What’s it about ?
In this high school, the dorm only provides breakfast ; students have to fend for themselves for their two other meals. There’s apparently only the one supermarket around. As a result, the sales for bento are SERIOUS BUSINESS there.
You Sato, our loser male protagonist (of course voiced by Hiro Shimono). He gets beaten to a pulp before the OP, and several other times before the end of the episode. Fortunately, his parents believed in tough love, so he’s quite resilient. Anyway, he’s quite baffled by the whole thing (especially as lying in a pool of his blood isn’t good for his memory).
Hana Oshiroi, a weird girl who befriends Sato because… well, she’s about as terrible as him as far as managing to grab the cheap bento goes, and she’s a bizarre fetishist who’s disturbingly impressed by his ability to recover from injuries (the more critical his state, the more ecstatic she goes). I have some trouble reading her (is her attraction to him genuinely innocent or is she deceptively manipulative), which ain’t helped by her relationship with…
Ume Shiraume, the class rep. She’s very aggressive against Sato. Okay, he’s more than a bit rude to her, but the main point is that she doesn’t want him anywhere Oshiroi (to the point of kidnapping her when he isn’t looking) because… well, she doesn’t really explain herself.
Sen Yarizui, aka “the Ice Queen”, the Rei-clone. Completely unbeatable on the bento battlefield (her wire-fu acrobatics are quite impressive indeed). A second-year, she’s the head of the “loves of half-price bento” club, although so far she’s the only member (given the amount of garbage leftover from the previous year she carries around, presumably all the others graduated). She invites Sato to the club, maybe out of pity.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the fanservice level is rather high… but refreshingly, there’s nary a panty shot in sight, the camera preferring to focus on the girls’ legs. Which is slightly different from the usual routine, I’ll admit.
The soundtrack comes courtesy of Taku Iwasaki, who indulges in his wilder tendencies (I’m reminded of some of his Soul Eater score). That’s always a plus for me, obviously.
What did I think of it ?
Hum. There’s definitely the risk of this degenerating into a generic harem comedy, but I quite liked how this first episode went. There’s some deliberately obtuse storytelling at work here, which could have been annoying but managed to give some depth and mystery to the characters. Granted, this could be because they’re random collections of diverging traits, but maybe they’ll actually emerge as complex personalities.
I’m trying not to keep my hopes up too much, but there’s some definite potential here.