What They Say:
Pia Carrot #2 might be the second Pia Carrot restaurant numerically, but they’ve got ambitions to be the best. That means great food, great service and the most beautiful waitresses.
For Kouji, who’s looking for a job where he can meet lots of attractive girls quickly, it’s the perfect place to work. Unfortunately, things get up close and personal even more quickly than expected when he collides with Azusa on the way to apply and ends up with a handful of her… well, suffice it to say that she’s NOT happy. It’s an instant case of hate at first sight that only becomes more intense when they end up working together… or is this mutual dislike really the start of something else? Something’s cooking and it’s not just their tempers!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show is pretty much what you’d expect for its vintage and type in that it’s a fairly straightforward stereo mix that’s mostly full in design with some minor placement of dialogue from time to time to give it a slightly wider feeling. It is essentially a center channel show though designed around the full frame aspect ratio so it’s not going to stand out and doesn’t have a whole lot of variance to events to give it a lot of room to move either. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the musical moments breathes in a bit more warmth from time to time to give it a little more oomph. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1999 and throughout 2000, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its full frame aspect ratio. The six OVAs run about thirty minutes each and are spread evenly across two discs. Animated by Garyu Studio, the series is one that has a bit of a budget look about it but is also from the time in which it was made. There’s a lighter touch to the color design in the backgrounds which go a bit simpler overall and the character designs are certainly distinctive compared to today with hair in particular standing out. The encoding captures the look of it all pretty well as there’s little in the way of issues with the main show itself. Some of the post-credits pieces are a bit rougher with some mild cross coloration sneaking in but this is very minimal and not much of an issue since it’s based around crayon-ish text and the like. For the most part, the show holds up well enough twenty years later when you consider its origins and the encoding gives us the best it’ll look in standard definition.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD case that has a hinge inside to hold the first disc while the second disc is against the back wall. The front cover goes for a familiar visual with Asuka as the only main full-sized character here ringed by a trio of chibi characters. Though you can tell this is an older show by the design of the character the colors and quality of it makes it look more current and it’s appealing to see something that’s not like every other show. Pia Carrot gets a background shot and the use of the whites, pinks, and purples to give it some vibrancy definitely helps. The back cover lets Tsukasa get the main character piece here along the left while we get two strips of some good shots from the show that highlights more of the show. The premise is well cover and we get some cute tagline material here as well. The bottom has the production credits and technical grid information that’s all clean and straightforward in an easy to read form. No show related inserts are included with this release.
The menu design for the release sticks to the color design of the cover and uses some of the key character artwork pieces as we get largely pink backdrops with a restaurant menu design given to it lightly. It’s bright and colorful and works simply because it’s just episode selection for the most part as there’s no language selection. The first disc has the special features submenu but that’s about it otherwise. Episode selection is quick and easy but I kept hitting the wrong buttons as I kept forgetting I was watching a rare DVD release these days.
The only extras included is a clean version of the opening sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a number of games out there over the years and some other anime adaptations, Sentai Filmworks picked up out of the blue the six-episode OVA series that ran for a year from the end of 1999 through 2000. The show is one that has had some appeal over the years simply because it wasn’t one that was seen all the often and there’s a kind of classic charm and nostalgia related to the Pia Carrot franchise as a whole. It never went really big overseas and some of the more adult material kept it from being examined during the heyday years of anime. This show is pretty much a simple and clean romantic comedy kind of work and those old school charms are definitely the draw here for many, myself included.
The show is an ensemble cast production that focuses on the second Pia Carrot store where some quick hiring has brought on Kouji and Azusa at the same time, which is problematic because they had some awkward interactions before ending up applying for the same job and both of them getting it. The stage is set easily for these two students with a will they or won’t they kind of approach and to see what kind of side adventures Kouji will get into because of all the other women that work at the restaurant. While it’s pretty much a given that an anime adaptation will “consummate” the relationship by the end the fun is in watching the way it runs all over the map and deals with problems and heartbreak.
The show plays well with simple problems that stem from incidents of indecision as you often get as they lead to misunderstandings and the like. While Kouji and Azusa are kind of like cats and dogs to a degree as they get familiar with each other and start to see more of who the other is, most of what we get focuses on Kouji interacting with other girls – just like the games. He spends some decent time with a girl named Rumi that talks about wanting to go to Lettuce Land amusement park, which of course he takes Azusa to later in the series and that leads to confrontations when Rumi shows up. There’s some jealousy early on from Tsukasa over trying to get closer to Kouji but realizing that he might be interested in Azusa and she gets to complement her role with being interested in cosplay, which results in a lot of costumes throughout the run.
The show doesn’t reach deep and relies on some of the basics from the games to be sure but it has that kind of simplicity that works well. We get lots of the expected kinds of things such as a pool episode and a group training episode, but even though the series plays up the character interactions it largely sticks to realistic character designs. The plus of this is that everyone feels realistic and it doesn’t lean into the seuxality side. Perhaps it felt a bit more risque at the time but in the here and now it’s very tame and kind of quaint. But for me that’s a decent part of the charm to it combined with the look and style of the animation. That made it just fun and enjoyable to watch as it engages in the chase and lets us get to know both Kouji and Azusa as they deal with a range of coworkers and their personalities – including a surprise or two.
I didn’t go into this show looking for anything in particular but largely expecting a dose of nostalgia for the period and a simple romantic comedy kind of piece. It largely hits those area well with mostly standalone episodes that build the larger picture between Kouji and Azusa. What I liked the most was that it works well as a six-episode piece that would get a twelve episode run today and just be too drawn out. I miss the old OVA formula even though I know it died out as single-season TV shows ended up being more profitable and accessible. There’s something to be said for shorter works though and Welcome to Pia Carrot! 2 DX is one that reminds me why such projects work well. Sentai’s release is pretty solid overall with what it has to work with and there are no surprises to be had here.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 31st, 2018
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.