This was originally a blog post found on my blog Moe Monster, but has been moved to Konseptual.com.
Rin and Daikichi's origin story.
Usagi Drop is easily my favorite show of the year so far. Easily so, in fact. I’ve enjoyed others, like Madoka, AnoHana, Steins;Gate, etc, but this was a gem through and through. It just oozed smoothness and had an ease to it I don’t think I’ve ever seen in an anime. Some other kind of true to life shows I might compare it to would be the depressing, but ultimately rewarding, Welcome to the N.H.K and the stellar romantic-dramedy Nodame Cantabile. I’ll try my best to identity some of the well-laid elements of the show.
First and foremost, any reviewer would be doing a great disservice without first mentioning the characters of Usagi Drop. I would sum them in 2 words–Complex & Simple. It may sound paradoxical, but that’s exactly what they’re like. I’d go as far as saying that that’s what real people in the real world are like as well. There are good times and bad times, there are times in which we need help and there are times that we can offer our help to others. The series creators did a superb job showcasing the characters. Especially in fact, the female characters.
Really developed and very real women of Usagi Drop.
This makes a lot of sense due to the mangaka of Usagi Drop being the very female Yumi Unita. While Daikichi is a well-formed male lead and the other guys (Kouki included) are completely solid, it’s the real women of Usagi who steal the show. Gotou, Daikichi’s co-worker gets some props for being the first person he encounters who shoots straight about family and sacrifice. Haruko, (Daikichi’s cousin) along with Masako and Yukari, show multiple facets of not only motherhood, but womanhood in general. Daikichi’s sister and mother also provide some small pointed moments.
The main characters are pretty much a joy from start to finish. If I have one knock on the entire show, it’s that there can’t possibly ever have existed a child as sweet as Rin. But I rationalize it like this–if there was a child that sweet, someone would have to turn them into a fictional character, which Rin is. It’s circular logic, see?
Brush-style animation featured in the beginning of each episode.
The production of the show is 100% flawless. In fact, while mulling over the live-action Usagi Drop, I can’t help but think the story will suffer from lack of animation. I can’t imagine this story without Rin’s happy face or Daikichi’s what the hell face. The animation is memorable, which means a lot from me–an anime fan not so impressed by, well, not much of anything really. It’s very simple in its colorful pastel-like colors and always easy on the eyes. The opening of each episode, in particular with its water colored illustration style, was outstanding.
The music was fantastic. I’m not an opening/ending kinda’ guy and Usagi didn’t particularly overwhelm me. The background music however, was flawless, and unlocked an entire other dimension to the animation. I submit the following sound clip as evidence letter U, and to which I now can’t listen without getting a little choked up.
Just one of many musically magical pieces used throughout the series. Another aspect of the sound was the ever-present Ayu Matsuura, the 11 year-old seiyu who voices Rin. Hearing her voice was like goddamn sunshine throughout all the summer days. All the actors and actresses were solid and I can’t honestly remember noticing any characters with strange sound qualities. I imagine, in my silly mind, all these adult roles being that which voice actors go nuts over. I don’t know about you, but I love mature sounding people in anime. All the adults and all the kids were wonderful. Like in all aspects in Usagi Drop though, it’s Rin and Daikichi who are the centerpieces.
That leaves me with just the plot, which was tight and once again, simple. The story is set up in the first episode. And the story never changes up or switches out. There aren’t other stories introduced that take away from the original. There seemed to be two main type of episodes, with some slight variations. There were central story episodes–He takes Rin home, finds out about her and later her mother and deals with being parent. And there were the “Daikichi learns a lesson” type of episodes, in which he sometimes imparted those lessons to Rin as well.
There were slight variations, such as the Haruko episode, in which Daikichi’s resolve is bolstered, just from bearing witness to the struggles of another familiar parent. I’ll fight the urge to detail any further character growth or subtle plot development. By sticking to the “non” rating system we developed last season, I would go ahead and recommend this show to anything with a pulse. It easily makes my favorite list, and were we to make another “anime shows you’d recommend to someone who doesn’t watch anime” list, this would have to be near the top.
Just know that if you haven’t seen this series, the people in it and some of the things they deal with, will be true to life. Not always mind-blowing and not always exciting, but always just right. Thanks Usagi Drop for making my summer a little better. Thanks also to anyone who may have followed these reviews or left comments!
Best wishes for the 2011 Fall season!