STOP READING ONCE YOU GET TO THE TIME SKIP. what comes after will ruin the story for you!!!!!!!!!!! The ending was disgusting.
Usagi Drop is for the most part a tale of two stories. The first is a extremely heartwarming look at a young male that takes in an abandoned child. This part of the story contains some of the most tear bringing moments I have ever read. The second part of this tale though really leaves a bad taste in some people's mouth as we descend onto a very strange path.
I am going to throw this out here first; if you want to see the heartwarming stuff then read up to the end of volume four then STOP. After this point the story jumps ten years to when Rin is in high school. This is also the case for the anime based off of this manga; it stops right before the time skip.
So the start of the manga was something extraordinary; it had everything you needed to be a tear jerker. We start out with a meeting in order to decide who would look over the recently abandoned Rin. After much debate, Daikichi decides to take it upon himself to look after Rin through childhood. The first 4 volumes of this manga depicts Rin growing up through grade school and how Daikichi deals with being a single male raising a little girl by himself. How everything flowed together was actually quite surprising since this was apparently the authors longest running manga. Everything was great about the first arc plain and simple.
Now a lot of people will tell you that the manga takes a nosedive after the time skip into the high school years. I will agree that the plot does seem to fall off considerably in quality moments but the real reasoning behind everyone's distaste is actually extremely superficial and lame. It's hard to talk about without ruining the ending but just remember that social customs of one nation will not be the same as your own so something that seems weird to you may not seem weird to most Japanese citizens. The main focus of the second arc is the relationships between Rin's friends, Daikichi, and Kouki's mother. Unlike the first arc, the second did seem like a complete 180 degree turn in terms of how the story was being told. It was not as appealing as the first bit that is for sure.
Overall it is unfair to rate the story in halves but if I were going to rate each arc, the first deserves a perfect score while the second is barely passable.
The art style was actually quite good but the character models were not. There were proportion issues throughout the entire manga and the author really doesn't know how to draw hands that well (lol). One thing to point out however is that the visual quality of the anime is astounding.
I do not care what you think about the second arc but the moments between Daikichi and Rin in the first arc will continue to be some of the most heartwarming stuff I have experienced so far. While I didn't talk about Kouki and his mother hardly at all, they were also very important to the story. This 10/10 rating though really goes to Daikichi. He entered a situation blind of what the outcome would be but he adjusted his life in order to properly raise Rin. He is the most important male character to date in manga.
For the entire manga this score might be a little too high but I wholeheartedly recommend you either read the first four volumes of this manga or go watch the complete anime. If you feel invested in the characters then move on to the second arc if you have an open mind. It is not horrible but just does not have the same emotional impact as the first.
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WARNING: NOT A SIMPLE HEART WARMING STORY ABOUT ADOPTING A CHILD
SPOILER WARNING: The ending I found hard to come to terms with. It wasn't like the worst possible ending but I just can't believe that Dakichi truly had strong parental feeling because there is no way in hell a person who feels like a father to someone could marry their daughter. Plus its a 24 year age difference and I feel she wasted her potential. In the end I was routing for her to still be with Kouki because I just didn't want her to be with Dakichi. Why couldn't she have married Kouki and they all lived together? But then you can argue that the ideal scenario was for Dakichi to marry Kouki's mother and for Kouki to marry Rin. Its still very difficult for me to wrap my head around what Dakichi and Rin were thinking but I don't regret reading the series just wish it ended slightly differently.
Usagi Drop - A Difficult to sumemrize Manga
A simple story about a Young girl and her Adoptive Father*, going through the challenging yet wonderful, days of their lives. Our Protaganist Daikichi's grandfather had an illegitimate child. After the death of grandpa, no one wanted to take care of the 6 year old left behind, Rin. Daikichi frustrated at his family's treatment of the innocent child, decides to be the Guardian of the child. And thus the story begins.
ART - Pretty good, minimalist, sleek.
CHARACTERS - Fun cast, each character has a story, a past. Some really likeable characters here.
STORY - The Manga actually has 3 Parts to it,
Part 1 - Volume 1-4, About raising a child, challenges and rewards of being a parent. The nostalgia of being a kid.
Part 2 - Volume 5-7, About teenage years, puberty, growing up. Conflicting emotions, figuring out young adulthood.
Part 3 - Volume 8-10, About -SPOILERS- can't say. But is a reflection of the authors wish fullfillment, fantasy/fetish. Ruins the first two parts.
When 2/3 of the story are good, 1/3 great & 1/3 Bad (or Problematic) You can begin to understand the difficulty it brings up in reviewing such a story. Do you rate it at its best or at its worst.
It's great, just a sweet slice of life story, with a nice cast of characters, interesting day to day challenges, and a lovely nostalgic view of the past. Our protaganist, Daikichi, learns to be a parent, looks back on his childhood and grows to be a more responsible person. Rin, the 6 year old, goes from being a shy loner girl to a responsible kid who learns to make friends.
From the prespective of a lighthearted, feel good story its a, 8/10
Sweet and Bitter. After a 10 year time skip, Rin is now 16 years old. Daikichi is 40. Life has changed quite a bit for the two, Rin is now a grown up, responsbile adult, who makes breakfast and dinner and helps around the house. Daikichi is now pretty much a Dad. This also marks a dramatic shift in the story's tone. No longer is this a sweet little story about raising a child. It's now a story about, growing up being a teenager and the confusing emotions that rise within one's self. Rin's best friend once a hyper, loud child, is now a hyper, loud, handsome teen. Rin has trouble sorting her feelings for her best friend. They were like siblings, maybe they still our. Her best friend is interested in her romantically but does she want that as well? Why is she sad when he goes out with other girls? Couldn't they just be friends like the used to, can't it be like this forever?
The story takes such a drastic shift, its a different genre. From a Yound Adult story about the awkward period in life as a teenager, I say this is a sold 7/10
Sigh...... This is where it gets weird SPOLIER SPOLIER SPOLIERs ahead. This story picks up directly after part 2, no timeskip this time around.
Rin frustrated that her friend is no longer the kid he was when they first met, decided she is no longer interested romantically in her best friend Kouki. Instead she feels romance isnt for her. When Kouki's, single mother, decides she wants to get remarried, Kouki can't accept it. This brings Rin to consider whether she would be comfortable if her Parent/Guardian were to get married could she accept it? Rin is not really Daikichi's daughter would that mean she has to leave if Daikichi ever gets married? Can't she stay with him forever?
Rin now considers whether she and Daikichi can be together if they got married to each otehr, (I know this just went south HARD) I mean its not like it she's his actual daughter, but also she is his half-aunt. Later we would find that Rin was never related to Daikichi. The grandpa made the story up, so his family could legally take custody of and properly raise the girl. Rin, is not related to Daikichi by blood in anyway.
The writer admits in the finaly volume of the manga that this was just supposed to be a One volume story but since the manga got a great reception he decided to continue it. So did he initially want these two to end up together? Was this something he decided after writing Part 2? I don't know.
The story goes out of its way to show us that Daikichi (30-40) has no perverted intentions towards Rin (6-16). And yet Daikichi still agrees to date Rin. Becasue it wasn't his idea but Rin's idea to start dating. The write uses a cheap hack to make the Protaganist not appear as a Piece of S**t. A young girl who is unsure about her feelings, wants to marry a 40 year old just so she doesn't have to change her life, decides to take an extreme action and date her guardian. The guardian instead of reassuring his "daughter" that he won't leave here even when she gets married to someone, instead of being the responsible one and shutting down this notion of dating, decides to give in to the wishes of a 16 year old. Using the excuse "I am not a bad person, I didn't wanna date a 16 year old, but she was the one who wanted that and I just reluctanly agreed."
If this started as a trashy story about a young girl dating and old guy, it wouldn't be this bad. Instead it started as a innocent Father Daughter story, I can't even rate this part. Sorry, if the first part didnt exist i would give it a, 4/10, bad but not the worst. But Part 1 exists and thus I can't really rate it even that, since it comes off as a Perverted Fetish of the writer to have a story where a 40 year old can take advantage of a 16 year old, while playing the I'm the good guy card. It gets sicker the more you break it down.
Despite that, Highly recommend you read this to get an Idea for yourself. You learn more about yourself more than anything when you read something like this. Reading something that starts great and ends bad, is an experience in of it self.
Story: I've seen the "single parent suddenly get child" concept done several times in different mediums. However, Usagi Drop does it but with completely different feel. It has two major timelines. The first timeline is mostly slice of life. There is drama but nothing like soap opera. It's mainly Daikichi figuring how to make a family with Rin and the moments and feelings that unfold. The second timeline is more dramatic. However, neither become like soap opera which is nice. I will admit that I have a preference for the first timeline but the second is still good. Although this is a slice-and-life series, it's really enchanting and engaging. It's never jaw dropping but you can't put it done. You'll start and before you know it, the second timeline hit. There is humour and romance while both are executed beautifully. I did enjoy the ending and I think it was fitting and endearing. If someone told me the ending beforehand, to be honest, I would be skepetical and think "seriously?!". However, as the series progressed, I really did see the ending as being the best option. Someone may not see it that way but that's my opinion since it can be difficult to swallow. I think it would have been amazing ending right before the second arc begins. Ideally, I would have liked that to happen. However, I can understand the ending and I by no means think that it's bad.
Art: The art style is very simple. However, it gets the job done without all the extra details and being flowerly. It gets the feeling across for every moment whether it be humour, drama or a heart warming scene. Yes, the art could have been better from a technical aspect. The important part though is that the art never hindered the story, characters, or the feelings it was trying to get across. The mangaka definitely has her own style which comes through.
Characters: The star contenders are obviously Daikichi and Rin. They are amazing characters who are so realisitc and lovable. They are completely relatable and the decisions they make are understandable. I could see myself in their shoes which is something I don't see in many female orientated series. Also, their relationship is heart warming. One of the most endearing relationships I have seen. They don't lie about their feelings. Daikichi does show how much trouble having a child can be. He doesn't lie about the fact that he made sacrifices for Rin. However, throughout the series, you see how his prospective of her changes into a beautfiul and meaningful relationship. The same goes for Rin. The secondary characters are also given adequate time and development. One of the best things about the series is you can always see where the love comes from. In many female-orientated series (mainly but not limited to shoujo), characters just love each other without you seeing why. There is no question why they love each other in Usagi Drop because you see the reasons clearly.
Overall: Honestly, one of my favorite series. I will warn you that there is a definite change in tone with the second timeline (begins around volume 5). However, I still adore it. Usagi Drop is definitely an endearing and heartwarming slife of life series. Also, I'll warn you that the ending is not for everybody and many will be happier ending before the second arc begins(I probably would have been too). BUT that doesn't change by rating of it and the fact that I loved the series.