This was a pretty good return to form for the series after what I thought were two overly serious and mediocre episodes in the “Mon-Arc”. Ben-To is at its best when it’s more concerned with being funny and being ecchi rather than telling a serious story, and this episode is very much in that mode. We even got a return to the “Satou-vision” of the first few eps, where the camera tended to look where Satou was looking, which in a swimsuit episode is some pretty obvious places. And given that this show is well-animated with some very nice female character designs, that makes for quite the visual feat.
I don’t suppose it’s any sort of surprise that Satou is interested in Yarizui, but I don’t remember it being spelled out quite as clearly as it was in this episode. At the prospect of going to a pool park with all the girls courtesy of free tickets from Matsy, his thoughts run only to seeing Yarizui in a swimsuit. So it’s more than obvious where his affections lie, and while what follows is pretty predictable up to a point, it does get creative after a while. Satou is nearly broke after the cost of the train fare, and ends up having to foot the bill for a ticket after Saga loses one of the free passes. That leaves him with only 300 yen left to his name.
Enter the twist – despite being a water park, the place is owned by the same conglomerate as Ralph’s Mart. That can only mean half-priced bento, which was the real reason Matsy invited the fab four along with a bunch of other Western Wolves. These half-priced bento only go on sale on Sunday, and they’re floated in the pool in a sort of preposterous gladiator-style aquatic free-for-all. I don’t even want to consider the liability issues there, but it certainly makes for an interesting variation both on the pool episode trope and the usual supermarket battles Ben-To is known for. Complicating all this is Satou’s urgent biological discomfort after Saga gives him a back massage with her oppai, but Satou turns that to his advantage with the help of a conveniently discarded dolphin flipper.
A lot of what happens here is so thoroughly random that in almost any other series it would be groan-worthy, but here it sort of works. Asebi shows up, having hitched a ride on a soda truck after finding Satou’s lost ticket. Ume show up for no reason whatsoever, and kicks Satou after his trunks fall down (again for no discernible reason whatsoever). That tarnishes his honor seal victory somewhat, but it’s still a victory – and Yarizui at least doesn’t witness his “triumph”. For her part, she captures her chosen bento – the “omeletits” Matsu designed, complete with condensed milk. It’s a wonder Satou didn’t try for that one.
Now of course, all of this is incredibly dumb, but in a good way. It’s all good fun, the physical comedy is well-staged and the fanservice is excellent. Not enough Oshiroi lunacy to be ideal, but still a pretty solid episode. If you want actual development, well – Satou does appear to have gotten his nom de guerre, “The Hentai”, as a result of his cross-dressing incident. And we have a couple of new characters t look forward to, a pair of twins who don’t get any dialogue here but do merit a mention in the preview.