If you’ve watched more than three episodes of anime, you’ll likely know that Valentine’s Day in Japan is a little different from in your home country. Here, instead of men giving boxes of chocolate to their sweethearts, the custom is for females to give chocolate to the important men (boyfriends, husbands, sons or possibly male coworkers) in their lives, which is usually the subject of much entertainment in harem anime series. There are two kinds of chocolate, 本命チョコ honmei-choco or “real heart chocolate,” given to someone you actually care about, and 義理チョコ giri-choco or “obligation chocolate,” the kind female office workers feel obliged to give to the males at work. The latter is kind of fading as a custom, and J-List’s Sailor Moon and bento buyer Mai gives us all chocolate because she likes doing so, and because we give her a nice return gift on March 14 (White Day) to say thanks. Chocolate companies and department stores are always trying to create new chocolate-giving trends that will be talked about in the media, like the year they promoted 友チョコ tomo-choco, chocolate given between friends, or 逆チョコ gyaku choco, “reverse chocolate,” when boys give it to girls (e.g. what we usually do in the West). This year the trend is “bean to bar,” which describes premium chocolate made from single-source cocoa beans that were lovingly grown, harvested and prepared by the same company.
As an anime blogger and general “guy on the Internet who tells you what anime to watch this season,” I try to approach all new shows with an open mind. Just like the Japanese proverb 石の上にも三年 ishi no ue nimo san-nen, or “sit patiently on a rock for three years” (in other words, wait a certain amount of time before deciding if a thing is good or not), I try to watch three episode of any series before writing about it, so I can have an idea of its quality. Being a fan of JC Staff, I decided to watch the new science-esque magical girl series Schoolgirl Strikers, which is based on some mobage I naturally never had time to play. While I almost never write negative things about a show, because I know there’ll invariably be someone who loves it, I am saddened to say that I found Schoolgirl Strikers to be the most generic and boring thing I’ve seen in years. None of the fresh ideas other shows bring, no obsessing about which girls are secretly hooking up ala MadoHomu, no hilarious fan-service camera angles, and certainly no “waifu wars” with fans debating who is best grill. A mind-blowing 230 anime titles — a number that includes series, films and OAV releases — were released in 2016. Perhaps studios should try dialing this number back and bringing a bit more quality?
J-List stocks all the best chocolate items from Japan, including Japanese Kit Kat, with great flavors like Matcha Green Tea, Yokohama Cheesecake and the just-released Sake Kit Kat, with actual Japanese sake. Make a purchase right now!