Ben-To Has One Great Premise
People come together at the local grocery store to beat the tar out of each other for half-price bento boxes. It’s just a totally normal thing in this show. After one episode, I was sold. I then sat down and watched the whole thing in one sitting.
Unfortunately, Ben-To slowly began to lose its charm as time went on. Had it stuck to its premise while only dabbling in occasional fanservice, the show would easily have been a lot better. So what was the problem exactly? Ben-To‘s go to joke was to sexually assault, and in some cases, borderline rape its cast. That just isn’t funny. Furthermore, some of the fanservice was tied up into that mess, which is not a good idea. Ever.
Now don’t get me wrong, not all the jokes or fanservice are like this. It was only sometimes, but often enough to make anybody uncomfortable. If you have seen the show before, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. Before getting into the core issue here, let me explain a few things.
The fact that there is fanservice in this show isn’t the problem. While it is true that I don’t enjoy fanservice focused anime, Ben-To‘s fanservice didn’t really bother me outside of the instances that I will delve into shortly. The main character, Satou, is a pervert. Most of the time, the fanservice is just in his head or usually ends up resulting in him being the butt of some joke. A little generic maybe, but nothing all that crazy. If that’s all it was, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Additionally, the humor is pretty good when Ben-To isn’t assaulting its characters. I laughed several times even. Again, if these issues weren’t present, Ben-To would have a good mix of action, comedy, and a few serious moments. The core idea of the anime is great, so you can imagine my disappointment when both of these aspects were taken too far.
The first warning sign that something might be up is when Ume gets introduced in the show. She is obsessed with Oshiroi, a girl who ends up befriending (and later secretly falling for) Satou. Poor Oshiroi, she is the subject of a lot of the abuse. If there were any doubts that the show wanted to have some mostly innocent fun, it quickly gets thrown out the window when Satou’s cousin, Shaga begins feeling Oshiroi up, even when she tells her to stop.
Really, this first instance isn’t that bad. While I don’t like it, moments like this are fairly commonplace in fanservice shows. However, things escalate from this point. Moments like this one become even more common. Later, a gag character in the form of a security guard is introduced and his whole shtick is that he loves shoving batteries up people’s butts. Ben-To keeps coming back to these things in order to be funny and it just isn’t. There was no reason for this at all, the show was managing to make me laugh without these cringe worthy moments.
I might have been able to take these things with a grain of salt, but they happened with too much frequency. To make matters worse, Ben-To even makes references to these events several times. This anime knows that these actions are messed up, but for whatever reason, doesn’t care. There is a whole scene where Shaga’s feeling up Oshiroi almost causes a public scandal for a school.
Why not just stick to Oshiroi’s pervy “novel” about Saito, aka “Muscle Cop?” Her novel is a not so subtle way to express her feelings about Satou, as well as to allow her to fantasize about him in tons of different scenarios. This joke was used to foreshadow parts of the story, make some jokes about Satou, throw a bone for those that wanted Satou to pair up with all the male characters, and was genuinely funny.
Ume is a real problem though. She perpetuates many of these problems by creating “misunderstandings.” If she weren’t in this show, it would be a million times better. The single worst moment in this show is a direct result of her inclusion in Ben-To. Ume ends up showing up at Oshiroi’s house after Oshiroi spills some coffee/tea on her computer. Ume assumes she is hurt or ill, and rushes over to aid her “friend.” Then Ume tries to rape Oshiroi, not even joking. The only thing that stops her, because Oshiroi telling Ume that she is uncomfortable and wants her to stop isn’t enough, is when a magazine with muscular men with Satou’s face taped onto them hit her on the head.
Still, this scene is painted as sexy. It has enough awareness to display that this should be a little uncomfortable, but hey, if you were to get off on it Ben-To wouldn’t be against that; wink, wink. For me, these things just ruined what should have been a pretty fun time.
Anime that delve into these more sensitive topics don’t bother me, but there is a time and place. A comedy anime about people who fight in seemingly life-or-death battles for half-off bento just isn’t it. Ben-To should have stuck to delivering on its fun premise without venturing into these inappropriate topics given the type of show this is.
I could list more examples, but it really is just depressing to continue to discuss. I feel pretty let down and betrayed by what I was supposedly getting into. The first episode is great and didn’t make me think things were going to go this way at all.
There are a lot of great things about Ben-To so don’t think that I hated it or anything. Asebi is best girl, the fights in the grocery stores were interesting, the story managed to be fairly sensible, and large portions of it delivered on the premise. It was just these repeat offenders that slowly ate at my enjoyment before eventually putting me off to really recommending or wanting to watch it again.
Unsurprisingly, I’m not recommending Ben-To. I think there are some good things going on here, but the negatives aren’t something I feel should be rewarded. Still, the parts that were good, were pretty great. For that reason, I do give it a very soft 6/10. These issues bothered me, but I still finished he show so the score reflects that.
If you’d like to check out what I mean for yourself, you can watch Ben-To on Hulu or VRV. Funimation has the rights to this one and can be bought for fairly cheap since there is a SAVE edition for it. I recommend picking it up from Righstuf if you were going to at all.
Have you seen Ben-To, if so, what were your thoughts? If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more in the future, leave a like and consider following me here at Jon Spencer Reviews. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back here again soon!