Posted by psgels on 29 August 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



Oh boy. I got impatient with the slow subs, so I decided to just check out the raws for this series, just to get things over with. Believe me; it really deserves to remain unsubbed. If you were already turned off by the first half, just be happy you didn’t get to see the second half…

In any case, for those of you who don’t know: Chocolate Underground is Production IG’s latest work, which tells in 13 five-minute episodes the story where an evil party has taken over the government and banned all sorts of chocolate. At first sight, it promised to be an interesting and short look at fascism and communism. Eventually, it turned into an abomination with the “we rock they suck”-mentality.

The first half at least knows how to build up, and it introduces the potentially interesting characters of Huntley and Smudger. It successfully portrayed how the people feel oppressed, and try to do something against the government by holding secret chocolate parties. It’s all fine when these events remain on a small scale, even though the evil chocolate-banning party is obviously a reference to China, and something tells me that it’s not just a coincidence that this series aired right before the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Unfortunately, as this series enters its second half, it becomes clear that the creators didn’t even know what they were building up for and the entire series gets resolved into one of the worst conclusions I’ve ever seen. In the end, a bunch of very blatant Deus ex Machina help the oppressed children overthrow the government in a boring cheese-fest that’s downright insulting to intelligence. The adults don’t even struggle back, they just magically “see the light” and give up their life ambitions like a bit of cheesecake.

Overall, this is the piece of junk you show children to make themselves feel special and more important than adults. I wasn’t expecting much, but the climax of this series was downright insulting. It’s not like short series with only 5-minute episodes are doomed to fail. Hanoka for example was a very cute series, despite its short length, but Chocolate Underground looks like it was directed by a bunch of 12-year olds, not the director of Wellber and Library Wars.

Storytelling: 2/10
Characters: 4/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 2/10

12 Responses

  1. Denizen says:

    Where the heck are the Chinese references coming from? This is simply an adaptation of a british novel from years ago.

  2. BlueYoshi says:

    And I think the first half of Chocolate Underground is boring and has poor writing. Looks like I will take your advice and drop this piece of garbage before I am disappointed even more.

  3. kanzeon says:

    Whoa 37.5…that’s harsh…
    I’m still on the first half and I was currently enjoying the series but too bad it ended in that way. At first, I was really expecting this show to become something more political and sensible like Toshokan Sensou but I guess I was wrong… That was disappointing :(

  4. Reiter says:

    I kinda enjoyed the first few eps in a mindless sort of way (the 5 minute format doesn’t lend itself well to exploring character or plot depth).

    The problem with this mini series and Toshokan (another series I enjoyed, relatively speaking) is the silly, nonsensical reason behind all the conflict; why ban chocolate or books of all things? If they somehow made this reasoning more plausible, then their social commentary would be easier to swallow.

    Still, I honestly didn’t equate CU as being anti-Chinese but more if what would happen if the US became a police state due to the political climate these days (1984, anyone?). But I watched Toshokan mainly for the characters themselves, heh.

  5. TheBigN says:

    I’ll keep watching to see how bad it can get. It’s only like a half hour of my time when all is said and done. :P

  6. Jess says:

    I’m not really seeing where the China hate comes in, but whatever. I watched the first four episodes, then kinda forgot about it with summer ending, and, UGH, school beginning. Oh well. Good thing I didn’t bother with it, apparently.

  7. slepyhed says:

    Meh…It looked pretty interesting but I’ll take your word for it.
    On another note, have you watched Bartender? It seems like something you would like.

  8. psgels psgels says:

    About the China-thing: yeah, I guess that it’s as much a message against China as communism and fascism in general. There were indeed no real references to that specific country.

    Slepyhed: I remember that I dropped Bartender when it first aired because the fansubbers refused to release in anything other than HD .mkv (which is murder to my computer), but if I can find the right files, I might check it out again.

  9. helen says:

    How is banning chocolate related to China? China never banned chocolate – it actually has one of the most relaxed regulations on food – even some endangered animals can be found on the table at some small villages…

  10. Lika says:

    Communism =/= automatic evil. China at least made an effort for the Olympics.

  11. عربيه وافتخر [ مسملمة ] says:

    اغبيااء ايهااا الكفررره المجاانيييييييين

  12. Joe says:

    I really liked the lighthearted feel of the show. Life doesn’t need to be super serious all of the time.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:43 AM)
    I enjoyed Vivi’s storyline tho. I think even tho he was bland and quiet he still had the most emotional developments as a character, which tied in to identity and what it means to be alive. I also liked the “I want to be your Canary” play within the game, it was like a fleshed-out version of the Opera House scene from FF6.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:40 AM)
    Yeah I remember that my brother would watch me play FF9 here and there and I would fill him in on the details, and he came in when I was fighting Necron and said “who the hell is that?” to which I replied “I have no clue. I think it’s the final boss”. I don’t really know why they decided to do that, but probably to give Kuja a last minute redemption. Still, they should’ve just went with a superform Kuja battle instead imo.
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 10:33 PM)
    @Aidan: I can admit that, in regards to the final boss of FF9 at least.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:33 PM)
    FF9 was Final fantasy goes Dragon Quest. I didn’t like it for the designs and wasn’t into the story at all. Itwas sort of the reason why I didn’t like wind wakers style. The series is good because of it’s more mature feel. Speaking of embarrassing last boss fights FF9 was worse than FF10. With an endboss who literally came straight out of nowhere.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:26 PM)
    @Aidan: yeah, fusing turn-based (or ATB) battles with some real-time elements always intrigued me. That was the only redeeming quality in Legend of Dragoon’s battle system. That recent Child of Light game was a good, albeit basic, homage to those earlier games, and the simple battle system was both fun and nostalgic.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 09:21 PM)
    @Emma: 9 was a throwback to the earlier ones, and that’s why people ate it up. I did like it tho, even despite the Chibi style which I don’t enjoy. To be frank I liked the series from 7-10 the most. It’s a combination of the games and those specific years of my youth.
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 08:49 PM)
    Though those are opinions which are from my teenaged self back then…
  • Emma
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 08:34 PM)
    That last boss fight in FF10 was embarrassing, then they brought out that silly fanservicey sequel to it. I find FF9 at the time had a good blend of a then modern game but also retro feel, I liked the revelations surrounding garland, Kuja, Zidane and felt that FF9 was where I was the most emotionally involved.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    True, assuming of course that the latter installment is indeed better. Resident evil 5 was no 4. That’s for sure.
    I liked that you could time R1 to give you more damage for attacking with Quall. And it was nice that summons leveled up. So that your earlier summons don’t become completely useless in the endgame.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 4. 2015 03:46 AM)
    I also enjoyed FF8 quite a lot. I appreciate cinematic presentations and 8 delivered that with a lot of style. The visuals were amazing and the the music was great, and if you learned the GF BOOST ability you used the much-maligned long summon animations to stack up on some damage.

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