Watching Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (KoiChoco) has been an interesting experience. I expected this to be a generic visual novel adaptation and instead it’s highlighting a type of genre that literally no other anime would: politics. In a season of unremarkable series, KoiChoco truly is the under-rated one.
Now first of all, if you find politics boring you won’t be enjoying this aspect of the series, the “Senkyo” in the title is the japanese word for “election”. For a small group of us political nerds, it’s been pretty weird and also cool to see the politics being given so much depth that no other anime usually does and for that to be in a generic looking visual novel adaptation, it’s even more surprising. KoiChoco still sticks hard to it’s VN roots: the childhood friend is “projected” to win against four other candidates to win Oo(shi)jima Yuuki’s heart, lots of questionable melodrama and there’s usually one odd character that stands out. But so far, KoiChoco has really proven itself more than capable of pulling off a lot of political jargon, while balancing drama, comedy and it’s VN roots.
It’s been a bumpy ride with this show: there’s a lot of scenes that make you go “so cliche”, and then wham something surprising comes out of nowhere. Perhaps KoiChoco’s biggest strength is how unpredictable it can be and how it can adapt very quickly to those unpredictable changes. To sum up the last six episodes, we have Oojima Yuuki (Yuuichi Nakamura) and his Food Research Club threatened by disbandment as part of a sweeping reform proposal by Shinonome Satsuki (Yuu Asakawa), a candidate to be the next student council president. Now, you’re probably thinking: a student council election? Really, that sounds boring. Oh but episode 1 starts off with a girl from the journalism club being run over by a car after witnessing a shady deal with the Public Affairs Commission and landing in a coma afterwards. In KoiChoco, student council elections are serious fucking business. It’s the kind of mudslinging politics that America is known far and wide for having, but with a lot more chances for actual bodily harm. Just this latest episode, the current president actually hired bodyguards to defend Yuuki after a rival faction tried splitting the vote to disqualify him.
The politics so far have been very interesting: you have the current president unofficially backing Yuuki even though Yuuki is listed as an independent, and you know something’s gotta give and the prez even spilled the beans that his motives for supporting Yuuki aren’t just a kind gesture. Then you have his biggest rival Shinonome being portrayed as this mistress of all evil for trying to disband all the clubs who “contribute nothing” to the school. But after Yuuki fully reads her manifesto, the motives for that position become clear: the current system disenfranchises Financial Aid students by literally treating them like Cinderellas: making them do manual labor, constant threats and bullying for their status and reducing their status in exchange for a free ride at the academy. Shinonome wants to drastically reform the F.A. system and make everyone on equal levels, and disbanding the inactive clubs will divert that money and help the F.A. students. It’s like this show is subtlety reminding us that you gotta read the candidate’s own message before you start accusing them of something they never planned on doing: a jab at the current state of American politics. Yes, a show that screams “GENERIC VISUAL NOVEL” is actually trying to educate us otaku (gasp!) of politics, the bad and the ugly. Japan, are you finally starting to change a bit or is this just a slight divergence in the grand scheme of things?
Now, as much as I and others would love to see this get even more exposure, I’m pretty content that a show of this caliber is tackling politics in a realistic manner: the vote splitting, the mudslinging, how desperate a candidate is to get votes (BL doujinshi? Madoka Magica cosplay? check) and the thrill of watching election results slowly trickling in and the emotions we feel when the one we’re rooting for wins in a narrow and unexpected victory. KoiChoco has done all of that in a rough span of 5 episodes not including the first episode which was a mere introduction. Still, for right now I can classify KoiChoco as 55% generic visual novel and 45% politics and even the generic VN elements have been done quite well: you have a lot of really weird people in this show: from the gay for laughs character Yume (Megumi Ogata), the dude with the propeller on his head and Tatsumi Moheji: I don’t even know what he is, but if you look closely his mask actually spells out his name. If you can appreciate (or tolerate, for some) the politics and don’t mind the generic elements this VN adaptation has, then you’ll be rewarded with a series that stands above most of the rest of what is turning out to be one of the worst seasons, at least for me anyways.
All in all, if you’re looking for a little diversity in this bland as hell season give KoiChoco a try: it still sticks to the formula a lot, but it actually takes a little creativity now and then. But the question is: will KoiChoco stay like this or will it falter now that the second half of the show is about to start?