3-gatsu no Lion – 04

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Hina’s longtime crush, a baseball ace, has a Big Game coming up, and she wants to be there cheering him on, with a big, fancy bento in hand for when he’s done. She becomes so consumed with what to make she doesn’t realize she has no cash.

Rei buys her the food, but despite waking up early, Hina has problems with the tricky dishes she’s making for the first time, forgets to pick out what to wear, and is ultimately late.

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The previous night, and at the Big Game, Rei sees a side of Hina he’s never seen before: a side that seems to be in love. “Love” seems to be a triggering word for Rei, because he suddenly gets a black-and-white flashback to a very unsettling scene where a woman—his mom?—removes his glasses and gets on top of him. Clearly Rei’s concept of “love” is distorted in some way, but there are no details beyond this glimpse.

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As for Hina, as happy as she looks during the game, when it comes time to deliver her bento, the object of her affection is surrounded by teammates and other girls, and they all go off to eat dinner. He doesn’t even notice Hina’s there.

I’m not sure if Rei has just been hanging out watching Hina this whole time, but when she tries to throw out the bento, he stops her, and suggests they go home and eat it together. Once there, Akari, who Hina believes doesn’t know what she’s going through because she’s so beautiful and good at cooking.

But the truth is, the very same thing happened to Akari once, which is why she gave advice to cook something simple. It’s the same advice their mom gave her. Basically, fellas: after a ball game, make sure to look around for girls with handmade bentos, and accept them before letting yourself get whisked away to other things.

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Part Two of this week’s episode dispenses with any other hints as to what that black-and-white flashback was all about (aside form what I saw it as, which was some kind of abuse), and takes a much lighter tone as Nikaido  and Rei run into the sisters while in town grabbing lunch.

Nikaido proves to be a popular guy with Momo and Akari. Momo likens him to Boboro, a popular children’s character who is big, fat, soft, and intelligent; a comparison Nikaido gratefully accepts. Rei also laments that Momo seems happier with Nikaido than she ever did with him :(

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As for Akari, we learn that she harbors an unreasonable adoration for “soft fluffy things” as much as Working!!’s Takanashi loves small cute things. It’s the reason she brings in animals, and Reis, who are skin and bones, and fills them up until they’re her preferred soft and fluffy.

Nikaido is the pre-done deal, and when he asks for a less salty, fattening menu, she takes it upon herself to pull out all the stops for his sake, ignoring Rei, the cats, and Rina (the only Kawamoto not enchanted by Nikaido’s presence).

This episode makes Nikaido more likable, as it shows he’s a decent, kind lad who knows how to go with the flow. Sure, he can be a little pushy with Rei, but his insistence that he and Rei are best friends is in no way insincere or mocking. He’s a nice guy. A nice guy under constant surveillance from his butler!

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Shokugeki no Souma 2 – 01

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CRY HAVOC, AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF FOOD WARS.

That’s right, the ridumptuousness (ridiculous sumptuousness) continues right where it left off: the final round of eight/quarterfinals. And as if knowing how much we’ve missed it, the second season gives us a Souma vs. Alice showdown in its entirety: beginning, middle, and end.

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Before the match, we see how hard it is for Erina not to get worked up and start yelling at Souma (who only responds with lighthearted friendliness as usual). Alice is good at “playing” this “game” with Souma, keeping her contempt and condescension below her cool surface. This makes Alice an interesting adversary, because she’s so nice on the surface, but with that killer instinct just below it.

But make no mistake: Alice is on it in this match, and fuly intends to blow the judges and Souma away. Not only does she finish first, but she delivers a veritable jewlery box of amazing, delicate, yet powerful temari sushi flavors.

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Everyone is bowled over, as she intended; even her grandfather goes bare-chested, which is a sure sign you know some god frikkin’ food has just been served. But while the other judges and crowd are intimidated and disheartened by Alice’s culinary might, Souma just keeps grinding, not the slightest bit unfazed.

When he reveals his dish, locked tightly in a multi-layer lunch pail/tiffin, to be an evolution of nori bento, Alice has never actually heard of it; perhaps too beneath her greatness? But at this point, she remains friendly towards Souma, though some say she’s just being condescending because she’s so certain of winning. Akasaki Chinatsu excels in giving Alice just the right tones.

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But as usual, Souma combines his time-tested techniques with fresh ideas from the most random places to shock and delight the judges over and over again. Alice’s dazzling sushi jewels were on display for all to see, but Souma’s is likened to a treasure box, and its inherent thrill of discovery.

His secret weapon in the rice layer seemed at first like he was simply copying one of Alice’s molecular techniques, but it turns out making liquids into solid beads is something he’s done for years, after trying a kid’s candy label that tought him how to do it. Furthermore, he was reminded of the technique while cooking for kids, i.e. working for more than just himself.

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Alice could easily throw Souma’s apparent “Heart over Science” strategy in his face with a scoff, deeming flavor the most important thing, but her grandfather admonishes her: this isn’t about whose dish reminded whom of their childhood. It’s about bento, and Souma’s take on that theme—doing things you could only do with bento—surpassed what could just as easily have been a dish in a sushi battle.

So Alice, who has likely long forgotten what losing is, loses in a HUGE upset. And Souma’s bento’s time-travelling powers send her back to cold Scandanavia where she worked furiously to gain techniques Erina lacked so that Erina wouldn’t be the only young Nakiri people would mention in conversation.

Alice has already achieved that, and taken her place on a near-equal level with her cousin. So it was high time she was brought back down to earth from her cold space station of centrifuges and liquid nitrogen, and brought back into the warmth. Hopefully she’ll take this fair-and-square defeat in stride and not go all Erina on Souma!

Next up: Megumi vs. Ryou. So glad this show is back. Now I wait…until Restaurant Week later this month!

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Ore Monogatari!! – 10

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It’s another unapologetically, unrelentingly feel-good episode of My Love Story!! as Takeo and Rinko have their first big adventure as a couple. Making up for not spending her whole birthday with her, they go on a picnic to the woods, but it ends up much more of a hike, as in, up a mountain.

Ironically, it’s the very shiny and elaborate pin Takeo got for Rinko that gets them into trouble: a bird tries to steal it, and the sweater attached to it; Rinko leaps out to grab her precious gift from her boyfriend, and is about to fall off a huge sheer cliff. Takeo plucks her out of the sky, but the two end up falling all the way down to the bottom.

Do we believe he would be able to fall such a great distance on his back? Sure, why not! Especially when doing so offers such great sight gags.

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There was a little Re-Kan! in my Ore this week, as Rinko lets out quite a few little ghosts of romantic excitement/embarrassment. She’s basically on cloud nine as Takeo performs feat of strength and manliness after feat of strength and manliness, even though all of it comes naturally to him.

To him, the things he does for her are simply his duty as Rinko’s boyfriend. She rewards him by being cute and providing a delectable lunch. But I also like how often she assures him that she’s “all right”, she’s not going to shatter in a million pieces if Takeo isn’t careful; she’s tough too!

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I really enjoyed the cuts to what everyone else was up to, from Takeo’s no-nonsense mom “he’ll show up eventually!” and dad (now we see where he got his rugged good looks), to Rinko’s gaggle of friends, who can’t quite accept that Takeo is hotter than Suna as Rinko believes, but won’t deny he’s plenty manly. When Rinko’s mom calls one of them asking where she is, they assume she’s spending the night with Takeo, and do what friends in this situation do: cover for her.

Not that she’s really up to anything that untoward. Takeo and Rinko are stranded in the woods as a matter of circumstance, and make the best of it. Rinko is nervous about being with Takeo, but also feels safe, particularly when Takeo plucks a charging wild boar off the ground and tosses him into oblivion.

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There’s a bit of confusion as to what’s going on with the sky, as first it’s pitch dark, then the full moon comes out, and then there’s lots of stars. But no matter; I don’t watch this show for astronomical accuracy. I watch it for moments like when Rinko notices Takeo has drifted off, and as thanks for all of his hard work (and also because she just plain wants to), she plants a tender kiss on his cheek. It’s her first, but surely not their last.

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In the morning, Takeo wakes up to find a sleeping Rinko, completing the circle, and also gets to watch her arise from her slumber in the cutest way possible. Takeo’s general comfort in the wilderness is underscored by the fact he’s surrounded by birds and small mammals who feel as safe around him as the most important small mammal in his life; the one with the pigtails.

They continue their trek until they find the road and a bus, and head back to civilization. Rather than upset, Takeo’s mom is just like “Oh, the mountains. okay!” (She’s so awesome) and Rinko’s mom isn’t going to be mad because her friends covered for her, and want all the details of her night with Takeo.

Rinko’s vague phrasing (“my first time”, etc.) excites her friends to no end (right up until she mentions the boar, that is) while Takeo demands Suna show him how to send emoji to Rinko so he can properly express emotions he can’t easily put into words. Still, the words both in his head and in hers, which we as the audience are privy to, remain clear as crystal: these two love each other so much, and it’s an absolute JOI to watch them.

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Koufuku Graffiti – 08

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This week, Ryou lets herself rely a little more on Kirin, even though a little voice inside her is worried she’ll be too much of a burden…not to mention the fact she hasn’t had anyone do anything for her since her grandmother died. Doing things, particularly cooking, by herself, means she’s developed very particular ways of doing things, and she can’t help but be worried someone else won’t know those particular ways. Relying on people also means letting go and yielding control.

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However, this episode isn’t just about Ryou relying on, or rather letting go and putting her trust in Kirin’s cooking. Ryou, never one for athletic activity, asks Kirin, a thin, compact, lithe, and thus naturally more coordinated girl, to assist her with training, so she can hopefully avoid nosebleeds, ankle sprains, and other mishaps.

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All of Kirin’s assistance with the training, on top of her plans to prepare a special bento box for Ryou, seems like too much, so while Ryou makes a wish list of dishes, she quickly scraps it. After all, each of those dishes require a lot of myriad ingredients and techniques to make. Kirin knocks over the wastebasket in the middle of the night, finds the list, and decides right then and there to make it a reality for Ryou.

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As Ryou’s field day approaches, Kirin asks her parents and gathers as much intel as she can about the impending bento mission. She even jogs/powerwalks into a grocery store to pick up what for Ryou seems like a suspicious amount of groceries. Kirin admits she found the list, and despite Ryou’s protestations, she’s going to give it her best shot.

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The resulting lunch is something I would love to be able to make and eat everyday: fish sausage and cucumber salad; tamagoyaki with kelp, bone-in fried chicken, tako weiners, Salisbury steak with chopped cheese nibs, broccoli, sweet potatoes with lemon, and rice wrapped in nori. All of it looks mouth-wateringly delicious.

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Every morsel is like music in Ryou’s mouth, to the extent she can’t hold in her exuberance for the excellence of the meal, leading some peers to wonder if she’s afflicted with some form of chuunibyou. Her threee classmates see and taste the veyr same bento, and are disappointed with how straightforward it is, which just goes to prove that flavor is in the eye, or rather mouth of the beholder.

It all tastes so good for Ryou because Kirin made it for her, and it’s infused with a love the other girls can’t detect. Also, while it’s all basic bento dishes, the fact Kirin made them all for the first time and they turned out as well as they did is impressive. It’s just like her grandmother, whose food might not have seemed all that special to anyone else, but it meant the world to Ryou. So does Kirin’s cooking.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi – 08

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Is it just me, or are we getting our money’s worth? I can’t remember the last time Yuri Kuma Arashi wasted a spare moment; probably because it essentially hasn’t. Eight episodes in, and while things are hardly ideal for Ginko, Kureha, and Lulu, most of the big mysteries have been revealed. That’s the efficiency of a one-cour, 12-episode run: pleasantly brisk storytelling that engages and excites without feeling rushed.

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One mystery that wasn’t was whether Yuriika was a bear baddie; what remained to be known was just how bad of a baddie, and why; the latter of which would determine her quality as a baddie. In her flashback, it’s revealed she was an abandoned orphan bear cub picked up by a man in high heels he likes to click (like Dorothy), who regards the school as his “box.”

Box, hive, whatever you want to call it, it’s where Yuriika had instilled in her the idea that only unsullied things kept in boxes had value. Somewhere down the road, her father lost interest in her and tried to leave, so Yuriika killed him.

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Abandoned a second time in her life, a very beautiful Yuriika fell in love with Reia, who didn’t care whether Yuriika was a bear and urged her not to keep everything locked inside, for that’s pretty much the same as not having those things at all. But whereas Yuriika’s love for Reia went beyond friendship, even past their school years, Reia grew up and had a baby. To Yuriika, Kureha becomes a squirming, cooing symbol of Reia’s betrayal.

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That’s the third time Yuriika is abandoned, and it’s the last straw, as she decides to give up on love, and return to being a box. It is Yuriika who eats Reia, trying to fill the box that is her by force. She ate her just moments after Reia gave a departing Ginko her pendant, in hopes she and Kureha will one day reunite. And getting back to the idea that putting something in a box forever is the same as not having that thing, eating Reia only left Yuriika empty, still starving and yearning.

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Enter Kureha, herself a box containing Reia’s love. Yuriika considers that love rightfully hers, stolen by Kureha, and proceeds to formulate an intricate and devastating life-long con on her; a scheme that makes Kaoru’s bullying seem like child’s play, which it was. Kureha is her titular “bride in a box;” hers to do with what she pleases at her own pace.

Only Ginko and Lulu can interrupt those plans, but she has Kureha believing Ginko is her mother’s killer, restoring the blind rage with which Kureha dispatched Yurizono. Lulu takes this opportunity to suggest she and Ginko run back to the other side of the wall; that Kureha is a lost cause; that Ginko at least has Lulu, and she her. Ginko isn’t ready to throw in the towel. She’s so determined to win Kureha back, she abandons Lulu in an important moment, ignoring her pleas not to leave her.

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The court orchestrates a confrontation on the school rooftop, and it’s interesting how they’re perceived as ageless, having delivered a very similar verdict to Yuriika years ago that they delivered to Ginko and Lulu, only with different stipulations. Yuriika gave up on love, Lulu on kisses, but Ginko gave up on neither.

Things don’t go as smoothly as Yuriika hopes, as even though Kureha is in Full Bear-Ruining Mode thanks to the incorrect information on her mother’s killer, Kureha hesitates to shoot Ginko, because Ginko isn’t backing down. It’s dawned on Ginko that perhaps the only way to get a kiss from Kureha is through a bullet…a LOVE Bullet…which explains that part of the title.

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Ginko awaits that bullet as the only way Kureha’s love for her, lost when they parted ways, will reawaken, which is obviously the absolute last thing Yuriika wants in her moment of triumph over the one who stole Reia’s love from her. It’s as if someone is opening all the boxes and dumping the contents on the dirty ground, sullying them all. But there’s also a distinct pathos to Yuriika on that roof, egging Kureha on; whether those boxes are full or not, she’s empty, and this is all she has left, and no matter the outcome, it won’t fulfill her either. She’s as tragic a figure as everyone else on that roof.

But then, suddenly, Yuriika gets a surprise assist—from Lulu. Obviously hurt from Ginko flat-out abandoning her, she hurts her right back by relaying to Kureha the what she learned from the anonymous note (which was written by Yuriika, making Lulu her trump card), which is the particulars of Ginko’s “grave crime”, which we had thought to this point was doing nothing as Yurizono ate Sumika.

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The sound of the rain drowns out everyone’s voices (a little heavy-handed, but effective), but we do hear Lulu say that Ginko “is Sumika’s…” and it’s clear from Kureha’s reaction (re-training her gun on Ginko, her rage renewed, and firing) that Lulu’s next word was something like “killer.” That could be another of Yuriika’s lies, but like so many of she’s told Kureha, this lie got her the desired effect.

At the same time, Ginko wanted Kureha to shoot her, and she did. But I doubt Kureha killed her. She may have even missed. But whatever happened when that shot was fired, Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu have never been further apart, through a combination of their own choices and Yuriika’s conniving. With three quarters of the show complete, it’s tempting to believe these girls have reached their nadir, but one shouldn’t underestimate Ikuni’s capacity for plumbing new depths.

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Hataraku Maou-sama! – 07

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Maou’s new neighbor introduces herself as Kamazuki Suzuno and offers to cook him a meal. Emeralda sends Emi a package full of elixir disguised as vitamin drinks that will help restore her powers. While stalking Maou, Emi notices Suzuno in his apartment and investigates, and is eventually invited in. She warns Suzuno not to get too close to Maou. Maou has his first shift as supervisor, but Chiho is distraught when she sees the homemade bento Suzuno made him. Emi is attacked at a convenience store by an unknown assailant with the ability to nullify her sacred sword, but is saved by the clerk.

And then there were six. What started with just Maou and Ashiya transported to earth has now grown threefold with the addition of Urushihara and most recently Suzuno. While Urushihara started out as the bad guy and then became a web-surfing bum, Suzuno’s true motives remain elusive. She came from Ente Isla, but even Emi isn’t sure whether she’s a human or a demon, or what exactly she wants. All she knows is, she’s quickly inserted herself into Maou. Things take another turn for the suspicious when Emi is attacked not long after metting Suzuno, though her attacker was a guy.

While sweltering in the summer heat, Emi wonders if she’s looking at the Maou and Ashiya situation all wrong: maybe they really don’t mean any harm and simply want to live out their lives as law-abiding humans. Part of her wants that to be true, but she still can’t be sure. And even if she was, parties beyond her and Maou are inserting themselves into their lives, and aren’t going to let anyone have normal lives. They’ll attack without warning in conspicuous places, and they may come with kind greetings and homemade elaborate lunches. But the fact is, they’re all threats to the status quo that both Emi and Maou would rather simply enjoy indefinitely.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Suzuno is voiced by Itou Kanae, AKA Saten Ruiko, SAO’s Yui, Ohana, and others. Her approach with Suzuno is feminine yet mature, balancing her small stature with immense underlying strength.
  • Asakura Azumi voices Emeralda, a bit too airy and feathery for our tastes.
  • Chiho considers the homemade two-level bento (with heart rice inside) a challenge to her position as Maou’s betrothed.
  • We don’t know who voiced the convenience store clerk, but he had a cool accent.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Lite – 01-06 Bento

Rather than take up the final three minutes of the regular episodes, these Lite omake episodes air separately on KyoAni’s YouTube channel. They may only be three minutes each (minus the OP and ED), but that turns out to be an ideal amount of time for exploring the little nooks and crannies of the Chuunibyou world, adding color and texture in the process.

01: Yuuta coaches Rikka on the finer points of volleyball (such as not having one eye covered), only for the class to switch to basketball, nullifying their hard work.

02: Flashes back to middle school when Rikka first started wearing a bandage on her arm. She added an arm sling, eyepatch, face wraps and crutches, but her teacher made her scale it down to the present arm bandage and eyepatch. Her classmate is amusingly unfazed.

03: Flashes back to when Yuuta was in the full throes of Chuunibyou, dressing and talking funny. His mom and sister Kuzuha aren’t impressed, but Kuzuha’s friend Mika thinks he’s cool.

04: Rikka shows Yuuta’s baby sister Yumeha (who is outside on her own for some reason) how to be a good wife by taking her to the store and purchasing dubious ingredients for meat stew – which she’s clearly never made.

05: Tsuyuri Kumin introduces herself and her clubmates from her point of view, and reports how fun it is having Yuuta, Sanae, Shinka, and Rikka around all the time. She also believes while Yuuta plays the straight man, part of him wants in on the Chuunibyou fun (this is true).

06: Dekomori starts a fight with Shinka involving doorway trips, rubber bands, and water balloons (Shinka uses her inner Chuunibyou to deflect one). Shinka chases her around school and finally beans her with an enormous water balloon. They end up in the bath, trading splashes and insults.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Ben-To – 12 (Fin)

With Yarizui still sick in bed, Satou sets her alarm to the wrong time and takes it upon himself to get her the grilled eel bento she craves. On the way, he is stopped by the Club of Heracles, the wolf who brought Orthos to their “downfall” three years ago. He did so by convincing everyone else not to fight them, and let them take the bento without a fight. He’s back to do the same thing, but rather than go along with the plan, Satou wears himself out until he’s starving, awakening the guts of all the wolves around him. He defies Heracles and fights the Sawagi twins, wins the eel, and enjoys it with Yarizui.

And so ends the series with one of the more novel and interesting premises of all the fall shows, the idea that modern society has fight clubs within supermarkets in which the prizes are half-priced bento. It sounds far-fetched, but they really made it work, helped in no small part by the best hand-to-hand combat of the season, and the best soundtrack to boot. Heracles turned out to be nothing more than a convincing organizer; he was just tough enough to bully most of the wolves into inaction, but not The Freak. Satou wanted his eel, and he knew he wouldn’t get it until he worked up the savage hunger of a starved wolf.

We’re glad Heracles wasn’t simply a boss who was initially invincible; once we saw the Sawagi twins’ flashback and his plan repeated, we knew his power was more the stuff of legend than fact. The fact is, the Sawagis are so powerful, he took it upon himself to try to take them out of the game, and in doing so turn his back on the ideals of wolves. Yet even after Heracles was foiled, the twins still lost to Satou when it came to the Golden Wreath…and while we didn’t see exactly how that happened, we’re fine leaving it to our imaginations. Here’s something that isn’t imaginary: Ben-To was a damn good show.


Rating: 4

Ben-To – 11

Orthos revel in their victory over the Ice Witch while Sen is sick at home with a cold, but has her eyes on a grilled eel special at the Super Odori in two days. You and Nikaido meet the twins at Tokiwa for a rematch, and lose again. Nikaido learns they’re daughters of the CEO of Sawagi corp, who own a growing chain of Sonic Stores. They were driven from their old territory by a wolf named Heracles with his ‘combo’. Sen can’t shake the cold, but Heracles arrives in town to drive off Orthos again.

The cardinal rule of nature is, there’s always a bigger fish – of wolf, in this case. That is, the hunter inevitably becomes the hunted; it’s a matter of evolution. The Sawagi twins, who wanted to be ‘noble wolves’ from a very early age, were beaten and driven off by that bigger wolf. They’ve been interesting foes, because they’re not evil and are even fans of the Ice Witch’s work; but up until now they’ve also been virtually invincible, and this Heracles dude looks to be their kryptonite.

That should make for a nice battle, and the revamped opening suggests Orthos may ally themselves with Sen and You to survive. We’ll see. There weren’t any on-camera bento battles, but there was plenty of buildup to make up for that lack. Plus, a vulnerable, home-with-a-cold Sen is frankly frikkin’ adorable, though it seems cruel for her to have to face Orthos with a cold. Get well soon, Ice Witch! Cold ain’t got nothin’ on you!


Rating: 3.5

Ben-To – 10

Just as You is discharged from hospital, and being given a slow regime to reenter the fray, the Sawagi twins step up their vicious attacks on established wolves. No one remembers their idenity when they’re beaten, so they’re referred to as Orthos, the two-headed mythical dog and brother to Cerberus. Everyone save You, who remembers them as the sexy nurse(s) from the hospital. They dispatch him, then return to fight both him and Sen. Their combo attacks utilizing shopping baskets prove too much for the other wolves, and Sen is roundly defeated. The twins put the ball in her court as to how to respond in the future.

Holy bento, there was a nice piece of creative, insane, off-the-wall (and ceiling) combat, perhaps the best sustained fight thus far, and of a different style than those before. These Sawagi twins are a serious threat, as Sen can only keep up with them for so long. Even You inserting himself in the fight to try to even the odds fails, and we believe this is Sen’s first true, utter defeat. By the end, it isn’t close, either; the twins don’t have a scratch on them as they leave. In TNG, you know the bad guy’s tough if he can beat Worf so easily; here Sen is a similar barometer of a foe’s efficacy.

Besides the phenomenal battles and the soundtracks accompanying them (pumping up the goofy J-muzak to herald the start of a brawl is a really nice touch), we also applaud Ben-To’s consistency in the strength of its cast. Shaga is strong, but there’s a limit to her abilities, and she falls quicker to the twins than Sen. Ditto You. Extensive teamwork and some luck were necessary to take out the Monarch; even more clever tactics will need to be used to neutralize Orthos’ devastating coordinated attacks. They move as one. Yet even in the face of having their entire Bento game broken up by these ruthless twins, there are still moments when You can say things like “buying a hot dog with two sausages in it!” upon realization his nurse was actually twins.


Rating: 4

Ben-To – 09

Ume confers with the Sawagi twins about an exchange of apologies – Ume for allowing You to run around their school in his boxers, and the twins for allowing Shaga to infiltrate Ume’s school. The unpleasant ordeal makes Ume even more disgusted with You, and she punishes him accordingly. She then finds solace in “nursing” Hana back to health and trying to force herself upon Hana, and in the process finds her muscle guy rag with all the heads replaced by You’s. Ume blames You and the next day in school punishes him further, much to the approval of You’s masochistic classmate.

This episode’s prologue rather inefficiently confirmed one truth to us: we’d be perfectly content seeing as little of Yumekui Merry Asebi Inoue as little as humanly possible. Her overwrought character with the aristocratic background just doesn’t mesh in any way with the rest of the cast. I don’t even get why she’s friends with Shaga. She’s more of a tacked on mascot. We were relieved upon realizing this would be not an Asebi-centric episode, but one that focused on everyone’s favorite stern lesbian class prez, Shiraume Ume. While this episode was another tangent from the normal Bento story, it added richness and intensity to the rather unique triangle between Ume, Hana, and You, in which Ume love Hana, Hana loves You, and You is Ume’s incrementally willing punching bag./

Ume’s seiyu, Ai Kayano, puts on a clinic in this episode, virtually making love to every syllable and breath she utters to Hana in a bedroom scene that’s part in parcel of what seems to be a release valve regimen for Ume and a weird, uncomfortable ordeal for Hana. It’s ironic, because Hana is the dominant one in her imaginary relationship with the literary version of You, but here in real life, the tables are turned, and she is forced to submit to the far more assertive Ume. So why isn’t Ume a bento wolf?


Rating: 3.5

Ben-To – 08

When Sen loses in quick succession to Shaga, Asebi, and You at Sega, she throws it out the window. You leaps out to catch it, but ends up in the hospital, covered in bandages. A pair of twins from Shaga’s school mistake You for the Ice Witch, whom they’re extremely interested in meeting. They disguise themselves as nurses and visit him one at a time. When one twin removes the bandages and sees what’s beneath, she races through the hospital yelling “freak”, unaware at the time that that boy is actually You, AKA Freak. They abort their mission, then hit up a supermarket and instantly dominate everyone else there.

The Bento Club’s normal operations are interrupted by a rather reckless – but very poetic – self-defenistration of You Satou, and much of the episode revolves around the exploits of the Sawagi sisters, whom he haven’t met before. By episode’s end, it would seem they’ll be more competition for Sen and her pack in the near future. The only Bento battle happened at the end, and we didn’t see it, but we saw all we needed to to get that these twins mean business. However, unlike the Monarch for instance, these twins seem to have a lot of esteem for the Witch, and would consider it an honor to fight her and an even greater honor to defeat her. Of course, they could just approach Sen and talk to her directly, but we guess that wouldn’t be as fun as all this subterfuge…

Though they look alike, one Sawagi twin (voiced by the higher-pitched Yukari Tamura) is impulsive and emotional (like Shaga), while the other (voiced by a lower-pitched Yui Horie) is more stoic and analytical (like Sen). You has the misfortune of wearing more bandages than he needs (Asebi’s family owns the hospital, and Shaga got them to overbandage him) when the twins descend upon him, albeit one at a time.  His squirming and confusion with the dual personalities of who as far as he knows is only one hottie nurse, provides much of the episode’s comedy. His subsequent romp through the hospital corridors as his bandages unravel, and getting tangled up with Asebi and hot milk, only further justify his nom-de-guerre. The things we do for Sega.


Rating: 3.5

Ben-To – 07

Matsy presents Sen’s club with free tickets to a Hawaiian swim park, but after a long, expensive train ride, realize they’re missing one, so Satou has to buy his own, leaving him short on cash. Not only Nikaido has also been invited, but Monk, Endo, and other wolves. Since this is a park owned by Ralph Store, it also offers half-price bento a half hour prior to closing, so a battle ensues, with the added challenge of taking place in a pool. Satou makes the most of the result of Shaga’s “attack” on him and manages to grab the honor stamp.

A pool episode we didn’t hate would have sufficed, we weren’t expecting this: an innovative swimsuit episode that takes that trope and adds all of Ben-To‘s own distinctiveness. Just about every cliche had a distinct purpose: Inoue’s cameo uses up Satou’s ticket; his lack of cash makes half-priced food his only choice; and the Montage of Fun Events serves both to tire people out and make them hungry, preparing them for the pool battle. At first we thought Sen was being too serious and diligent when she came out in a sporty one-piece (worn under her clothes) and spent a lot of time stretching and doing laps. But she was just making sure she was fully-prepared if battle came – and it did.

The battle itself was full of great practical details. Fighters were hampered both by the sudden malfunction of sexy bikini tops; the distraction of said malfunctions; by cramps; even by the sting of the chlorine from all the splashing. The bentos themselves were floating around in clear plastic balls, requiring totally different tactics from store battles. And after suffering a long, intimate Shaga Hug, Satou makes ingenious use of his hard-on as a goddamn rudder to maneuver his way to victory. Heck, we were even made privy to the origins of Sen and Shaga’s noms-de-guerre, and learned that Satou’s is “Freak” (Hentai), which considering the manner of his triumph, is quite fitting.


Rating: 4