Is the Order a Rabbit?
Cocoa Hoto (hot cocoa) moves to a new town, and ends up living in a coffee house called "Rabbit's House Cafe", owned by the father of Chino Kafuu. (capuchino)
Stig: Hmm. I remember having made this joke before; where various girls' names are made up to sound like various hot drinks. Now, where was that, again? Hmmmm.
Eh, probably wasn't anything important.
Tim: Stop me if you heard this one, guys. A cute teenage girl moves in to an Italian-esque village and works at a place whose mascot is a white, fluffy animal that barely looks like its species.
Oh hi, Aria.
Is The Order A Rabbit isn't too similar to that series outside of the set-up. For one, it's about waitresses, not gondola rollers. Two, it's more, well, grounded in reality. And third, it's a damn amount cuter. (Saccharine even, I'd say at times.)
Anyway, what we have here is a show that for all the world sounded an awful lot like another show we reviewed late last year that seemed to center most of its activity around the antics of MOE. But where Kinmoza!! ended up being a huge bore, Is the Order a Rabbit? ended up being only occasionally boring, instead of nearly constantly.
Part of that could probably be attributed to the incredibly cozy atmosphere. The show is taking place solely in a town designed after Western European towns, with the settings mostly taking place either outside or in the various coffee shops around the town, and for what it's worth, the background art is gorgeous. The town is meticulously made, the outsides a lush brick-and-wood lineup of houses standing at attention on each side of a river, with narrow brick alley roads snaking between more housing areas. There's lots of greenery along the streets, with detailed shop signs, and... well, the whole thing is so scenery-porn-y, it's as if the show knew Stig's weak points much too well.
And while we're not jumping all the hedges over the cast, they're still a damn sight better than the ones in Kinmoza!!. But that might be because Is the Order a Rabbit? doesn't go for the rapid-fire joke approach, but instead allowing itself to linger on a subject for longer than one minute. (And no damn jingles between them, either! - Tim) Most of the episodes tend to center around two or three main courses, and builds the jokes on top of that. Sure, the jokes are kind of hit and miss, but in this show you can at least choose to focus on the serious parts if the jokes doesn't float your boat. That said, a lot of the jokes do hit the marks, even if we're never really sure whether they were meant to be jokes in the first place. Some of them are obvious enough, like the one where the girls' bread-making session ends up with them partaking in a nice selection of bread and pastries that ends up having horrifying downsides, while others are probably not meant as comedy. Having tanks and an almost perfect replica of the F-16 fighter jet as latte art earned itself some laughs from at least one of us due to its bizarre out-of-place application.
It's a shame that Cocoa is such a colossal airhead, and not a particularly engaging one at that. She's kind of a MOEified extension of standard otaku personality behavior. She wants Chino to refer to her as "onee-chan", she squees over the cute stuff, and generally behaves like she's in her own little world. To counter that, Chino is a too-mature-for-her-middle-school-age girl with a deadpan voice, and Lize is the slightly taller tomboyish girl who whips out a gun (hopefully a toy one!) at a moment's notice. And we don't even know whether or not everyone acting calm by this is a joke in and of itself. She whips it out inside the cafe - even in the presence of customers and she even whips it out in public. Are everyone used to all this? Must be nice being in a rich family, because yes, she totally is.
Rounding off the main cast is Chiya Ujimatsu, a "proper Japanese lady", and Sharo Kirima, whose big joke is her apparently also acting like a proper lady despite living a very thrifty life due to being poor. Which begs the question: what is it with Japanese and their jokes about poor people? Considering how high the poverty rate is in Japan, it's something a little difficult to laugh about at face value. Fortunately Is the Order a Rabbit? doesn't do a whole lot of that, and the consensus among the girls is that, despite Sharo's fears and panic attacks about her situation, the other girls basically states that she shouldn't worry about it.
There's also the character of Chino's grandfather, who was... reborn? ...in the body of a rabbit that looks more like that cat in Tamayura; a round ball of fluff with ears and a face. The show never really go into any details about it, so we're pretty much left to wonder. The rabbit's name is Tippy, which never fails to summon the line "IT'S TIBBY!" in Tom Servo's voice, which adds another layer of unintentional humor. (Which will only work if you've seen that one MST episode, but hey...)
And that, alongside its more coherent narrative, is why this show comes across as far more endearing than its cousin Kinmoza. Is The Order A Rabbit's girls might be a fairly typical lineup of MOE stereotypes, but the things they do are mostly quite endearing, and its first episode doesn't end up being a fake indication of what to expect. In fact, a lot of the later episodes of this show ends up being the best ones. The one centered around assembling a puzzle being the one that stands out the clearest, but it even has the nerve to have one of the best Christmas episodes we've seen in just about any anime. That's not easy to pull off!
Sadly, the show isn't entirely consistent, so all this goodness unfortunately comes with a few downsides. A lot of the dialogue tends to be awfully asinine, with dialogue that seems added for the sake of filling 11 minutes of episode with. And while the show is usually squeaky clean, once in a while there's some surprising detailed shots of the girls' curvy bodies (mostly from Lize, but a later bathing episode shows Chiya and even Chino has some curves!). The jokes also could have been a bit more focused. That would probably alienate the target audience, though, which neither of us are.
Stig: For all my complaints, I have to say that I kind of enjoyed Is the Order a Rabbit? The show really does have a little more good than bad, and it's a real shame that the ending episode was as underwhelming as it was, because the overall package was pleasant.
Tim: It's definitely no Aria, that's for sure. It also starts off very slow, and the character designs (Lize's aside) are a bit too cutesy to me. But I still liked Is The Order A Rabbit? enough to continue it every week. Of the last few years' "turn off your brain to watch cute girls do stuff" anime, it's probably the one I enjoyed the most after the Hidamari Sketch seasons. And the scenery around the girls is gorgeous indeed.
Recommended Audience: For being a relatively innocent show, it's quite generous with showing the girls in their underwear or swimsuits. Lize in particular gets the underwear treatment, as that's how you first meet her. The show is fairly innocuous about it, though; nobody ever leers at the girls or come with any inappropriate comments about it, giving the show itself the same kind of split-feelings sense about it that Strike Witches had.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Is the Order a Rabbit? © 2014 White Fox.
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