Apr 8, 2009
Dorcas_Aurelia (All reviews)
It's like Prohibition, but instead of ruthless gangsters making piles of money from illegal alcohol, a couple of high school students try to evade a government abolition of chocolate and all other sweets. Also, the police have giant robots specifically built for sniffing out and arresting chocolate enthusiasts. Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds.

Chocolate Underground is only made up of 13 three-minute episodes streamed on the internet, so there's only so much to say about it, although the show does cover a surprising amount of plot in the limited time it has. It's based on a satirical novel about two English boys with the border-line silly names Huntley and Smudger. If only the anime were any good, because apparently the creators thought in order to make it clear the material is parody, they had to make it entirely silly; the amount of common sense one has to ignore turns the events into a goofy romp.

You get instances like when the protagonists stumble onto a (not so) cleverly hidden secret chocolate party thanks to some research about the history of chocolate. And while the party goers hide when the two first arrive, no one notices minutes later when a police task force dozens strong raids the place. Chaos and hilarity ensue. The two boys, a female friend, and a little sister than go on to open an (figuratively and literally) underground chocolate shop, and eventually lead an action-packed (giant robots, remember?) rebellion against the unfair law. The story even manages to squeeze in a subplot about a turncoat classmate with an older brother in captivity that doesn't really rise beyond a cliche due to the limited length of the story.

Characters are generally little more the pieces to advance the plot. Mostly they don't even rise to the level of one-dimensional stereotypes. Of the two heroes, I think one was supposed to be the spunky go-getter, and the other the more brainy and cautious, but I can't remember if there was any distinction at all.

Visuals and sound are both run-of-the-mill for a 2008 show. They do the job they need to but are utterly forgettable. Also, since the episodes are so short, there is no OP or ED.

The show might be enjoyable as a brief diversion and nothing more. The problem is that the idea of the Good For You Party and people's willingness to surrender simple freedoms for a "better" lifestyle and later regret and realization of their error could have at least left some kind of message to the story, but a last minute plot-twist reduces the villain to a simple corrupt-politician cliche. Apparently there's a movie version coming out with another twenty minutes of material. Maybe that might make this worth the watch. I wouldn't count on it, though.