A little something about Ben-To
Ben-To didn't even make my initial list of shows to watch this season; I only looked at a couple of episodes when I saw a passing mention of it somewhere as the most GAR show of the season and thought that was interesting enough to take a look at it (at the time I was bored with most of my other options).
(To me, 'GAR' connotes a kind of more or less deliberate over the top nature in the spirit of Gurenn Lagann. This is probably not how most people use the term.)
The description is right, at least for my version of GAR. Ben-To has been plain fun (although I could have done without some of its attempts at sex-based humour involving Satou, the lead character). While it follows standard tropes of shonen action that may grate on some, I'd describe it as earnest but not serious; to put it one way, it has a light touch. I think it helps that the premise of 'people fight over half-price bento' is inherently hard to take seriously.
(Another thing I like is that Ben-To's willing to be subtle and not completely spell things out.)
Ben-To is not really about the fighting, either. It spends almost no time on the actual fights or on shonen fighting tropes like the characters powering up (there are a few fights that get animated but not in any real detail). Instead it focuses on the things around the fights, especially the characters, and the characters are interesting enough (sometimes in an over the top way) to sustain my interest.
In a pleasant change it had relatively little fanservice and what fanservice it did have was generally confined to specific scenes instead of being thrown in your face every so often. (In short, no panty shots despite a fair number of girls fighting in skirts. It kind of makes me sad that this is an unusual thing.)
(I will admit that I was probably always predisposed to like Ben-To because it has that rarity in anime, strong female characters that kick ass.)
Its conclusion is satisfying (in a predictably heartwarming way) but isn't an ending. Ben-To is not the kind of show that has an ending that way. I don't think it needs any more episodes; it's said everything that it really needs to say.
Liked: yes, definitely.
Rewatch: possibly but probably not. However, I'm going to have fond memories of it.
Written on 28 December 2011.