Is the Order a Rabbit??
Cocoa Hoto and her friends continue their daily lives in their town together. Syaro receives another addition to her household in the form of the thing she fears the most, while Rize gets to show off her gun collection. Chino and her classmates have a "fine arts" month at school, and Cocoa herself has to deal with her elder sister visiting and stealing the limelight.
Tim: I have to admit, I wasn't initially excited about Is the Order a Rabbit??. While I liked the first season enough, I wasn't really into seeing more of it, considering that fall I found myself with rather finite anime watching time. With that said, I ended up watching Is the Order a Rabbit?? anyway, mainly due to assurance from Stig that season two was a better season.
Stig: My main problem with the first season was that, while it was both endearing and had a ton of lovely scenery, it could get a bit asinine at times, mostly with its jokes. It was basically a holdover from the main reason its spiritual sibling show, Kinmoza!!, didn't strike a chord with me at all; most of the jokes were made to make its cast look cute rather than carry any relevance with the show itself, and it was only the more story-based presentation that saved it.
And yes, Is the Order a Rabbit?? is indeed an improvement over the first season. And not just a "bit" better; we mean much better.
Tim: I actually had to check after a couple of episodes to see if they got a new director, or at the very least new writers. Nope. It's mostly the same writers, and the same exact director.
One problem with Is the Order a Rabbit? was the weird juxtaposition of fan service with these mostly adorable character designs. (One character, Rize, was introduced in just her bra and panties.) Another, more damaging, problem was the series' awkward jokes with Rize's whipping out her gun with no warning and Syaro's obsession with her financial state, the latter especially off-putting when you consider Japan's poverty rate currently stands at over 16% (link: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21647676-poverty-worsens-more-japanese-work-non-permanent-contracts-struggling) and the fact that anime in general tend to make the fact that people are poor into a joke. While the first season did eventually tone down these jokes, it still made them hard to laugh at, (though in all fairness, one of the joke ideas of the first season was that Syaro was worrying over nothing, so that was at least sweet of them).
Tim: I'm not sure what Norway's stance is on guns, but here in North America we take gun safety very seriously. I never laughed when Rize pulled out a gun. I found it extremely jarring and out-of-place in an otherwise lighthearted show.
Stig: I'm going to have to claim ignorance here. Norway doesn't really have much of a gun culture, which is not to say that people don't own them; hunting is one of the things people do here in Norway, especially in rural areas like the one I live in. Still, even that aspect of gun ownership and usage is heavily regulated. Even our police forces don't generally carry weapons outside of very special situations. Still, I wouldn't find it unlikely that people in my neighborhood would own things like hunting rifles or shotguns, and there are shooting clubs that practice and participate in shooting ranges, one of which can be found within a relatively short distance from where I live, so it's not like Norway -- and Norwegians -- are complete strangers to firearms.
It seems that the writers of Is the Order a Rabbit?? were attentive to this, because those jokes are mostly abandoned by the wayside this season. Rize's military background is enforced more instead, as is her general interest in military weaponry. We are introduced to this in an episode where the girls visit her home and play maids for a day, and where Rize gets to show off her admittedly impressive collection of military grade hardware. Syaro also becomes more of a fleshed out as a character as she's allowed to loosen up a bit more around her friends, and she continues to play a sort of straight man character to her more ditzy friend Chiya.
Surprisingly there is character development this season in Is the Order a Rabbit??, and here is where the season's strengths begin to show. While Cocoa is still a ditz, she doesn't play it up quite as much anymore. The first season was mostly a big fight for her to get Chino to call her "onee-san", but while last season treated that as more of a joke, this season actually goes more in-depth about why she does this. The arrival of Cocoa's big sister Mocha in a two-episode arc in the middle of this season brings us to the main part of what could be considered her justified reasoning for wanting Chino to look at her as a big sister, because Cocoa's actual big sister sails in and proceeds to steal every scene from her in an almost literal fashion. (To the point where I actually thought she came across as a bit jerk-ish - Stig.)
Chino herself has opened up far more as she's gotten used to Cocoa's antics, even to the point where she has a few adorable moments where she is genuinely acting like a kid as opposed to the stoic, quiet girl of season one. She offers an explanation to this in one of the episodes, which makes a lot of sense in hindsight. Chino has a very introverted personality, which makes her a quiet and withdrawn girl despite the fact that she has two very good friends from even before she met Cocoa. This is especially prevalent in the season finale, where she's the one trying to take pictures of her friends, something that in season one Cocoa would be far more likely to do. (Though you could also say that Chino is less pleased about showing up in pictures rather than taking them herself.)
And as for Chiya, well... actually, she hasn't really changed that much, but what can you do? She really does play the supporting role to the last episode, and you gotta respect her dedication to the craft. Then again, her range of jokes and comedy acts are expanded upon in this season, and she still plays off wonderfully both with or against the others and serves as a good example of an eccentric character being a benefit to the show rather than a distraction...or a detraction. She loves to play with the others, even as the others (I actually had her confused with Rize in the opening animation, and it took a while for me to notice that it was actually her showing up with a water pistol and a fanservice-y top. It was her expression and the color of her eyes that eventually clued me in on that - Stig.)
It's almost tempting to think that the creators of Is the Order a Rabbit? actually listened to viewer feedback.
Is the Order a Rabbit?? follows the two mini-episode concept of its first season far less this time, opting instead to do more half-hour stories. It still does some mini segments, one of our favorites being the "spying on others" episode. Neither of us are really huge fans of anime's tendency to showcase invasion of privacy and personal space, but it works here because the whole cast is in on it, and there's a sense of absurdity and silliness in its execution. And by the entire cast, we mean the whole enchilada. Yes, even Tippy joins in on this, together with Chino's father. (They do a similar but shorter joke with cameras in the season finale, and it's just as funny.) Kudos for taking what's usually an annoying trope and making us laugh at it, Is the Order a Rabbit??. And, again, kudos for stepping up your game with your comedy.
Another episode segment's focal point is, of all things, doing laundry outside, which eventually turns into a bubble-blowing contest. And that's one of the strengths this time in Is the Order a Rabbit??; it takes mundane activities and energizes them with its fun, colorful cast. Even a ballet episode with Chino's friend Megu ends up pretty pretty enjoyable (though, Cocoa... don't quit your day job. Seriously), partially because the show is a standout visually -- which we will go into shortly -- but also because this season takes some time introducing us to Chino's friends from before this show started, which is a subtle way of showing that, most likely, they were the ones who made friends with her and not the other way around. Granted, Maya and Megumi does sort of come across as younger versions of Cocoa and Chiya respectively, but that ties in more with the whole extrovert/introvert personality types that color the characters in the show. It gives Is the Order a Rabbit?? a very good sense in that it respects both personality types instead of the depressingly normal attitude towards introverts anime tends to have in that they just have to fix themselves. Here, whenever Cocoa gets too pushy with Chino, someone else -- mostly Rize -- reigns Cocoa in instead, which might very well be the reason why the two of us found the stalking joke subplot funny. The show has already shown that it respects personal boundaries, so when it starts joking about its characters not being able to do so, it becomes bizarrely funny on its own.
And then there's the camping episode, where the series moves away for nearly an entire episode from cafe/town antics and pulls an Encouragement of Climb on us somewhat, mostly because it's one of the very few episodes that takes us out of the town and into the wild yonder, and it's no less lovely for it. Unlike Encouragement of Climb, though, the focus isn't as much on climbing as it is doing activities in pastoral settings as well as some zombie-related pranks at the end. No, we're not making that up. Yes, it's actually done with the same amount of fun as any of the earlier comedy in this show, which, as we'll be more than happy to remind you, is still a pretty significant step up from the first season. (It's also the season where I actually started respecting Cocoa, because the first season didn't really do a whole lot to dissuade me from thinking she was an idiot. An idiot with a good heart, granted, but still an idiot. - Stig.)
Is the Order a Rabbit?? is also still a gob-smackingly lovely show. The town Cocoa and her friends live in remains really beautifully designed, with a lot of warm colors and a nice attention to detail in the buildings. Not only that, but the show also impresses down to the nitty-gritty details of things like cups, glasses and other knick-knacks. Even the characters are well designed, with an impressive range of outfits and, in the case of the girls with long hair, hairstyles made to suit both seasons and surroundings, and animated with a flair you don't often see in shows these days. It's a win-win in so many ways.
The show still has the somewhat bizarrely cutely opening theme that feels a bit out of place when compared to the lovely orchestral score that plays during the show, but it slapped us both across the face with a real hamdinger the first time we witnessed the ending theme. Not because it was bad, but because we weren't sure what to think. Right off the bat, it broke our most grievous law of anime songs; the character voice cast is doing the singing. On the other hand, instead of an overly cutesy pop ditty, it's a cute pop ditty with a real sense of musical stage singing hanging over it. In it, Chino and her two friends, Maya and Megumi, take part in an almost musical-like performance as they do stuff like sing and dance through town, and it took us off guard completely (and certainly far more ambitious than season one's hopelessly generic "Poppin' Jump"). We almost wish the song was subtitled, because it would've been nice to know what they were singing.
Tim: I hate to repeat myself, but I'm still floored by how big an improvement Is the Order a Rabbit?? is from season one. Near every episode hits the mark, and the weaker gags/jokes of season one are all but gone now. If they ever make a third season, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be watching that, too.
Stig: When I asked Tim to watch the first season, my recommendation was a bit more guarded in the sense that I told him to please bear with the comedy for the sake of the mostly endearing episode stories. With this season, I was more like "YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!", coupled with the fact that I could hardly believe myself just how much the show has improved in just about every aspect of its presentation... well, except the art and animation, which has always been very, very good. It's just such a wonderfully cute show in all the right ways, the perfect show to just sit down and relax with. But more than that, it's encouraging to see how Is the order a Rabbit?? has improved on itself and, like Tim, I definitely want to see a continuation of this.
Recommended Audience: The show still has some fan service at times, but even that seems to have been toned down some from the first season. Though it might not look like it, given that the opening now has a short scene of Chiya turning around and giving the audience an eyeful of her quite ample chest dressed up in a skimpy top.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Is the Order a Rabbit?? © 2015 Koi / Houbunsha / Is it an Ordering Production Committee??
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