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Love, Election & Chocolate Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Love Election and Chocolate Image 1Lives of kids in an upper class school delves in the three areas, love, chocolate and how to win an election.

What They Say:
In Japan, participation in extra-curricular activities is as fundamental a part of an education as chalk and gym shorts. However, not all students are overachievers, and for those like Yuki Ojima, groups like the Food Research Club are welcome havens in which to slack off. But what’s a slacker to do when the radical new candidate for Student Council president announces her intent to get rid of clubs like the FRC?

Well, getting the help of the current Student Council president is a good start, but his suggestion is so counter-intuitive that it’s crazy: Yuki’s going to run for the Student Council himself! And yet, it’s SO crazy that it just might work. Especially when Chisato, the chocolate-adverse president of the FRC – not to mention Yuki’s best childhood friend – and members of other targeted school clubs start to join the swelling FRC army. But can this army of goofs and goof-offs coast all the way to political victory? Or will someone have to step up to the plate and take one for the term?

Contains episodes 1-12 plus the OVA.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is decent considering the source material itself as we get only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that is largely dialogue based with a few moments where it acts out a bit more but never anything that really jumps out at you in a big way. The dialogue side of it is what carries it and while it doesn’t do anything radical or impressive, it’s well conveyed here as it uses the forward soundstage properly. Placement is the main focus here as there’s not much in the way of depth so we get some good back and forth across it and the characters work the range decently, though again it’s kept realistic and without any huge swings in a particular direction. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in the summer of 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. It’s spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second which is also where the couple of extras are. Animated by AIC Build, the show has a very good look about it as it works through a mildly elite school with well designed uniforms and a pretty good sprawling campus that never felt like it was overdone. It works with some good detail to it but wasn’t a show that felt like it was going for hyper realism for it. There’s more bold colors to be had here and a very good smoothness to the animation that comes from this kind of show where it’s not heavily focused on action and more about dialogue. But the transfer captures the look of the show very well with clean, solid lines and very appealing colors throughout.

The packaging for this release is pretty good though it could have gone big with a lot more characters. Presented in a standard sized Blu-ray case with the discs against the interior walls, the front cover gives us a look at Chisato and Mifuyu together across the bridge that’s a fairly regular part of the show. Chisato’s inclusion is fine, though her involvement tapers off for a bit in the show, but Mifuyu is a much smaller player in the show and the lack of including the lead character of Yuki of course is problematic since you know only the female characters will get people to buy the show. The character designs are good, the setting works nicely and it has some very good colors that works well with the blue of the case. The back cover is fairly traditional with a bit of elegance around the edges to hold it together. The premise of the show is pretty detailed with a lot of text to it against a soft white background and we get a few shots from the show as well. The extras are clearly listed as well as the disc and episode count. The production credits are a little harder to read with the black on blue and small print but it still works well enough. The technical grid is where it’s all at though as we get everything broken down cleanly and clearly so you know how the release is put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for the show works pretty nicely overall as it uses a lot of the same design elements as the cover. It works a half and half format here where the left side has the artwork, such as the first volume using the front cover piece, while the right side breaks everything else down. There’s a lot of white space of sorts mixed into the right side as it breaks it into half as well due to the length of the logo and the awkwardness of it, so the left half is basically blank graph paper while the right side has the navigation strip itself. This is fairly standard fare as we get the breakdown of episodes by number and title, which doubles nicely with just this portion as the pop-up menu and that keeps it from obscuring too much of the screen when you use it.

The only extras included on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the visual novel game from sprite/fairy that originally came out in 2010 on PCs and then after this series ended on PSP, Love, Election & Chocolate is a twelve episode series and OVA that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it in the title. Some shows are more obvious about their intent than others, but there’s no mystery here about this show and what it’s going to cover. There’s something to be said about that to be sure and the themes do work well here as they all end up tied together, sometimes in light ways, as the show progresses. But like most visual novel games, there are darker elements to be had as well and that makes it a bit more engaging than the kind of light feeling the title gives off upon first glance.

The show revolves largely around Yuki Ojima, a pretty decent guy who is a second year student at Takafuji Academy. The place is one that is largely filled with students who come from a bit of money, though it doesn’t feel like it’s full of ultra elites. But there are a lot of those there that have a sense of entitlement about them which has them taking it out on others to feel superior. Yuki has that kind of average good guy thing going where he’s easy to get along with and tends to gravitate more towards female friends, which isn’t all that uncommon when it comes to shows like this and life in general. He’s closest to Chisato, a neighbor of his that he grew up with that has a strong connection to him and a problematic past that’s explored in the final couple of episodes. Chisato is very upbeat and positive and very much in love with him, doing her best to be there for him and support him, but it’s mostly out of a fear of being left alone on her part. That keeps you uncertain as to just how deep and true her love is, which in turn makes you feel more for Yuki and the way he can’t quite take her seriously and keeps an eye towards other possibilities.

His main object of interest is their mutual friend Mifuyu, but she really has a very small role in the show overall and it never really felt real. There’s also a couple of potentials in the club that they’re all in, the Shokken Club, but even that never really gels together since most of them get only so much screen time and development. The club itself is a big focus for the show in a bit of an abstract way because the club is focused on using club money to make or buy sweets and enjoy them rather than anything practical. And that aspect of the club comes into focus because student body president elections are coming up and one of the frontrunners, Satsuki, has put forth a reform plan as her platform that involves disbanding and eliminating a large chunk of clubs in order to keep them to just useful and productive clubs. That puts the fear into the Shokken club and you see them put forth the idea that they should run for president as well. Well, they being the girls all forcing Yuki into it since he’s the only one normal (or competent) enough to handle it.

That launches the show forward as we see how it delves into the way that this academy handles elections with primaries, schmoozing and the actual final vote itself. This does take up a lot of time here and becomes a major focus, but it also works to draw the characters out a lot as we see their personalities and the things that they can do in order to be a functioning part of the group and school. What really takes root with the election side is that we find that there are really strong, moneyed factions out there that are involved in it. The different factions, which goes back to the alumni as well, are intent on maintaining control of the student council and there’s a lot of things revealed as it goes along that really takes it further out of reality than I’d care for. With secretive spies, one of which is nearly killed at the start and turns into a strong point in the final arc, it kind of just makes it all ridiculous. It’s school. Just school. But when you add money in, it changes everything. Which is also part of things since it deals with classism and bullying, but that’s given such a light and simplistic touch that it doesn’t really feel like anything more than a token effort.

Love, Election & Chocolate does cover a lot of things when you get down to it and part of me really enjoyed seeing the practical approach to campaigning, the things that come from it as the club works hard at it and the side story that deals with Satsuki and her older sister, which is a teacher and club advisor for the Shokken club. The election side does deal with a little bit of a naive approach to things with how Yuki wants to run his campaign and we see the pro coming in, which naturally gets turned around at the end with the honest approach that almost never actually works in person. I also liked what we got when it dealt with the sticking issue between Chisato and Yuki, but even that felt a little obvious and forced when it finally came out since it didn’t get enough attention earlier in the run. It’s not badly done, but it was a secondary piece to the campaigning itself and all that it involves. In the end, the whole thing with the faction and infighting going on there dominated far more than it should have.

In Summary:
Love, Election & Chocolate is certainly an amusing title and they have some interesting things to play with here. Most shows do a few episodes worth of campaign stuff when it wants to cover this kind of thing but it really is the overarching storyline here that interweaves a few different character stories. Some work better than others and I really found myself wanting to see more with Satsuki and her sister than some of the others. Yuki carries the show well enough, but he is in the end the kind of empty character that’s designed to allow the viewer to step into his place and experience the show through him. There’s only so much that we get from the show about the guy but it’s all kept directly to the story elements themselves. But like most series, the main male characters have very little in terms of personality or interests outside of relationships, which is unfortunate. This show has some good moments and I definitely liked the added attention of the election side since that was given a lot more time than usual with some interesting explorations.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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