Trouble Chocolate Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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. #5

By Luis Cruz     September 10, 2003
Release Date: June 10, 2003


Trouble Chocolate Vol. #5
© Viz Media


What They Say
Meet the wacky gang from Micro-Grand Academy and find out why one summoning from a disgruntled sorcerer and one gluttonous kid’s reaction to "C.H.O.C.O." spells nothing but trouble. So maybe substituting hair spray for plutonium wasn’t the best idea. Mint’s hotly anticipated new ultimate weapon has become a shrinking machine!

Then, Hinano formally joined the S.M.A.T., but has Truffle bitten off more than she can chew? He’s in for more fun as he finally summons the nerve to confess his love for Hinano. Witnessing his subsequent abduction, Hinano tries to report the "crime", but if we’ve learned anything in this show, it’s that where there’s chocolate, there’s trouble. Can Cacao save the day, and Hinano, before she goes back to being a puppet for good?

The Review!
Viz cooks up the last batch of Trouble Chocolate; except for the final episode, this volume is as bland as the previous four batches.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. As with the previous four volumes, the audio was clean and sharp with no noticeable defects. The only complaint one could have with the audio was the difference in volume between the menu audio and the audio for the show.

When the disc loaded up, my receiver was set to its usual DVD watching volume; as the menu began, I quickly had to turn the volume down as the sound was far too loud. Once the actual show began to play, the volume had to be turned back up to its original level to hear the dialogue adequately. However, this is a minor complaint, and the disc will provide an enjoyable audio experience.

Video:
Viz provides its usual sharp and colorful transfer for the final volume, but there were a few defects. There were a few spots were the video experienced a noticeable shimmering effect. Also, "line of dots" subtitle problem reared its head once again in places.

As with every other Viz disc I have reviewed, this volume replaces the original credits and title cards with English equivalents placed directly onto the video transfer. Save for one spot, this practice is also applied to Cacao’s email screens seen during the show.

While this practice does not bother most, my preference is to have the original video intact from start to finish. As other company’s releases have borne out, DVD technology allows the original Japanese credits and English translated credits to coexist on the same disc. Viz is not utilizing this technology, and my video review grade reflects that.

Packaging:
Professors Ganache and Papaya strike a serious pose on the front cover. Master keeps a watchful eye on the episode descriptions, screen shots, and nutritional information (disc specs) contained 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. Viz has kept the packaging consistent throughout each release and captured the chocolate theme of the show very well.

Menu:
Professor Papaya welcomes you for the last time 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 one to get setup and into the show quickly.

Extras:
Your prizes inside this bar of chocolate are character profiles, a gallery of twenty animation stills, and textless versions of the opening and closing themes. The theme songs can be played with or without English translations.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The gang has A Small Problem at the start of the final volume. Mint has saved up her money and bought the latest tool to aid her in world domination. Unfortunately, her new "super grow ray" runs on pure plutonium, but that does not deter her as she decides tempura oil is a sufficient fuel replacement. Cacao and the gang, including Mint and Spider-monster, all find themselves shrunk down to insect size. To return to their normal size, they must first help their new "hobbit" friends save their home from destruction by the sweet potato planting staff of Micro-Grand Academy.

Hinano becomes One of Us in the next story by joining up with S.M.A.T. Almond and Truffle also decide to join, but Cacao obstinately refuses to join the club as well. It takes a shape-shifting miscard to make Cacao confess to Hinano why he did not want to join up.

As the series winds down, Truffle confesses his love to Hinano in Hinano Gets a Secret. Shortly after this, his own security ninjas kidnap him and take him to his grandfather’s tower. There, Mozzarella tries to convince his grandson to dissolve all ties to Hinano and complete his mission to destroy all magic users at Micro-Grand. Hinano manages to get a rescue party assembled, but they also end up trapped in Mozzarella’s tower.

This leads us to the final episode You’re Welcome, Hinano; Cacao has received an email from a mysterious person known as "Donboy"; in it, he learns that Hinano is a prisoner and that he is the only one who can save her. He rushes out to do just that but finds Mozzarella’s troops out hunting for him. They have also surrounded Micro-Grand Academy and are trying to hunt down anyone that uses magic.

Cacao finds some support in the form of Ganache, Papaya, and Big Bang. They arrive at the tower for the final showdown and its accompanying revelations. Mozzarella is a cyborg known as the Colonel and participated in the Witch-Hunt 100 years ago. He is out to finish the job and has used Hinano as bait to lure out Cacao. The final battle ends as it must; everyone lives happily ever after.

The first three episodes of this volume fall in line with my overall feelings about this series. While providing a few chuckles, the stories fall flat for the most part. The gags have become routine and predictable, and the plots remain generic providing little chance to connect with the characters.

Trouble Chocolate tried to capture the mix of parody and romance that shows like Urusei Yatsura made so famous. Sadly, it just never clicked with me as much as Urusei and other shows have. While even seminal show like Urusei rely on routine and repetitious gags, the gags in Trouble Chocolate were not that funny from the start or lost their appeal quickly.

However, the last episode showed me what this series could have been. It drew me into the story and made me care about the characters for the first time. It was engaging and finally made the romance between Cacao and Hinano believable. The writers really found their stride with this episode, but it is a shame that they could not have found the same stride for the previous nineteen episodes.

One annoying point about the last episode was the fact that we never learn who "Donboy" is and why he would be concerned about Cacao rescuing Hinano. I have a suspicion that it might have been Professor Ganache as he was involved with the original Witch-Hunt, but there really is no evidence I can point to in support of this unless I missed a clue somewhere in the series. The final episode may have salvaged this volume for me, but the series as a whole just did not taste that sweet.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

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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