Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate.
The story of a boy yearning for true love and a girl hating chocolate.
When I first caught a glimpse of Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, I was deeply intrigued by its title. Love and chocolate are all very well in anime nowadays, but elections? Seriously, how could anyone spin a good yarn out of an election?
Due to me having limited time, and also because there were many other anime titles seemingly worthy of my time and attention, I initially put KoiChoco on my on-hold list. However, as the pretenders faded away from my attention, I decided to give KoiChoco a try, to see whether the anime could possibly be good enough to expound upon the dark, deep world of politics, yet be able to maintain the audience's attention over the span of a 1-cour show.
The premise that the anime offers us is an interesting one. There are few anime which can delve into politics and still come away with a decent fanbase. However, I can confidently say that KoiChoco succeeds well in that aspect.
Let me begin with our protagonist, Oojima Yuuki. He's not exactly the type of perfect person everyone loves to hate, yet he also isn't the whiny loser that has recently become a common occurrence in anime. In other words, one word can describe Yuuki. Decidedly average. He has a childhood friend, Sumiyoshi Chisato, who is the president of the Food Research Club, of which he is a member of. He goes to the prestigious Takafuji Academy, where the student body is responsible for autonomy, but slacks off with his fellow members of the Food Research Club and Chisato, spending their free time in the club room enjoying snacks rather than getting involved in any useful activities. Heck, the entire club is so laid back that even their advisor gets into the act, guzzling beer whenever she has a chance to sneak into the club room.
Yuuki's comfortable school life with the FRC could have continued interminably until their eventual graduation, but no. Fate conspires to throw them the prospect of dealing with the disbandment of the FRC. A radical candidate, and the overwhelming favourite for the school council presidency announces her intention to disband clubs that do not carry out any activities that could be deemed useful. At first, the future looks bleak for our FRC members.
That is, until someone manages to come up with a brilliant yet outrageous idea. Yuuki should run for the student council presidency himself! Rather than waiting to be crushed by the iron fist of the school council president, the members of the FRC proactively decide to support Yuuki's campaign and try their best to prevent the FRC's disbandment. However, Yuuki's campaign team face a mountain of difficulties. Yuuki practically has no acquaintances outside the FRC which he can rely upon, he does not have any political manifesto, ideologies or affiliations and has absolutely no ambition or desire to become one of the leaders of the school council. And here's the ultimate clincher. Yuuki isn't even willing to run for the post himself!
Enough of that. If I write any more I'll be revealing the whole plot of the anime. We don't want to spoil people that have yet to watch KoiChoco!
Rating this anime is kind of tough, as it is a jumble of concepts that are so radically different as to be almost irreconcilable. One would be forgiven for thinking that KoiChoco is an anime series that tries the impossible and fails miserably in the process, leaving the viewer with a bitter taste. However, I can guarantee that the story is actually quite well presented and executed throughout the anime. The premise of an election is surprisingly excellently done, with a set of rules governing the election that are actually feasible instead of a load of claptrap, and the show manages to convey the suspenseful atmosphere of an election to the audience very well. An added bonus is that KoiChoco is able to do a fantastic presentation of the dark, murky side of elections. Throw in a couple of well placed plot twists and cliffhangers and you have the framework of KoiChoco. When I finished watching the show, the first thing I thought was "Wow. Elections sure are serious stuff."
Nothing is completely flawless though, and KoiChoco is not an exception to the rule. One major mistake that the studio made is trying to convey too many concepts at once without giving a thought for the overall continuity of the anime. One example being the transition between the first and second half of the anime. The first half is completely geared towards the FRC's preparation for the primary election and their recruitment for help. Smooth sailing so far, up to this point. But after the primaries are over, the anime violently transitions to a romance story, with hardly a mention of the elections that were looming.
This particular fault made the story seem unreal, disconnected; it could have been two different arcs of two different anime, yet is melded and shaped into the form that is KoiChoco. Frankly, I feel the anime would have merited an even higher score if the studio had competently handled this portion of the anime.
Another problem is the excessive focus on the Yuuki-Chisato pair. The supporting characters are quite the diverse bunch, but they all fade into the background while the limelight shines on Yuuki and Chisato. Essentially, they are there merely to provide support for Yuuki in his election campaign, as they are all pictured doing their bit to help Yuuki win and so prevent disbandment of the FRC. A couple of the supporting cast actually do play an important role in the course of the anime, but those are few and far between. Granted, the anime is a adult visual novel adaptation which focuses on the Chisato arc of the game. Taking into account the time constraints presented by a 1-cour show, it is indeed logical that the studio turn their attentions and energies to one particular arc rather than trying to adapt everything and end up with a half-assed story.
The artwork in this anime is very solid and excellently done. Given that KoiChoco is a school-oriented anime, we shouldn't expect dazzling graphics or breathtaking scenes of snow-capped mountains and lush green meadows on par with the likes of 5 Centimetres per Second. For a school setting, the art is comparable to the best, and frankly, there are some scenes that are breathtaking in its own way, such as the bridge in the OP which features prominently throughout the anime.
The studio certainly deserves some measure of praise for their handling of the sound portion of the anime. They have got an intuition for the types of music that fit the mood of the anime and are likely to resonate with the viewer, thus enriching the experience even more. For example, when a supporting character is rushing to try and prevent Yuuki from committing a potentially election-ending blunder, the slow piano piece that is played in the background complements the scene and brings out the emotional undertones that are hinted at. On the other hand, the OP of KoiChoco, signal graph, smacks of a plain and generic song. The performance from the singer, Annabel doesn't improve it any further either. The ED, Kaze no Naka no Primrose by Ceui, makes a better hash of things, as it is deeply emotional in nature and able to touch viewers with its enchantingly beautiful melody. I have been told that my taste in music deviates wildly from the opinions of many, so feel free to disagree with me on this count.
Oh boy. Next up is the Achilles' heel of KoiChoco, which is sadly its characters. Normally the meat of an anime that complements its story, KoiChoco has let the audience down very badly here, especially considering that it's a harem story. Among the wild variation of characters, we have among others a chocolate hating girl, a guy that is openly gay for Yuuki (comic relief?), a chibi inventor who seems to have a few screws loose, an undercover spy for the student council and a dude whose face is a henohenomoheji. Well, that isn't a major problem on its own. The real trouble with the characters of KoiChoco is that it gives its primary focus to the couple of Yuuki and Chisato. As mentioned above, the supporting cast are simply along for the ride with the exception of a couple of them. Moreover, Chisato morphs from a great character in the first half of the anime into a whining crybaby that hankers after Yuuki for no reason other than Yuuki being admitted into hospital for outpatient treatment. She literally refuses to let him out of her grasp, even going so far as to cling on Yuuki in his own home. I understand the logic behind the studio wishing to portray Chisato as being reliant on Yuuki. It's explained further in the anime. However, I think they could have at least altered the story a bit to prevent Chisato from degrading into such an annoying character. Even if the adaptation were true to the original source material, I feel that this is one example where a measure of artistic licence should be applied in order to prevent the characters from becoming sub-par. The majority of the supporting cast barely get any screen time, and when they appear they're either doing things to help Yuuki in his election, lazing around the FRC club room or making subtle advances towards Yuuki. There are certainly exceptions to this, but their appearances are relatively sparse compared to Yuuki and Chisato. The lack of organisation in allotting screen time to the various characters becomes a major failing of KoiChoco.
Well, for all my criticism I have to admit that I enjoyed KoiChoco very much. From the interesting interactions between the characters, the fresh breath of air that was its premise of elections, and the marvellous art and character design, I can honestly say that KoiChoco is an anime that I have enjoyed very much in comparison to the other titles in the industry. Although it certainly does not reach the dizzy heights of some, KoiChoco can certainly hold its own against other generic anime that have flooded the anime market in recent years. Moreover, it offers us a more in-depth view in the world of politics, something which I have never seen in an anime before, excepting the odd student council election that isn't the main focus of the anime. Since I enjoyed all the aspects of KoiChoco fairly well, I will say that KoiChoco has afforded me great enjoyment, particularly because I retain a certain interest in politics.
In conclusion, KoiChoco has its share of flaws and failings, however I can safely conclude that it is a decent anime which manages to capture the audience's attention and hold it through its airing. If you are intrigued by the premise of KoiChoco, I would certainly recommend that you give it a spin. Who knows, you might be amazed by what KoiChoco brings to the table.