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Light Novel / Ben-To

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Ben-To (ベン・トー) is a comedic Japanese light novel series written by "Asaura," with illustrations by Kaito Shibano. The story was spun off into a manga prequel (Ben-To Zero: Road to Witch) and an anime adaptation that premiered in the Fall 2011 season. Funimation picked up the US streaming rights in February 2014 and released the dub Summer 2014.

A freshman high school student named Yō Satou sees some half-priced (translate: 4-hour old) pre-packaged bento (think: lunchboxes) in a nearby grocery store, and goes to grab one, only to end up unconscious on the floor of the store a brief moment later. He soon discovers that the half-priced bento are Serious Business in this neighborhood. A group of young punks referred to as "Wolves" fight each other in a series of ultra-violent brawls just to get one of the discounted packages, and Satou is warned to stay away from them if he values his life.


However, he continues to ignore the warnings of both his classmates and the stockboy at the store until one day, when the "Ice Witch" offers to train him in the ways of the Wolves. With her help, he just might survive long enough to buy a half-priced bento box at the grocery store.

Ben-To provides examples of:

  • Action Dress Rip: Played with. During her first fight, Shaga's wearing a dress she was forced into, and uses a pair of chopsticks to hike it up to her hip.
  • Alternate Character Reading:
    • Some of the second names (e.g. the Wizard, the Monarch) are written in Japanese but read in English.
    • Kyo and Kyo Sawagi's names are pronounced the same but written with different characters.
  • Always in Class One: Sen's class is 2-1 when Sato goes to find her.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Wolves: Fighters that compete solo (although mentor/mentee relationships abound off the battlefield) for the food that they want.
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    • Dogs: Novice Wolves, too inexperienced to know the rules of battle or how to fight.
    • Pig/Boars: Fighters that blatantly break the unspoken rules of the Half-Price battles, such as harassing the staff or taking more than one bento.
    • Hounds/Gundogs: Above dogs, but below wolves; they fight in packs to get what they want.
  • Balance of Power: The Club of Heracles ostensibly ejected Orthros from the brawls in order to preserve this. In fact, it was just so he could win.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Shiraume gets out of the bath in episode 9, lacking nipples.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ayame and Satou in episode 6, coming to Yarizui's aid after she was ambushed, beaten up, and then surrounded by a group of Wolves determined to do more of the same.
  • The thrill of winning compared to an easy victory.
  • Asebi isn't even aware of the bad luck that she causes.
  • Kazura in the prequel manga
  • And also the twins primarily the elder.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Satou vs. Monarch. More humorously, Shaga vs. Satou in Virtua Fighter 2.
    • Even more humorously Ayame/Asebi/Satou vs Sen in Virtua Fighter. Nine matches, nine losses. Sen should just stick to actual fighting.
    Announcer: EXCELLENT!!!
    • On a more serious note, Episode 10: When Orthros (the Sawagi twins) beats the hell out of Satou, Nikaido, Shaga, and Sen, ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Orthros, since the Club of Heracles essentially ejected them from the only thing they'd wanted to do since they were toddlers. They were traumatized to the point where they retired from hunting for three years, moved to another city, and still have nightmares over the incident.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 9, for Shiraume. It went pretty much the way you'd expect.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Subverted Trope for Brunette in episode 7 - she's shown later in the fight drop-kicking someone while placing her hands over her breasts.
  • Determinator: Pretty much a necessary quality for all of the Wolves.
    • Satou shows this fairly early on, as he keeps going back for half-priced bento, despite a near concussion and the warnings of several people.
    • Yarizui also deserves mention. She is ambushed on her way to a store, but still manages to stumble into the market, determined to fight a larger, and demonstrably powerful fighter to claim her half-priced bento. And with a Big Damn Heroes moment by Shaga and Satou, she delivers the coup-De-grace and wins.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The ending theme, "Egao no Housoku" is sung by Mariya Ise (Sen).
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Largely averted. Ume's chronic assaults on Satou are shown to be not OK, and occasionally get Played for Drama.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Not here. Ume forces her way into Oshiroi's room to sexually harass her. The scene is quite creepy and Oshiroi is in visible distress throughout. The sad thing is that Ume is more than likely very sincere about her affections for Oshiroi.
    • Played straight in episode 4. Shaga physically wraps her arm around Oshiroi's back and attempts to remove her bra twice, as Oshiroi struggles to get away. Both times it was played for laughs, and the closest Shaga ever got to being called out was for Sato to calmly tell her to stop. Yet, Sato often gets called a pervert often for doing far less.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Oshiroi ain't just writing yaoi of Satou as "Saito", she's writing yaoi of "Saito" being raped.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Ayame in episode two was seen curb-stomping Satou in Virtua Fighter 2.
  • Ecchi: More so in the second half of the series.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Nikaido brands Satou as "Pervert". This also applies to just about every nom de Guerre, despite most sounding cool on the surface.
  • Enemy Mine: It is not uncommon for rival Wolves to team up against common threats, like Boars and invading Wolves.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening credits for Episodes 10 & 11 are updated to include the Sawagi twins. In addition, the opening theme uses the second verse and chorus instead of the first.
  • Eye Catch: One having a hand pull off the cover of a bento with the show's logo upon it, with "Ben-to!" being said along with revealing the contents which included a female character relevant to the episode lying in it in a fairly Fanservice-y way. Episode 9 had the hand try and fail to pull the cover off and stopped saying "Ben-to!" half-way through the "o" sound. In the Bluray release, this episode's eyecatch had the hand reveal the entire female cast naked, instead of failing to pull the cover off.
  • Hime Cut: Because she is an Ojou and Class Representative, Shiraume Umehas has the picture perfect style of the even bangs, long hair in back and sidetails.
  • Hypocrite: Ume, accusing Satou of "harassing" Oshiroi while her every appearance alongside Satou consists her beating him up as Unprovoked Pervert Payback.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In the Beach Episode, Nikaido tells Satou that he's been spreading around "Pervert" as the latter's nom de guerre. Sato protests, but totally drops the issue to eavesdrop on the four girls discussing their underwear and bodies in the neighboring locker room.
      • Nikaido promptly chews him out for this, but as soon as Matsuba joins in, he starts listening alongside Satou.
    • Ayame becomes uncomfortable when Ume gets handsy with her, despite her molesting Hana just before.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Sen uses it on You and Hana to get them to join the Half-Pricers Club.
  • I Have Your Wife: In Zero, Sen is kidnapped by a Wolf and used as a hostage to force Kaneshiro to lose a bento fight.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: They're all given the name of a lunchbox along with a calorie count.
  • Imagine Spot: Satō gets one, of the Ice Witch blushing and covering herself while nude, as he wonders what the Ice Witch said to him beyond the store window and thinks it was a love confession before collapsing from his trauma.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Shaga uses chopsticks to parry and redirect her foes' attacks.
    • And in keeping with the supermarket motif, Monarch uses a shopping cart to bludgeon his opponents.
    • Orthros use a pair of shopping baskets, one to immobilize their foe, and the other to blind them before sending them head over heels with their signature attack.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Subverted. Club of Heracles defeated Othros by letting them take what they wanted without a fight, and is later destroyed by every other named character when he tries it again.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The identity of Orthros is initially a mystery because their victims always end up beaten so badly that they somehow remember facing Orthros, but not seeing them.
  • Long Title: Episode 10 of the anime is titled "It tasted warm and kind, just as my grandmother used to cook. Japanese food, kind to the heart and the body. Fried chicken with plums, dried sardines and seasonal vegetables. 480 kcal."
  • Magic Skirt: Females involved in the brawls fear not flashing their goods.
  • Made of Iron: In episode 3, You dives into a lit incinerator to try and save his clothes, gets out with only a few bruises, and he's perfectly able and ready to dive back into the food fight that following night.
  • Male Gaze: When talking with Ume, Yo never pays any attention to her face. The camera shows him looking at her legs instead.
    • And it does NOT stop there. Even Sen and the faceless brunette are targets of his Male Gaze.
    • Brunette is The Faceless entirely because of male gaze - even the camera can't stop staring at her chest.
      • Episode 11 has a conversation with Yo and Brunette on stairs ending with a shot from the side with Yo while clearly looking at her chest after talking in a Hot-Blooded-encouraging manner.
    Brunette: "You really have no manners."
    • Happens on Kyo (long hair) in episode 9, as she frustratedly goes up and down striking a table while bending over - naturally, the camera isn't seeing this from her front.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: (sort of) The Wizard -> The Ice Witch -> Satou and Oshiroi
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Monarch refers to a wolf who wants to take on the mantle of the previous best eastern wolf—the Monarch Butterfly.
    • The only Wolf confirmed to have beaten Orthros is called Heracles' Club. In Greek myth, Heracles killed a herding hound named Orthros as part of his Ten Labors.
  • Motor Mouth: Oshiroi, whenever Satou inspires her yaoi fantasies.
  • Multiple Endings: The last volume of the light novel has different endings, each one with Yō ending up with a different girl.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The entire premise is daily battle royales over half-priced pre-packaged bento.
    • Whenever someone's stomach rumbles. Especially in episode 6 where the Monarch's stomach rumbling causes the whole store to shake.
    • Only to be outdone by Sato in episode 12 when his stomach growls and in turns causes a chain reaction of stomach growling causing Club of Heracles' gambit to fall apart.
  • Muse Abuse: Oshiroi is writing a yaoi novel that is mostly Satou, er "Saito", getting raped by men.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Satou's lot in life.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: The Sawagi twins infiltrate Satou's hospital in tight pink nurse outfits. Of course, the actual nurses working there are older and dress much more modestly.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Shaga, while far from a villain, is still an opponent. In episode 7, one of her many attempts to induce Defeat by Modesty backfires hilariously when Satou is able to weaponize the resultant Raging Stiffie and use it with a torn costume's arm as a rudder.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Monarch beats the living shit out of Satou.
    • And later, Orthros beats the living shit out of EVERYONE.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Ayame. The preview shows her waking up on Satou's bed, wanting to play more video games with him.
  • Sen really doesn't like losing (episode 8).
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Episode 12 cuts away from the final battle between Satou, Nikaido, and Shaga vs. Kyo & Kyo, only stating afterwards that the trio won.
    • The final brawl when Orthros suffers their first true loss in the series only shows the very start.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Nikaido flat out refuses to accept any kind of explanation after he sees Satou Dragged into Drag. So much so that the incident serves as the origin of his Nom De Guerre: "The Pervert".
    • Sen's and Ayame's are also the result of this. Sen once attempted to buy a Chu-Hi Ice (a type of Vodka mixer) with her bento, while Ayame fell asleep in Lake Park after eating her first Honor Seal Bento.
    • Orthros is the only example that averts this trope, as their name derives from a genuinely fearsome two headed dog from Greek myth.
  • One-Hit Kill: Surprisingly enough, none of the characters in the anime really have a signature, instant kill move. The closest we get is in Zero, where Uzu's special move is the ability to completely paralyze a person with a single blow.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Satou (and, by the extension, fans) never learns Monk's, Goatee's, and Brunette's real name.
  • Panty Shot: After his memory returns after being attacked by "Ice Witch" for a second time, Yo tries to remember whether or not he saw her panties when he was getting kicked. He is woken up just before he could remember.
  • Product Placement: This anime is sponsored by SE-GA!
  • Pun: A special bento named "Tent of Food" ends up being the only thing shielding Satou's member from view when his trunks fall off in the Beach Episode.
  • Pun-Based Title: Bentō rhymes with sentō ("battle").
  • Put on a Bus: Episode 6 ends with the Wizard leaving to study abroad.
  • Raging Stiffie: Satou in Episode 5 after he gets knocked out by the Monarch and wakes up with the store's young, female God of Discounts standing over him. And again in episode 7, when Brunette's top rips open and Shaga rubs her breasts against his back. It ends up working to his advantage, however, as he can use it on a costume's arm as a rudder to help steer him to the Bento.
  • Rage Quit: In Episode 8, Sen throws Satou's Sega Saturn out the window after losing consecutive matches to Ayame, Asebi, and Satou without being able to land a single hit on any of them.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Ume, Ayame and Brunette. Each of them has hair which reaches waist.
  • Red Baron/Names to Run Away from Really Fast/Nom de Guerre: Wolves tend to earn such titles if their actions become notorious enough. To name a few: Sen Yarizui is the Ice Witch, Ayame Shaga is the Beauty by the Lake, Yu Kaneshiro is the Wizard, Tadaaki Endo is the Monarch.
    • Satou later earns the nickname Pervert, even though he doesn't want it.
      • He also gets the nickname Two Dogs with Ren.
    • Orthros is pretty much the only title earned through outright fear and respect.
      • In relation to the above, the wolf who took down Orthros three years ago is called the Club of Heracles as part of a reference to Greek mythology.
  • Sen and The Monarch also have one due to the latter's feelings about their respective predecessors.
  • Running Gag: Satou being stripped down to his boxer (or worse), his clothes malfunctions and Oshiroi being a Yaoi Fangirl and a Covert Pervert at his expense.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Satou, Sen, Brunette, Oshiroi are rarely seen without their school uniform.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: This is the reaction many Dogs and weaker Wolves make when a vastly more powerful Wolf enters the store.
  • Serious Business: Half-priced bentos. It's pretty much the entire plot of the show.
    • Goes into depth, in Episode 2. There's even a Code of Honor for bentos.
    • Hell, every episode just shows the lengths that people go just to get the half priced bentos.
  • Sex O Phone: A running gag in Episode 4 whenever Ayame comes on to Satou.
  • Shaming the Mob: Satou does this in the finale. And it is awesome.
    • That's also arguably Inverted - how many times have we ever seen the hero trying to shame the mob into fighting instead of out of it?
  • Shout-Out: Yō has a Sonic wallpaper for his cellphone.
    • Hell, his entire family are SEGA fans, giving him a Sega Saturn to play since his infancy.
  • Shower Scene: Sen gets one in the first chapter of the prequel manga.
    • The Sawagis also get a rather loaded one in Episode 10.
  • Something Else Also Rises: The bento that Satou covers himself with after his swimming trunks fall off is noticeably taller than it is wide.
    • Satou and an oral thermometer in episode 8.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Peppy music plays during the calm right before a battle. Justified since the battles take place in either a convenience store or supermarket.
  • Spoiler Opening: The second opening blatantly gives away the fact that despite being introduced as villains, the Kyo twins will join the main cast.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Invoked. The Shaga-centric episode is opened with her image song rather than the usual opening theme.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: Oshiroi manages to win bentos by avoiding everybody's attention. Kaneshiro mentions in Zero that this is a perfectly legitimate way to win.
  • Student Council President: Ume of Satou's School and The elder long-haired Kyo Sawagi of Ayame's school.
  • The Tease: Sen in getting Satou and Oshiroi into joining her club.
    • Ayame is also one.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: When Satou runs from a guard unwilling to let him see Shaga in her dormitory who strips him down to his underwear and seeks to shove a D Battery in his ass for the attempt, other guards eventually join in on the chase, wearing military-grade armour and carrying assault rifles. Footage of the chase in episode 9 reveals they fired on him, threw a grenade at him, and used Fast-Roping to get to him. After a boy in his underwear.
  • Threshold Guardians: Sen is this to Satou. In turn, Uzu is this to Sen in the prequel manga.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Yo in Episode 2.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: All discount gods put an honor seal onto their favorite bento. It is naturally the main target of the wolves and boars.
  • Training from Hell: By a villain, no less! The Monarch deliberately starves himself for three days before a big fight.
  • Truth in Television: a lot of the "bentou-hunting techniques and etiquette" shown in the series can be witnessed daily in Japanese supermarkets and department stores. (Albeit with less bloodshed.)
  • 12-Episode Anime
  • Victory Is Boring: Satou's reaction to the hounds' methods to gaining bentos.
    • The Club of Heracles engineered this reaction for Orthros, but the result was less boring and more traumatic.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Sen figures out how to block Uzu's signature "poison" move by using something that would prevent Uzu's hand from making contact with her skin, like chopsticks.
  • Weirdness Censor: For the most part, the regular grocery store shoppers don't seem to notice or care about the fact that their supermarkets turn into literal warzones every night.
    • While the blood-splatter from Sen being attacked attracts a crowd and gossip spreading word of it, no one seems to have cared enough to alert the police about a gang in black attacking a high-school student.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 10. The Kyo twins curbstomp the entire cast (except the Wizard), including Sen herself, over the course of the episode.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Satou in episode 5, not that he has any say in the matter, though...
  • The Worf Effect: Monarch gets beaten up by Orthros so badly that it's implied he'll give up on half priced food hunting all together. He doesn't though.
    • Also, many of the recurring Wolves like Brunette, Monk, and Beardy have suffered this fate as well.
    • To heck with all those characters, the real one who gets Worfed is The Ice Witch, who gets beaten up rather easily by Orthros, see Worf Had the Flu.
    • Orthros themselves suffer this multiple times, such as when get beaten by the Wizard later on.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The episode after her defeat by Orthos, Sen would later reveal she had a small cold that night and would stay home in bed trying to recover the next day, only to sabotage herself and make it worst.
  • Worthy Opponent: Pretty much everyone ends up as this to each other, with boars, the Monarch, and the Club of Heracles as the exceptions.
  • Would Hit a Girl: A necessity, as so many Wolves are female.

Alternative Title(s): Ben To


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