When Daikichi's grandfather dies he leaves behind a young daughter named Rin. However, as most of the family is embarrassed at the idea of a 79-year-old man having a six-year-old child, they can't seem to figure out what to do with her. Disgusted by this behavior, Daikichi decides to take care of her himself, but he's a bachelor, has no idea how to raise a child, and isn't even all that comfortable with kids! Now, Daikichi must do the normal things a parent does such as enroll her in school, buy her clothing and teach her about the life and world around her. But more importantly, he must also help her deal with her father's death and decide whether or not she should try to find her mother. Together, the two begin their unlikely relationship as father and daughter, navigating each of life's bumps along the way.
The Bellflower Girl
Daikichi Should Stay Daikichi
Secretly Running Away From Home
Precious to Grandpa
A Typhoon Has Come!
The First Step
StoryDaikichi is a single thirty-year-old man whose elderly grandfather has just died leaving behind his secret, illegitimate six-year-old daughter, Rin. When his family treats the girl like a leper and considers giving her to the state, Daikichi, disgusted at their behaviour, announces that he will take her in and raise her himself; thus begins his journey on the road to parenthood. I won’t lie, not a lot happens. The show simply follows Rin and Daikichi in their first year of living together as they face each new trial that comes their way, be it enrolling in nursery school, coping with a fever, or solving bed-wetting problems. However, Usagi Drop is a master class in subtlety. This series is all about the development of its central players, and each everyday hurdle that comes their way facilitates the next stage of their evolution. Nothing hurries along at the speed of light, forces its way into the narrative, or thrusts itself in your face, instead the plot moves forward at a realistic pace, with plenty of fuzzy, heart-warming moments that make the anime all the more engaging to watch. Outside of the two protagonists’ development, the anime begins to explore several other sub-plots, such as locating Rin’s mother and exploring her motivations for abandoning her child, or the burgeoning relationship between Daikichi and another single parent at the nursery school. However, at a mere eleven episodes in length, Usagi Drop doesn’t really resolve all of the threads it explores, and since it only covers four volumes of the manga, this isn’t too surprising. The arc of this season covers the “settling in period”, reaching a comfortable conclusion as Daikichi accepts his new life and responsibilities so as not to leave the viewer feeling unsatisfied. Likewise, while the central focus of this series is quite closed – in mainly being about Daikichi and Rin – that there are still unanswered questions at the finish, the anime leaves the path open for a continuation that could potentially expand beyond their tight-knit family and venture into a wider world of relationships.AnimationWith a style of colouring akin to that of watercolours and a slight flickering effect, the opening moments of each episode look as if each individual frame has been hand-painted. These visuals are absolutely luscious and more like the sort of imagery you’d find in independent shorts such as The Diary of Tortov Roddle. Unfortunately, when the main part of the episode kicks in this effect disappears in favour of more standard animation. That being said, however, Production I.G. has nailed a suitable design for the show’s tone. Using a muted, but far from dull, colour palette full of lighter hues the series has an altogether soft appearance that mixes well with the fluffy and comforting content. Sure, the show suffers from the inevitable pitfall of a looser animation style and boasts some iffy proportions or just plain dodgy drawing at times (one scene depicting Daikichi from behind makes it look like his ears are halfway down his neck instead of on his head), but overall the visuals work well and serve to enhance the anime rather than hinder it.SoundThe background music for Usagi Drop is ideal for the series’ tone. The various piano based melodies scattered throughout perfectly reflect Rin’s charming, cheerful innocence while others emphasise the show’s overall nurturing nature. The latter quality is particularly noticeable during the scenes where Kouki’s mother is tending to a feverish Rin where the gentle harmony warms the heart as much as a bowl of healing rice porridge. The voice acting is also top-notch. Ayu Matsuura’s performance of Rin perfectly suits the character and conveys both her naivety as well as her more mature side with ease. Likewise Hiroshi Tsuchida's inflections manage to allude to Daikichi’s rough-around-the-edges nature while imbuing the voice with an increasing softness that can only come with being a loving parent. The secondary vocal cast also perform just as well with Nao Sakai nailing Kouki’s boisterous attitude and Maaya Sakamoto exploiting Masako’s immature mannerisms.CharactersThis show would be nothing without its characterisation, and in particular that of the two central protagonists. As an individual, Rin is perfectly pitched. She manages to exude an aura of absolute adorableness but without becoming too cutesy, sickly sweet, or flat. Certainly, had she failed to be so damn cute, Usagi Drop wouldn’t work half as well as it does. The viewer needs to like Rin and sympathise with her and the series manages this flawlessly. By portraying her loneliness and sorrow in the opening episode then proceeding to depict her coming out of her shell, the anime manages to avoid making her into a tragic case or an emotional brat. Instead, it manages to balance her carefree and childlike nature with her insecurities and sadness in a way that ensures she’s wholly endearing. While Rin may take centre stage a lot of the time and tug at every woman’s maternal instinct, for me the real star of the show is Daikichi and the development of his character is absolutely stellar. At the beginning he’s a bachelor through and through and isn’t particularly good with women or children. However, as the series progresses and he spends more time with Rin, he realises that he has to grow up, make sacrifices, and can no longer live purely for himself. Gradually his focus shifts more and more towards Rin, and it’s small details such as his quitting smoking that make his evolution seem all the more real. That Daikichi goes from the man who will bribe his relatives’ children with sweets just so that they’ll leave him alone, to a responsible parent holding a sick child’s hand all night, and that the viewer goes on this journey with him makes watching the series truly worthwhile. However, what truly brings everything together is Daikichi’s interaction with Rin and how they both learn from each other. Daickichi himself admits at one point during the show that he wonders who is raising who, and throughout the series, the parental role flip-flops between the two. One minute Rin will be berating her guardian for not saying thanks before his meal and waking him up for work; then in the next instant it will be Daikichi teaching his ward about cereal and reassuring her that she won’t be abandoned. With Rin’s “parenting” contributing some gentle comedy into the mix and Daikichi’s inciting more than enough “aww moments” to keep a gaggle of broody housewives cooing over him for a week, it’s undoubtedly this rapport between child and adult that makes for the most engaging and heart-warming viewing.OverallIt’s been a long time since I sat and watched a series with a constant dopey grin on my face, but that’s exactly what happened with Usagi Drop. This series ambles along with a quiet and understated grace without relying on any gimmicks. Instead it lets the beauty of human interaction, innocence and development take centre stage and leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
Before I start let me clarify that I don’t care about slice of life shows. I find them to be the second most simplistic and passable genre, with moeblobs topping them by a few miles for going overboard. In this particular case I sat down to watch it simply because the anime became top ten in almost every site in just a few weeks. I wondered “hey how is this possible; it is just another everyday show”.I read the description of the story and it doesn’t seem like much. Some guy finds out his grandfather had a kid in an old age and decides to raise it after he passed away. Ok, so why is this so great to bother? Some said it was because of the really weird thing that happens in the end of the manga (which I will not reveal since it is a spoiler) and others because it is very good at what is supposed to be about (meaning that you watch it mostly for the feelings it transmits to you). The story is otherwise very basic, the characters are very basic, the ending is not really there, so I am already not seeing this as a perfect show, all in a very objective and undeniable manner.Other than that I do admit that as far as presentation goes it does a fine job. It really feels like everyday life. More than the usual too. For example, there was an anime I watched some years ago with a rather similar story. It was called Chocotto Sister and unlike Usagi Drop it had a lot of silliness in it, from lolicon, to harem, to ecchi, to female Santa Claus gifting naked girls to teenagers. Its slice of life feeling was fine too but quickly became stupid and the rather low production values made it passable and even forgettable.Usagi Drop on the other hand does things a lot more subtly and artistic. The visuals are made at times to look like cute pastel-drawn pictures, the characters have lively motions that make them look interesting to pay attention to, the voice acting is appropriate and never overdone. The characters are also behaving in a much understood reason; you won’t find energetic, angsty-filled teenager cop-outs here. The protagonist is an adult working, and the girl needs psychological support. All these everyday aspects of a normal life are very rare in anime and it is quite interesting to see them being given such attention. Most shows would skip all that, give the characters magic money, their hardest problem would be their scores at school and everybody would accidentally bump on one another while undressed. And do I even need to remind you how mature parenthood was portrayed in Astarotte no Omocha?Usagi Drop avoids all that and focuses solely on portraying realistically what it means to have an actual working life, while having to take care of a melancholic child. It shows all the things you need to sacrifice after you have kids to take care of and it’s not holding back to be sad about it. This unfortunately makes it a show which is hard to be appreciated by anyone who doesn’t like realism in his shows, and by that I mean around 99.98% of any anime, cartoon, dorama, or Hollywood movie out there. Heck, I myself am no fan of too much realism. At the same time the show is far more mature and down to earth that anything else I have watched regarding parenthood. I know for example many who consider the second season of Clannad to be realistic, but the ending alone yells it was just an escapism fairy tale and nothing more. There is another one called Kurenai, which felt realistic in how a young boy needs to take care of a little depressed girl. It also had a fair amount of action, dementia, and even incest. Was it better than Usagi Drop for having action and dementia? No, because the protagonist was a super powerful fighter who was beating crooks every day and yet acted in school like he was a meek wimp and nobody ever questioned his injuries. It became too far fetched after awhile.Now before you start thinking I am praising the series too much for it realism, I must still clarify that it also has its minor issues in terms of storytelling. For example, the way Daikichi took Rin under his wing happened very easily. He just took her home and that’s it! She was also accepted to the kindergarten without any paperwork to clarify who, what, where, when. The whole adoption thing happened really easily.But it is not the story or the development that matter but the feelings it transmits to you. And sure, any stupid fan catering/poser/moe show out there can do the same but none of them manage to succeed by being normal. They are just exaggerated, throwing in lots of sex, violence, death, immorality, and then call themselves “mature” when in reality they are just over the top and eventually poke your disbelief too much. The characters are also good for being basic, without any unnecessary extra, such as being defined by quirks, hairstyles or dress fetishes. They are good at their role and in no need of extra spices. This is what I appreciate in this show; it manages to be simple and quite realistic without being dull right away even if you are not a fan of the genre. And this comes from someone who tried colossi like Aria, Wandering Son, and Yokohama Shopping Diary and found them unbearably BOOORING.So is it a good show? Well it definitely is an uncommon one, and I say this in a positive way. It is getting really hard to see something out of the ordinary in most recent anime and Usagi Drop succeeds by being about REAL life and not some wannabe “mature” story. At the same time, I doubt it would be so famous if it weren’t for “that event” in the end of the manga (which was deliberately left out in the anime version).
Story: The slice of life is very realistic and beautiful, tugging at the heartstrings of such sensible orders life has to offer. It may make you laugh and may make you cry - tears of both joy and sorrow. It is about a 30 year old bachelor named Daikichi who adopts and raises a 6 year old girl named Rin. The storyline is heartwarming, relatable and endearingly captivating. These two main characters teach each other what it means to love and sacrifice along with understanding, not only each other, but understanding the means of life and its daily experiences. It was touching with a peaceful pace and gentle humor. Animation/Art: The anime is full of pastel colors, similar to water coloring. The look has a softer and simpler feel to it which compliments the characters nicely. Sound: The sound isn't particularly outstanding but with this type of anime, it is not needed. There were parts where the sound underlined the scene beautifully and fitted the situation as needed. Characters: The characters in this anime are very special because they seem so realistic. The two main characters, which the anime focuses mostly on, are very much believable. Daikichi hasn't had anything exciting happen in his life since becoming an adult. He is patient, kind and also a dedicated worker. Rin is both innocent and mature, bringing such adorableness to everyone's life. We meet several other characters and though they may not play as major of a role, they certainly aid to the support of the storyline and character development. Overall: Bunny Drop is a sweet and warmhearted slice of life watch. It targets all ages and it is very relatable. The human interaction and the innocence, leaves the audience with such a happy, fuzzy feeling. It may be a slower pace for some but the "true-to-life" experiences is what makes the anime so special. Secret Santa Review 2017
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