The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate

Title: Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate aka Love, Election & Chocolate
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Company: AIC Build
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 5 Jul 2012 – 20 Sep 2012

Synopsis: Oojima Yuuki and his childhood friend Sumiyoshi Chisato are members of the Food Research Club, a school club that is a flimsy excuse for their friends to get together and eat snacks. However, the club is threatened by the upcoming student council presidential election, with the incumbent mired in scandal, and the leading candidate from one of the opposing parties, Shinonome Satsuki, campaigning on cutting the funding of the Food Research Club and other clubs deemed not to have achieved anything. With a set of less than impressive alternatives in the field, Chisato and the other club members decide their best bet is to nominate Yuuki for the student council presidential election.

The Highlights
Character designs: A key for making an enjoyable harem series, and these ones are spot on.
Main character: Yuuki is actually charismatic and self-aware, a rarity for a harem male lead.
Fanservice: A little bit here and there, but the show doesn’t obnoxiously drip with it.
Character interactions: The real appeal of the show; the flirtatious meetings are delicious.
Romance: Would be more compelling if the female characters had slightly better personalities.
Thematics: Occasionally surprisingly insightful when it comes to pointing out the flaws in the electoral process.

Harem anime have changed significantly since the days of Love Hina and Ai Yori Aoshi, when the genre was defined by a few simple, shared characteristics. Shows like Bakemonogatari and Suzumiya Haruhi have changed people’s expectations, which has led to an evolution in the genre. Nowadays, popular harem anime like Haganai and Ore no Imouto tend to be more meta in focus, and more likely to declare themselves over time, rather than giving the whole show away in the premise. The genre is now a lot more competitive, too: Harem anime are much more likely to just flat out fail, both critically and commercially, than a decade ago when the established formula was an easy bet. Despite the evolution, harem anime will probably never be a favourite genre among critics, but I am finding that, when in the mood for something easily digestible, it seems to be easier today to find something that is actually engaging, and not offensively stupid. Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate is such an anime.

The minimum standard for a harem anime is a good appearance, so being in the hands of AIC marks a quality start for Koi Choco. In the last couple of years, AIC has proven it’s at the forefront of animating good looking fanservice shows, and it hasn’t let itself down here. Gohda Hiroaki worked on Amagami SS’s character designs in the past and, straight up, I adore his art style. The designs here are vibrant and varied, with lots of attention to detail with the hair and the expressiveness of their eyes. It aids the individuality of the characters, and while their personalities are fairly standard, what works particularly well, making for the core appeal of the show, are the character interactions. This is where Koi Choco propels itself above the average harem.

Koi Choco has a few titillating scenes, but it isn’t saturated with fanservice. It instead works because of the flirtatious meetings between main character Yuuki and the various haremettes. Yuuki himself is a refreshing departure from the usual hapless male leads we see in harem anime. He’s a natural leader in a way that it makes sense why he attracts several possible love interests, and he’s also reasonably aware of his surroundings such that he isn’t needlessly oblivious to uphold any equilibrium (*cough* Infinite Stratos). The fact that his portrayal by Nakamura Yuuichi instantly recalls some of the other strong male leads he’s played, like Clannad’s Okazaki Tomoya and Hyouka’s Oreki Houtarou, also helps. The female characters aren’t quite so immediately engaging, but some of them do have interesting backstories, like Chisato, Satsuki and Hazuki, so it’s not hard to buy into their arcs.

Unfortunately one character, Michiru, has an inane subplot, and the culmination of her arc in the penultimate episode makes for the most overwhelmingly ridiculous sequence in the show. She would have better served remaining a background character, rather than sparking the string of pointless and nonsensical plot twists she did. This, however, is probably my biggest complaint about what was otherwise a surprisingly enjoyable and occasionally insightful series. One must accept the usual tropes about the all-powerful student council and the school election that actually matters, and if you disdain harem anime, don’t bother applying. This, for me, though, is the type of series I crave when I don’t want to think too much, mostly because it’s not constantly trying to tell me I’m an idiot for watching it.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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