Chocolat is a mature comedy series about half-orphan Tatsumi Chiyoko whose father was caught in huge debt. Now living with Omugi Matsukichi, an ex-underground king who opened a pastry shop, she gets to know people like Katou Ichigo, an ex-inmate. With people after her father's whereabouts, what will happen to her?
'Chocolat' may not strike you as a particularly interesting story, but it's the characters and the superb art that make this manga great. Before you read this review, you should keep in mind that there will be spoilers, although minor ones.
The plot is quite original with a former yakuza boss suddenly buying a house to start his own bakery. The cause of his sudden change of heart is due to his wife's death and the love she had for cakes.
However, the story isn't really about him, as it mostly revolves around a young girl named Tatsumi Chiyoko who is forced to live with this very
"special" man and his former yakuza gang.
Chiyoko has just been abandoned by her father, who criminals are after because of a big debt her father left behind. Later on, Chiyoko actually turns out to be the daughter of the boss' deceased wife. The boss is overjoyed about having a daughter even if Chiyoko may not have as strong feelings for him (they're not blood-related, you see).
Another main character is Katou Ichigo, an ex-inmate, who seems to have a difficult past and who shares a deep loyalty to his former boss.
This bizarre family go through hardships together as their pasts unfold.
The art was what orginially caught my eye; it's absolutely brilliant and clean. The mangaka knows how to use shadows and different effects to his advantage. The characters' design are also beautiful, yet simple. Also, the backgrounds are vivid and artistic. It's not some "flowers-power-love"-backgrounds here, no.
As for the characters, they are what makes this manga so interesting - they all have very strong personalities and are what makes the story go forward. They're hilarious, but can still be serious. I felt that the mangaka was keeping it real, even if the story and characters might go overboard sometimes, and I like when it's kept real -- you can relate to that.
The enjoyment was a bit mediocre in the beginning, since I didn't feel that strong about the manga then. But after a while, it grew on me as the pace of the story picked up. I would advise you not to abandon this manga until you've read at least 10 chapters - I promise you it's worth it!
Overall, this is a very good manga which is both hilarious and sober. It's a balance between the two so that it won't get too serious or too flimsy. If you have the patience, you should read it, and if not, well give it a try and see if you like it. I think that everyone can appreciate this manga, whether you are a typical shoujo- or shounenreader as it's for both "groups".