Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
At his grandfather's funeral, 30-year-old bachelor businessman Kawachi Daikichi encounters 6 year old Rin, who is shunned by his immediate family. As he presses his relatives for information, he discovers Rin is the child of his grandfather's mistress, a secret which brought shame on their conservative family.
Daikichi doesn't like children, but the cold attitude of his relatives towards her causes Daikichi to reconsider his stance, adopt Rin and raise her as if she were his own daughter. After all, she is blood...and endearingly cute! What kind of clothes to buy her? What to feed her? What to do about nursery school? Daikichi's new life raising a 6-year-old girl is an uninterrupted stream of bewilderment.
Directed by Kanta Kamei (Tales of Vesperia), Usagi Drop is based on the best-selling manga by Yumi Unita and appeared on Fuji TV's noitaminA slot in 2010 where it was met with a strong positive response.
It's not too often you come across a title that truly can call itself a 'slice of life' anime. Many come close, but they always slowly undo themselves in different ways – relationships become less believable, comedic and depressing moments constantly appear forced or magic and the supernatural eventually rears themselves itself into the equation. Usagi Drop on the other hand has none of these. It is simple in concept, small in scale and is never afraid to run at its own pace. It is the raw no frills story of a man and a young girl learning to become a family together and it is guaranteed to move you in way rarely done before.
Daikichi Kawachi is a very complacent 30 year old bachelor businessman. He works long hours, owns little and is the best there is at his department. While attending the funeral of his grandfather he comes across 6 year old Rin, a shy girl who the family oust as the love child between their grandfather and his mistress. With no one willing to take care of her, Daikichi goes against his principles and decides to take her home with him. From here we get to watch as the pair deal with everyday life, milestones, and relationships, all whilst growing to be more of a family with every step. It's not all highs however, but neither is life. Sacrifices might need to be made, relationships might need to be repaired, and you may even have to put your life on hold for someone. These things can happen, and Usagi Drop makes sure you feel for the cast every step of the way when they do.
One thing that certainly might draw a bit of criticism however is the visuals. The series randomly switches at times between simple lightly coloured images to an even more child-like water-coloured palette. It's an odd effect, but luckily one that doesn't draw too much attention from what's happening on the screen. The character designs by Yuu Yamashita are also rather plain and simple, with some of the cast such as Daikichi looking especially less attractive and flat. It's certainly a look that needs to grow on you.
As with the visuals, the audio in Usagi Drop is a very simple affair. Background tunes are basic, low key, and rarely consist of more than two instruments. The music also rarely leaves a pre-set volume, happy to let the actions and dialogue do the hard work. Siren's release of Usagi Drop is subtitle only, but don't let that be a disappointment as Japanese cast does a wonderful job. Ayu Matsuura's portrayal of the cutesy Rin is very good and is in wonderful contrast to Daikichi's much lower and more straightforward voice by Hiroshi Tsuchida. The opening theme "Sweet Drops" by PUFFY is a lovely catchy tune that works well with the ending song "High High High" by kasarinchu, a more downbeat and yet just as catchy guitar tune.
On the extras side of things, Siren has included a solid amount of content consisting of four extras bonus small episodes, three promotion clips, and the clean opening and closing themes for every episode as the visuals slightly differ for each. The bonus episodes are certainly the pick of the lot though, and are basically four fun short stories covering extra events in Daikichi and Rin's life together. It's unfortunate not many of these bonus episodes were made as the series does take big time leaps between a few episodes, and the ending only covers half the manga series (which I hear is a good thing).
Usagi Drop will always be a tough sell. There's no fighting, no senseless fan-service and no silly comedy. In fact I'm even amazed the series pulled a PG rating from the classification board in the first place. If you do get a chance to see this series at some stage, please don't pass it up. A show like this is a rarity amongst the anime of today. Usagi Drop will make you want to be a better person, it will inspire you to do better. And that alone should be a reason not to miss it.
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : A-
Music : A-
+ A simple yet powerful story, very adult orientated.
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