The upside with this show for me would be Mashiro-iro Symphony – a show that I kind of mildly liked to start with that totally won me over by the end (it just missed my 2011 Top Ten list, in fact). Like many VN adaptations both shows started a bit slowly, taking some time to really click into gear – which is something some VN anime never do. Truth be told I liked Mashifony better after four eps than I did KoiChoco, so it seems unlikely that I’ll end up as fond of this show – but it’s definitely growing on me, and at a steady clip too.
In effect, four episodes of KoiChoco had me quite interested in the plot – with it’s X-Files-ish unexplained mysteries and increasingly fascinating political dynamic surrounding the financial aid students. But with this ep, the series really steps up to the plate in two respects that hadn’t really impressed me beforehand – character and humor. Mifuyu had been almost an entirely invisible character after her introduction in the premiere (the first of the main cast to be introduced, along with
Asuna Chisato and Ooshima Oojima). She seemed pleasant enough and made a good first impression, but you’d be forgiven for forgetting she was there since – until now. She unexpectedly steps to the forefront for much of the episode, and makes an even better impression than her first.
To be honest, she’d have had me won over by pulling out the “Bewtiched” pun (“That’s awe-Samantha, Tabitha!”) no matter what she did after that. But maybe it’s because I have a bit of a weakness for Yamato Nadeshiko types (and Mikos) that I love her classy, kind restraint – completely free of any tsundere nonsense or outrageous kawaii affectations. And there was something rather poignant about her milking her “speechwriting” so she could spend time alone with Yuuki, and by secretly writing a love story featuring the two of them at that. She’s certainly suffering in silence, this one – the little play-acting she does along with Yuuki and Chisato especially painful for her. We even get a little backstory with Mifuyu too, about a surgery she had which caused her to be held back a year. She and Yuuki have a terrific chemistry, though not especially romantic from his perspective – and she outwardly devotes herself to pushing him into Chisato’s arms (yawn). It was telegraphed a mile away that Yuuki would end up with her shoujo romance instead of his stump speech, but apart from that her arc in the episode was excellent.
There was lots else to like here too, and the episode didn’t need to rely on the political drama to keep me hooked – though that did reappear in the story late. The main task at hand is getting ready to sell Oojima Rolls and Yaoi Sticks at the school festival – which also ends up being a clearinghouse for cosplay photos as well as figures and hardcore BL doujins featuring Yuuki and Yume (who’s only too happy to join the role-play on stage, much to the delight of the squealing fujoshi hordes) courtesy of Mieru and Reiji. Yume is certainly a demeaning caricature of a gay male – which is unfortunately the norm in anime outside the very specific sub-genre that centrally features such characters – and another example of the double-standard that exists when it comes to male and female homosexuality in the mainstream. Despite that, though, I admit – to my embarrassment – that I find his antics with Yuuki quite funny a lot of the time. They’re not especially mean-spirited as these things go, and they’re so over-the-top – and Ogata Megumi is making such a meal of the role as Yume – that I find them less offensive and more charming than they might seem on paper.
As for the political side of the equation, it’s not forgotten. Not content with making the financial aid students mop the floors, the school forces them to be gofers for the presidential candidates, too – which is a happy coincidence for Aomi, who ends up with the Oojima campaign (I don’t know how she did it, but it’s no accident). And Henohenomoheji-mask (I’m assuming Yuuki is still the only one who sees it) Tatsumi Moheiji (that’s a clever pun) of the General Affairs Committee (Mizushima Takahiro) tries to cadge Yuuki’s support after the primaries on the grounds that they both oppose Shinonome’s plan to dissolve the clubs – and vaguely threatens Yuuki about what will happen if he doesn’t get it. Yuuki is a pretty incompetent candidate generally, but it seems obvious enough that this race will boil down to Moheiji, Shinonome and Yuuki – and Moheiji is the strong candidate for villain status at the moment. But when do we find out about the chocolate?
Episode 6 is out, as two eps aired this week – look for a post on that one tomorrow.