Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate – 08

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A funny thing happened on the way to figuring out this season, and its name is KoiChoco.

The two shows that have been on top of the chart for me this Summer are Jinrui and Natsuyuki Rendezvous, and that’s been pretty well locked in place since the second week – there’s a pretty big gap after Jinrui, and another one after Natsuyuki.  But pretty much out of nowhere KoiChoco has been moving up the board, to the point now where I’d have to say it’s my third-ranked Summer series.  My preference between Tari Tari and Kokoro Connect has tended to waver back and forth as each show has waxed and waned in quality (ask me now, and I’ll take TT.  Ask me next week?  Who knows.) but KoiChoco is the show that’s had a consistently upward trajectory.  I’ve liked it more and more with each passing week, and the eighth episode certainly did nothing whatsoever to change that.

It certainly can’t be ignored that this is pretty much exactly how things went down with Mashiroiro Symphony, another VN adaptation that aired in 2011.  And I find myself citing a lot of the same reasons for my growing affection for KoiChoco that I did for Mashifony.  I love the fact that it treats its characters with respect and generally allows them their dignity.  I love the fact that the show continues to surprise me, over and over.  And I love how direct the writing is – characters just tell each other what’s on their minds in a way that’s almost unheard of in anime, a medium that’s made a religion out of misunderstanding and unexpressed feelings.

Of course Mashifony was a much more overtly romantic show than KoiChoco – or perhaps I should say that romance was more at the center of the story.  KoiChoco is titular truth-in-advertising, in that love is only a third of what the show is about, and perhaps the most impressive element is the intricate plot that manages to span all three elements.  The balance has been titled in favor of the political thread, but it’s starting to level out – and we continue to see a tremendous amount of development with Satsuki as it does. Still, Chisato is definitely the first contender to enter the fray and can’t be dismissed – and viewers everywhere are no doubt trying to read the tea leaves in the conversation between she and Yuuki early in this episode.  Again, this is an example of the directness I’m talking about – Yuuki comes right out and tells her that while he’ll never abandon her (a powerful statement in itself) it’s “not that kind of love.”  And Chisato responds very simply, “I can’t accept that.”  You can’t get much more direct than that – but what does it all mean?  Is there room in Yuuki’s heart for that perception to change?  I would say yes, and it’s too early to write Chisato off, though this was certainly a painful moment for her.

If Chisato’s arc was an example of directness, Hazuki’s is an example of the other two points I cited – surprising the audience and treating characters with dignity.  She’s the last person one might have expected to get a serious arc in a run-of-the-mill anime, someone who was played for laughs and sex appeal, a buxom, drunken buffoon.  But the signs have been growing that there was more to her story, although the depth of it surprised me even so.  Not only does she have a good reason for her escapist behavior and coldness towards Satsuki, but her affection towards Yuuki isn’t some pure farcical cougar behavior.  She really does love him – and not only that, she even admits “I’m an adult and I should know better.”  Well, yeah – she’s 23 and he’s 17 and her student, so damn right she should.  But I don’t think it’s unrealistic that a perfectly sane 23 year-old could fall in love with a kind and charismatic 17 year-old – or that he might even reciprocate.  In fact, Yuuki doesn’t reject her confession outright – he tells her he needs time to think about it.  Maybe he’s being kind to spare her feelings – but maybe not.  Is it really so far-fetched for two people to have inconvenient feelings for each other?

Of course in practical terms, I fully expect Hazuki has zero chance to end up with Yuuki – no mainstream anime is going to go there.  But that doesn’t stop her story from being involving.  There was nothing especially original about a tale of a man who fathered a child out of wedlock and two girls with different mothers, but I thought the twist here was genuinely interesting.  Hazuki is in fact the daughter of the same mother as Satsuki, but because she was born before her father’s wife died, she actually bears the burden of being the out-of-wedlock child by his mistress.  And she rejects her family out of loyalty to the woman who isn’t even her mother – because by acknowledging that Satsuki’s mother is her mother too, she effectively makes the woman the outside world thought was her mother irrelevant.  In a sense Hazuki was really caught in the middle here, and I think it could be argued that her position is actually both quite principled and quite selfless, because she’s undeniably hurting herself to honor the memory of a woman who she shares no blood with, simply because that woman was kind to her when it would have been easy for her not to be.

Ultimately Satsuki is the one in this thread who matters in terms of the “Love” part of the title, and if you’re pulling for her the only worry I’d have is that she might be peaking too early.  There’s so much chemistry between she and Yuuki, from the silly “Loser-shima” type nicknames she gives him to the Yuuki-vision to the easy way they have of interacting with each other.  The scene between them in her room as he hides from the pervert-hunting squad is one that could easily have been milked for cheap laughs, but wasn’t – it’s just the two of them getting to know each other and a growing sense of attraction.  Now that the Hazuki situation has been brought into the open I can only see Yuuki and Satsuki growing even closer, though there’s still their political rivalry to complicate things.

On that score, there’s not much happening this week – just a brief appearance from Mouri-kun at the end, poring over the evidence of Yuuki’s politically risky behavior.  He’s apparently figured out that he doesn’t need to worry about Satsuki taking the low road, but he can’t be pleased to see his candidate putting himself in such risky situations (ironic, as it would be toxic if his own support for Yuuki were to become publicly known), and it wouldn’t shock me to see him come down hard on Yuuki next week, demanding he keep his distance from Satsuki.  And then there’s Michiru, whose story continues to get only the most fleeting development.  This time she’s on her balcony watching the drama between Yuuki and the Shinonome sisters play out in the quad.  I ‘d be lying if I said I had any idea what her angle is at this point – all we really know is that she’s moemoe, loves to observe, and that she never seems to sleep.

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  1. P

    Why can't they just give us an original sensei route just once.

  2. H

    That'd be legit

  3. U

    I am not following the series, but after much positive feedback, it makes me want to marathon it once it ends.

    If big breated green eyes Moroshima Haruka wins in the end, i am certainly going to watch it. BY FAR, prettiest female design this season.

  4. f

    usually i find myself rooting for the auxiliary characters to get the romance and not to follow the obvious cliche route, but once it actually happens, it is pretty jarring…im sure that there's more of a hx behind chisato and yuu that causes yuu to deny chisato though…

    as for my anime summer top 3, i prob have natsuyuki, koi, SAO and hyouka…(i tried watching tari tari and I had to drop it)

  5. Well, I'm not counting spring shows on that list (or even older ones like H x H, for that matter).

  6. b

    Satsuki is still my favorite girl but I get the feeling that her arc is now over with the resolution of the sisters' conflict and that she won't play a bigger role for later. Or for that matter, she's not gonna be the final pick. But there's still plenty of episodes so anything can happen I guess, as is the case with Mashiro-iro.
    Feels bad for Chisato though. Looks like it will still carry over for next episode as the campaign continues and she's gonna continue acting weird. This show really surprises me and I never expected it to be this enjoyable and good. My top picks for this season though are SAO, Jinrui, Natsuyuki and KC(in no particular order). This probably goes next to them.

    So that explains the sugar rush and the sleepiness after eating sweets. The commentary in the preview is pretty informative. I should listen to those again.

  7. d

    Well. Perhaps next week more on the sleepy ninja girl.

    Then either more Satsuki or Chisato to end. I think Chisato needs a better close so she'll pop up again. Whether her popping up is to get her End or not is yet to be seen…
    If all goes haywire, play the game… Now where do I get that..?

  8. H

    I've been thinking every week that they need to have more Michiru, and every week we seem to see her less. Maybe they'll actually do something with her besides just a tease, although seeing her pop up over the rail way off in the distance was pretty funny.

    Unfortunately for her, I think that Chisato is permanently friendzoned, but I'm all for seeing if the show can handle an attempt to break out of the friendzone without stupid antics like Chisato blatantly throwing herself at Yuuki. They avoided that in the most obvious of situations, where she got into the bath with him, so I have hope. Also, like you say, Satsuki may be peaking too early, although episode 8 is juuuust this side of too early, and she could hang on, even through the election.

    I don't think Mouri's worried about people finding out he supports Oojima. I thought it was pretty obvious to everyone that the Security Commission was supporting the Oojima campaign (besides the Kitahara faction) since they can't run their own candidate. I can see where Mouri would not want to see his candidate go down in scandal with another candidate (although which is better for Security if Oojima doesn't win: a Moheji win or a Satsuki win?)

  9. E

    I don't watch Natsuyuki, so, Koi Choco ranked second after Jinrui, which ranked first. Both of them are really the dark horses. I don't expect much from when I viewed the line up of summer 2012 anime.
    I thought Jinrui was just a cartoonish surreal anime.
    I thought Koichoco was just another eroge adaptation.
    But that's so wrong.
    It was a cleverly written harem romance anime.
    It doesn't need to rely on nudity, underwear shot, boobs grab or obligatory beach bikini episode in order to shine.
    It doesn't need stupid cliffhanger to make you keep wanting for more.
    Now that Satsuki's conflict has been solved among themselves, I hope the director would focus more on Lisara and Michiru. Whoa, wait a second, there's only five episodes left! Which route are they going to animate to begin with? It's already episode 8 and it's still hard to tell. But Satsuki is most likely out of the choice already.

  10. B

    <3 <3 <3 This episode was so great for me. Chisato's drama is definitely not over (we still have to find out what happened in the past after all) but this episode solidified my feelings that she isn't going to win in the end. Yuuki's romantic shootdown of her was possibly the most resolute thing we've heard him say all season, I really don't see him changing his tune on that one. The other girls seem more or less auxillary at this point and I really don't see a show doing a teacher/student hookup ending (even though I also <3 Hazuki) so my hopes for a Satsuki end are higher than ever. I don't think she's necessarily peaking too early, she's still his rival in the election so there is plenty of opportunity for their interactions to take center stage again and give her a second peak.

  11. B

    Also, I have to add on a more general note, wow, this season turned out WAY better than I expected before it started. Everything looked like shit then but there were a lot of pleasant surprises. Very pleased with the season overall now.

  12. H

    Yeah, I think we'll get an impassioned plea from Chisato, but I just don't see how Yuuki goes from "I don't love you romantically" to anything else. Maybe if the show was *only* a OTP show, and this happened in episode 3 of 13, it could happen, but in a harem show with 5 episodes left? Nope.

    More and more, I see similarities to Kazuma Hoshino from Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi in Yuuki Oojima, although at this point, I think Yuuki isn't nearly as sure as Kazuma who he liked. But I can see the way Hoshizora handled the different girls working well in KoiChoco: every girl gets their turn at bat, and decides what they're going to do, with some friendzoning themselves, others swinging for the fences and striking out. But through that whole show, Kazuma acted gentlemanly and respectful and forthright (a word that I use for both these shows a lot) and really seemed to be a good kid.

    Something appearing in my head as I type this: Hazuki was going to stand aside for Chisato, but when the rival is Satsuki she goes all in. I also wonder how Mifuyu will react to the same news. And how does that affect her friendship? Could Mifuyu go after Yuuki if he shoots down Chisato? How much worse would that be for Chisato, seeing someone who is her best friend take 'her' boy? And how much would their play-acting skits come back to haunt both of them?

  13. K

    Finally got a chance to marathon KoiChoco (hooray long-weekend), and I am surprised by how much I liked it. The characters, as Enzo said, are treated with dignity, and the directness of it all is really refreshing.

    I'm surprised how KoiChoco is only 1 cour, since there seems to be enough material and intrigue to comfortably use 2 cours.

    After the last two episodes, I'm definitely on the Satsuki ship, although I like Mifuyu almost as much.

  14. Yes, this is a series that should definitely have been 2-cour. There's a huge amount of story here. Alas, I doubt it'll sell enough to make it profitable even as a 1-cour series.

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