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Viz Video presents
Trouble Chocolate #1 (1999)

"No, not that! That was magic chocolate, and it was 200 years past its expiration date. So if you get sick, don't blame me."
- Professor Ghana (Tsuboi Tomohiro)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 18, 2002

Stars: Tange Sakura, Yanagi Tomoki
Other Stars: Hikami Kyoko, Kogami Hiromichi, Kase Hiroyuki, Otani Ikue, Tsuboi Tomohiro, Ugaki Hidenari, Nakahara Shigeru, Otake Hiroshi, Sasomato Yuko, Amikake Yumi, Watanabe Yumiko
Director: Tominaga Tsuneo

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild fan service)
Run Time: 01h:42m:46s
Release Date: October 22, 2002
UPC: 782009099499
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-B+B+ D

DVD Review

Trouble Chocolate starts off with a scene so moronic and clichéd, I was tempted to turn the player off right then and there. Our hero, inept and inexperienced teen Cacao, wakes up in bed next to a beautiful girl, with no memory of how she got there. He proceeds to freak out in typical anime fashion (in Japan, it seems, guys eyes pop out of their heads to zoom in on girls' panties and such quite regularly, and with the appropriate sound effects, too). But just as the flashbacks to Sakura Diaries were growing too intense to bear, the show kicked in, undercutting the familiar scenario with satirical humor and self-referential dialogue.

It seems that the girl, Hinano, is actually a fairy, trapped in the body of a wooden puppet. She was put there when a spell by one of Cacao's teachers went awry. You see, Cacao attends the Mega Grand Academy (the school with 666 classes) in "crazy" Sakai Town, where he takes Hogwarts classes from Professor Ghana, who believes he has the potential to become a great wizard. His other teachers include a vampire and Frankenstein's monster. Hinano is, of course, totally devoted to Cacao, and I begin to wonder why nearly every anime treats women as little more than mindless automatons (add to that the fact that she's a wooden puppet, and the subtext is rapidly becoming text).

This first disc includes the premier four installments of the series, and the collection is a bit of a mixed bag. Despite the humor, the main plot of Trouble Chocolate is fairly insipid fan service fluff (who wants to place bets on Hinano's ultimate fate? I'm guessing "Pinocchio" here). It's at its best when it crams in as much humor as possible. Most of the wackiness comes off as weirdness for weirdness' sake, but the sight gags and running jokes at least keep things moving. I particularly enjoyed episode 2, which introduces a team of secret agent students attending classes with Cacao (membership counts as an extracurricular activity). But you can have too much of a good thing, and episode three throws material at the screen whether it's funny or not and winds up a clumsy, confusing mess, though it does introduce a new character, the rich brat Truffle, a rival for Hinano's affections.

Truthfully, I wouldn't call this a promising beginning, but Trouble Chocolate is pleasant enough for a comedic anime. Just don't go in expecting Slayers or Urusei Yatsura and you'll probably enjoy yourself.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This image is fairly pleasing, if a bit unstable at times. Prints are rich and clean, and colors are saturated, but there's quite a few instances of color bleeding, particularly in the reds and purples. I also noted some aliasing in some shots, but nothing too distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: Dialogue is nice and clear on both the DD 2.0 English and Japanese tracks. The front soundstage presents effects with occasional directionality and fills out with the score. The surrounds are mute throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. Clean Open and Close
Extras Review: Extras are limited to the clean opening and closing animation and a gallery of sketches and stills.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Trouble Chocolate is a diverting attempt at creating a goofy, satirical anime. Not nearly as frantic or inspired as Excel Saga, it's still worth a look.

 


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