Magical Chocolate

Independent Japanese productions are a rarity, but when they hit, they hit big. Other than making the Diacon films, Gainax was unknown when they unleashed the stupendous Wings of Honneamise on the world. Makoto Shinkai made his brilliant Voices of a Distant Star virtually alone. It's possible with today's technology to turn out an impressive product without a terrible amount of expenditure. Of course, to do that, you must have talent. Sadly, while Magical Chocolate was shown on Japanese TV advertised as "independent anime," according to an article on Anime News Network, it is awful. But being that it's awful for only eight minutes, it has one thing going for it: it is mercifully short.

Mami has feelings for Ishida, the popular soccer player who's inundated with admirers. She made him chocolates for Valentine's Day the year before, but she lost the nerve to give them to him, and her brother and dad ended up mowing down on them. Mami asks her friend Koko how she got up the courage to confess her love to her boyfriend, and Koko answers that a mysterious girl gave her magical chocolate. So much for simple advice...and now Mami's only hope is to find that special stranger who specializes in chocolates new boyfriends can't resist...

I've mentioned recently how some anime can, with a certain amount of humor and fun, overcome budget limitations and plot cliches. I wish that were the case for Magical Chocolate, but it looks so incredibly bad that one cannot help but notice how terrible this thing looks. Characters move across the screen with no apparent motion. The character design is beyond amateurish reaching into childish; I've seen many American high school students taking art classes who could do better. It makes South Park look like the height of animated sophistication, and I say that without a note of irony. I've seen very few anime that could be considered painful to watch, but this is one. It reminds me of flash animation several years ago, stuff like "The End Of The World" and that profane singing squirrel. Yet those were hysterical even in their crassness. This is not. What makes Magical Chocolate worse is that the plot is wholly unoriginal. It plays out like so many other Japanese high school romances. Any questions about the girl in black who delivers the special chocolates aren't answered, so other than that bizarro element, this is simplistic at its core.

There is a certain level of amusement to be had in watching Magical Chocolate that moves it up from total failure. There is something deeply silly about the animation, and I couldn't help but giggle. It is, in fact, so bad that you may enjoy it in its faults. It's inept, but if you can remove yourself from the idea that you're actually watching something that's supposed to resemble anime, you can enjoy it on an Ed Wood level.

But how did this wind up on NHK of all places at all, when student art projects could easily be better? Who knows?  Perhaps a favor was being called in. Maybe, as with many anime these days, somebody paid for it to be televised. Maybe when it was broadcast in 2002, they were trying something different. The world may never know. But unless you have the sense of humor that appreciates so-bad-it's-kinda-good films, just forget about this thing's existence. You have a better use of your eight minutes.

Magical Chocolate -- nothing objectionable -- D