Asami ImaiMegumi OgataTakahiro MizushimaYuka Inokuchi
Love, Election and Chocolate
Also known as: Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2012
Director: Toru Kitahata
Writer: Katsuhiko Takayama
Actor: Eriko Nakamura, Yuichi Nakamura, Asami Imai, Asami Sanada, Ayumi Fujimura, Chiemi Ishimatsu, Kaori Mizuhashi, Kenichi Suzumura, Koji Yusa, Mai Kadowaki, Megumi Ogata, Takahiro Mizushima, Yui Sakakibara, Yuka Inokuchi, Yuko Gibu, Yuu Asakawa
Keywords: anime, harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes + an OVA 13th episode
Website category: Anime early 10s
Review date: 18 December 2016
There's a strong, distinctive story here. Political anime are rare to start with, even smuggled under the radar like this in a high school setting. This show though has taken a very specific angle. It's not about wielding power. It's elections. It's about the grubby, soul-sucking business of surrendering weeks of your life to the job of persuading the world to vote for you. Had the show focused only on that, I'd have been recommending it.
Unfortunately, though, the tone's so uneven that it's hard to recommend. It's confused. This show is:
(a) playing its political electioneering story so straight that it breaks the high school setting. It starts with a girl getting knocked down in a car "accident" to cover up dirty dealing. Later there will be spies and kidnappings. I repeat: high school. This is absurd. I went along with it because I was finding it quite interesting, but this story would have been far less implausible among real politicians in a real election.
(b) harem fluff based on a pornographic computer game. There's no sex in the anime, but even so Yuuki's the male centre of an overwhelmingly female cast and there's lots of silliness about this.
(c) giving some of the girls serious emotional issues to overcome, with tragic backstories.
I like what's underneath the show that was broadcast. It has something to say and it's trying to raise political awareness in its audience. However it also seems to think it'll scare off the audience if it doesn't first pretend to be cheap, off-putting trash. (Tomoko decided that I was watching garbage again.) There are boob grabs in bed and a dozy girl prone to underwear exposure. Yuuki's mother and teacher both flirt heavily with him and try to smother him with their breasts. (Yes, I did say his mother. Fortunately she's not one of the six heroines you can choose to woo in the game.)
The best thing in all that nonsense is Oboro Yumeshima, who's gentle, feminine and even maidenly in his non-stop sexual harassment of Yuuki. Oboro is a massive gay stereotype, yes, but also very funny.
All this is at its worst at the start. The show gets more serious later. There are also high-pitched anime voices, while the art's nothing special. (It's an all-star cast, but the girls still tend to sound generic.) Tomoko pointed out that the school uniforms have been designed to draw attention to bosoms, but more specifically she thought the shoulder straps were unattractively thin.
The electioneering is being played straight, though. Oujima Yuuki is a second-year student at the elite Takafuji High School, where 6000-odd students are being groomed for life in the fast lane. Even their school politics is serious. There's enough money in the system to cause dirty deals, factions and political parties. This might not seem relevant to the Food Research Club, a bunch of layabouts who spend their entire student council grant on sweets. However one day they discover that a candidate in the upcoming student council election has vowed to purge useless clubs. That's our heroes! If they want to maintain their parasitic lifestyle, they're going to have to stand up for the rights of bums and leeches everywhere!
Yes, that's right. The Food Research Club's only hope for survival is to run their own presidential candidate. (That'll be Yuuki.) He has no knowledge, political experience or even interest in the details of the job, but that doesn't mean morons won't vote for him!
(This is a 2012 anime, by the way. None of this is a reference to Trump or other recent elections.)
Theoretically, this is sharp stuff. Yuuki's basically a good person, but he still basically entered the contest without the slightest interest in the common good, with his sole aim being corruption. One of the established parties offers him an alliance and electioneering advice. We see how much money you need to run a campaign, even in a tinpot school election like this. Thousands of freebies and pamphlets don't pay for themselves. It's not enough just to squeak through the primaries, since you've also got to hope that no other independent gets through to split the protest vote. Worse still, Yuuki notices institutional bigotry towards impoverished scholarship students and decides to campaign against this... only to get shot down on all sides. Don't be a hero. Shut up about stuff like that during the election. You can do what you like after you've won. You mustn't go talking about policies, because you'll alienate voters. You need them all, including the scum.
This is a bit unpleasant. That's elections for you. It gets a bit melodramatic and implausible towards the end, but it's still nasty, wrinkly and trying to motivate its audience to be less apolitical and start caring about the process of casting votes.
Then we have the girls' emotional issues and past traumas. Again, these are taken far more seriously than you'd think from the show's trivial beginnings.
I don't think the show quite works. It doesn't find a harmony between its different tones. I don't mind silliness, but it manages to be silly in clashing ways. I don't think it's just a question of having too few episodes. I think the show's trying to do too many incompatible things. That said, though, I still quite enjoyed the story and I appreciate its ambition and its rough edges. It's an interesting one to think about.