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…
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only which is done in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that doesn’t have to stretch in the slightest with what it wants to do and you can imagine the mixing engineer dozing off while working on it because it’s so straightforward and simple. Like most slice of life shows like this, it’s all about the dialogue and some flashes of incidental music along the way that gives it a bit of life, but for the most part it’s a center channel based mix that doesn’t have a lot in the way of placement or directionality. Simply because it’s not needed with the way the cast stands around talking and mostly focuses on one person at a time. The mix is basic, but it serves the show well and accomplishes its main goals of coming across in a clean and clear fashion with no problems during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is contained to just one disc since it’s a monolingual release and one that doesn’t have a lot of high motion to it. Animated by White Fox, the series is one that has a very good look about it with some very detailed and beautiful backgrounds that provides a look at the city in a great way but also the interiors where it comes across as very lived in and authentic rather than just simple blank walls or some such. The result is that even though there’s not a lot of big animation to it in a way, it has a warmth and appeal about it. The character designs are nicely detailed without going too big as we get plenty of costume changes along the way and some good colors that let it be the standout material. Overall it’s a pretty good looking transfer that captures the material well and presents it in a good way.
The packaging for this release is presented in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The front cover uses one of the better pieces of artwork out there with the core trio of the girls together with hands interlocked while making a heart shaped symbol. With the flow of it, the detail to the designs and the overall color of it all, it really comes together in a great way here that lets it stand out with a very appealing look. The different but similar uniforms, the edge framing and even the detail of the cup and saucer are great. The back cover uses a sky blue for a lot of the background and keeps it solid, but it breaks it up a bit with some of the light gold framing similar to the front cover pieces. Within that we get a few shots from the show spread out as photographs and some nice if small character artwork for Cocoa and Rize holding up menu pieces that break down the extras and episode count. The premise is kept to the middle in a clean and easy to read form that covers the concept pretty well without delving too deep. The remainder is the usual as we get the production credits and the technical grid, both of which are against white backgrounds that makes it even easier to read.
The menu design for this release works nicely in general but also suffers a bit from the content of the show itself. The bulk of it is given over to a great image of the main cast of girls set against the town with the sun setting. It’s got some of the key elements to it with the cups, puzzle pieces and more to give a busy but coherent look that when done in the illustration style brings it together well. The problem is more with the navigation strip along the left that also doubles as the pop-up menu. Even on a large screen this just feels tiny and hard to read a lot of the time with the in-show style menu done with pinks, blues, and black text to bring it all together. It’s not bad, but it just feels like a lot – especially with the elegant border – that when combined with the small text and some lengthy episode titles makes it rather unwieldy. Navigation itself is a breeze since there’s nothing here but the show and the special features menu which houses just there separate things in quick to load and access form.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series from creator Koi, Is the Order a Rabbit? is a twelve episode series animated by White Fox that aired in the spring of 2014. The original manga began back in 2011 as a four-panel comedy series so there’s not a lot of material to it in a sense as there were only three volumes released before it aired. Such is the case with four-panel manga series. Adapting them to anime can be tricky as you have to decide whether the short form approach is right or if it can be adapted to a longer form. The choice here was to go the full-length episode approach and focus less on the humor and more just on the feels. Which isn’t a bad choice overall as you can easily immerse yourself into this quaint and trouble-free world, which allows you to step out of your own for awhile.
We’re introduced to the series through a young high school student named Cocoa Hoto, who has arrived in a rather European town in order to go to school. She’s staying at the Kafu residence where the family there runs the Rabbit House cafe. The family is just the father, Takahiro, and his daughter Chino. She tends to run it during the day as a cafe while at night it turns into a bar of sorts that her father runs. The cafe has one other resident in the form of Tippy, a little ball of fluff that’s actually a rabbit that has the mind of Chino’s grandfather in it that opened the place originally. There’s some family connection to be had between Chino and Cocoa’s, but it’s outside of this series for the most part. With Cocoa’s arrival, she helps out in the cafe to pay for her lodging there and becomes quick and close friends with Chino, particularly since she has a mild older-sister complex about her and is all cute and grabby about it.
Within this framework, the show plays to its strengths of interactions between the girls and their various locales. While it starts off with these two and their respective cuteness, it adds another girl named Rize that works at the cafe from time to time. She’s taller than the other two, a bit more serious and has a straightforward approach since her father is a soldier. She plays up the usual type where she carries a gun and knife but is really interested in more feminine things but isn’t sure how to go about it because of the image she’s both built up and that others have created for her. Another girl that comes into the mix is that of Chiya. She’s in Cocoa’s class at school and becomes a quick friend since her family runs a coffee shop nearby. Add in Syaoro who lives next door to Chiya and you have a decent group together, particularly with her fetish towards drinkware and things related to it due to the closeness of quality coffee drinking.
Is the Order a Rabbit? is the kind of show that’s all about the mood. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of story to be had here in general and the show even avoids doing a serious storyline towards the end to try and provide a little tension. The worst it gets is that Cocoa catches a cold for awhile and the others find ways to help her feel better. Most of what the show does is to work various configurations of the cast in different places, usually at the Rabbit House of course, and let things fly from there as the case may be. Sometimes it’s going out to look for new drinkware that might spruce up the place a bit more. Another has Cocoa, who has a baking background in her family, talking about adding some food to the menu. Schoolwork comes up once in awhile as we get them studying together and here we see Cocoa’s hidden talent of math taking shape again. Even the hot spring episode itself is fairly restrained as there’s just some light fun to be had about it but mostly a lot of hanging around talking about things. Chest size, of course, is a required discussion point in every hot spring episode ever.
Throughout the show, I easily had a good time with it because it is so light and inviting and full of friendly people. It teases to some bigger things that could be fun to explore, such as with Tippy the rabbit that talks in a deep man’s voice, and the regular appearances later on with Midori Aoyama, a novelist that wrote a story that basically tells Tippy’s life. A novel that gets adapted into a film that the girls go to watch, though we don’t get to see much of outside of the outline. There’s hints like that at something more that’s fun, especially since Aoyama knows Takahiro and even spends some time working at the cafe. The show as a whole has that light as a breeze touch that does warm the heart, even if it doesn’t nourish the brain with meaty material to chew on. But what you want from a show like this are the feelings it creates. This one does that pretty expertly and without any drama or usual cliches that you get with a group of girls like this with forced material. That can be frustrating if you want something more, but that’s not what the show has set out to be.
Is the Order a Rabbit? is a really nice and fun show with cute characters that’s well designed and animated to achieve the atmosphere and mood it wants to create. Those who enjoy cafes and the European aspects of it will find this to be an utterly charming series that lets you feel a part of this world. And there’s a lot to like in that if you’re open to shows like this. If it’s anathema to you then yes, you’ll hate it. But this series sets out a clear course and sticks to it while achieving all that it wants while looking great doing so. It may be light and it may be superficial in a lot of ways, but it delves into the interactions of these young women in a fun way with a well put together presentation from Sentai Filmworks here.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.