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Yaoi Sticks.

Ok, now I’ve got you interested! It’s that time of the year again and this time, I’m reviewing Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, or Koichoco, as how it’s commonly referred to. I do not really know why this was recommended to me, seeing I don’t follow too much of eroges in general.

Reminder, I don’t do well reviewing without mentioning any spoilers, so consider yourself warned, if you’d like to continue reading.

Koichoco’s first episode struck me very curiously with such a dark atmosphere right off the bat with someone getting hit by a car. Cunning, and very refreshing from what I thought would be a feel good series. “Love, Election and Chocolate”, who would have guessed any brutality from that title? Not me. I forgot for a moment that this is an eroge and we have all these heroines fawning over the protagonist. I was betrayed, however, near the end of the series as it felt like nothing’s really going to be resolved, or if there is, it’ll be dumb. I had high hopes with what conspiracies might unfold but I’d be very blunt – the series fell flat for me.

It somehow became a trip to memory lane back when I used to watch Shuffle, Kanon and the like. It actually got me thinking which aspect of eroges actually got me interested, and I’m able to answer that now with the fantasy, and supernatural undertones of the stories. Shuffle had magic, Kanon had miracles, ef had amnesia and ghosts. I can easily classify the school life part of these shows as bland, and even forced with all these scenarios written to give way to arcs/routes for each of the heroines. However, some of them were creative in adding the fantasy aspect and this has been one of the reasons why I’ve stayed. Koichoco never had one of these though. It’s almost purely school life that watching it in 2015(this series originally aired in 2012) makes it really dull in comparison to other series in the same genre.

Koichoco makes use of the school administration and student government among its key plot devices. It’s quite ridiculous how the whole thing about election was blown out of proportion, along with the politics taking place, that it made me hate the writing of the story. It’s quite simple at first when Oojima and Food Club only wanted to avoid their club being abolished by the student council. After which, I knew someone will run in the election. It’s pretty predictable and I might have preferred it if it remained that way because what came after was rubbish.

For the record, the tagline of the visual novel goes like this: “The story of a boy yearning for true love and a girl hating chocolate.” It’s straightforward that maybe the author thought adding in a shady organization would spice things up. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I abhor the existence of factions as they call it in the story. The part where things started descending to nonsense was when they introduced these dumb conspiracies which the story claims “for the sake of the school”.

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Visual novel guys, feel free to correct and comment at this point because I’m purely speaking out of what I saw in the anime. We’re talking about student government and committees that aim to either uphold or preserve the condition of the school. I don’t get why we have to insert dirty politics where we see corrupt leaders, under the table dealings and spies. I know that the word ‘election’ is in the title, but that doesn’t warrant that we deal with such an out-of-place concept, that is politics in a high school setting. I wouldn’t even call it politics – it’s more of pretend politics or egotrip of not-so important characters.

This leads me to the second weak point of the series – the characters. Most of them were  two-dimensional. I think the only characters I liked were the Shinonome sisters. For some reason, their back story was the most prominent. Mifuyu, Michiru and Isara are secondary characters at most. I’m not sure if their stories in the visual novel were written similar to the anime but they were weak and lacking. To be honest, with their limited screen time, I don’t even know how they qualified as heroines. Don’t even get me started on other members of Food Club.

It’s pretty established that we have Chisato as the favorite to win, but even her backstory makes me furrow my brows on how shallow her relationship is with Oojima, on top of having the default childhood friend status — and yet she’s the main contender! I was looking for how engaging these characters can portray their stories, but all I got was subdued drama being brushed off instantly after a slight conversation. If we’re going to break some hearts, then let it be! If ships are going to sink, let them sink. The narrative was cowardly for avoiding these, which puts me off because there’s not a single resolution to the feelings of other girls except Chisato, might it be a temporal one.

I think the series tried not to have an arc by arc resolution,  to work out its election plot without seeming like it’s a dating sim game, but it worked against itself because of its poor attempt to juggle the drama (if you can call it drama), the character development (if there is), and the plot (Katahira faction blah blah).

I didn’t particularly hate the series, but I don’t particularly like it either. It was mediocre at best. Even if you argue that the focus on student council election was a bit new and entertaining, I can’t say it did real great on that part either. For example, the details of Oojima’s manifesto were skipped entirely. The guy had a nice run and had good speeches (I’d have to commend the script on that) but these nice words won’t win me over. For me, it was nothing more than a half-baked inclusion of ‘Election’ in the story – which the series admits. Oojima said it himself, at first all he wanted was to prevent his club from being dissolved, but at the end of episode 12, where the hell are we?

Overall, it was unsatisfying because I thought the series itself was confused on what was the strongest suit it wanted the audience to experience and pick up. Is it the casual school club atmosphere where everyone’s just kidding around? The harem concept? The drama? The romance? The dirty politics behind the student government? The yaoi sticks? The series itself cannot answer that – thus my frustration.

If you watched it or played the visual novel, maybe you can help me dissect it better because I just can’t do a better job than what I already said above.

Please make sure you visit Reverse Thieves for more of the Secret Santa entries!

PS: My choices were: Akira, Tokyo Godfathers, Koichoco, Silver Spoon and Ergo Proxy – I already watched Akira and Tokyo Godfathers but I didn’t realize my MAL never had it in the list (now updated!). I am reading Silver Spoon’s manga so I’m well aware of what it’s about, and I thought Ergo Proxy for Christmas is out of the question haha! Koichoco it is.

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image credit: Akinashi Yuu