Ben-To – 02

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The second episode of Ben-To was really funny and all, but one question dominates my thinking: where can I get that dialup modem ringtone?

The “Sonic” wallpaper wasn’t bad, either.  I really like this series so far, because it’s taking just the right tone with this material.  The reverential pomposity of a samurai epic combined with the outrageous humor really works.  You’ve also got a very strong cast and a visual style with a ton of flair.  Put it all together and you have a solid comedy with a lot of potential.

There are some things I especially like so far, and they’re mostly in the realm of small touches that don’t call a lot of attention to themselves.  There’s the aforementioned ringtone, first of all.  Anyone old enough to remember the days of the 56K modem (hell, I used to have a 24.4 way back at the beginning of the stone age) has a sort of visceral reaction to that sound, only heard occasionally these days through a fax machine.  The notion of a 16 year-old kid having that as a ringtone is utterly hilarious to me, but I think you might have to be a certain age to get why.  Just as the whole premise will seem a lot funnier if you’ve actually experienced combat when the clock strikes 6:20 and the stickers go on the bentos.

I also love how the camera will periodically switch to You’s POV, and he’s always looking directly at the chest of the girl he’s talking to and not the face.  Much of the series is shot as if through You’s eyes, in fact, and it’s a very interesting technique.  The level of detail that goes into the mythology surrounding the bentos is impressive as well – wolves, dogs, ice queens, pigs, “The Storm” – plus the mythic figures at the markets who control the discounts.  Add to that that the “fight” scenes are choreographed really beautifully – they’re a blast to watch.

Things aren’t all perfect, of course.  So far I find Kayani Ai’s Ume to be a bore, a completely derivative character that’s become all too common in anime these days.  Her whole subplot with Oshiroi is a big step down from everything else in the anime that feels so original, and the less we hear of it in the coming weeks the better.  She’s really the only character not clicking with me, though – Aoi Yuuki’s Oshiroi is my favorite but I like all of them, and it’ll be very interesting to learn more about The Wizard, Kaneshiro Yu (Miyano Mamoru), who looks like a character with great promise, especially with that seiyuu.

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  1. F

    The modem ringtone was hilarious.

    And I like Ume, if only for seeing what way she'll kidnap Hana each week.

  2. d

    He suddenly became imbal. Like he could match fist with beardy and knock out brunette.
    Got a feeling ume would join the bento club. in the ending there are a number of empty bentos around a table. guess each bento represents one member

  3. M

    This series is pure fun.

    And hey! 56K modems are not that old… right?
    I would have never thought that annoying little melody would end up sounding so nostalgic.

    As for Ume, she's way too similar to Shouko. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you probably wouldn't dislike her as much if it wasn't for BakaTest 2. That's certainly the case for me and it doesn't help that I keep picturing Akihisa every time You opens his mouth.

  4. Honestly, Murkel, it isn't Shouka so much – though she does strike me now that you mention it as a cross between Shouko and Miharu. It's just that the trope is so overused, and I never liked it to begin with. Since You has already shown he's willing to punch girls, hopefully he'll give Ume a plum right in the kisser.

  5. U

    Great episode!

    The characters, the humor, the fanservice and the fights are really good. Some really talented staff here, as it delivers everything good the show is supposed to present. Not only great for every little detail, but also for the sum of its parts.

    I agree with Ume being an uninteresting character. I hope for some epic fights between the main character and the "boss" characters.

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