Since it’s the New Year, I decided to diversify my strict Shonen/Slice of Life diet to explore one of the most popular anime genres, romance. This has brought me to review the newly released manga, Mint Chocolate. I should start off by saying I am a little cynical of romances in anime and other media. While I do enjoy a good Kaguya-Sama Love is War, many anime romances for me need something extra, such as the zodiac curse in Fruits Basket or the shikon jewel in Inu Yasha. Mint Chocolate can best be described as a pure romance manga with no added elements in it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, it might not be to everyone’s taste.
Mint Chocolate follows Nanami, whose mom just married her crush’s dad and now has to live with her crush, Kyouhei, and endure perpetual sexual tension. This type of plot is reminiscent (but less explicit) to Domestic Girlfriend. This step-sibling/lover trope is definitely not a new or innovative concept, it does however come off as slightly edgy due to the potential lovers being step siblings. My gripe is why is it in these types of stories the parents never introduce their partner and their partner’s kids to them before they get married? That’s pretty important when it comes to mixed family relationships. Seriously, if my parents did this, they better not expect an invite to my wedding or meeting my spouse since that's the precedent they want to set. Nanami comes off as a doormat throughout the entire manga; she suppresses her feelings to make her parents feel happy and tolerates Kyouhei being a jerk.
It is easy to see where Kyouhei’s attitude is coming from, since it is implied he has a crush on Nanami too and was also told last minute about the arrangement. Nanami just feels like the classic lady romantic protagonist represented across anime and live action media. She is quiet and sacrifices her happiness for others even though those she sacrifices her happiness for do not warrant any such treatment. I do feel somewhat sorry for the main characters since that is certainly not a great situation to deal with. This, in a way, makes it feel like the step-sibling romance is somewhat justifiable, but has a hint of feeling forbidden, which I feel is the main draw for this manga. I feel like Nanami and Kyouhei being flirty is a form of rebellion against their parents for not doing the bare minimum of being responsible parents.
Although I couldn't find anything bad with Mint Chocolate, I couldn’t find anything I really enjoyed about it, except for the character design and art style. Mami Orikasa did an amazing job illustrating this manga. There is definitely an appeal in this manga for a particular audience. I will defiantly be giving more romantic anime a try in the future so I can find my perfect fit. Over all if you enjoy the “crush is now my step-sibling” type story with very little fan service, then this manga is perfect for you!
Mint Chocolate Manga Volume 1 features story and art by Mami Orikasa. When Nanami's high-school crush suddenly becomes her step-brother, she's faced with the unfortunate reality of having to live under the same roof as her now off-limits love-interest! Will his chilly attitude and arrogant ways be enough to turn her off, or is Nanami in for some long and sleepless nights...?Add to Cart Learn More