (XIY2m)

2 Thanks for picking this back up! I was seriously considering doing it myself, but one, I don't have any readers, and B, I imagine writing these isn't nearly as much fun as reading them.

Looking forward to next time...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at December 16, 2012 08:51 PM (ASd7f)

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