Ben-To 07 / Persona 4 08: Ladies’ Swimwear
Ben-To 07: Strong
Persona 4 08: Weak
The Case of Sato
Before the Ben-To protagonist ever gets near the swimming pool, he’s already fantasizing about his favorite girl’s swimsuit look. He speculates on the style of swimwear she will be sporting, coming up with three possibilities:
Bikini? → One-piece? → Sukumizu?!
When he considers the sukumizu (=school swimsuit) possibility, he practically has a psychological nosebleed, so clearly this is his favorite. Now, my best bet is that the one-piece is a transition in his thought process. I do not believe he prefers a one-piece over a bikini, but is simply taking himself from the bikini (2nd best option) to the sukumizu (absolute best) by way of the one-piece. As to the question why would anyone ever prefer a sukumizu over a bikini, I think the answer is one word: fetishization.
As it turns out, Sato gets to see all three styles in display, but not in the configuration that he’d have preferred. Shaga has a white bikini, Sen a gray and yellow one-piece and Oshiroi is wearing the blue sukumizu. It makes perfect sense that a girl so aware of fetishes like Oshiroi would be wearing that. And it makes sense that Shaga would be flaunting her stuff as much as possible. Finally, nothing is as practical and functional as the sort of one-piece Sen is wearing, and we know the only thing on her mind is the day’s bento battle so functionality has got to be the top priority at the moment.
The Case of Yosuke
It would have been interesting to compare the Ben-to gals’ choice of swimwear with Chie and Yukiko’s in Persona 4, but we only have Yosuke picking cutesy bikinis for them. The bikinis have been carefully selected to fit the girls’ personalities. Chie gets a predominantly green and yellow one (matching her usual jacket of the same color) and the bottom looks like sporty jean shorts. Yukiko gets a white one (=purity?) with a more stereotypically feminine skirt bottom. I’d say Yosuke has good taste but again, it’d have been much more useful for analysis if the gals had picked their own…
The Case of Kanji
There’s no doubt in my mind, both from seeing the episode and from having played this section of the game, that Kanji’s nosebleed is for the guys, not for the girls. When the girls come out initially he does blush, but I think that’s a normal reaction in this context. Seeing high school classmates in swimsuits for the first time can be an embarrassing experience regardless of questions of attractiveness. The person he really finds attractive here is Yuu, and the fact that he gets kicked by the girls is not because he was bleeding at them, nor because they thought he was bleeding at them, but because he was bleeding and evidently thinking naughty thoughts period.
All in all the evidence in this episode is that Kanji is gay, but that he intends to try and “settle” for women at least for the moment (he even says something to this effect).
Of course, I could be wrong in reading it like this and if other people have different views of the situation I’d love to hear them~