Chocolat is a mature comedy series about half orphan Tatsumi Chiyoko whose father was caught in huge debt. Now living with Omugi Matsukichi, an ex-underground king who opened a pastry shop, she gets to know people like Katou Ichigo, an ex-inmate. With people after her father's whereabouts, what will happen to her?
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Rosy's scrawlings on Chocolat
Don't be fooled by the pink and cutesy covers. The manga isn't quite so girly as all that, although it will appeal to girls quite a bit. The essence of the story is that there's a girl, Chiyoko, who's lost her mother and father and only has a stepfather of sorts left. She goes to his place for a roof over her head but demands little else except privacy. That isn't possible though, for several reasons, and soon enough this girl gains five quirky 'fairy godfathers' who are ex(barely)-mafia. Chiyoko's stepfather was the mafia boss and her new love/hate interest Ichigo is his right-hand man. Then there's an ex-hitman, a permanent child in the form of a giant artist/mafia man and a wanna-be-big-man little guy who's trying to become strong. No-one has a fantastic past but together they slowly form a stable-ish sort of family life in a pasty shop, one that sells the bad tasting cakes the ex-mafia boss bakes. Their life together is rather odd, to say the least, but they do manage to work through some issues and grow stronger.
There are quite a lot of jokes within Chocolat that people like to call immature but they are the ones that make you laugh like a kid. There are also some sophisticated jokes, a few tragic history story lines, the drama of a first love/second love, mafia plotting and scheming, dashes of cruelty, blood lust and grandstanding. Chocolat is a pretty well rounded story, often touching on general psychology in order to round out characters and make even some of the worst and most fearsome human and tragic. Overall, the mood is kept light but there are times where your heart breaks a little for the characters.
The most appealing aspect of Chocolat has to be the illustrations though. More often than not they make the jokes. There's a few different expression styles used but they are all neatly woven together to show various moods and layers of realism. The easy switch between dark and aggressive, intentional ugliness, comic and beautiful expressions give each character depth and believability. Just like seeing the beautiful look idiotic, greasy, ugly, amusing or stupid, depending on which way the wind is blowing, you get the chance to see all the characters in a similar light. This also makes the romances and tragedies more believable. Otherwise, the illustrations are smooth, spacious and easy to look at. And on occasion you may fall in love with a well drawn pair of eyes (sounds odd but you'll understand what I mean - they are striking at times).
I'd recommend this manga to: those interested in amusing gangster or mafia stories, light romance, light tragedy and a lot of laughs. There is much in Chocolat for males and females alike although there's likely to be a difference in the age ranges between these wide readership groups.