Trouble Chocolate Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Trouble Chocolate

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #2

By Luis Cruz     October 15, 2003
Release Date: December 17, 2002

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #2
© Viz Media

What They Say
Deborah isn't going to let Hinano be the most popular girl in school. Hinano's fascinated by Deborah and Cap'n Murakata's strange need to always touch each other. Hinano and Deborah use the fire in their hearts to destroy the latest enemy.

Meanwhile, Hinano's newest hobby takes over Cocoa's house. Truffle tries to woo Hinano with the largest cat he can find, but only succeeds in making more of a mess! When everything is about to become a CATastrophe, will Red Bean and Green Tea be talentless enough to stop it?

Then, time for schools' Olympics and first prize is an all-you-can-eat-month long coupon! Will Hinano ever notice Truffle? And finally, there's a new boy in town and he's looking scary. Mozzarella unfroze his strongest soldier to destroy al sorcerers in Micro-Grand Academy. Somehow Cocoa becomes his one and only target!

The Review!
Time for another bite of Trouble Chocolate; this time, the taste is not as sweet.

The Japanese audio was listened to during my primary viewing session. Each episode produced some great stereo effects. Characters and action moved across the sound stage fluidly. The opening and closing theme songs continue to be too catchy for my own good.

As with volume one, the video provides a sharp, colorful picture. No flaws were evident during playback. My eyes received a break as Viz used a more standard font for this release. It is easier on the eyes yet not obtrusive enough to take away from the show.

The same issues from volume one are present on this volume; credits and title cards continue to be hard subtitled. Cacao?s email screen is still being rendered as an overlay; there is no direct Japanese text version of the screens. Maybe I am too much of a purist, but this bothers me more than having the credits hard subtitled.

The chocolate bar motif continues as Murakata and Deborah grace the front cover. Almond watches over the episode descriptions, screen shots, and nutritional information (disc specs) on the back cover.

Inside, there is a one-page insert that has the chapter listings on one side and a big ?TC? logo on the other. As I look over some of my other anime DVDs, I continue to be impressed by how clever the packaging for this series is.

Our menu narrator for volume two is Professor Ganache; once the standard ?Cranky? Sakai Town travelogue is over, the main menu plays background music from the show. The layout of the main menu remains the same; each episode is listed along with ?Play? or ?Scene Selection? options for it. Options for the language selection and extras menus are at the bottom of the menu.

There are no transition delays between menus; the menus do their job of getting you into the content quickly. The scene selection menus and the insert match up for this volume; unfortunately, the scene selection for an episode still consists of only four parts ? opening, body, closing, and next episode.

Your prizes inside this bar of chocolate are a character gallery, a gallery of animation stills, and textless versions of the opening and closing themes. The character gallery is a bit thin this time having only five pictures. Having clean versions of the theme songs along with song translations continues to be the best extras for the series.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much to Deborah?s chagrin, Hinano becomes the center of attention at school in The Greatest Love of All. Her jealousy fuels her to challenge Hinano to a game of softball; it is also fueling a pumpkin monster that has appeared from a Bio Chocolate collector?s card. Hinano is playing to understand the concept of love while Deborah is trying to regain the limelight. Murakata, Cacao, Almond, and Ganache all manage to get caught up into the battle.

In Kitty-Kat Kalamity, Hinano has decided to take in stray cats; on the other side of town, Master, the four-eyed stuffed cat with some unusual powers, is teaching his pupils Matcha (green tea) and Azuki (red bean). He tells them that he brought them from China to seek a higher power to fight against. This higher power has manifested itself as ?miscards?, Bio Chocolate collector?s cards that allow monsters from the spiritual world to cross into the real world. Matcha and Azuki go forth to find these cards; naturally, Cacao and the rest of MG Academy get sucked into the quest. The end result has Master, Azuki, and Matcha living with Cacao.

An all-you-can-eat pass good for one month is the grand prize in the MG Games. Athletic Supporters sees our cast participating in the games for their own reasons. Truffle is aiming to win the games and thereby win Hinano?s heart. Matcha and Azuki want to win so they can be on TV to fulfill their desire of being scouted as idols. Cacao and Almond are naturally in it for the free food while Hinano is there because Cacao is.

?And Called It Macaroni ends this volume as Mozzarella, Truffle?s grandfather, unfreezes Macaroni after a 100 year deep sleep. Macaroni is a deadly cybernetic assassin whose mission is to destroy Cacao.

Despite a few good chuckles, this batch of Chocolate just did not click with me. Murakata and Deborah?s dramatics continued in each episode. I get it guys; high school students, especially those portrayed in anime, tend to over-dramatize their relationships. Stop beating me over the head with it and give these characters some more depth.

Most of the gags and parodies were recognizable but were just not that funny. There were a few bright spots most notably the giant lucky kitty statue that attacks the school in episode six. Matcha and Azuki desperately want to be idols, but they lack any semblance of talent. After each of their acting scenes, a cold wind freezes everything in sight. I had that same freezing feeling after ninety percent of the humor in these episodes.

On a different note, the episodes start to bring the romantic angle into play a bit more. Episode seven has Hinano suffering from a lack of energy leaving her in a coma; Cacao must choose between winning a free month of food or staying by Hinano?s side and trying to help her. Cacao chooses to help her; whether this is the sign of a small ember of love remains to be seen.

There is one last note regarding the overlaid email screens. The quotes have been from popular figures or shows in the West; it makes the translation a bit fishy, and without the original Japanese screens as a comparison, one cannot determine how accurate the subtitles are. The quotes have been appropriate and sometimes humorous given the episode, but the situation leaves a nagging doubt that takes away from enjoying the show.

The trouble with this batch of chocolate is that it is not outright boring, but it is not that entertaining either. It is good for a few chuckles, but it will not be making its way off the shelf much.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Conceptual Artwork

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.


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