Do I like anime about love? Why yes, I do as a matter of fact. I love a soppy romance. Do I like chocolate? Of course. Do I like politics? Oh. Well, two out of three isn’t bad. If those three elements sound like rather random choices, don’t worry, because they actually fit together very well.
Yuki Ojima is a member of the Food Research Club at one of those posh schools that parents have to pay for kids to attend. The members of the club do little other than sit around eating sweets. Nothing wrong with that, you might think, but a school president election is coming up and the frontrunner, Satsuki Shinonome, is running on a pledge to disband clubs like this, which don’t have much of a purpose. The club members are naturally horrified, and come up with a potential solution to the problem: Ojima will stand for election himself.
That’s not quite as easy as it sounds, because the school is basically controlled by different student factions, and as an outsider Ojima stands little chance. He will need the support of somebody powerful, but what moral sacrifices will be have to make to achieve that? As much as I didn’t expect to enjoy the political side of this anime (and I do find the whole school being run by the students thing quite ridiculous) it is actually extremely well written, with a more sinister mystery running through the series, linked to all the election campaigning. In fact, we start the first episode with the sight of a student being deliberately run over by a car because she has found out some dangerous information, so this is not the light and fluffy series it might appear to be.
And yet this is still functionally one of those harem anime series where everyone inexplicably falls in love with the fairly unremarkable protagonist, which seems like a bit of an odd fit with the more serious political manoeuvring and student in a coma. To be fair to the writers, Ojima is a reasonable catch for the girls, with a strong sense of morality and the ability to bake them their favourite confectionery, but the scale of everyone’s romantic attraction to him is a little silly. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other characters, to illustrate my point:
- Chisato Sumiyoshi, Ojima’s childhood friend. In love with him.
- Mifuyu Kiba, in love with Ojima, but holds herself back for the sake of Chisato.
- Isara Aomi, bullied scholarship student who Ojima tries to protect. In love with him.
- Michiru Morishita, very quiet girl who seems to behave oddly like a cat. In love with Ojima.
- Satsuki Shinonome, Ojima’s main rival. In love with him.
- Hazuki Shinonome, her older sister, and a teacher. In love with Ojima.
- Oboro Yumeshima, the token gay character. In love with Ojima.
To be fair I’ve been a bit selective here. There are also characters who are not defined by their attraction to Ojima, such as a very funny inventor girl, and I’ve also exaggerated slightly. Some of those “in love with”s are really not much more than “is attracted to”. I was also pleased to see that Ojima does end up with one of the girls, and the one that makes the most sense too, after the girl in question is able to come to terms with a tragic aspect of her past. This is not one of those frustrating harem animes that doesn’t resolve anything.
The love interests for Ojima are a mixed bag. At the more valuable end of the scale in dramatic terms we have bullying victim Isara Aomi, whose story raises issues about discrimination against the scholarship students whose parents are not rich enough to fund their education, and Michiru Morishita, who is feeling lost without her only true friend and cannot find her. On the other hand, there’s the alcoholic teacher who pursues Ojima. She’s only 23 but it’s still uncomfortable to watch, although the exploration of her broken relationship with her sister is a compelling storyline. Worst of all is Oboro Yumeshima, who is the laziest kind of token gay character, who gets nothing at all in the way of characterisation other than his constant innuendo and perving over Ojima.
Love, Election and Chocolate has its origins in one of those romance computer games that are so popular in Japan, and that‘s all too evident in its harem anime leanings, although some truly great anime have come out of that genre (e.g. Clannad) so it’s not a barrier to greatness. This doesn’t quite hit the heights, but at 12 episodes and a very disposable OVA it’s not a huge commitment and it is also nicely self-contained, with the “love” and “election” aspects both resolved by the end of the series. As for the chocolate, this is a selection box of a series. You might not enjoy everything it has to offer but if you’ve got a soft centre like me you’ll appreciate the romance. RP