Trouble Chocolate Vol. #4 -

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: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Trouble Chocolate

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #4

By Luis Cruz     October 15, 2003
Release Date: April 22, 2003

Trouble Chocolate Vol. #4
© Viz Media

What They Say
Episode 13: Deborah vs. Mecha-Deborah
When a mechanical Deb assembled by Mint is mistaken by everyone at school for the real one, blood runs cold and Deborah?s temper runs hot.

Episode 14: The Monster of Lake Micro-Grand
It?s chaos under the sea as Murakata is transformed into a carp. Green Tea and Red Bean run out of material, and Cacao gets a big dose of chocolate.

Episode 15: The Incredible Mister Pencil
Almond learns the hard way that nobody loves a destructive personality. Nobody, that is, except for Mister Pencil.

Episode 16: Granny?s Surprise
Look out, Big Bang. It seems that Papaya, your heart?s desire, has a new admirer.

The Review!
This serving of chocolate includes some mechanical mayhem and a pair of ?miscards?. Unfortunately, the recipe is still bland; it remains cute enough to hold my interest but goes no further to pull me into the series.

For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. There were not too many stereo effects, but the ones present were well placed and sharp. The audio has yet to disappoint in this series.

Sharp and colorful, the video transfer also has yet to disappoint. The first episode on the volume did have a few subtitles containing the ?line of dots? underneath, but the remaining episodes exhibited no such problems.

It is a shame that I cannot grade the video higher due to the hard subtitles on the credits and titles cards as well as due to the overlays used on Cacao?s email screen. The transfer is gorgeous but ends up ruined by a 1980?s anime market mentality. The technology is there to eliminate these issues, but Viz continues to not use it.

Sardine, Mackerel, and Wheat are your front cover boys and girl for this volume. Ham Ham inspects 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.

Professor Big Bang, the gender confused Frankenstein, welcomes you to ?Cranky? Sakai Town. As with previous volumes, the main menu plays a snippet of background music; 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 expanded from four to five 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)
Mint has a bold new plan to take over MG Academy; she will unleash? Mecha-Deborah! In the aptly titled Deborah vs. Mecha-Deborah, Mint?s creation goes to school and promptly begins to cause trouble. Unfortunately for the real Deborah, no one seems to be able to tell the difference between the two.

It is not until Murakata hugs them both that the gang realizes which one is real. For once, the Murakata/Deborah gag has a use; hugging Mecha-D does not cause the usual ?waves crashing, fireworks exploding? scene in the background. This provides one of the few chuckles for me in an otherwise pointless episode. Once again, Hinano appears to be in danger prompting Cacao to show his feelings for her. And once again, the show does not build on this at all. For a romantic comedy, the romance has been non-existent to this point.

The Monster of Lake Micro-Grand provides the most chuckles on this volume which, unfortunately, is not saying much. The plot revolves around the S.M.A.T. team looking for treasure but ending up getting swallowed by the monster of Lake MG. Cacao and the gang to the rescue! Along the way, they find Mint?s new underwater lair complete with a gun that shoots electricity (she?s not a very bright villain much to her sidekick Spider-Monster?s chagrin and aching body).

Eventually, the gang finds out that the monster was produced by alien technology left over from a UFO that landed in the lake millions of years ago. The aliens also ate chocolate providing another episode of ?Drunken Master Cacao?. Cacao stumbles about firing off high level firebolt and lightening bolt spells eventually blowing the place up and depositing a deep-fried lake monster in front of a famished student body.

The Incredible Mister Pencil attempts to tug at the heartstrings as Almond befriends the latest ?miscard? Mr. Pencil (who is actually a pen). Whatever Mr. Pencil draws turns into an inflatable, real life version. Almond initially uses this power to play pranks on Cacao and the gang.

After Mint steals Mr. Pencil from him and the gang ostracizes him, Almond learns ?a very special lesson? about respecting people and things. Almond gets Mr. Pencil back and draws a beautiful picture of a phoenix; Mr. Pencil?s ink is used up but is happy because Almond has drawn something nice allowing Mr. Pencil to return to the Faerie realm. Almond bids a teary goodbye to his friend.

The volume is ended with another ?miscard? in Granny?s Surprise. A ?Granny Bomber? has her eyes on Professor Papaya. If Papaya receives five red-ribboned, green apple bombs from her, he will become a ?Granpa Bomber?. Big Bang won?t stand for this and offers up his/her life savings to the person that can prevent the tragedy. Everyone wants to cash in, and hilarity ensues? or not.

I am having a difficult time looking forward to the remaining four episodes. The romance between Cacao and Hinano has no steam behind it; it is difficult to care at this point if they end up together or not. The highlight of this volume was the new ending theme sequence it introduces.

A techno-style song is playing in the background while the cast is performing some form of Japanese line dancing. It was cute, catchy, and provided the best entertainment on this volume. This batch of Chocolate is likely to gather dust and expire on your shelf.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery,Image Gallery,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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