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What happens when one of your close friends decides to go away for a week? Do we long for them or go on about our daily lives. Well, the girls in the new Is Your Order a Rabbit?? special episode OVA (original video anime) do a little of their daily lives and a lot of longing.
In Is Your Order a Rabbit?? ~Dear My Sister~ high school girl Cocoa Hoto goes back to her hometown to visit her family. All of Cocoa’s friends are sad to see her leave for a week, particularly her friend Chino Kafu. But, as Chino goes through the days without Cocoa she beings to remember the good times they’ve had with each other. And after a few days Chino and begins to realize who and what is important to her.
What’s important to Chino and by proxy Cocoa and her friends is their close relationship and memories they have with each other. However, when they’re constantly with each other, it’s difficult for them to actually realize this. So, it becomes pertinent during the entirety of the OVA as we see how Chino and the other girls long to be with each other again.
And it starts off with exactly what we need to fully understand this.
When the OVA begins, we see Cocoa is boarding a train to her hometown and all her friends are there to send her off. The thing is Cocoa and two of her two friends treat the departure as if it’s the last time they’ll see each other. While the scene is played off as joke, it subtly sets up how the characters feel throughout the OVA, especially Chino. Consider, all the characters have spent a considerable amount of time together and shared some special moments with each other. So the mere act of leaving, even if it’s for a short time, is a sad experience. It’s as if they’re losing a part of their lives.
However, it’s after Cocoa departs we see the more concrete effects her absence has on each of her friends, particularly Chino. It’s not a slow process either, as it the feelings all collapse on Chino within a day. It comes from the promise Cocoa made to Chino about calling every day. At first glace, this seems a bit overboard. Yet, we see the anticipation on Chino’s face the first day and when she doesn’t receive a call her expression turns into sadness because she feels betrayed. It’s one of the few times we see Chino visibly upset at Cocoa not being near her. What’s fascinating about this, though, is Chino doesn’t actually realize she’s saddened by Cocoa’s absence. She more or less brushes it off thinking it’ll be a week before Cocoa returns.
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Subconsciously, though, Cocoa’s trip eats away at Chino. The expression of this longing is rather well expressed, too. One method is by making cups upon cups of iced hot cocoa. It works so well because we instantly understand that Chino can’t stop thinking about Cocoa. If she had a blank face, her feelings wouldn’t have been expressed to us. Thus, by having the cups of iced hot cocoa, it puts a physical aspect to her feelings. It’s a great metaphor as well, since we want to get at Chino’s true feelings. However, it’s a second manifestation of Chino’s thoughts that’s even more interesting: remembering a time before Cocoa was a part of her life.
Consider this for a moment. By thinking back to a time Cocoa wasn’t in Chino’s life, she is inadvertently acknowledging the impact Cocoa has had on her. Cocoa has gotten her to meet new people and try new experiences with her friends. More importantly, Cocoa has been an older sister to Chino. It’s said in a great piece of dialog as well. Chino is looking over her family café and says, “Was it always this big?” It really shows us the presence Cocoa has on Chino because Chino wouldn’t be saying that unless Cocoa was somehow cold to her. Yet, because Chino and Cocoa have an excellent rapport with each other, the café never seems small.
To put it another way, this scene in Is Your Order a Rabbit?? ~Dear My Sister~ is the opposite of the scene from the movie Citizen Kane when we see the title character having breakfast over the years with his wife. In Citizen Kane, their relationship deteriorates and the growing distance apart from one another at the breakfast table visualizes it. In Is Your Order a Rabbit?? ~Dear My Sister~ Chino and Cocoa have such a close relationship no matter how large the café is it always seems small. It’s a wonderful turn of phrase and really solidifies the longing Chino has for Cocoa.
Thus, during the climax of the OVA when Chino and her friends at summer fireworks festival, for as much fun as Chino is having, to her it’s just not the same without Cocoa. It’s not outwardly said, but Chino’s expressions tell us this is a moment she wants to share with Cocoa. Why wouldn’t she feel this? It’s a memory they could have shared together and something they’ll never have again.
Hence, when Cocoa does show up, there’s a brief second where Chino is stunned. Everything she’d bottled up during Cocoa’s trip bursts out of her. Those feelings aren’t presented overtly either, as it’s portrayed in a cut where Chino isn’t looking at the fireworks, but at Cocoa instead. It’s in that moment Chino and the audience truly realizes who and what’s important to her: It’s Cocoa.
It’s really touching Chino is able to understand who and what’s important to her in Is Your Order a Rabbit?? ~Dear My Sister~. Some people never get that experience until it’s to late.
Is Your Order a Rabbit?? ~Dear My Sister~ premiered on November 11, 2017. There is no word on an international release.