June 01, 2014

Ben-To! Ep05

I guess I need to explain myself here.  Back in 2012, I began these writeups for a lil' show about high schoolers battlin' for bento boxes, a show I actually really, really liked.  With the way stuff was going at work, though, I just couldn't keep it up... three months between writeups just isn't good enough.  So I reluctantly bid Ben-To! adieu, always hoping that one day, I'd go back and revisit the thing.

And then, a few weeks ago, Robert revealed in his newsletter that Funimation had not only licensed the series, but would be releasing it in July.  He expressed his reservation with the concept of the show... fighting over half-priced meals... but mentioned in an e-mail to me that if I liked it, there must be something to it and he should read my writeups.  Mind you, this was coming from the man who all but confirmed that the licensing of Rio Rainbow Gate! was my damn fault.

With that black mark on my soul, I pretty much have to do something to get rid of it, and what better than to promote a series I actually like?  Ben-To! was a go, once again.  Instead of starting over at Ep01, though, I'm going to pretend that the past year-and-change between the last writeup and this one didn't actually happen... if only.  Here's Ep02, Ep03, and Ep04, for your reading enjoyment and so you won't be completely confused.  I've re-read them a couple of times, just trying to figure out what I was talking about back then!  So without further ado, let's get back to the battlin' bento beat, booyah!

And of course we return to this lovely fanservice/fighting comedy with... a scene with the Pointy-Chinned Bishie from last episode (see, told ya you should have re-read my writeups, but did you listen?  Nooooooooo, of course you didn't.  Kids these days with their know-it-all attitudes and 'just how important could it be' state of mind, I tell ya.  When I was your age, I re-read my write-ups, and I liked it.  Razzenfrazzenmizzenmast...), reporting in to his heretofore unseen superior.  It seems that Shaga, Our Hero's cousin, aka "The Beauty Of The Lake," aka the Wolf who's technically on the wrong side of the tracks at the moment, is causing them no end of trouble.  Not because of anything she's done, but because of what she might do, which is tip off the Ice Witch to the nefarious doings of Pointy-Chinned Bishie's boss.  This sits not well with said Boss.

He too is a Pointy-Chinned Bishie, who's just sitting around playing with his nuts, rolling them around in his hand.  Walnuts, they look like to me, though I suppose they could be gabon nuts or even, if you squint really hard, a hickory nut.  The Borneo Tallow Nut is right out, though.  He tells his Pointy-Chinned Underling  that he must keep observing, or else Da Boss might have to take direct action... no matter how many casualties his side will take.

Being a spineless coward devoted underling, PHB agrees and hangs up the phone.  He then bitches that the group he belongs to, "Gabriel Ratchet," has stooped to such depths, but it's too late to go back now.  Okay, who in their right mind would call their gang "Gabriel Ratchet"?  A bunch of Archangel-fearing Mechanics, and that's about it in my world.  However, in my world there aren't hordes of teenage martial artists fighting over half-priced food.

I'm not entirely convinced that's a good thing. 

Hokkaido is, of course, a hotbed of fishing in Japan, and reportedly a world-class fly-fishing location.  Of particular note is the smaller pink salmon, apparently tastier than the normal salmon.  The skin of the salmon was often used in olden times to make shoes, so prized and useful is this lovely fish.  I would like to point out, however, that in my extensive research for this paragraph to accompany the bento of the episode, nowhere did I encounter anything specifically called a "salmon soup" from Hokkaido.  Stews, yes.  Hotpot, sure.  Hokkaido Salmon soup?  Eh, not so much.  I've never entirely understood the attraction of fish soup anyway, to be honest.  Sure, you throw chunks into a pot of water and voila, soup (step #1: fish chunks.  Step #2: chunks in water.  Step #3: boil.  Step #4: ?  Step #5: profit!), but it seems like a waste of good water.  I love soup, don't get me wrong... potato, tomato, chicken noodle, split pea, minestrone, pasta e fagioli, all of those are winners in my book.  Fish soup, though?  I'll pass, I think.  Now, if you want to take all that yummy salmon and either grill it up or make salmon-salad sammitches with it, I'll be your friend for... um... for dinner.  What can I say, I'm easy.

As is, apparently, Our Hero, Yo.  Satou Yo, to be as correct as the translators allow me to be.  Sure looks like them Duke boys he's have gotten themhimselfves into a lick of trouble.  Seems he's meetin' up with good ol' Shaga/Beauty of the Lake at her school and was nabbed by security, who takes an dim view of weird guys droppin' in to visit her.

A very dim view indeed.  Just why, exactly, Mr Overzealous Security Person believes that battery deserves to go where he suggests it go ("Darn near killed 'em!"), I'm unsure... but Yo, showing more brains than I ever gave him credit for, decides he's not going to stick around and discuss the matter.  Let the races begin!!!

...right past the PCB who is flat-out spying on Shaga, and thus should really be the focus of Security's attentions, but no.  Her cousin is a much worse threat, certainly.  No, wait, I'm expecting logic and consistency from anime.  It's too late for me, friends, but if you run away, head for the hills, far away from other people, maybe you'll be able to avoid catching whatever disease I clearly have.  Brainz.   Anyway, PCB is on the phone to his boss, who reminds him that while the plan is still in effect, destroying Yo is also part of the plan.  Well!  I never.  It takes some doing , but Our Hero eventually eludes the pursuing security forces and makes his way to Shaga's school's version of the Half-Pricers Association clubroom.  It's clear he'll need clothes.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Just remember, all you have to do is look at the picture, then move on.  I had to stitch it together then write the next part of the episode's coverage... I'm stuck.  See?  THIS is what I put up with for you, my collected readers whom I lovingly dub the "Pond Scum".  Still, do I moan and complain about doing what needs to be done?  Well, yeah, of course I do.  I'd much rather be looking at something in a school uniform that's less... um... masculine.

Yes, like that, though there's still a disturbing amount of Yo onscreen.  The one in the stripes is Asebi, and she's misfortune personified.  Bad luck accompanies her like orange powder accompanies cheesypuffs (which were, unsurprisingly, invented in Wisconsin... Beloit, to be exact, just up the road from The Pond).  She's also endearingly dim.  Not stupid, just... well, totally clueless to what's going on around her, and totally unsuspecting that she's unlucky.  And she has bizarre tastes in headwear.

It may seem like I'm devoting quite a bit of time to Ms Fortune up there, considering that she's really just going to end up being a background character, and you'd be right, but it's my way of apologizing to Ben-To!.  See, when I watched the show as it aired, I somehow missed this particular episode altogether.  Indeed, it wasn't until I began these writeups a little over a year ago that I even realized I had skipped an episode.  However, and this is important, I still haven't watched it all the way through.  Not even as I'm typing this do I know how the episode ends, though, since I've seen Ep06, I have a good idea.  So say hello to Asebi, a character that "just appeared" the first time I saw Ben-To!.  In many ways, it was that sudden, unexplained appearance that drove me to do the writeups for the show... I mean, any series that just drops characters in our laps without any introduction just screams for a Wonderduck Writeup!  Blame her!  Misfortune indeed.

Yo and Shaga leave for their nightly bento brawl, this time at someplace called the Ralph Store ("...for all your Ralph needs!"), when she begins to act strangely.  She starts prevaricating, finding excuses for them to go anywhere other than Ralph Store ("...Ralph Store, the other white meat!").  This is so out of character that even Yo, aka Mr Oblivious, notices.  Eventually, she shrugs and off they go to Ralph Store ("...between love and madness lies Ralph Store.").  Remember, technically, she's from the Other Side and might just know what's in store for Yo at Ralph Store ("...Ralph Store, it's what for dinner!").

Poor dear wanted coffee.  My guess is that we won't see her again for a while, so wave bye as our Intrepid Adventurers head off to Ralph Store ("...does she or doesn't she?  Only Ralph Store knows for sure!")... and destiny!  Along the way, Shaga gets separated from Yo, distracting the security team so Our Hero can escape.  He makes his way alone to Ralph Store ("...like a good neighbor, Ralph Store is there!").

Upon arrival at Ralph Store ("...I'm getting tired of this joke, are you?  Ralph Store!"), he is met with varying degrees of enthusiasm by the Ice Witch ("Do even guys wear that type of clothing now?"), PCB ("I don't believe I ever considered you a rival, you filth.") and Desaturation Lass ("Good Job!").  Well, we know who's got the twisted sense of morality, don't we?  Between PCB and Desaturation Lass, there appears to be agreement that he's a pervert... disgust on his side, lust-tinged excitement on hers.  There's something wrong with Desaturation Lass, y'know that?

Eventually the Beauty of the Lake shows up at Ralph Store ("...nope, not this time.  Ralph Store.") and immediately confronts the Ice Witch; since she practically represents the Western Side, what would happen if The Monarch finds her here?  It'd be war, pure and simple.  The Witch explains that she's only here to keep Yo, who knows nothing of the political divide, from accidentally messing with The Monarch.  Eventually, the store's Half-Pricing God, or in this case, Goddess, named Macchan (who was a Wolf until last year) arrives, does her job, and opens the field for battle... which is why we're here, after all.

And we're off!  The fight is on, and it goes mostly like it usually does.  Yo cleans up three or four guys that get in his way, Desaturation Lass walks through the battlefield untouched, and Ice Witch is unstoppable...

...until the Beauty shows up.  Pointing out, quite correctly, that she's not on Ice Witch's team, the two engage in a short furious duel, until they both end up with half-priced bento.  Which means only Yo is meal-less.  Finding himself free of interference, he makes his move...

...only to discover his way blocked by PCB and the forces of Gabriel Ratchet.  They are there specifically to prevent Yo/The Pervert from getting his hands on a bento, on orders of their leader, the Monarch.  While Yo tries to figure out what's going on, and Beauty is yelling for him to get out of there now...

...The Monarch, who it turns out isn't actually a Pointy-Chinned Bishie, takes the field.  What follows is one of the worst curbstomps seen in anime since Nanoha "befriended" Quattro in StrikerS.  Once he gets tired of abusing Yo, he soliloquizes.

While insulting both the Ice Witch and Beauty, he declares that Yo's blood "will be the signal flare that initiates the battle to decide the strongest."  He then punches Yo's spleen clear out of his body and breaks every bone in his body.  Skeleton shattered, Yo's internals are pierced by fragments of bone, and he bleeds out in seconds.  Minutes later, the police arrive and shoot the wild animal that is The Monarch.  The rest of the bento fighters, realizing what a stupid, stupid hobby they've had, and how it went way too far, stop their fighting and become productive members of society.  Except for Desaturation Lass, who's much too into her fantasies to ever become anything more than a writer of yaoi fiction.  The show ends on a massive down-note, making us wonder just exactly what it was we just watched and what the hell, Production Staff? 

OR... Yo comes to in Ralph Store's ("...see, told ya!") breakroom, and is soon joined by his friends.  Of course, a misunderstanding places him in a humorously delicate situation, and wacky hijinks ensue.  Desaturation Lass is bemused; too many females involved.  Finally, dinner is had.

Except The Witch needs clarification from Beauty; she has a tie to The Monarch.  Well, at least, she knows the plan.  In a few days, all-out war between the East and West territories of the city will begin; Monarch has a grudge to settle... he lost a fight to the strongest of the West once, and wants revenge.  The Witch accuses her of bringing Yo to Ralph Store ("...Ralph Store.") knowing what would happen.  Beauty denies it, but it's a little weak.  She leaves, pointing out she's an Eastern wolf, and it must be awkward having her around. 

As she leaves, Macchan says "It must be my fault."  Fade to black.

...and we're back.

PCB tells The Monarch, who is again playing with his nuts in a closet, that the Ice Witch has begun contacting Western wolves.  Clearly Beauty has spilled the beans on the plan.  It's made clear that she'll be dealt with, but first... The Monarch tells PCB to lock the door from the outside, wire it shut, prevent anybody from opening the door for the next three days.  The starvation that The Monarch will undergo will give him the Ultimate Power to win the battle of the strongest.  Uh-huh.  Fade to black, roll credits.

Well.  Not that it was the most exciting episode ever, but that's Ben-To! Ep05 for ya... the first one to actually introduce the concept of "plot" to the show.  Let's hope Ep06 carries through!  It should be a little sooner than 15 months, just as a FYI.


Next episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:06 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 2416 words, total size 18 kb.

1 I feel cheated, they have The Monarch, but not Dr. Mrs. The Monarch.

Posted by: Mauser at June 01, 2014 11:02 PM (TJ7ih)

2 Wrong show.  You're looking for an unfunny, poorly animated series.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 02, 2014 06:43 AM (iK/eD)


1. Yay!

2. I find the butterflies disturbing.

3. Bouillabaisse is fish soup. Fish chowder is fish soup. Probably better to use cheap fish than salmon, but there's no doubt that soup stretches a piece of fish's potential to fill the belly.

I highly recommend making fennelchowder with whitefish. It is yummy. Alas, it is also pretty strange to see green things floating in white broth, so maybe those of you who like things to look pretty shouldgo with the tomato-based chowders and other vegetablesinstead.

4. Yay! You made my day!

Posted by: Suburbanbanshee at June 02, 2014 01:09 PM (nh8FR)

4 Bento rocks. Wolves vs. dogs vs. boars.

I wonder if I could have been a wolf. Just an old boar these days. I'll run you down with a shopping cart.

Posted by: skyhack at June 02, 2014 06:21 PM (wa1Z/)

5 Miso Soup is based on Bonito (fish stock).

Posted by: Mauser at June 03, 2014 04:17 AM (TJ7ih)

6 And Keebler cookies are made of elves.  What of it?

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 04, 2014 02:20 AM (/SHSA)

7 0. Somehow I missed reading this when it came out--I'm following the link back from Episode 7. 1. Oh look, I'm logged out again. 2. Wait, Our Gracious Host would like to see Yo in a less masculine uniform?

Posted by: rickc at August 23, 2014 06:29 PM (0a7VZ)

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