Okay. So this episode had fanservice. Heck, there was more fanservice than compared to most moe shows.
Thank god this show knows what it’s doing, though. The fanservice in this episode thankfully 1) was creative and 2) didn’t reduce its female characters to morons. There were times when it went a bit too far like with the incest jokes, but this episode made me laugh quite a few times thanks to the great characterization of this show.
There are also these weird characters like that girl whose eyes we never see, and who looks like an important character, yet has nothing to do with the story. Or take Ume Shiraume, who has absolutely nothing to do with fighting over lunches, but makes the rest of this show hilarious with her antics. With the way that Shaga was introduced in this episode I expected this stereotypical love interest who walks over everyone, and yet she was actually no match for both Shiraume and Yarizui. Combined with good acting around this parts lead to a well fleshed out character within the episode she was introduced in, even though she started as a big stereotype. It really is the big difference between this show and just about all other moe shows for me: the acting nearly always seems either too bland or too forced to me. Here, the characters have their over the top concepts, like obsessive stalker, deadpan and tomboy, and yet manage to give enough sides to them to have them move away from these stereotypes.
And on top of that I have to praise David Production for animating great fight scenes over and over. It’s not like they have a lot of budget, but the sense of timing in these battles is just impeccable. The rituals before and after each battle (quietly waiting for the discounts to be handed out, and collecting the spoils of war) also work really well with it.
I have been criticized of treating some of the moe shows like Mayo Chiki, Utapri, Sofuteni and Idolmaster too harsh, when they’re supposed to be light entertainment. but the thing is, for entertainment, I sure as heck wasn’t getting entertained by these series that all just look like each other and feel half-hearted in their execution. These criteria are of course different for everyone, and if you enjoy them: good for you. But when I watch a show that focuses on entertainment, I really want to watch something that actively tries to be as entertaining as possible (not just in the way of Majikoi of having one entertaining episode… only to be followed by a ton of boring stuff where you feel like hardly any effort was spent on it). I found these series earlier this year with shows as Level E and Dororon Enma-kun, and now I’ve found another with Ben-To. It’s only got 12 episodes, so let’s see if it can keep this pacing up all the way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)