Is The Order A Rabbit? Bloom (Cert 12)

2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 298 minutes approx.

Release Date: May 23rd

We return to the Rabbit House café to rejoin Cocoa, Chino, Rize, Syaro, Chiya, Megumi, and Maya for more sugary sweet moe slice-of-life hijinks. This third season of Is The Order A Rabbit? appeared in 2020, five years after the second season aired on Japanese TV, but thanks to MVM, we Brits only had to wait seven months.

Subtitled Bloom, there is actually a reason for this as there is an overarching theme to this season, as it takes place over the course of one year and sees the cast taking on new challenges as the take a step further in towards adulthood. I choose to say “theme” instead of “plot” as this isn’t a story driven show per se, given its 4-Koma manga origins courtesy of the mononymous Koi, and often has little bearing on some episodes.

As the cast are of school age, the prominent concern is their education – the younger friends Chino, Megumi, and Maya are moving up from middle school to high school whilst the older girls need to decide their future careers as they take a step closer towards graduation. This takes some of the action out of the cafes and coffee shops the girls all work in, and into the classroom a little more than before.

This also allows a few of the usual high school staple plots to dictate the story, such as the culture festival, where the hospitality expertise of shy Syaro sees her put in charge of her class’ contribution which turns out to be an Okterberst beer garden (with “apple juice”, before you ask). Meanwhile, Rize, the tomboy daughter of an ex-military man reveals her future profession which comes as a surprise to many, but her biggest fear is getting her father’s approval.

Cocoa continues wanting to be a good older sister to Chino (despite not being related) and selfishly wants Chino to choose her high school, leading to some mild tension as Cocoa is made to realise Chino must choose her own path. Chiya has her worries when she is nominated for school president, and decides she needs to update her image to be more mature looking. Well, it is not like this is a high stakes series.

Elsewhere, there is a huge step forward in the relationship between lackadaisical writer Aoyama Blue Mountain her editor Rin. Early episode resume their usual routine of Rin having to hunt Aoyama down or chase her about town, but then something unusual happens – Aoyama actually submits her manuscript on time! Rin is so taken aback that she treats Aoyama to a day out, and they actually have fun together without the hassles of work as the sole topic of conversation. Whod’ve thunk it?

No doubt this makes it sound like this is the serious season of the franchise, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If all the sensible and calm moments from these 12 episodes were filtered out and distilled into a glass, they would probably just about fill a shot glass; Bloom continues the non-stop cavalcade of cutesy comedy from before and dare I say, takes it up a notch too.

However, where the difference lies is in the scope of how and where the zany humour is applied. Due to the chronology of the narrative, this affords the moe mirth to effect many annual celebrations and holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas, which of course means a chance to cosplay the cast do the delight of many fans who should be old enough to know better. Thankfully, in both examples, the focus is purely on fun and not on sexploitation, making it pretty harmless after all.

Male presence is once limited to Rize and Chino’s fathers, and Tippy, the rabbit with the spirit of Chino’s grandfather, as ever the more visible of the three from sitting on Chino’s head and providing cutaway reaction shots or pithy rejoinders. Aside from the scene where Rize and her father have a heart to heart chat, there is actually little for the men to do here – I presume they are a concession to explain these middle school girls staffing adult establishments like coffee shops.

Regarding this, the competition between the shops seems non-existent now and instead the girls rely on each other to help out in the other’s shops when prior commitments like school, create a schedule conflict. I don’t know how legal this is but for the sake of this anime, it serves to strengthen the camaraderie and trust between the cast, which has built up over time but under the current circumstances of their academic futures, may be in danger if change has its way.

On the subject of change, the production was handed over to another studio for this season, following on from White Fox for season one and Kinema Citrus for season two. Encourage Films are a relatively new studio – formed in 2008 – with only a few titles to their credit but it has to be said, their work here is amazing, by far the best looking of the three seasons. Whilst the character designs haven’t changed, they are rendered with a bit more substance, but the real treat is in the artwork.

Backgrounds and architectural set pieces are rich with intricate detail and depth, and a palette of vivid but never overwhelming colours; the truly spectacular visuals are found in the Christmas episodes, where every frame captures the warmth and charm of the festive season, from standard decorations like trees and lights, to the daintiness of the European building designs to give it a sense of humble Victorian-era whimsy.

Declaring an anime defined by its fluffiness and wholesome veneer dangerous might be folly of the highest calibre, yet if it is such a sugary confection it could give you diabetes Is The Order A Rabbit? Bloom warrants such infamy. Inoffensive and good-natured yet an acquired taste for those who prefer some guts to their anime.

 

Extras:

Japanese Language 2.0

English Subtitles

Disc 2 Only:

Clean Opening Animation

Clean Closing Animation

Disc Credits

Trailers

 

Rating – *** 

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