I watched it because I'd watched Season 1. This was a mistake. It's nice, but it's also the definition of pointless.
It's an iyashikei series, which means that nothing happens. The word means "healing". Such shows are supposed to be a soothing, pleasant experience that make you feel relaxed and happy. Cute characters (usually female) will be doing cute things. What you won't find is significant conflict, a plot or anyone who's not a lovely heartfelt friend.
The cast are schoolgirls who work part-time at coffee houses in a beautiful little European town. This appears to be in France or Germany, but its language and culture is Japanese (e.g. food, school) and all prices are in yen. Most of our heroines go to high school, but this is highly implausible and their mental age seems to be half that. (Especially Cocoa.)
Their names (after tweaking and Japanese spelling adjustment) are:
- Hot Cocoa
- Hot Mocha
- The des Alizes, a green tea-fruit blend
- Uji matcha tea, i.e. green tea
- Kilimanjaro (coffee)
- Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
- Tippy, which is a term in tea leaf grading
I think the main reason I was watching was the cute end title sequence. (Unfortunately they change it for the last two episodes.) Half the episodes either made me sleepy or made me want to fast-forward. Do not marathon this show. I'm serious. Your brain will shut down and you will die.
Nothing happens in those problematic episodes. That's not even an exaggeration. If you tried to write a story summary, you'd get bogged down in a failed attempt to describe the fluffy emptiness. I tried with ep.9. Deep breath...
Chino drinks tea in Chiya's cafe and wonder if there might have been a feud between their respective coffee houses, two generations earlier. The girls investigate. Rize talks to Sharo (who knows nothing), which makes Sharo have mild family-friendly fantasies about being interrogated by Rize. Nothing is learned. Aoyama remembers that the coffee houses once teamed up to do a joint promotion and there's a flashback to a pointless but cute incident when the two worked together. This leads to a reaffirmation of friendship. The girls now start working at each other's cafes and... I can't go on.
My problem, I think, is that I don't care about the coffee houses. I don't care about the activity they do there, which is generously described as work. I particularly don't care about the girls talking about nothing for half a freaking episode, or about them deciding to tail each other around town, or whatever.
However it is a pleasant show. The characters are nice and every so often there's an episode that's slightly less pointless than usual.
Cocoa has a big sister, Mocha, who's not here. She lives back home, in the village that Cocoa left to go to school here. Mocha coming to visit in eps.5-6 is a big deal and gives rise to some actual content that I quite enjoyed. Ep.10 has school club activities and a modest study of Rize's status as an object of near-universal lesbian adoration. Ep.11 has everyone going for a trip in the mountains, which involves very gentle survivalism and has the girls playing zombie apocalypse pranks on each other.
The characterisation is too gentle and fluffy to have sharp edges, but every so often we glimpse a human being underneath. It's usually fleeting, but I liked moments like Chino explaining why she can't stop speaking formally. Aoyama is quite funny in ep.10 ("Our souls switched places when we bumped into each other"), while I love Chiya's grumpy grandmother. Season 2 also gives more screen time than Season 1 to secondary characters like Megu and Maya, which is nice.
Is this a good show? I can't bring myself to say yes, but I'm sure there are people who love it. It is what it is. Criticising its lack of plot is like criticising an elephant for not being a lion. It's pleasant. Often mind-numbing and occasionally anti-funny, but I managed to reach the end of it.