November 11, 2014

Ben-To! Ep11

Here we are again!  Much to everybody's surprise, we find ourselves approaching the end of the greatest anime series based on punching people for half-priced pre-packaged meals.  Last episode saw the arrival of Orthrus, aka Kyou and Left, and the associated beating of the Ice Witch via shopping basket.  I'm sorry, but that's not the way I expected the premiere Wolf of the West to go: beaten by shopping basket.  Next up, Our Hero is flagellated by plastic shopping bag tie-shuts.  Actually, that sounds like something Desaturation Lass would enjoy... well, let's see what the Production Staff thinks, shall we?

We pick up directly from where Ep10 ends, with Orthrus standing over the broken and bleeding bodies of all that stood in their way for half-priced boxed dinners.  As the Ice Witch hemorrhages and suffers brain swelling, they taunt the Wolves that are still on their feet, practically begging them to attack.  Nobody does.  Not even Our Hero.

The only Wolf with any energy left is PCB, who follows them outside into the rain, asking who they are and where they came from... and, more importantly, why they're doing this!

Left, in her adorably stupid way, chooses to misunderstand and instead gives PCB their contact information and their itinerary of grocery stores for the next while.  I don't know what to say about that... do you plan in advance where you're going shopping?  Even if it's for food every day?  "Hm, tonight I'll go to the Eagle on North Main... and tomorrow, the Brown Store I think.  After that, let's say the Hilander on Rural, their produce section is decent."  But then, we're not bento battlers, are we?  No, we're much more sane than that.  Though half-priced food sounds useful...




They're really not making it easy this episode, are they?  Pocari Sweat is a sports drink in the same vein as Gatorade, though not really the same.  Basic idea matches up, though.  I can't claim to have had it, though not from fear of the name or anything but lack of opportunity.  The long lamented loss of Duckford's World Market not only stole from me a great source of rubber duckies but my go-to place for Japanese foodstuffs.  Even when they were around, though, they never carried Pocari Sweat, and bottles of the stuff are something like $10 a pop on Amazon.  No thanks, 'preciate it though.  Not like it's a dinner, either, so what the heck is Ben-To! thinking, anyway?

Home again, and Left is all "bento battlin' is so much fun!" and Kyou is all "who did you buy the meth from?" and many of the sounds Left is making could be construed in a totally different way than they're meant and if nothing else the production staff does know their audience.  And then, from out of nowhere, BAM! we get ourselves a flashback!

Backstory, woo-hoo!  Turns out Left and Kyou wanted to be honorable Wolves ever since that incident in the grocery store when they were kids.  I had an incident in a grocery store when I was a kid, but I don't want to grow up to be that, dear god no.  I'm not even sure if you can get those anymore, and certainly not in sweaty clown flavor, which would be needed for authenticity.  And really, spatulas are NOT meant to be used in that manner.  At least, not without consent.  I've gone afield again, haven't I?  Meanwhile, to the West...

... y'know what?  I'm not going to say anything for a few moments.  Just look at this picture in wonderment and awe at how perfectly it captures the heart and soul of Ben-To!.  Contemplate the ultimate meaning of the series in the way that you choose, I'll do the same over here, and we'll be pick it back up when you're ready.
(time passes)
Okay.  Our Hero is beaten and depressed about the beating Ice Witch took, is blaming himself and for good reason because he neglected to mention that she was being hunted by Orthrus, a massively sleep-deprived Desaturation Lass is talking nonstop about her writing (slashfic: not even once), and then Shiraume Ume pulls up and kidnaps her.  God, I love this show sometimes.  I know I complain and kvetch about the raw unadulterated stupid that flows through its veins, but there are enough moments like this that make it all worthwhile.

Our Hero finds out from Brunette that the Witch is absent from school that day, and considering the beating she took, who can blame her?  Indeed, Brunette is thinking about staying home from the grocery stores tonight... she doesn't have the motivation today.  Malaise, the worst enemy of the Wolf.  After school...

...he stops at the Ice Witch's apartment to check in on her.  Turns out she's been feeling under the weather for a while, but it got worse yesterday.  Well, yeah, having your head driven into the floor of a supermarket can do that to a person.  I know that every time my skull has bounced off the cool tile of the frozen food section, I've come down with some sort of illness... the last time, it was malaria.  Before that, a small case of nystagmus.  Small, but horrible.  I don't recommend it at all.

Ah.  Now the episodic meal becomes clear.  She intends to be better in two days, just in time for the Summer solstice... because the Summer solstice means eel bentos, and you just don't miss eel bento.

Particularly the eel bento at Supermarket Audrey, where on that one day, they make their special grilled eel bento fresh every hour, then put it all on sale fresh or less-than-new at fighting time.  Indeed, the Witch is so sure she'll be there that she wants Our Hero to track down Orthrus and issue a challenge... meet her at Audrey ("For all your Audrey needs!").  Later, Our Hero gets a text from PCB; Orthrus wants to see him.

To apologize.   See, Left thinks she said terrible things to Our Hero during their last meeting, things that he doesn't remember in the least and Kyou is sure was just a dream.  Really, Left is perhaps the stupidest character in Ben-To!, and considering the competition, that's really saying quite a lot.  While this is all going on, though...

...the lesser Wolves say, in effect, "Orthrus is here.  We're out" and leave.  Left, of course, taunts them as they go, and even gives Our Hero and PCB a new nickname in the process: Two Dogs.  This sits not well with the Wonder Twins, who decide to fight Orthrus for dinner.  As before, the resulting curbstomp is so horrible, so graphic, so hideous, that the show self-censors and completely skips over it.  As before, I invite you to imagine what disasters befell Our Hero and PCB yourself.  You deserve it.  Sometime in the near future...

...Two Dogs meets up with Beauty, who's been attempting to ferret out some background on Orthrus.  It turns out that Left and Kyou are the daughters of the President of a grocery store chain in a nearby town.  Up until three years ago, Orthrus was the terror of that town, until they suddenly just... stopped and disappeared.  Just like that.  Thinking they must have run into something stronger than them, PCB hops on his cycle and decides to go investigate.  Our Hero scrams as well, after asking his cousin to pass on the Ice Witch's challenge to Orthrus.

This she accomplishes with aplomb and style.  Two thoughts at this moment.  First, Ben-To! does capture dramatic lighting pretty well when it wants to.  Really, outside of KyoAni, I can't imagine a production team doing better... and wouldn't that be a hoot, KyoAni doing Ben-To!?  Suddenly, I really want to see that.  Who can I call to make this happen?  I've got more than the usual number of blogreaders, one of you has got to have the number of The Guy That Decides Animes.  Second, I find that I like women in polo-style shirts.  ANYway, Orthrus accepts the challenge.  Duh.

Later, though, all is not well in Orthrusland.  Kyou, while punching the challenge date into her smartphone, realizes that "we were going for an eel bento on that day three years ago, too."  Left goes from her normal, meth-addled self, to a somber husk.  Bad trip.  Speaking of which...

...not only is Ice Witch not getting better, she's gotten worse.  There's no way she'll be able to stand up to the Twins tomorrow in this state, yet she's adamant.  She WILL be there, and she forces Our Hero to get her cold medicine and energy drinks.  This cocktail would just about be guaranteed to cause my heart to burst out of my chest, take a few staggering steps on my keyboard, then explode in a bloody mist, but for someone like the Witch, it might just be enough to get her on her feet.  Meanwhile, in another city...

...PCB has tracked down the Geekiest Wolf Known To Man.  Using his friendship with the Monarch Butterfly (aka the Half-Pricing Goddess at Ralph Store, as opposed to the Monarch, the guy with the stupid hairdo and ripped jean jacket), he manages to get GWKTM to open up about what happened three years ago: the Club of Hercules.

Which, as it turns out, is exactly what Left is having a nightmare about at that very moment!  What are the odds?  Anyway, as PCB rides back home, the final words of GWKTM ring in his ears... a strange plea indeed:

It seems that rumors of Orthrus' return has made its way to certain ears... and that he will be making his move.  GWKTM, very seriously, asks PCB to "save those two."  The next morning...

...an ominous young man gets off the train.  Fade to black, roll credits.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ben-To! is attempting plot again.  As is usual when that occurs, the episode is just sort of blah and meh and fuh.  It does, however, set us up the bomb for a rolicking kickarse finale.  Or what passes for such with this series.  Orthrus, the Club of Hercules, the Ice Witch and Our Hero, and PCB trying to stop it all?  What sort of madness will that bring us?

Next episode: more zombies!

EYECATCH:

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:48 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
Post contains 1713 words, total size 13 kb.

1 At least the plot isn't 'fus' and 'ro' and 'dah.'

Okay, seriously, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to finish watching this show. Your perseverance in the face of abject idiocy is impressive.

Posted by: GreyDuck at November 11, 2014 08:22 AM (AQ0bN)

2 Your perseverance in the face of abject idiocy is impressive.

Here's the thing... I really like this show.  It's not anywhere near as bad as I'm making it out to be.  Okay, yes it is, but it's entertainingly bad.  It's better than Rio Rainbow Gate!, but not quite as good as High School of the Dead, which I thought was the most entertaining show of 2010.  It's certainly better than Vividred Operation.  I only dropped the writeup the first time because I ran out of time to do it, not because I didn't like it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 11, 2014 09:59 AM (jGQR+)

3 As much as I want to, I couldn't watch this show.  Ambiguous Allusion Pronoun Syndrome drives me insane, along with Missing Object/Subject Disorder.

Posted by: Ben at November 11, 2014 10:23 AM (S4UJw)

4 Ambiguous Allusion Pronoun Syndrome drives me insane, along with Missing Object/Subject Disorder.

Okay, you've lost me.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 11, 2014 02:03 PM (jGQR+)

5 How (it seems) anime usually handles suspense-building background information.  Here, the line is "we were going for an eel bento on that day three years ago, too" which is a related concept.  Think of all the times you've heard something like "Could it be...*that* man?"  or "Brother!  Don't use *that* technique!  Remember what happened when you used it on..." or "Whatever you do, don't take *it* from your pocket!" or "Oh my!  Doesn't he look like..." or "This is just like that time..."

Usually, this isn't necessarily excessive, but it's usually completely unnecessary.  I suspect it may be an artifact of translating Japanese to English, but I don't know.  I've watched a few series that absolutely rely on phrases like this.

Posted by: Ben at November 11, 2014 03:04 PM (S4UJw)

6 In this case it's "the Japanese sentence usually omits the pronoun when it's obvious who the subject is, but here it's NOT obvious and people are going to interpret it differently, but they don't say the pronoun anyway, and THUS TOKYO SHALL BURN etc etc." It's a kind of misunderstanding humor (or, worse, not humor at all) that just doesn't translate into English, because to make the same kind of statement in English without the pronoun being perfectly clear, you usually have to be intentionally screwing with someone.

Posted by: Avatar at November 11, 2014 03:39 PM (zJsIy)

7 "you usually have to be intentionally screwing with someone."
That's what it feels like, which is why I don't like.

Posted by: Ben at November 11, 2014 04:08 PM (S4UJw)

8 Right. That's the difference - in Japanese, it's at least plausible that the speaker isn't actively being a jerk, they're just not being clear. (Using it in a dramatic fashion to miscommunicate crucial information is a cliche, and like most cliches, going to the well too often is a sign of bad writing...)

Posted by: Avatar at November 11, 2014 10:37 PM (zJsIy)

9 What I've been noticing lately is that while the subtitle might use the Pronoun, the speaker is often saying the other person's name.

Posted by: Mauser at November 12, 2014 04:45 AM (TJ7ih)

10 ...which is an accurate translation.  In English, if I'm speaking to you, I can call you "you".  In Japanese, that's generally not done.  It's grammatically correct, but sort of rude.  (Notable exceptions: pet names (wives calling husbands "anata"), hot-blooded shounen protagonists (Temeeeeeeee!) (still rude, though), and people of much higher social station.)

If they used the names in the subtitles Mauser read every time the speaker used them, Mauser might find the dialog to sound odd. 

Posted by: Mikeski at November 12, 2014 10:32 PM (luDkn)

11 True, although switching to pronouns can sometimes leave out the nuances of the honorifics applied or left out. Except that there still isn't much of an equivalent in English.

Posted by: Mauser at November 13, 2014 02:48 AM (TJ7ih)

12 I would do this on occasion. Fact is, while that name and honorific does communicate some information, it only does so -once- (or at least, once a conversation). Then the next time it's just taking up room in the subtitle I might need in order to communicate the REST of the meaning of the sentence.

Honestly I'm not the biggest proponent of using honorifics in the subtitles anyway - my opinion was "only if it's plot-important". If you don't know what the honorifics mean, having them in the subtitles isn't really giving you any additional information. If you do know what they mean, you can bloody -hear- them, so you don't need me to subtitle them!

(That said, I did air that opinion once and get read the riot act by a deaf guy...)

Posted by: Avatar at November 14, 2014 03:32 AM (ZeBdf)

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