To be honest, this isn’t going to be an especially fun post to write.
I hope that doesn’t come off as too alarming, because it’s not as though I’m going to open fire on KoiChoco with both barrels (as many seem to have done). Nevertheless, the fact is that I had some pretty serious problems with this episode and the direction the series is going, and it’s never fun to say negative things about a series I’ve come to like as much as this one. And not just like, but feel a real affection for – in much the same way if not the same degree that I did for Mashiroiro Symphony. I still feel that affection and I hope KoiChoco somehow manages to find a grand finale in the aftermath of the penultimate ep, but I’m definitely worried.
What discourages me – and I already see it happening – is that there are some who are dismissing criticism of this episode as sour grapes from the “my girl lost” crowd – partisans of Satuski (or Hazuki, or even Mifuyu or Yume for all I care) who are just mad that Chisato “won”. Well, I have to call bullshit on that one. I won’t speak for anyone else but while I don’t especially think a Chisato end works, I don’t really have a horse in this race. It’s not that I don’t want Chisato to “win” – it’s that I don’t think an ending (now a certainty) where she ends up with Yuuki makes sense in the context of the plot. And I think the bulk of the criticism of this episode is caused by concern about the overall direction of KoiChoco, not the partisan politics of the romance game.
I think KoiChoco could have constructed a series that built up to a Yuuki/Chisato end – the problem is, that wasn’t the series it did construct, and that’s a series I like very much. I still find the whole relationship between Yuuki and Chisato somewhat disturbing and actually a little creepy, and I’m nowhere near persuaded that it’s in either’s best interests for them to be a couple. And I also didn’t especially like the fact that the whole dysfunction needed to be pointed out to Yuuki by Mouri-kaichou, when Yuuki is a smart guy who should have figured it out years ago, and Mouri is effectively a total stranger to him. As messed up as Chisato clearly still is and as someone who’s obsessed over Daiki’s death for I’m guessing ten years, she’s in no condition to now enter into a relationship with Yuuki. It’s wrong and I’m not going to be persuaded otherwise by anything that happens next week. I have no problem admitting I like Satsuki better than Chisato (Hazuki too) but that’s not the issue here. The case might have been made if KoiChoco had been two cours – but it wasn’t. As is, it feels like a whiff to me.
This episode was an odd mix of unsettling scenes with Chisato (this time mostly with Mifuyu) and real cloak-and-dagger stuff on the political side. There wasn’t a lot of new information, but the drama factor was certainly kicked up several notches. Mouri tells Yuuki he’s pulling the plug on his campaign because he’s been ordered to by the Kitohira faction, who will otherwise pull the plug on Kana’s care (is there a romance there, or just a sense of duty?) – a real issue given that the hospital she’s at is Kitohira-controlled. He promises to save the Food Club as a sort of consolation prize, but Yuuki definitely tells Mouri he’s going to win the election anyway without the Public Safety Commission’s help. That’s all well and good, but the part I don’t understand is this: why did Yuuki call Michiru to tell her about Kana right in front of Mouri and his goons. Why not wait until he has some privacy rather than tip off the enemy as to his plans? It seems like a fairly stupid strategic decision to me.
Believe it or not, the drama really hadn’t even started yet. We had Michiru racing to the hospital after Yuuki’s hot tip, kneecapping one of Mouri’s goons and coma-napping Kana, before miraculously bringing her back to consciousness with her harmonica. We had the dreaded mock wedding gambit played (truly settling any doubt about how this was going to end) – a very arbitrary-seeming development at a very convenient time in the story (I confess, as a gaijin, this fascination with mock weddings has always struck me as odd anyway). And we had Yuuki and Chisato falling victim to kidnappers (“Don’t tase, me, Bro!”) – presumably the work of “S-chan”, that Oosawa called in for help when Yuuki’s support stubbornly refused to collapse after Mouri pulled the plug.
Where does that leave us with one episode (#13 looks to be a beach-episode and not concerned with the main storyline) left? I think we know what “Chocolate” is, and the “Love” deal is sealed. I’m assuming that the Kitohira is going to demand Yuuki withdraw from the election if he ever wants to see Chisato alive again. Their deal is that Moheji (languishing in third place) is supposed to win, but I don’t think it matters because I can’t see the resolution being derived from Yuuki caving to blackmail. I still see the ending that makes the most sense being Satsuki winning the election and deciding to find a way to support the clubs and the financial aid students at the same time – it’s just a question of how we get there. Given that “Election” is the part of the series that gives us the best chance of the ending KoiChoco deserves, I sincerely hope they find a way to pull it off convincingly and compellingly, absent to significant missteps we saw this week.