What They Say:
Yuudai has difficulty expressing his feelings and his girlfriend, Chizuru, has trouble maintaining relationships. Trapped by their insecurities in a relationship that’s going no-where, they drift further and further apart. While Chizuru thinks this is the end of the road, Yuudai struggles desperately to overcome his cowardly nature before he loses what is most important to him. There are two stories to every relationship, but can love survive if they don’t meet halfway?
The audio has a 5.1 release in Japanese only with the two OVAs – the set up is done well and no slowdown/transaction issues with the subtitles, and no adjustments needing for the audio n my speaker system and there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc. It is quite fun with the music especially as each story has a different ending song to go with the thoughts of the male and female character respectively so a lot of fun to listen to.
Set in PAL style format with the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a full screen format, I reviewed the Blu-Ray version as this is a celebration of Production I.G animation combining all sides of animation and with no issues in terms of video to audio on, the animation giving it a very unique style which gives it an edge to stand out and make it actually great to look at – it is very colourful, combining dull colours with unusual colours and designs (the mini-donkey being the obvious one), there was no animation delay during pausing and speed wise no stuttering, one of the most unique releases in a long time and probably one of the best as it has a vibrant energy with its animation that makes it truly stand out.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is standard but nice to look at – a great art style background (almost like an oil painting) with the symbol/sign above an image of Yudai and Chizuru falling/floating to the ground – the selection options below them are Play All, Episodes (1-2) and subtitles (on/off – no English dub option). It has the pop-up menu to return and the selections don’t delay anything so standard but pleasant Blu-Ray set up.
The only extras we have on the Blu-Ray itself is an English Trailer celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Production I.G showing a fair bit of both stories, and the clean ending songs of Full Powered Boy (played at the end of Yudai’s episode) and See You Again (played at the end of Chizuru’s episode).
However, if you buy the special edition you get a digipack to store both the Blu-ray and DVD discs, a 40-page booklet featuring character art & info, profile on director Naoyoshi Shiotani and an interview with him too.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tokyo Marble Chocolate is one of those wonderful little things you just discover – it isn’t a long movie but it is enjoyable and memorable enough – it is 10 years old (and was celebrating a 20th anniversary) but still feels welcome today. It is hard to describe but generally pleasant anyway. It is basically a collaboration between Production I.G and BMG Japan to celebrate both their 20th year anniversaries, and as an original story, it actually takes a common concept (a romance story) into something a bit more unique, heart-warming and even comical at times but also keeping the seriousness of the nature of the two characters.
Basically it is a two episode OVA – each episode telling the same story but from a different character’s point of view, episode 1 is the male lead and episode 2 is the female. Basically both of them are in love with each other, but because of their past experiences have some sort of issue – the male, Yudai is cowardly and can’t tell her he loves her, whilst the female, Chizuru is quite clumsy when in love and afraid it might scare him away, leading to her thinking about breaking up with him. The OVAs tell their stories separately but when you watch one after the other, you see the timelines and what they were originally trying to do, when in the 1st OVA you may think of something else as you put the stories together…
Our two leads are insecure and worried that their relationship is going to a standstill and they’ll drift further apart so they want to try and change it for better or worse. The first OVA focuses on Yudai, who is a bit shy, a bit cowardly and he hasn’t been able to say the magic words. Immediately things you need to see the second OVA for to make sense (like how Chizuru knows he has hurt his knee) make you intrigued as he tries to give her a present – which turns out to be the unique part of the OVA in a mini-donkey (which was supposed to be a rabbit ^^) but more on him in a bit – Yudai realises both Chizuru and the donkey are gone and someone has picked up her phone who seems to like her…anyway, he goes to her place only to overhear her talking with someone and via their interactions it sounds like another guy (again, the 2nd OVA reveals the truth) which makes him depressed and ready to call it off. In a bad coincidence, an ex-girlfriend Miki forces herself to stay the night with him after being dumped, so the next day Chizuru goes to meet him and of course, sees the two. Yudai confronts about her seeing a guy which she says ‘yep’ and then leaves, and that’s apparently that. He then realises that it was, in fact, the mini-donkey she was talking to when he is left with him so he goes to meet at Tokyo Tower which connects him and Chizuru together. It leads to him being braver as he confronts his fear of heights to save a present of hers, and Chizuru finds him…but then vanishes….
Cue story two.
Watching Chizuru’s story will make you want to watch Yudai’s again and catch the various things that she says and does which interact with it – for example one of her first scenes is managing to spy on Tokyo Tower with some paid binoculars and sees Yudai as well banging his knee (hence how she knew) – her quirks are she gets clumsy, drunk easily and never feels truly loved by the men in her life. She feels her love for Yudai is one sides and has brought him a present – but it is in fact as a break up gift. We get to see what happens after Yudai leaves her and the donkey escapes the gift packaging – fun and chaos mostly – we see her phone being dropped and picked up by the guy who seems a bit of a Casanova, so the scene just before her chatting with the donkey he goes to give her the phone and seems ready to invite himself him, but the mini-donkey is the best guard dog ever and seems to only care for the scent of Chizuru and Yudai so that saves it, but then you see the silhouette of Yudai as she talks about how wishy-washy he is…and leaves just before she speaks about his good points and how much she loves him…
Of course, after the miscommunication with Miki, she gets depressed at her job but overhears Miki make up with her boyfriend and what actually happened which renews her drive. Leads to scenes with a balloon getting attached to her present (hence why she had to go to Tokyo Tower and what drives the donkey over there) and the aftermath when Yudai goes there, why she leaves initially, and then they reunite with the aftermath of photos showing that they stay together and possibly marry…
There is a lot that you need to rewatch to get everything and it is quite clever how they do it. For example, there are a number of background characters that Yudai in his nice guy way has to help before trying to find Chizuru (a guy who he accidentally spills coffee on, an old lady that needs help across the road) that Chizuru herself bumps into in her story almost like they are fated together. The openings of their story show a lot more, especially with Chizuru crying in the snow as her story actually intended for her to break up with Yudai and her present was for that, whilst with Yudai his present was to try and help him confess his love, yet we see him chasing after something in the opening sequence (later discovered he is running after Chizuru a la the end sequence). The similarities in the opening sequence in terms of their luck with past boy/girlfriends echoes how different their actual intentions were with their presents, and it is done really clever because when you see Chizuru in Yudai’s story, she doesn’t appear to want to do any of that, but then you see Chizuru’s story and get her thoughts, you can totally see the signs…
The insecurity of our two leads is what drives them along, as you can see Yudai being way too nice and wishy-washy whilst Chizuru feels that she is to fault for her own insecurities with relationships and the two need to somehow meet an impasse, and that is how they eventually get together in breaking out of this. Part of this is the surprising but fun inclusion of the mini-donkey, Yudai accidentally being sent the wrong pet and he turns into the star of the show. His unique look is someone a bit ugly and yet cute at the same time, and the indication is that he’s a bit disruptive is an understatement, but he’s also the perfect guard dog and seems to love both Yudai and Chizuru (the scene when the guy who gets Chizuru’s phone trying to force his way into her apartment is hilarious seeing the donkey act as the perfect guard dog).
All the classic clichés and misunderstands are there, but done more realistically instead of anime 101 violence – the two blame themselves for everything and then realise they were wrong through their thoughts, overhearing and the story itself and it cleverly goes through that as you go ‘AAAHHHH’ when something in Chizuru’s story is explained during a scene with Yudai that was in his story. Hardly a step goes wrong in how it is played out, the animation is very clever, the music is very good and it works perfectly.
The only minor point I will say is that it is a limited edition ranging between £25 and £35 online, and in reality you get only 50 minutes of movie (and no dub) – the extras on the disc are basically you do get both a Blu-Ray and a DVD and there are some special edition collectors stuff, but for the price, it does feel a bit much for what you get. It is gorgeous to look at don’t get me wrong and a great OVA but if it had been £15 I’d have given it an A, as it is, not so much but if you can spot it at a bargain, then definitely – it is limited edition so once they’ve gone they won’t be reprinted so it is a catch 22 situation as you may wanna grab it whilst you can, but price aside, I loved it and will definitely watch again for stuff I may have missed the first time.
A short and sweet OVA double – the two leads of Yudai and Chizuru are well-defined characters, you realize their short comings and their ways in trying to stop that, yet still revert back to their insecurities. Thanks to a lovable mini-donkey, the show plows on and gets to the point where they get their deserved happy ending. Great to look at and listen to, it is a smartly told romance story that you’ll need to rewatch to get everything. Hopefully, the price won’t put off people due to how short it is because it is definitely worth a watch or two.
English Trailer, Clean Ending Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+ (B+ with limited edition)
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: May 29th, 2017
Running Time: 50 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.