Ben-To 12 (END): Greek Wending
As soon as Sato pushed back the alarm clock I thought to myself: he’s going to mess up, but Yarizui is going to make it barely in time and help him out.
But before I get into that, I wanted to mention something I noticed twice this week: how manga/anime characters personalities’ change without any real explanation except the mangaka’s desire to open them up to us. Let me explain.
In real life we sometimes find someone very mysterious, even menacing, and yet once we get to know them we discover they are very nice and friendly people, right? Now, does this mean that that person’s actions changed somehow? No, it’s only my perception that’s changed. Probably if I looked back (and I had a good memory) I could note how actions that were completely normal seemed strange and threatening to me. But the actions are always the same.
I guess in manga and anime these “realizations” are really tough to represent. What the artists end up doing is simply changing the way the characters act. It’s an OK solution if you don’t look closely into it, but once you do it’s really quite odd. This last episode of Ben-To shows us all the wolves happily going into the supermarket to fight Orthros. They’re so merry they look like boy scouts marching toward the campfire. Compare this accord and unity with the first couple of episodes and you’ll see how stark the change is. But this does not mean that the half-price bento warriors have become gradually friendlier toward each other during the show (or if it means that, then we have never been told why or how it happened). What the animators want to show here is how Sato has come to feel at home with them. It’s his perception that’s changed (logically speaking) although what you see is just a rather random change in behavior by all of these wolves.
I noticed this earlier with Acony in the manga of the same name. The dynamic there involves a mysterious girl (Acony) and a regular dude (Motomi). When the manga starts, Acony knows everything that’s going on around here and the creepiest incidents leave her unfazed. By the time the third volume begins, however, Acony freaks out as much or even more than Motomi when something supernatural occurs. What gives? I imagine we have to think of this “change” as simply a change in Motomi’s perception toward her. The truth about Acony is more balanced than these two extremes. In the same way, the wolves are neither as nasty as we saw them in episode 1 of Ben-To, nor as nice as we saw them in this final episode. The truth is somewhere in between. But I digress.
What Heracles’ Combo wants to do to Orthros is, as is fitting, thoroughly Greek. According to some thinkers (e.g. Nietzsche in “Homer’s Contest) Greek society was all about competition. In order to ensure that competition could continue without interruption, however, it was necessary to eliminate players who were too darn powerful for the rest of society. This is why the Greeks invented the concept of “ostracism”, where they would exile people with too much power (often for a limited period of time, presumably until their excess power in society had dissipated). The idea was simply to keep the game going.
So the idea here is that Orthros is a threat to the half-price bento contest, and so Combo is asking the community to ostracize that threat. Since forcibly expelling them wouldn’t work (because it would require force, and that’s exactly where the Kyo sisters excel) then Combo does the next best think: take them out of the “competitive” aspect of the thing.
Of course it’s pretty hilarious that what’s traumatized the Kyo sisters turns out to be this 😀
Here I think the writers missed a chance. I would have had Orthros come up with a solution: fight each other. That way they would be competing for the half-price bento and Combo’s plan would have been thwarted. And very possibly if their battle against each other took a long turn and started to wear them out, other wolves might have possibly gotten into the action. Combo would have been totally defeated.
The fight itself was great, and the eel looked delish (though I had eel for Christmas dinner so I can’t complain~). I just wish Shaga had had more of a role… Ume was strangely absent too (not that I care).