It’s time I admitted it to myself – I like Koichoco.
There are elements of Koichoco that feel very typical for a VN adaptation. I’m finding more and more that these shows need a few episodes to really “start” – they rarely hit the ground running like some anime do. And this one is certainly the same way – the process of world-building in a VN adaptation always seems to be awkward as compared to other sorts of series. But Koichoco strikes me as unusual among its brethren in one important sense – this show is primarily about the plot, and the interpersonal relationships seem secondary to that. It’s not as if the characters are terrible or even uninteresting, but it feels as if the creative energy here is really in the premise itself, which in romance VN is often just a necessary adjunct to the main event.
I’d fully expected this episode to begin spinning Michiru’s tale after the cliffhanger last week, but she was largely set aside as the story instead turned to Aomi Isara (Kadowaki Mai) the requisite poor girl who, as a financial aid student, has to do odd jobs around the school to help pay her way. There’s nothing too original in her tale of a poor student with younger siblings bullied by the rich kids, but it’s fairly well-spun here – the bullies both male and female seem especially vile. This system of making the poor kids do manual labor (when the others are forbidden even from part-time jobs) always struck me as incredibly inane – it practically begs bullying and abuse – yet it’s been common in Japan and elsewhere for Centuries.
But here’s where things begin to tie together. Aomi sees Yuuki as her knight-in-shining-armor, naturally enough, but the interesting element is that Satsuki’s campaign manifesto (which he hadn’t bothered to read yet) lists the abolishment of the financial aid system and its replacement by a scholarship system as a central plank. Could this be what she plans to do with the savings from the wasteful club spending? All of a sudden her vengeful plan to abolish those poor clubs doesn’t feel quite so evil – and casts the central plank of Yuuki’s own campaign in question. And really, if the ground weren’t shaky enough underneath the Food Research Club, is there really a case to be made that an “Air Sumo Club” should receive school funding while the aid students are changing light bulbs and emptying garbage?
This is actually quite interesting stuff – and to that you can add the espionage/violence elements from the premiere, the supernatural hints, the character mysteries, and now an exploration of the nuts-and-bolts of campaign finance. I’m pleased to see a show look seriously at student politics, actually taking the time to explore the notions of funding and campaign ethics, and how to remain true to the letter (if not always the spirit) of the rules. That’s what makes up 99% of politics, really – how to pay for campaigns without breaking the rules (or getting caught if you do) and here, the outgoing Prez makes a useful ally and a tutor both for the club neophytes and the audience.
It’s rare for me to talk about an anime for four paragraphs and barely mention character development, because character normally trumps everything for me. But that’s Koichoco – it’s a bit of an odd duck, and certainly an odd fit for me. It’s rare than I can be genuinely interested in a show without feeling much of a connection to any of the characters, but I do here. Yuuki seems a pretty solid lead – neither an oversexed moron or a Saint – and none of the girls really annoys me. But neither do any of them stand out, or do I feel much of a romantic spark. We’ve had small hints with Chisato, Satsuki and now Aomi – we’ll see. I do enjoy Mouri for his dignified competence, and I finally figured out what’s been nagging at me from the beginning about Chisato – she reminds me a lot of Asuna, from Negima.