Shelf Life
Is the Order a Rabbit? season 2

by Paul Jensen,

I know that the scheduling is probably just a coincidence, but I really like how My Hero Academia gets new episodes early in the morning on Saturdays. Watching it while I eat breakfast gets me all nostalgic for the days of waking up for Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. The show's comic book vibe probably contributes to that feeling as much as its airtime, of course. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Is the Order A Rabbit? season 2

On Shelves This Week

Black Butler: The Movie BD+DVD
Funimation - 119 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $25.54 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Demonic butler Sebastian Michaelis returns to help his young master navigate a web of sinister plots.

Extra: We don't have much coverage of this live-action movie, but you'll find reviews of the TV series here and here. The TV series is available streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Garo: Crimson Moon - Season 2 Part 2 BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.79 Amazon

Synopsis: Raiko and Seimei continue their battle to protect innocent civilians from man-eating Horrors.

Extra: We have a review of the first half of this season, along with episode reviews for the first thirteen episodes. You can stream both seasons on Funimation, and the first is also available on Hulu.

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions - Complete Collection BD+DVD, Limited Edition
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.99|$84.99
Currently cheapest at: $43.79 Amazon|$62.04 Right Stuf

Synopsis: A young man named Haruhiro wakes up in a world of monsters and magic, and must join forces with a group of strangers in order to survive.

Extra: You'll find episode reviews for this series (which also ran under the title Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash) here, and we also have a full series review. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Right Stuf - 355 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.99|$44.99
Currently cheapest at: $37.39 Amazon|$30.25 Amazon

Synopsis: Mobile suit pilot Shiro Amada must lead his team of misfits through a fierce ground war between Zeon and the Earth Federation.

Extra: You can read the first of several single-volume reviews here, and we also have a review of the compilation movie that's included in this set. You can stream the series on Hulu.

Nurse Witch Komugi R - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $32.95 Rakuten|$27.55 Rakuten

Synopsis: Komugi Yoshida does her best to balance a normal school life with her career as a pop idol, but things get more complicated when she becomes a magical girl and starts battling monsters.

Extra: Our coverage of this series is limited to the Preview Guide, but we do have a review of the old OVA. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network.

One Piece Film Gold BD+DVD, DVD
Funimation - 120 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98|$29.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.79 Amazon|$21.77 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Luffy and the Straw Hat pirates arrive on the traveling casino of Gran Tesoro, where they run afoul of the nefarious Gild Tesoro.

Extra: We have a couple of standalone One Piece releases this week. This one is the 2016 theatrical film, and you'll find a review here.

One Piece: Heart of Gold BD+DVD, DVD
Funimation - 104 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98|$29.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.79 Amazon|$21.77 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: The Straw Hats meet Olga, a mysterious girl who holds the secret to finding a lost city and a valuable treasure.

Extra: We don't have a review for this TV special, but you can stream it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Rio: Rainbow Gate! - Complete Collection [Reshuffled] BD, DVD
Media Blasters - 350 min - Hyb - MSRP $39.99|$24.99
Currently cheapest at: $25.99 Right Stuf|$16.24 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Rio Rollins, a casino card dealer nicknamed "The Goddess of Victory," must gather 13 magical cards in order to become the MVCD, or Most Valuable Casino Dealer.

Extra: Apparently the "Reshuffled" part of the title indicates that this set includes a new English dub. We have some Preview Guide coverage of the first episode, and the series is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Shelf Life Reviews

I'm making a return trip to the Rabbit House cafe this week with a review of Is the Order a Rabbit? season 2. That also makes this the second week in a row we've covered a series with a question for a title.

Some shows change drastically from one season to the next, for better or for worse. Most of the time, however, the second verse tends to be the same as the first. That's very much the case in the second season of Is the Order a Rabbit, a sequel that follows neatly in the footsteps of its predecessor. In this case, that means more of the “cute girls doing cute things” approach to the slice of life genre, delivered in a manner that is competent but not particularly distinctive.

If you're new to the series, Is the Order a Rabbit follows three young baristas at the Rabbit House coffee shop. Chino is the shy heir to the family business, Rize is a cool-headed girl with a serious military obsession, and Cocoa is the happy-go-lucky protagonist of the series. While they do actually work at the café from time to time, the girls mostly just hang out with their friends Syaro and Chiya. Their latest adventures include a visit from Cocoa's older sister, an overnight camping trip, and the looming prospect of Chino's middle school graduation. Oh, and Chino's grandfather is still magically trapped in the body of a rabbit, not that any of the other characters seem to care.

This show's biggest strength continues to be its ability to provide an overwhelming amount of big-eyed cuteness at all times. The characters, the storylines, and the comedy are all tuned to crank the warm fuzziness meter as high up as it can go. If that particular style of moe anime is what you're looking for, this series definitely fits the bill. The humor is light and silly, conflicts are virtually nonexistent, and any potential drama is kept neatly in check. As long as you're in the right mood, it's a very easy show to watch; I didn't plan to watch this entire set in one night, but it's so easy on the brain that I ended up doing just that.

Along with that returning strength, Is the Order a Rabbit also carries its biggest weakness into its second season. In my review of season one, I described it as a hodgepodge of Wagnaria, Yuruyuri, and Polar Bear's Café, and I think that descriptions still fits. It takes bits and pieces from a bunch of other shows and mixes them into something that's just a little too bland for its own good. As neatly as those basic elements are presented, they never manage to leave much of an impression. Just a few days after I watched this set, I found myself struggling to remember what happened in most of the episodes. Unlike the big names in the slice of life category, there's no one unique thing that makes Is the Order a Rabbit stand out. It's just kind of sweet and ephemeral.

There are a few attempts at adding some thought and substance to the proceedings, and to the show's credit these are modestly successful. Cocoa's older sister Mocha acts mainly as a fresh source of comedy when she first arrives, but she also gives the show a chance to ponder how people and relationships change over time. That theme of change comes back later on in the season as Chino and her friends start thinking about which high school they want to attend. This isn't very dramatic stuff, but it's just deep enough to make it feel like there's a point to all of the girls' cutesy antics.

Is the Order A Rabbit also continues to be a reasonably good-looking series. The town in general and the coffee shops in particular are nicely detailed, giving a decent sense of place to the show's faux-European setting. The character designs are well matched to the tone of the series, and the animation is as strong as it needs to be in a show that doesn't have a lot of swift movement. This release is a standard-issue Sentai Filmworks set, light on extras but otherwise fine.

With a second season in the books, it remains pretty safe to judge Is the Order a Rabbit by its cover. It is what it appears to be: a blindingly cute slice of life series that's smooth enough in its execution to satisfy genre fans. If you want something mellow to watch with a cup of tea, it'll do nicely. On the other hand, if you're searching for a series with more substance and dramatic impact, this may not be the café you're looking for.

That wraps up this week's review section. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Seth:

"I've been collecting anime on and off since 2001. I also have some manga, art books, and animation cels. Some of my favorite items in my collection: a cel from End of Evangelion, the entire Maison Ikkoku DVD collection, a sketch from Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, and the entire Marvel run of Akira."

Wow, that's an impressive set of cels, and I don't think I've ever seen that Evangelion laserdisc collection before. Very cool, thanks for sharing! (And since I didn't have room to include all of the detailed shots of Seth's shelves, here's a link to his imgur gallery.)

Want to show off your own anime or manga collection? Send me your photos at [email protected]!

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