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Ben-To DVDDirector: Shin Itagaki

Starring: Hiro Shimono, Emiri Kato, Mariya Ise, Austin Tindle, Morgan Garrett, Trina Nishimura

Running Time: 300 minutes

Certificate: 15

There’s an anime for everything these days. With so many doing the rounds, it seems as though the high school set series are scraping round trying to find an individual niche. Ben-To is one such show, but that’s not to say the series is bland or lacks ideas. Ben-To looks at a world where a school club is specifically set-up to acquire half-priced bento meals at the end of the working day. Like sandwiches in Sainsbury’s, the end of the working day signifies bargains galore for the quick take-out meals.

Never one to play things simply, it turns out that this isn’t the only club devoted to such a cause, and in actuality many groups and gangs come together to actually do battle and fight for their favourite dishes, with some being rarer than others. This premise, for some reason, works. It’s a charming little idea, and one that characters question themselves. Why not just buy it full-price and avoid a fracas? Because where’s the fun in that? The thrill, the uncertainty, it all adds to the excitement, and as episodes grow increasingly in confidence, often parodying more serious shows, we see a more humorous side that bizarrely still intrigues.

Part of this owes itself to a goofier version of FIGHT CLUB, while the show also manages a constant stream of funny characters to push forward the nonsense plots. There is character development throughout the show, but it’s the wacky fights that forever entertain. Each one is animated like an epic battle, with certain characters having individual moves, while the soundtrack and voice actors have fun exaggerating what is at stake.

Ben-To needs you to be behind its premise for it to work, so thankfully it throws us unwittingly into the middle of such an event. It also gives us the classic character trope of somebody entering this unknown world. It works as a an acceptable gateway and means we’re integrated at a decent pace. Fun, silly, but also making an effort, Ben-To is an enjoyable mess around that is smart enough not to take itself as seriously as its characters.

[usr=3] Ben-To is released on DVD 16th March.

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