Trouble Chocolate Vol. #3 -

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. #3

By Luis Cruz     October 15, 2003
Release Date: February 18, 2003

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #3
© Viz Media

What They Say
In "Bathing Beauties," why do pretty girls go in to take a bath and then disappear, leaving behind only painted wooden dolls? Everyone's a suspect as Cacao and Truffle try to solve this one. Does the mysterious new girl at the school have something to do with all of this?

Then, in "Wait, Mr. Postmen," meet Courier, Micro-Grand Academy's newest, tiniest treasure. If he delivers one love letter to your heart's desire, your purest message will be understood. Since he got Sardine his first girlfriend, everyone at the school is clamoring to get a shot at Cupid's postal worker and as a result of all the pressure, Courier multiplies! What happens when everyone in the school has their own Courier to take care of matters of the heart as well as financial burdens?

Next, in "Love at First Sight," another spell's gone awry, this time causing everyone at Micro-Grand Academy to fall madly in love with Cacao! What will Hinano do with all the competition? What will Deborah and Murakata do now that they love someone more than they love each other? Can Professor Ganache get them out of this in time?

Finally, in "It Was Mint To Be," Micro-Grand Academy's newest enemy, the evil world-dominating organization J. Joker, just sent over its newest member?Mint?to takeover the campus. Mint's got a sidekick named Crunchybug, who gets along famously with Hinano, but their new friendship is tested when Crunchybug assumes his evil alter-ego. Will Hinano have to hurt her new best friend? And who's that masked man who looks suspiciously like Murakata?

The Review!
Love is in the air, and villains threaten MG Academy. Combining this with sorcery gone wrong and a few ?miscards? produces another mild taste of Trouble Chocolate.

The Japanese audio was listened to during my primary viewing session. Most of the episodes were dialogue driven, but there were some great stereo effects in places. This release continues to have a solid audio track.

The video for this release is as good as the audio. Sharp and colorful, it is difficult to find a flaw in the transfer while watching. The flaws that are noticed are by Viz?s design and by small lapses in quality control.

Credits and title cards continue to be hard subtitled; in the previous two volumes, there have been one or two subtitles that had a line of dots underneath them. Since they were ?blink and you?ll miss it? lines, it was not worth mentioning. However, each episode seemed to have at least one very obvious line of dots that pulled my attention from the actual text.

Cacao?s email screen is still being rendered as an overlay, but in the last episode, one screen managed to escape being overlaid. The Japanese text was clearly visible. They have the original text; why do they refuse to show it on screen?

This bar of chocolate features Truffle on the front cover. Hinano in her cute maid outfit says ?Your Welcome!? to 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.

Cacao provides the ?Cranky? Sakai Town travelogue for this menu. The main menu plays the same piece of background music as previous volumes have. 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 main menu. There are no transition delays between menus allowing the user to get setup and into the show quickly.

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 reduced to four pictures for this volume. The textless versions of the theme songs with translations are still the best extras for the series.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ah, the price of beauty? girls from MG Academy are mysteriously disappearing from their baths leaving behind a wooden doll. Truffle suspects that Professor Papaya is the culprit and goes undercover to determine the truth. And the truth is? Papaya is a vampire but not the culprit. Bathing Beauties was a lackluster opening episode for this volume providing very few laughs.

Wait, Mr. Postmen introduces the first cute ?miscard? in the form of Courier. Courier is a tiny messenger that delivers letters for you; he also has two unique abilities: the ability to show you the true feelings behind the person that wrote the letter and the ability to multiply when frightened. It all starts innocently when Sardine wants to send a love letter to his email pen pal. Courier soon starts to multiply, and the Academy students begin taking advantage of all the tiny Couriers.

Eventually, the Couriers get very angry at being used without so much as a ?Thank You? and grow into one very large, very angry (yet still cute) Courier that delivers a message of destruction to MG Academy. The ending is corny, but the episode had some good visual gags that provided a few chuckles.

Cacao must attend an early morning sorcery class in Love at First Sight. The spell he is attempting goes horribly wrong (surprise, surprise) and causes anyone who looks into his eyes to fall madly in love with him.

This is a thinly veiled plot device meant to show the potential Cacao has as a sorcerer and to bring Cacao?s feelings for Hinano closer to the surface. While it accomplishes both tasks, the episode fails to give any meaning or weight to either event. Unfortunately, there was not much to laugh about in this episode either.

It Was Mint to Be ends this volume by introducing us to Mint and her Spider Monster sidekick. Mint has recently joined the evil ?J Joker? organization and dreams of world domination. She also happens to live right next door to Cacao and the gang; what are the odds?

Mint?s first assignment is to conquer MG Academy; unfortunately for Spider Monster, all of Mint?s plans for conquest are ill conceived and result in bodily harm. This episode turns out to be the best of the lot as it features a great parody of the Kamen Rider series and to a lesser extent superheroes in general. It was clever, funny, and well thought out. It is a shame that they cannot hit their stride with more material like this for each episode.

As I get deeper into this series, I believe more and more that the show suffers from not knowing what it really wants to be. Trouble Chocolate is trying to blend together elements from so many genres yet not quite finding the right mix. The show remains cute and bearable to watch, but it has a hard time deciding what audience it is trying to target.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes Promotional Material,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

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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