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.

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.

For those of you who want to know the real premise of the series: here's a Youtube introduction.

Tropes used in Ben-To include:
  • Badass: Everyone participating in the brawls get their moment.
  • Badass Minds Think Alike: Yo and Nikaido in Episode 4.
  • 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.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Ayame to Yō in The Stinger to episode 3.
  • Blade Run: Ayame does this on a shopping cart.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Picky" and "Bretz", among others.
  • Boobs of Steel: Zig-zagged. Ayame is the bustiest character (so far) but is below a less-endowed Yarizui in terms of fighting capability, but Matsy used to be the "Monarch Butterfly", the strongest Wolf in the east, and she's bustier (even back then) than Yarizui is.
  • Bottle Fairy: Matsuba.
  • Brick Joke: every Nom de Guerre
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ayame's half Italian.
  • Catgirl: Asebi
  • Catch Phrase: Ume's "May I <insert threat>."
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Quite possibly started by the appearance of the Monarch. Subverted, since Sen, You and Ayame get to stop his plans.
    • And then restarted when Orthros shows up.
  • Class Is in Room X-01: Sen's class is 2-1 when Sato goes to find her.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Oshiroi. Sen is also shaping up to be one in a way.
    • Asebi isn't even aware of the bad luck that she causes.
    • Kazura in the prequel manga
    • And also the twins.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: The students are color coded according to year.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Satou being stripped twice, first time by Ume the second time by the girls that were trying to save him from flying for his clothes in an incinerator and gets burned butt-naked.
  • Cry for the Devil: Episode 9 may or may not have had this effect for Ume.
  • 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.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Hounds pull a You Shall Not Pass Stone Wall allowing their fellow hounds to get bentos easily.
    • Hounds, nothing. The Club of Heracles figured out a rather smart, if incredibly dickish, way of dealing with Orthros. Rather than trying to beat them, he got all of the other wolves to not start the brawl until after the Sawagis walked up and took the bento they wanted. Because the Sawagis' Goal in Life from a very young age had been to participate in the bento brawls, this ended up as an extremely traumatic experience that they still have nightmares about three years down the road. Thanks to Satou being the Hot-Blooded Determinator that he is, however, this didn't work when he tried it again.
  • 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.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Brunette in episode 7.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Omelettits (Matsuba's winning recipe) in episode 7.
  • Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: The ending theme, "Egao no Housoku" is sung by Mariya Ise (Sen).
  • Dragged Into Drag: Satou in episodes 4 and 5
  • 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.
  • Fat Bastard: Boars
  • First-Episode Resurrection and Posthumous Narration: Both a briefly parodied at the beginning of the first episode before revealing that the main character is just being melodramatic.
    • Second episode as well.
  • Food Porn: The bento boxes are made to look mouth-wateringly delicious.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Among Oshiroi's brainstormings is the idea that "Saito" will be attacked by two opponents, alluding to the Orthros fight later in the episode.
    • While reading up on the Greek myth of Orthros, Satou finds out that the titular dog was killed by Heracles, and then remarks that Orthros' death was a tragic one.
  • Friendly Enemies: Most of the wolves have this kind of relationship with each other.
  • Funny Background Event: Ume randomly abducting Oshiroi.
  • Furo Scene: As a Cool and Unusual Punishment for Ayame, inflicted by Ume.
  • Gag Penis: In the Pool Episode, Ayame thinks Yo has one which he could use as a rudder.
  • Godiva Hair: Two examples in the Pool Episode: Brunette, when her top bursts; and Nikaido's fantasy of Matsuba.
  • Groin Attack: Seems like Ume's been listening to Thugnificent's Single "Stomp 'em in the Nuts".
  • Growling Gut: And it's AWESOME!!!
  • Hair of Gold: Ayame
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Ume. Just count many times she slapped Yō.
  • Het Is Ew: After seeing Sen and Ayame in questionable positions around Satou, Hana wonders if she can change them into guys.
  • Hime Cut: Shiraume Ume features one of these.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Ume is a bit too protective of Hana. She also does borderline rape to Ayame later on.
    • The elder Kyo for Sen.
  • Hypocrite: Ume, accusing Satou of "harassing" Oshiroi.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In the Pool 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 Mentee: 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 as he wonders what the Ice Witch said to him beyond the store window before collapsing from his trauma.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Shaga uses chopsticks.
    • And in keeping with the supermarket motif, Monarch uses a shopping cart.
    • Orthros use a pair of shopping baskets.
  • In-Series Nickname: See Red Baron below.
  • It Got Worse: Did you think Orthros were obscenely powerful? Well, it turns out that they're running away from an even more powerful Wolf.
    • 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.
  • The Juggernaut: Boars
  • The Jinx: Asebi
  • Kissing Cousins: Played with by Ayame and Yo.
  • Known Only By Their Nickname: Brunette, Monk, and Beardy.
  • 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.
  • MacGuffin: The bentos with the Honor Seals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • He didn't really defeat them, more like let them walk out bento because he talked everyone into not fighting them so he himself to get an easier win
  • Meganekko: Oshiroi, Ayame, Mikoto in the prequel
  • Missed Moment of Awesome: the final brawl when Orthros suffers their first true loss in the series only shows the very start.
  • Motor Mouth: Oshiroi, whenever Satou inspires her yaoi fantasies.
  • Muse Abuse: Oshiroi is very, very guilty of this in universe.
  • 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.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe, 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.
  • Nice Hat: Asebi's hat.
  • 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 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.
  • Not So Above It All: Nikaido has these moments throughout the Pool Episode.
    • Sen realy 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.
  • 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.
  • Overly 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."
  • 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.
  • Pool Episode: Episode 7
  • Product Placement: This anime is sponsored by SE-GA!
  • 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 as a rudder to help steer him to the Bento.
  • Rage Quit: In Episode 8, Sen throws Satou's Sega Dreamcast out the window after losing consecutive matches to Ayame, Asebi, and Satou without being able to land a single hit on any of them.
  • 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.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Ume, Ayame and Brunette.
  • Reality Ensues: Satou actually does get hospitalized for his injuries in episode 8. However, said injuries were the result of jumping out of a 5 story window rather than a Bento brawl. Also subverted - he's perfectly fine, and the bandages were a prank by Shaga.
  • Red Baron/Names to Run Away From Really Fast: 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.
  • Retired Badass: Matsuba aka the Monarch Butterfly
  • Revenge: The reason behind the East vs West War.
  • The Rival: Ayame and Sen seem to be developing a relationship of this sort.
    • Sen and The Monarch also have one due to the latter's feelings about their respective predecessors.
  • Rule of Cool x Rule of Funny: The show pretty much runs entirely on this.
  • 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.
  • Sexophone: 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 the Hedgehog 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: Satou and an oral thermometer in episode 8.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Ear Worm 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.
  • 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 blodshed!
  • Twelve-Episode Anime
  • Unprovoked Pervert Payback: Her propensity for this is probably Shiraume's most hated trait.
  • 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.
  • Wham! Episode: Episode 10, doubling as Gut Punch. The Kyo twins curbstomp the entire cast, including Sen herself, over the course of the episode.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The entire premise is daily battle royales over half-priced pre-packaged bento.
    • Shaga blocking Yarizui's kicks using chopsticks!
      • Exceeded by the Monarch's Cart-Fu!!
        • Only to be outdone by Orthos shopping basket Speed Blitz
    • 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.
    • Episode 7: Pool bento fight
    • The story about the aftermath of the battle between the Wizard and Monarch Butterfly. Kaneshiro manages to win, but collapses on his way home due to expending all of his strength. What does he do? He makes sure to finish his bento before passing out!
  • White-Haired Pretty Girl: Sen and the Sawagi sisters. Sen's hair is slightly bluish while the Sawagis are very light platinum blonde.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Satou in episode 5, not that he has any say in the matter, though...
  • World of Badass
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: 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 Pool Episode.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Ume, Asebi and the Sawagi twins have Grade A!