Saturday, September 22, 2012

Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate - 11

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To be honest, this isn’t going to be an especially fun post to write.


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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.

[Pomf] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - 11 [5AF97CAC].mkv_snapshot_01.19_[2012.09.21_17.07.32]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.

[Pomf] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - 11 [5AF97CAC].mkv_snapshot_03.13_[2012.09.21_17.08.16]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.

[Pomf] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - 11 [5AF97CAC].mkv_snapshot_05.41_[2012.09.21_17.10.43]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.

[Pomf] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - 11 [5AF97CAC].mkv_snapshot_05.46_[2012.09.21_17.10.48]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.

[Pomf] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - 11 [5AF97CAC].mkv_snapshot_08.05_[2012.09.21_17.13.07]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.

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22 comments:

  1. These harem formulas almost always fail to work because someone always loses. It's self referential, sensationalist shows that ruin the integrity of any medium.

    I don't mean to chastise the fanbase but do these “my girl lost” crowds listen to themselves? It's a pathetic state for anime when that is all engaged anime watchers are concerned about, everything else (art direction, non-archetypal characterization and actual ideas) is secondary to them.

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    1. But man does this shit sell.

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    2. C'mon. It gives the rest of us some comedy. Besides, the "oh no, my animated girl lost" crowd isn't half as bad as the "oh no, my favourite seiyu has a sex life?!" crowds. There's also the "oh no, main love interest isn't a virgin" crowd to contend with.

      Glass half-full my, my fiend.

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    3. Great job totally dismissing the point Enzo was trying to make.

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  2. This episode was comedic (in a bad way). Then again, I never really took the series seriously enough, which is probably why I'm not "opening fire" like the rest of viewers.

    This is what you get when you don't root for the hot teacher =P

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  3. The whole issue boils down to time. Chocolate does not have time, and as a result, materials that would have come off better at a 2 cour pacing and that could be easily worth three episodes is squashed into one episode. Given the number of elements Chocolate was juggling, a train wreck was only a question of when. This, IMO is one of the worst victims of the one cours syndrome since Angel Beats imploded upon the weight of story elements it tried to juggle.

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  4. A question to those who actually know how the anime industry works (because I don't):

    Does a single cour necessarily have to be limited to 12-13 episodes? Can it not be, say, 15-16 episodes?

    Because I think that a lot of shows would improve if they weren't stuck within the constraints of either doing one cour (12-13 episodes) or two cours (24-26) episodes.

    I don't think KoiChoco would have done well with two cours. The problem with a lot of anime studios is that they tend to lose focus when they make two-cour shows. There are very few exceptions to this rule. (Hell, even a show as great as Fate/Zero had unnecessary filler episodes, especially the pointless Rin episode.)

    On the other hand, I think that shows like KoiChoco would have been perfect at 15-16 episodes.

    So to the anime industry experts here: Is a show allowed to be 15-16 episodes? If so, why don't more anime studios take that path, if it's obvious that 12 episodes can often be too short.

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    1. Because 12-13 episodes are enough for a 3-month "slot", which is you'll notice is equal to a single season.

      There are other factors at work here of course, but for simplicity's sake many productions reserving a baker's dozen amount of episodes carries the best risk to reward ratio. If a series doesn't sell well, that's the breaks, the sponsors then move on to the next thing, but if the results do pay off, it's an easy excuse for a production to "extend" a franchise, given how many watchers (particularly the older ones) consider 12 episodes as a mere halfway point.

      That said, this trend has certainly led to a LOT of mangled adaptations over the years -- the most recent Zetman springs to mind -- but at the same time the 12-episode limit can also force the writing staff to tighten up their productions. Mysterious Girlfriend-X was WONDERFUL at this.

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    2. The key is the seasonal aspect. Divide the year by 4 and you get 13 weeks, and that's how Japanese TV works. The only exceptions are shows like Kokoro Connect, which is 17 eps, but only by releasing the last four on BD/DVD exclusively.

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  5. By the way:

    >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.

    I think that that was Yuuki's badass way of giving the Public Safety Commission the finger. It's brash, I agree. But at the same time, it was a form of payback. Yuuki did, after all, give the PSC leader that lecture about undemocratically not consulting anyone about anything.

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  6. I am hoping for a good ending but I really got into this show; I think it was ep3? or something when they picked on Isara Aomi, I wanted to see they would do to resolve it! I don't think I'll get the answer though but here's to hoping they tie loose ends!

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  7. Okay, to get this out of the way, yes, I've been a Satsuki fan from early on, so I'm obviously not happy about this.

    But come on. How can ANYONE honestly be happy with this total asspull? "I've been an emotional trainwreck for many years but I got a pep talk from my friend and now I'm all better!" Really? I mean really? This is a work of fiction so I won't harp on too long about the complete dismissal this implies towards people with actual psychiatric issues, except to note it for anyone who may have missed it.

    Enzo nailed it. Even as a Satsuki fan I could have been at least satisfied with the ending if they had been working on Chisato's problem the whole time and shown her making progress at a more natural pace. But that isn't what they did, they went for the last minute magical cure instead. She literally went from being an emotional trainwreck to being a 100% mentally balanced, well-adjusted dinosaur in the space of 5 minutes. The fact that anyone can see this as a pretty acceptable way to tell a story is, frankly, completely mind boggling to me. At least the election side is maintaining steam but the personal side of the story went completely off the reservation this week.

    The good news is Natsuyuki Rendezvous just movved into first place for me this season. The bad news is that this show will now be lucky to make top 5.

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  8. OK WHAT? I'm really confused right now. Can someone please explain these over dramatic politics? Why did Kana HAVE to be treated at the one hospital owned by a member of the rival Kitohira faction? Do her parents not care their daughter is missing? And what is this rival Kitohira faction which Oosawa is a part of anyways?

    On a side note we finally got to see Mouri Kaichou's eyes so yippie for that!

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    1. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure the reason she had to be treated at that hospital is as follows. Mouri's faction was misappropriating school funds to pay for her treatment. So, to avoid a scandal over this big no-no, it had to be kept a secret. That hospital is run by someone who used to be a part of the faction they are in when he went to that school, so he was willing to keep the secret. In short, if she was moved to a different hospital, the chances of the whole story coming out would go way up and then him and his boys would be in deep shit for spending school money on personal matters behind everyone's backs.

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    2. That sounds more or less right to me.

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  9. The most positive thing I can say about this episode was that Chisato looked beautiful in that wedding dress and hairstyle. Her normal hairstyle is stupid.

    I hope Chisato dies. No really, it would be a decent plot instrument. I don't hate her or anything, it just makes more sense for her to die than to be happy and in love. If flicking a switch would do any of the two on anyone, dying is the more credible option. As it is now, the show just turned incredible, as in NOT CREDIBLE.

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    1. Having someone die just for the sake drama isn't a good idea for this show though. This isn't Key, and the source material isn't even DARK dark. So, no.

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  10. Satsuki withdraws and throws her support to Yuuki.

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    Replies
    1. I think the opposite would make better sense with the story.

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    2. That would arguably be the more rational approach.

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  11. I too am sad to see that they took the Chisato route. For the record, I was rooting for the teacher XP. As it was already said by Enzo and others, Chisato's literally did a 180 with her emotional state with nothing substantial to accompany it. I got the impression that the anime was going to leave things open ended in the whole relationship department and settle it with an OVA. Whatever, at least the whole political side of the story is interesting enough.

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