Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Sub.DVD - Seasons 1 and 2
Rainy Color Café is a small establishment staffed by beautiful young men with a mostly female clientele. Run by the eccentric (and often absent) Kouji and his Pomeranian named Rain, Rainy Color is a mostly peaceful little place where people can meet and work out their differences…even if those differences sometimes include learning how to be a good staff member or how to get along with customers.
Anime shorts can take a few different directions in terms of how they approach their stories. Some tell a complete tale in bite-size pieces, others eschew plot for random antics or sketches on a theme, and still others divide a relatively plotless story into a season's worth of episodes. Rainy Cocoa falls into that last category, with each season essentially telling a regular-length episode's worth of story in twelve two-minute chunks.
The first season introduces us to the Rainy Color Café, a small, cozy place that apparently makes very good hot chocolate (served in adorable raindrop-print cups). It's owned by the eccentric Kouji Amami who blows in and out like a summer squall, and it's run by the calm Shion, a young man with impressive eyebrows. College student Aoi is a part-timer there, and his university acquaintances Ryota and Keiichi come by a lot to hang out. The basic plot is that Keiichi and Aoi rub each other the wrong way and have to learn to get along. Season two opens with Aoi having to take some time off to help out a professor and being temporarily replaced by Shion's younger twin brothers, Nicola and Noel, who have apparently run away from home because they missed their big brother. With Aoi's absence, Keiichi and Ryota are replaced by Jun and Haruka, the former a famous photographer and the latter his middle school groupie. The plot shifts to Haruka and the twins attempting to get along, while Haruka tries to convince Jun to take him on as an apprentice.
To call this series “slice-of-life” is absolutely on the nose. While we don't know exactly how much time passes in each season, it feels like it could be anywhere from a day to a week. It takes the slice-of-life idea and sticks to it with almost admirable strictness – “almost” because it really doesn't make for particularly interesting viewing. Season one works a bit better than the second because it takes more time to let us get to know Aoi and Keiichi, and it has more of an emphasis on humor that doesn't just rely on how cute the characters are. The season begins with Ryota doing Aoi's voice-over narration (much to Aoi's surprise) and ends with Keiichi's special artistic skills, both of which are pretty funny, and Kouji is used more as a joke than a character, which adds both levity and interest to the proceedings. We also come to understand Aoi's discomfort with his feminine appearance and Keiichi's awkwardness around other people (he gets along better with Rain the dog), which makes it feel more developed. Season two's focus is more on how bad the twins are at filling in for Aoi, with very little character development for any of the new players, making it more about just looking at the cute boys than any actual story.
This wouldn't be as much of an issue if the art were better. Rainy Cocoa is based on a bilingual web manga (available as an app), and the soft style of the original art doesn't translate particularly well into anime form. It actually feels more like it was adapted from a smartphone game, with its limited animation and slightly-off character designs. The most interesting visual choice is that the main characters are drawn with vibrant hair and brighter colors in general with some good details, such as Ryota's three holes in each ear although he only wears one earring, while all customers are done in subdued shades of brown, black, and gray.
Although the manga is available with both Japanese and English voices, this DVD release is sub-only. In part this may be due to the inclusion of a special voice actor show after each episode of season two, with the new (Japanese) voices (and Kouji, who has a bigger role) chatting and answering silly questions, performing the theme song, and showing footage of the recording. Every other episode also brings in a guest, presumably someone who will feature in season three of the series. These are generally enjoyable with the major fly in the ointment coming towards the end, when the first question asked of Haruka's VA, Shunya Marue, is whether or not he's gay because he apparently sits too close to others. This opens the door for some uncomfortable discussions about being “normal” and visiting gay bars. Fortunately, these segments are easily skipped and make no difference to the actual anime.
Ultimately, Rainy Cocoa is a disposable bit of nothing. With a runtime of 126 minutes and only trailers (all put together rather than in a menu allowing you to pick and choose) as the only additional material, this is something perhaps better rented than owned. It's cute, but there's not much more to it than that.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : C
Art : C-
Music : C
+ Easy to watch, season one has some decent humor, voice actor special in season two can be interesting
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