Title: Usagi Drop
Genre: Slice of Life
Summary: When Diakichi returns home from his grandfathers funeral, he finds in his garden a girl named Rin, who turns out to be his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. When no one else will take her in because of the shame her existence brings to the family, Daikichi defies everyone and decides to raise her, despite his lack of any experience with children.
Review: Strangely enough an anime that was extremely short and doesn’t really have much to talk about was one of my favorites for the Summer season. As many of you know I’m quite a sucker for these type of anime as I pointed out during the first looks and with Kure-nai. I am not sure what gets me so warm hearted or smiling about a young kid going through a pretty rough time only to be saved by someone else. Usagi Drop didn’t have some intense story or highly climactic ending. In fact, it probably had a rather dry ending compared to most anime. What do you expect from a slice of life though? The thing about it is it kept things real and honest. Going through the ever day life of a single father and a young girl isn’t all that exciting. However, something about their bond and life endeavors has a little bit of magic to it. It kind of shows you the every day miracles of having a child.
The art style for Usagi Drop wasn’t top notch or visually brilliant. It was, however, very fitting. When I watched the anime the first thing I thought was, “Wow this looks like a coloring book”. Pretty good for a series about a little girl; especially one that enjoys drawing. Even the opening had the same kiddy art style. Now the series wasn’t childish in the least and the art didn’t look like some five year old drew it. It was just artistically simple. They didn’t rely on bold colors, shading, lighting, or unique figures to keep things interesting. It really brought out the best of the series by having you focus on the actual characters instead of their fancy looks. They also integrated a lot of great facial expressions. The neat art was matched by an equally sweet story.
The anime is one of those “feel good” anime. It doesn’t make you feel bad and any real drama is solved in the short 30 minute episodes. You could say that it is the definition of slice of life. It really is just about the daily lives of Diakichi and little Rin. It really does bring out the best of kids though. It shows hardship of being a parent (a single one at least) and the greatest benefits. Despite the rather taboo opening of a grandfather’s illegitimate child the series didn’t get all dramatic like some others. The opening did seem like it was going to be filled with hateful characters and unbelievable plot devices because it seemed like no one was willing to take care of an abandoned child. However, the mighty Diakichi stands up and finally yells at them and calls them out for their stupidity. This was definitely the highlight of the anime. The first episode got me hooked with a powerful bond between Diakichi and Rin. Throughout the anime a lot of good points were brought up. Like what would you be willing to sacrifice for your child? A better paying job? Time for yourself? Now there really isn’t much to say about the anime, nothing special really happened. The introduction of possible love interests for Rin and Daikichi were a nice touch. It sort of had this awkward moment between two single parents and what they might do for themselves and their children. The series extended this further and made some of the stories less about Daikichi and Rin and more about some of their friends and family. For example, Daikichi’s cousin was going through some tough times with her husband. He would often come home late and never really have time for his wife or daughter. Daikichi’s cousin also was having trouble living with her mother-in-law. It was nice to see all flavors of marriage in the series. The divorced, unhappily and happily married, and the one who never had a relationship. It brought a lot more to the series than your typical slice of life. The series is quite short (eleven episodes) and most likely isn’t going to have a second season. At least I hope not. The manga published fifty six chapters before finally coming to an end, and the anime spans twenty four of them. However, after the twenty four chapters the manga starts writing about when Rin is now in high school. While at first I was kind of excited to read it after watching the anime my hopes slowly started to slip as the series felt more drama filled and less heart warming. Alas this is not a manga review so I wont go into the bitter details. But as a precaution and someone who liked the anime, I wouldn’t pick up the manga for the continuing story. The ending especially had me a little shifty. The series did a good job ending when it did, and left the audience with a nice message. When you have a child your “free time” is now dedicated to your child. And for all the parents in the series, that’s exactly how they wanted it to be.
The soundtrack for Usagi Drop was another fitting aspect of the anime. The opening was like a child’s storybook artistically and harmonically. It sounded just like a children’s show opening. I don’t mean something that would make you annoying and want to mute the sound for its duration; it was something that made you feel good and brought you back to your childhood. Rin’s voice actress was also surprisingly good for her first time. For her age Ayu Matsuura did an amazing job and I can easily see her getting more roles as she gets older. Roles other than a kid.
Final statements: As I said this is the series’ anime review not manga, so it is easily a high priority watch. I really enjoyed the simple story between Daikichi and Rin. The little bits and pieces of drama they threw in were a nice touch to keep the series going. However, it really comes down to just making your day that much brighter.