A strong signal that a series is great is that you can easily summarize the concept and get someone to watch it based on that short description. Ben-To is just that kind of show. All you need to know is that it’s about fights for discount bento boxes. If you don’t get excited about fights for discount bento, I don’t want to be friends with you.
The battles take place at a supermarket. Each night the supermarket reprices whatever bento boxes it hasn’t sold. Once the store employee applies the discount stickers and goes back into the employee only area, an all out fight begins between the shoppers. The main rule: as soon as someone gets a bento box, they bow out of the fight. Apart from the reward of getting delicious bento, the winning fighters prize the price stickers affixed to each box as trophies that reflect their prowess.
What made the show good? Its simplicity. Ben-To‘s concept is ridiculous enough that the show didn’t need to waste time on ancillary things, like making sense. Rather, it was free to focus on being entertaining. Here that meant great fights and unique character designs. When the show spent time on other things, even character development, it was to Ben-To‘s detriment. For example, even the scenes that explored the main character’s gradual transformation from an oblivious newcomer to a veteran wolf never measured up to the fighting itself. And then there was the fan service. It was bad enough that I was embarrassed while watching Ben-To on a recent flight. Most of all, all these other parts of Ben-To just felt too slow compared with the brawls. Basically every scene not centered around fighting for bento, made me want more bento fights.
Still, bottom line: go watch Ben-To.