Interview: Kanta Kamei, Director of Bunny Dropby Rebecca Silverman, Aug 3rd 2012
We sat down for a few minutes with Kanta Kamei, director of the acclaimed series Bunny Drop, based on the popular manga about a young man who suddenly finds himself responsible for a little girl. The complete series will be available from NISA on August 7.
ANN: What attracted you to Yumi Unita's manga series in the first place?
KAMEI: The art style may be simple, but each and every line in the drawings had a powerful impact. The way the panels were used left a very strong impression on me; it was as if the readers’ heartstrings were plucked at in a very particular way. I would also say that Rin is very cute!
What made you decide to limit the anime version to the first four manga volumes? Are you aware of the controversy about the manga's ending, and did that influence your decision?
When the anime was being produced, the original manga was not finished yet, so I thought it would not be possible to include the parts past volume 4. The comic is divided up into parts where Rin is a child, and where she is a young adult. The themes and points of view were completely different, so we all decided from the beginning that we would only go up to volume
How do you feel about the manga's ending?
I think It's be great that Daikichi and Rin are able to live happily together. But I still have some mixed feelings about it...
Is there a specific reason why you personally directed both the first and last episodes?
I really wanted to direct all the episodes, but that would be physically impossible. So I thought it would only be right if I took responsibility for the beginning and end of the story. The first episode sets the entire direction of the series. I thought it was crucial for me to “declare” what that direction was to the rest of the staff.
Do you see the story as strictly Japanese, or do you believe that it has a more universal appeal?
The effects of the settings and customs may be Japanese, but I believe the story of a parent and child growing together is very universal.
Do you think the story is relevant to many of your viewers? Does it address any real social issues?
Daikichi, Rin, and everyone around them are all very nice people. Not many would be so lucky to have such a nurturing environment. However, despite how those positive qualities are almost unrealistically concentrated around Daikichi, I know that there is at least one thing in the story and the situations that the viewers can relate to. I haven't considered any part of it to be addressing social issues in any way.
Is Daikichi a character you see your audience relating to?
The construction of Daikichi's character is difficult because he is too good of a person. I did take great care in showing him so that the audience would root for him. Maybe I made him look too cool?
What is the story's message about parenthood?
Just like the opening lyrics say, even if the present is difficult, you can see it as a path to the happiness that lies ahead. That's the message I wanted to convey. Daikichi's very last line by the screenwriter is, “I feel like her smile has become my own happiness.” I think that's a really great line.
Rin and Kouki are always busy in the background of scenes where they are not major players. Is there a reason for this?
I made it so that everything was like a “cutout of everyday life.” You know how kids never stay still.
How did you handle the contrasts in Rin's character, a child who is in some ways very grown up?
The reason why she's mature for her age is because her “Grandpa” raised her. That is why I included things that kids at Rin's age generally don't know or typically do.
What is your opinion of Masako-san?
Masako abandoned her child for the sake of her own happiness. But as she continues to see Rin grow up, the cross she bears weighs down on her heavily, causing her to be the unhappiest of them all. It pains me to see her.
There are a lot of shots of Rin's tiny hand in Daikichi's large one. Is this intentional and what are you using it to convey?
To kids, large hands signify something they can depend on. To adults, tiny hands are cute and signify something that should be protected and never let go. That's what I was trying to illustrate with those two.
What do you think is Daikichi's most important experience as a parent?
Daikichi's paternal love develops as he meets the many people who support the maturation of both Rin and himself. I believe that the process in which his paternal love develops and helps him to become a true family together with Rin is the most important experience to him.
In your opinion, how do we see both Rin and Daikichi grow up over the course of the series?
Though they may still be unsure about many things, Daikichi is aware of his responsibilities and is prepared to be Rin's parent. He can now accept everything about his role and enjoy it along the way. Rin's line, “Just be Daikichi,” in episode 5 embodies that in a very direct way.
Do you feel Usagi Drop has any social role to play in the understanding or acceptance of the growing number of single parents living in Japan and around the world, particularly for working women in developed countries?
To be honest, I had not considered that. If we are to be able to influence social understanding in such a way, I will be very happy as a content creator.
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