This is really a take of two characters for me. So far I’ve loved very scene with Aoi Yuuki’s Oshiroi. She’s delightfully weird and awkward, kinky and shy and ecchi (“It’s not that I’m not interested,but for starters just one person would be better.”). All the little squeaks and such that Aoi emits are spot-on – she may be the best in the business as non-linguistic voice acting. But then there’s Ume, who pretty much ruins every scene she’s in for me. She’s mean, unpleasant, cruel and utterly pointless. She’s by far the most clichéd and least interesting part of an otherwise pretty unique series. There may be an attempt to humanize her as the series progresses, but the character is beyond redemption for me at this point. The upside is that she might become slightly less annoying.
The good part is that, so far at least, Ume hasn’t been a prominent part of the series. After the truly unfunny scene where she stripped Satou in the classroom she pretty much disappeared, and the episode took a huge upswing. The twist this time is a new group, The Hounds. The school kendo team has devised a pretty clever method of getting themselves bento, throwing up a wall of bodies and clearing the path for designated poachers (in this case Satou and Oshiroi). All this was in support of an effort to get those two out of the Ice Witch’s clutches and into The Hounds, but I never thought Satou would go for it – clearly, he’s in this now for the thrill of hunt. For a wolf, there’s no satisfaction in being fed dog food out of a can.
What I really enjoy about Ben-To is the faux reverence it pays to the holy quest of the Half-Priced food hunt. It has the air of a Kurosawa-Mifune pairing from the 50’s or 60’s, seen through the very peculiar lens of David Productions. In a way the show is a sort of celebration of male appetites, with the focus on food, combat and Satou’s sex-obsessed visual POV. But the women are just as much a player in this as the men, and we were introduced to the last major cast member, the “Beauty by the Lake” Shaga Ayama (Katou Emiri, filling out a truly impressive cast). She’s an old pal of Satou’s apparently, who shares his love of gaming and perhaps a lot more. Given that she woke up in his bed (and that she’s the second character introduced in the OP), we clearly have some significant backstory to work through there.