Ben-To

Ben-To

Ben-To anime series cover art
Ben-To

Overview

Ben-To (ベン・トー) is an action, comedy series from 2011 animated by David Production. If anything, you’re probably familiar with this studio thanks to their adaptations of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. And yes, they do have other anime series under their belt besides JoJo.

But the reason I brought up JoJo wasn’t just because it’s animated by the same studio as Ben-To. These two series actually have a fairly similar appeal. They’re both intense action series with plots that are a bit out there, to say the least.

The story of Ben-To takes place in a city known for its students who will do just about anything to get their hands on a half priced bento meal. If you’re currently in college, you may understand how these students feel. However, these are high school students — or at least the main cast are. Some of the side characters appear older.

As you may have guessed, this results in the students physically fighting over the few bento which are labeled as half priced at the end of each day. Those who fight over these half priced bento are known as wolves, and they have their own set of rules which must be respected.

For example, none of the wolves go for the half priced bento until the so-called “half price god” finishes putting the sale stickers on them and exits the convenience store floor. And I think what I liked most about this is that we got to see what happens when these unwritten rules are broken.

Sometimes there will be a large pack of “dogs” who disrupt the fighting. And other times a massive “boar” busts through the wolves to take all the bento before the half priced god has finished his job.

Half Priced Food Lovers Club

Our protagonist for this series is You Satou, a new member of his school’s Half Priced Food Lovers Club. He quickly makes a name for himself as a formidable wolf, but the issue is that his nickname is “Pervert.” Not the best nickname to have, but it’s not exactly wrong either.

The current president of the Half Priced Food Lovers Club is Sen Yarizui. Sen is the top wolf of the Eastern part of town and her nickname is “Ice Witch.” I don’t remember if it was ever explained how exactly she got this nickname, but rarely are wolves nicknamed after something good.

Ice Witch vs. Lady of the Lake from the anime series Ben-To
Ice Witch vs. Lady of the Lake

The third and final member of the Half Priced Food Lovers Club is Hana Oshiroi. Hana isn’t exactly a wolf in her own right, but she has managed to sneak between the fighting wolves and make off with a bento of her own. She’s more of a scavenger than a fighter.

One prominent quirk of Hana’s is that she’s obsessed with writing erotic male-on-male fan fiction staring Satou. She also has a stalker of her own, student council president Ume Shiraume. If you’re looking for some yuri in your action series about bento, Ume and Hana make for some pretty good content.

Other Wolves

Ayame Shaga is a skilled wolf from the West side of town. Her nickname is “Lady of the Lake,” she fights using chopsticks, and she’s also Satou’s cousin. She’s also the current president of the Video Gaming Club at her school, though the only other member is the unfortunate Asebi Inoue.

Yuu Kaneshiro is the former president of the Half Price Food Lovers Club and goes by the nickname “The Wizard.” Despite him being a fairly prominent recurring character, I often mistook him for Satou’s rival, Ren Nikaidou. I guess that’s what happens when you have two characters with similar hairstyles in an anime.

Ume Shiraume in a bento box from the anime series Ben-To
Ume Shiraume in a bento box

Two of the last wolves we meet in the series are the Kyou Sawagi twins. They both have the same first name, but spelled with different Kanji. Their nickname is “Orthros,” which was the name of Cerberus’ two-headed brother. They use shopping baskets to fight.

I won’t be going over all of the wolves because there are a decent number of them who don’t really matter. But there is one trio who are worth mentioning. These are “Monk,” “Beardy,” and “Brown Hair.” We don’t get the real names of these characters, and their nicknames are based on their appearances, not things they’ve done.

However, they’re the first other wolves we meet in the series so they’re pretty important in that regard. In fact, we hear about them before we even know what wolves are in this context. They’re kind of like a representation of the viewers. They fight alongside Satou and watch his growth as a wolf without taking the spotlight away from him.

Conclusion

Overall I’d give Ben-To a 7/10, which is higher than I was expecting. Obviously there are some anime I love from 2011, such as Madoka Magica, but generally I wouldn’t say the late 2000s to early 2010s is one of my favorite time periods for anime.

Sure, today there are a lot more trash-tier anime, but there are also a lot more anime in general. There was a time back then when there were a lot of similar anime set in high schools which I didn’t find to be the most exciting. Much like how isekai anime are (rightly) viewed today.

My one main complaint with this series is that whenever there wasn’t action, ecchi, or comedy, the series became painfully slow. To be fair, there was a lot of action, ecchi, and comedy, but it’s all the gaps in between which take away from the series. Most of the characters don’t get enough development for me to care about them outside those peak moments.

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