Nanami is not thrilled. In fact, she’s about at her wits’ end. Her crush is living in her house as her stepbrother, he keeps teasing her, and now he’s in the hospital?! Between unexpected guests, nursing the stubborn Kyouhei, and the approach of Christmas, she just can’t catch a break…Without a little bit of Kyouhei’s sweet chocolate, she just might break. – Goodreads
If you read my last review of this series, you will know that I found it very similar to Marmalade Boy, and felt that the pacing was a little off. If you haven’t read that review, that’s okay, to summarize one of the things I liked was that readers were offered insight into Nanami’s thoughts throughout the book, however I did notice that readers who had already been exposed to Marmalade Boy, seemed less likely to enjoy volume one.
Unfortunately, I found that volume 2 of Mint Chocolate also had the same awkward pacing as volume 1. The pace, really doesn’t allow for the reader to fully grasp where the characters are at in their development. Certain scenes felt very rushed, to the point where sometimes it felt like I had missed a panel or a page, but I didn’t. It mentions Kyouhei going to the hospital, and I don’t remember that at all. In fact, all I remember is him getting sick, and Nanami caring for him at home.
Another thing I found was I that I was getting bored during certain scenes. It tended to be the ones that were recycling material from other “and they were roommates” type manga’s. Truthfully the “and they were roommates” trope is one of my favourites but in order for it to work, the characters need to develop naturally, as does their relationship. Here, it seemed like Nanami and Kyouhei were being thrown into different scenarios like, being home alone together, someone having a cold, and Christmas and meanwhile the two of them remained in the same state. I could actually, relate more to Andou, Kyouhei’s friend thinking, “What is wrong with you two?”
In both the first and second volumes the seasons changed so frequently, that it’s nearly impossible to figure out how much time has passed. As a reader it seems bizarre that these large amounts of time keep going by but the characters still seem to be at the same stage they were in volume one. There just wasn’t any real character growth or development. The only thing that we were given was insight into Nanami’s dad dying and more reasoning about Kyouhei being hesitant about being in a relationship after his parents divorce. This insight was good, but it could have been executed better…and possibly not given to us so quickly?
By the end of the second volume, I was still debating on whether or not I wanted to continue this series. I have other series that I absolutely adored but am still trying to track down because of the manga shortage, which is why I decided to try some new ones, but…I can’t tell if this series is worth giving another shot.
That fact is, that I don’t dislike the characters. There are times when I find Kyouhei is unnecessarily mean to Nanami, and I can’t understand why she would have a crush on him, but I wouldn’t say I dislike Kyouhei. Out of all the characters, I actually prefer the oblivious parents and Andou. My only comment on Nanami’s friends is that two of them look like her, and it gets confusing in the panels they’re in. Her one nosy classmate from volume one seemed interesting, and I think it would have been nice to see her make a reappearance but it seems like many of the ther characters were brushed aside in order to squeeze in these different, fast paced scenarios during this volume.
Strangely enough, my favourite scenes were between Kyouhei and Andou. It was more interesting seeing the two of them discussing Nanami, versus following Nanami around while she got lost in her head thinking about whether or not Kyouhei liked her.
The very end of the Christmas scene was cute, but again it felt very rushed. I’m not going to give away any spoilers about the details of this scene, other than the fact that this portion was done well. The rest of the manga made me think of a poorly done retelling of Marmalade Boy and for the vast majority I was bored.
I honestly hoped the second volume would surprise me, and that the story would pick up but it just felt flat until that final chapter. There was no sense of urgency, or any tension between the characters, and when it comes to the many categories within the forbidden love trope, I feel that having that it is necessary.
How I do my ratings
5 stars means the book was fantastic and went beyond my expectations.
4 stars means the book was great.
3 stars means a book was good, but could improve in some areas.
2 stars means it was just okay.
1 star means it wasn’t for me.
I’ve decided to rate volume 2 of Mint Chocolate a little less than volume 1. I feel like I’m being generous by giving it 2.5 stars, but I found that the first volume had more potential. This volume on the other hand, fell flat.
I still think that this series can redeem itself, and I truly believe that those of us who had already been introduced to Marmalade Boy when we were younger, already have high expectations for a shojo manga using this trope. However series like Andante, Me and my Brothers and more recently Love Me Love Me Not, have used this same branch of the forbidden love trope and all of them executed it flawlessly. Many focusing more on the characters personal growth than their living situation.
I would definitely recommend this series to someone who hasn’t already been introduced to this trope through Marmalade Boy, because I believe based on other peoples reviews, it is actually a good series, but when you’ve been exposed to other books within this trope, it feels lacking in comparison. I also don’t normally like to compare books when reading but because of the title in relation to the characters, and the whole set up it really makes it difficult not to.