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Love, Election and Chocolate (Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
Love, Election and Chocolate takes the high-stakes game of electioneering and political campaigning - and somehow manages to to shoehorn it into a high-school drama that's in turn an eroge adaptation. Which sounds like a complete recipe for disaster. Surprisingly, though, it just about manages to pull it off...

It's student council election time and the members of the Food Research Club have learned that the frontrunner, Satsuki Shinonome, plans to disband all clubs that she feels aren't paying their way - which includes the FRC. Fearing the worst, the group decides to have club member Yuki Ojima run for election - but being the outsider candidate isn't wasy...

Yuki supported in his campaign by childhood friend Chisato, who harbours a level of obsession with him that borders on the worrying; classmate Mifuyu, with whom he's prone to spin off into bouts of DRAAAMA; school genius Non-chan, whose inventions invariably go wrong; Michiru, and unusually quiet member of the FRC; and teacher (and club sponsor) Hazuki, who also happens to be Satsuki's older sister - and the two of them really don't get on. There's also Aomi, one of the school's "financial aid" students - a girl whose family wouldn't normally be able to afford the school's fees, and who is there on a scholarship. Unfortunately for her, financial aid students seem to be considered at about the level of slave labour by some of the paying students (and the school's rules don't exactly discourage that approach). If you've already spotted a potential campaign pledge for Yuki, you wouldn't be wrong.

So. As mentioned, Love, Election and Chocolate is based on an eroge visual novel, which explains why Yuki quickly finds himself surrounded by eligible & attractive girls - Satsuki, Chisato, Aomi, Michiru and Mifuyu are all quite taken by him, for various reasons that the series explains as it goes on. So far, so typical for this type of show. But I very quickly got the distinct impression that whoever wrote the scenario and story was really wanting to write a political thriller, such is the level of campaign nastiness that goes on - in the opening episode, we have a girl hospitalised for spying on one of the school's main 'committees' (think 'political party' and you'd be spot on); there are undercover agents spying on the various campaigns, and backroom deals being done between the parties to support or trash the candidates they'd like to support or see lose, respectively. There's also a lot of time spent explaining campaign tactics; how to make a pledge that will gather public support, and why it's wise to keep your mouth shut about noble aims that might not be so popular until your safely in office. Want to save the clubs under threat? Shout that from the rooftops, no problem. Want to make life easier for financial aid students? That won't be so popular with the majority, no matter how "right" it may be, so keep quiet about that. (And for 'financial aid student', insert the minority group of your choice - this is a show with a moral lesson, too.) Under the tutelage of outgoing President Mouri, Yuki's quick to learn the ropes of political campaigning from someone who knows the game inside out.

When it's doing the politics, the series is great. Yes, you have to employ a certain suspension of disbelief - school politics just doesn't operate at this level in the real world, and I've seen national parliaments that are less ostentation than the school's Student Council Chamber - but if you translate the school / student workings to a nation / politicians field (a little mental work required, but nothing too serious) then it does have the ring of truth about it, and I found that side of events to be very entertaining.

This being an eroge adaptation, though, there has to be time spent having Yuki work his way through his harem, and that's a little less engaging. As always, a lot of how well this will work for you depends on your reactions to the girls, and they're definitely a mixed bunch. Michiru and Aomi both suffer from lack of personality - Aomi can best be described as unfailingly nice, while Michiru's reticence and tendency to flash her pantsu at regular occasions (the only girl in the series to indulge in that sort of fanservice, which is usually blacked out anyway) makes her come across as one-dimensional at best. Chisato's obession with Yuki and the reasoning behind it come across as overblown and unlikely, which is a shame as she was otherwise a decent character - but so much time was spent exploring her obsession that I lost interest in her. Satsuki and Mifuyu, for me at least, both came across much better - Yuki and Satsuki hit off an instant, playful friendship, despite being rivals in the election, that feels real and is huge fun to watch; while Mifuyu's habit of breaking into fantasy drama with Yuki is different enough that I wish there had been more of it. Satsuki deservedly gets a large amount of screen-time which even then didn't feel like enough; Mifuyu unfortunately wasn't so lucky. On balance, the female cast sadly earns a "could do better".

A bit of a show of two parts, then, with one part damned good, the other less so, and I couldn't help but wish more time had been spent on the election side of things (added bonus for that: more time for Satsuki). Instead, it's bundled all together, and the girls do bring down the average a bit, as it were - but the end result is still an entertaining 12 episodes of fun, frolics, hard work and backstabbing, with a bonus sideline in unsubtle innuendo that I can't deny enjoying. An interesting combination, for sure. Not a classic, by any means, but worth checking out - particularly if you have a frustrated politician lurking inside.

Rating - ***