What They Say:
Coming to a new town to start high school can be intimidating, and that’s especially true for Cocoa, who can’t find the place she’s supposed to be staying when she arrives. When she stops at a cafe to ask for directions, however, it turns out that she’s already where she needs to be! You see, the Rabbit House is both a restaurant and a boarding house, and Cocoa will be working there along with the owner’s granddaughter, Chino and the strangely military-obsessed Rize. It’s a great place to work, business is hopping, and Cocoa’s fits right in with her new coworkers, as well as the girls from two other rival cafes. Still, there IS something just a little odd about the Rabbit House. Besides the fact that Rize usually carries a Glock and a knife hidden on her, there’s also a mystery involving the shop’s pet rabbit, Tippy. And then there are those girls who sometimes seem to be able to communicate without talking… The answer to these secrets may not always be hare-raising, but they’re bound to keep Cocoa jumping as the fun never stops in IS THE ORDER A RABBIT?
Although the set is only available in Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 with subtitles, this standard soundtrack is the only one necessary for this release. The comical chattering of the girls and other cast members would have been lost if Sentai Filmworks had tried to dub the title; often times, when a studio tries to cast English actors, the linguistic nuances of the original language are lost when they use mature adults for children voices. In most cases, since the seiyū are often auditioned before the series is created, the animators draw the characters to suit the voice. Thus, the only way Sentai would have done justice to the animation would have been to use child actors, which is not the norm for the industry.
The colourful atmosphere of a small European town is captured within the panoramic environments of the series. By using the widescreen format, Sentai helps to bring us into the enjoyable rabbit-centric world of Chino and her friends. If the traditional 4:3 format were used, most of the beautiful scenery would have been cut off and the viewer would have been the loser.
Sentai Entertainment gave the case a cuteness overload with the inclusion of Chino, Tippy, Rize and Cocoa on the front cover. They stand out best on a blue and white background dressed in their uniforms with the title screen artwork strategically placed in the corner; then the spine is accented by the adorable Chino and Tippy. And to top it off, Sentai use a mosaic of screen shots framed as pictures to surround the series’ description, giving us the sense that the back cover is a page from a scrapbook. You can see one of the girls doing this in maybe a summer vacation homework assignment, so it makes it a charming segue into the anime.
Although the menus may be very basic with the first few seconds of the opening animation song repeating in the background, Sentai accented the first disk with a pastel pink background of Cocoa, Syaro and Chiya to the left and the episodes listed on the right; on the second disk, they used a pastel blue with Chino, Megumi, Maya and Cocoa in the back watching over her Little Sisters. The music does get tiresome the longer you hear it, but, of course, Mute is always an option. The one piece that does make the screen stand out is the carry over of the bunny theme from the anime into the episode selection – instead of a standard arrow cursor, Sentai opted to make it a bunny hopping over each name! Charming and useful at the same time!
While the rest of the set is delightful, the extras on the disks are sorely lacking. It would have been nice to add something like a biography of each character: likes/dislikes, favourite drinks/foods and hobbies. But instead, Sentai gave us textless opening & closing animations and some trailers for their other acquisitions. Extras are supposed to add to the content of a disk, not subtract from it by just tacking on non-essential materials.
With the coming of spring and the beginning of a new school year, a new face arrives in town; however, she is already hopelessly lost. Cocoa Hoto (word play on Hot Cocoa) gleefully wander the streets of this small European town looking for her new home. She is now starting high school and has the arrangement to work there in exchange for room and board, but how can she if she can’t find the place? A little rest to calm her thoughts and ask for directions is in order, and this place is as good as any, especially since it is called Rabbit House! What can be better than being able to cuddle bunnies while drinking her coffee?
But, as she enters the café, there is something missing: where are all the rabbits?! Nothing on the tables, floors or underneath anything! What a disappointment, until she sees a cute little girl wearing a fluffy hat. No, it’s an angora rabbit named Tippy (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), the restaurant’s mascot! Cocoa so wants to pet the bunny … but she must buy a cup of coffee per cuddle. Sadly, she agrees and asks her waitress if she knows the address she is trying to find; with a confused look on her face, her server tells her that this is the place, but they don’t need any more help. After she explains the situation, her shy helper introduces herself as Chino Kafū (Cappuccino) – the owner’s granddaughter, and escorts her to the dressing room so she can change, but she is not alone. While searching the lockers, Cocoa is surprised by a thief in underwear pointing a gun at her! What is with this place?
When Chino brings back her uniform, she explains that this isn’t a robber, but the other part timer. Her name is Rize (Thé des Alizés tea) and she harmless; she just has an extraordinary obsession with the military due to her father’s training from a young age. When all of the chaos has calmed down, they introduce their new employee to the menu and try to explain the workings of the café; now only if they can get Cocoa to stop fawning over Chino and insisting that she call her Big Sister or hugging Tippy. This is going to be a great place to work! But, tomorrow is the start of the semester and they need to get up early.
Morning comes and Cocoa is awoken by Chino in her middle school outfit; after the obligatory cuddling and squirming dance, they part ways as her little sister meets her friends Maya Jōga (Jogmaya tea) and Megumi Natsu (nutmeg), leaving this scatterbrained high schooler trying to find her way on her own. After getting lost several times, she finally wanders into the park and is amazed by the warren of feral rabbits and a cute girl dressed in an elegant hakama feeding one of them. She is Chiya Ujimatsu (uji matcha tea) and informs her that the entrance ceremony isn’t until tomorrow! To try to soothe her new friend’s depression, she invites her to her family’s Japanese coffee house – Ama Usa An. The beautiful setting is however marred by what looks like a rabbit sculpture wearing a crown sitting on a pedestal, but it is actually their mascot named Anko. While this was fun, Cocoa needs to get to work.
Chino is already there and is starting to get the place ready, but Cocoa thinks that they need to brighten up the place, maybe some new cups will help? At the end of their shift, they visit a neighbourhood china shop and find an amazing assortment, but cannot understand the reasoning for the price difference, until they see a cute blonde girl marveling over the assortment. Her name is Syaro Kirima (Kilimanjaro coffee) and just so happens to be Rize’s kōhai at school! But how does she knows everything about each piece and also the way she carries herself – she must be a rich girl, right? Then, why is Chiya concerned about seeing her working at a new coffee house named Fleur de Lapin? Could it have something to do with their skimpy maid outfits and flop ear rabbit barrettes? Why would a rich girl need to work? It must be one of her quirks.
As the school year progresses, Chino’s father Takahiro and Tippy (who is actually her grandfather, previously transformed by a mysterious twist of fate) happily watch as she slowly emerges from her shell, all thanks to Cocoa’s smoothering friendship and kindness. But, as Christmas comes to an end, her Big Sister succumbs to a fever and becomes bedridden. Their child is desperate to find a way to help her faux-sibling, staying by her side all night, until her illness becomes worse. When she runs out of cold medicine, Chino panics knowing that all of the nearby stores are now closed; her grandfather then reminds her that she can go to Chiya and borrow some. As the pair march through the snow, he taunts her in saying that she would never have done this before if not for her feelings for Cocoa. She playfully beats him down and then accepts the pills for her sister. However, after Cocoa recovers, Chino then comes down with the mumps! Her Big Sister returns the favour, much to her Little Sister’s chagrin.
And after both patients have recovered, life returns to normal to Rabbit House. Chino and Rize are setting things up in preparation to open, but of course, Cocoa is still asleep. Strangely, without any urging, Chino volunteers to wake her wayward worker up; as usual, nothing will rouse this dreamy traveller. Regretfully, she has but one option left: Chino leans over and whispers that her Big Sister sleeps too much. This causes Cocoa to bolt up, ramming her head into a startled Chino. The screen fades to the title as Cocoa asks what Chino asked her and could she please repeat it?
This is a delightful series! It is a refreshing change of pace from the same releases of violence, robots and talking animals. While the concept of a slice of life in school age café workers may not seem to be an original theme, the way it is executed makes this series stand out from the rest. Each restaurant is developed as a separate entity, with different ways of doing things, atmosphere and uniforms. But, the method by which the animation brings the girls together outside their respective comfort zones is what makes it successful. Plus by adding the various character models: tsundere Rize, yandere Syaro (made all the better with her caffeine allergy) and kuudere Chino, it opens the way for all of these personality conflicts, adding to the fun.
Although it may seem that Cocoa is the main character, it really is Chino. She is the driving force of Rabbit House, even though her father may run the daily operations with Tippy giving her advice, she is still the one who runs the coffee shoppe. But, that life kept her isolated since Takahiro ran the nightlife scene and he barely saw her aside from passing in the hallway. Rize wasn’t much of friend either with the age difference and even her classmates were hesitant to approach her since she is rather shy. However, once Cocoa walked in, all chaos broke loose!
The comical antics of this girl broke her shell once she opened the door looking for rabbits! Chino didn’t know what to make of her, a customer who didn’t come in for a quiet cup of coffee. And once she learned that her father had allowed her to stay, you get the feeling that she was probably grinding her teeth for breaking apart her settled world. But this is what she needed to open a new door into something new. Cocoa brought her Big Sister/bunny obsessions and these eventually broke down that quiet little girl into someone who relied on not just herself but on others as well. This was what her grandfather and father wanted, and hopefully she will not develop into a Cocoa Junior!
Of course, the rest of the story brings everything full circle with Cocoa’s loves: the feral rabbits inundate everything else in the town by their influence. From the names of stores (Rabbit House, Ama Usa An, Fleur de Lapin), books and movies (Silence of the Rabbits and The Barista Who Became a Rabbit) and even medicine (Rabbitrin DX)! Then the naming scheme for the characters ties the employees to the restaurants via teas and coffees. You can only guess where this manga was created, but it must have included late nights of caffeine and fuzzy pillows.
If you want a break from the normal and a good laugh, Is the Order a Rabbit? is a good way to escape from the daily grind. Grab a hot drink, sink into a comfy bean bag chair and wrap yourself in a warm blanket then sit back and enjoy. Afterwards, get ready to dream of hopping bunnies chased by cute little girls. It’s better than counting sheep!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player connected by HDMI