Secret Santa Review!
(Oops, I totally forgot until boxing day to do this!)
I was recommended Chocolate Underground for the secret santa event, and what can I say? An anime made up entirely of 3 minute episodes fit perfectly into my final exam schedule. I kind of wish I'd chosen one of the more time consuming but hopefully better animes from the batch that I got…
The story was a cute, kind of cliche story about rebelling against a corrupt power. the rebellion itself is sparked by one stupid rule too many- the banning of chocolate! It also tries to shoehorn some romance into it, but it feels kind of forced and falls flat. There's not much to say about the story, it's very average- the creators don't appear to do much more than the bare minimum when if comes to creativity or exploring any real themes beyond the tried and true. You can't really blame them though, as each episode only gave them 3-4 minutes to tell their story.
Animation was alright, I guess. Nothing to write home about. Character designs felt a bit weird to me due to the style of art used. There was obvious CG, especially with the mechas. One thing about the animation was the food. Not the health food, which is pretty much shown as grey slabs, but the chocolate sweets they baked made my mouth water.
As for sound… That ED was godawful. Music is subjective, but I did not find the screechy pop singing at all suitable for the show. It was such an awkward transition from subdued talking to sudden annoying song, that it actually took away from my experience. Melodramatic, but true. The background noise was not intrusive or memorable, voice acting was equally not memorable.
Characters were not great. Fun fact: my cat's name is Smudge, and her nickname is Smudgers! Not much characterization can happen in twelve three-minutes episodes, so they were very two dimensional. There was some development in certain antagonists, but not a whole lot in the protagonists (there was some, but not much and nothing particularly interesting or well done.) The chemistry between the members of the love quadrilateral was non-existent. I didn't ever feel attached to any of the characters.
Overall, what can i say? I didn't like the show that much. The length of episodes kept me from getting immersed in it or allowing the characters any growth. The characters themselves were shallow and boring. There was nothing interesting about the bad guys. It was cute, though, to see a rebellion sparked by chocolate. There is nothing wrong with this anime, it's a good time waster, but it is not memorable in the least.
I highly reccomend this anime to everyone! What's great about it is, it's fairly short; so you don't have to take time out your daily life just to watch it. Each episode is about 5 minutes. And for an anime that was so short, it did have a pretty interesting story! The story is pretty much that chocolate has been banned and that there is a group of people trying to change this law; having underground chocolate parties and what-have you. It's a very interesting concept that I have never seen in an anime before! The animation wasn't that bad either. It combined 3-D animation with 2-D animation; having the robots and vehicles in 3-D. The characters are also very easy to love. Two friends (Huntly and Smudger) team up to bring back chocolate for their crush, Louise. That was actually the other problem, their names could have been better. But if you don't let their slightly awkward names bother you, you'll probably easily fall in love with the characters. Besides, Huntly and Smudger are pretty cute if you ask me! And that's kind of the reason why I started to watch it, in all honesty. Mostly because the kid with the weirder name--Smudger--looks an awful lot like Syo Kurusu from 'Uta no Prince-Sama', kinda makes you wonder... Also you may have noticed that I gave the sound a seven, it may have just been me, but the dub track sounded a bit 'meh'; not the acting, rather it was the quality. It probably sounded that way because it's a web series, but my comment still stands. However, the short, yet incredibly catchy ending theme song was what really bumped its score up! Seriously, listen to that song and tell me that it's not catchy! Overall, it's a pretty great series! It's also a good one for people just starting to get into anime. It's short, cute, and not ecchi in the least; pleasing anime fans of all ages! You would be crazy to pass on this series, so check it out!
The story in Chocolate Underground is generally a good story. There were some moments that were cliche, and there were far too many of these moments. I did however like the story of rebelling against the established authority, and making things the way they should be. But the pacing was sporatic throughout the series. In some episodes, there seemed to be little to no plot change, and in other episodes there seems to be large changes in the plot. There were also some points in the plot that were never made clear, or theads were left dangling. Overall, I think that the story was good, but it needed more time to grow and mature.
The art in Chocolate Underground is probably the serie's strong point. The art is rather good, and the animation is smooth. However there are several instances of still crowds, and still backgrounds. These stills took away from the realism in the story. The characters looked good for the most part, although there were times when they looked unreal.
The characters of Chocolate Underground are ok, but they lack development and personality. They seemed to be based on stereotypes, and had few things that made them unique. again this is a series where it's shortness is its downfall, and the characters needed more time to develop for the audience. A lot of the characters seem to be driven by only one thing, and it makes them seem two dimensional and bland. However, There were a few moments where there was some development, and it made things more interesting.
Chocolate Underground is an all around mediocre anime. It isn't the worst filth ever to grace the world of anime, but it isn't something that should be regarded as a great anime. If time is short for you, than this series will please you in some ways. Its an ok anime, certainatly there are better ones out there, but this one deserves at least a small look.