Original Run: July 8, 2011 - September 16, 2011 Number of Episodes: 11 Genre: Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Yumi Unita
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Usagi Drop. Reader discretion is advised.***
Daikichi Kawachi (voiced by Hiroshi Tsuchida) is a thirty-year-old bachelor who, despite having a good job, nice house, and a comfortable life, feels like he is going in circles. It’s not that he doesn’t have the drive to do more meaningful things, he just doesn’t know what exactly constitutes as meaningful.
Then one day, Daikichi’s estranged grandfather passes away.
While attending the funeral, Daikichi meets a quiet little girl named Rin (voiced by Ayu Matsuura). There is a great amount of awkwardness surrounding her and Daikichi is shocked to learn six-year-old Rin is actually his grandfather’s daughter. Given the circumstances, Daikichi’s family isn’t sure what to do.
However, while everyone else sees a problem, all Daikichi can see is a young child who has just lost the person she held most dear. Going against the objections of his relatives, Daikichi chooses to raise Rin himself. But although the gesture may be noble, it soon proves to be far more of a challenge.
Taking things slowly, Daikichi starts to appreciate what it truly means to care for another human being. And for Rin, she is happy knowing there is someone who will always love her.
Usagi Drop was good. It was so goddamn good, and to be honest, I’m underplaying this show quite a lot.
This series was well-animated, well-written, well-acted, and it was every other kind of “well” you can imagine. I’m not sure where I should start talking, and I’m even less sure about what I can talk about. If you’re going in blind, me discussing many specific details will do you a horrible disservice. Therefore, what I will emphasize is, this show was a true slice-of-life anime.
Usagi Drop was neither a pure comedy nor a pure drama piece. It was both of those things, and yet, thinking of this as a comedy-drama also seems wrong. Hence why I am sticking with calling this show a true slice-of-life.
Everyday interactions, everyday relationships, and everyday existences aren’t inherently anything. We don’t laugh all the time, nor do we cry all the time. Occasionally we feel sad, occasionally we feel stressed, and occasionally we feel relaxed, with little bits of everything else sprinkled in-between. Significant, life-changing events can be surprising, but they aren’t particularly common; such is the reason why they are “life-changing.”
Usagi Drop encapsulated that.
For this show, the big change was Rin coming into Daikichi’s life, and the rest of the story followed the consequences of that development. Never once did this series enter the world of implausibility. Granted, learning your ninety-something grandfather has a surprise six-year-old daughter is – I imagine – unusual, but it’s also not hard to picture.
That was the hook Usagi Drop used to grab my attention. However, what secured my admiration was how this show handled this unique situation. For one, the series made sure to include the small details.
When Daikichi took Rin in, he didn’t fully realize the responsibility he had accepted. Sure, there were the obvious things like food and clothes, but keep this in mind. Rin was not old enough for elementary school. Therefore, Daikichi needed to find a daycare. Not only that, he needed to find one on short notice, one that wasn’t too far away, and one that could fit within his busy work schedule.
And if what he had at the time wasn’t going to cut it, then he needed to make changes to his life to ensure Rin was taken care of first and foremost.
I am not a parent, and thus I neither have the experience nor the right to determine how accurate Usagi Drop was at depicting the challenges of parenthood. What I will bet on is, if there was one thing this show indicated it was that raising a child is not in the least bit easy – a revelation, I know.
Nevertheless, that was the charm of Usagi Drop. This series built itself up from the concept of a growing father-daughter relationship between Daikichi and Rin. The result of that turned into one of the funniest, saddest, tensest, most heartwarming anime I have seen in a long while. And a crucial key to that success was this show’s characters.
I’m talking the entire cast was fantastic. But for the sake of letting you experience Usagi Drop for yourself, I will limit myself to only Daikichi and Rin.
I loved the fact Daikichi wasn’t one of the typical stereotypes. He wasn’t a stand-offish otaku, he wasn’t a fresh-faced college student, nor was he a hot-shot rich guy. Instead, Daikichi had a respectable career but it wasn’t anything extraordinary. He had the money to live comfortably but not extravagantly. He was kind to his friends, co-workers, and family. Most importantly, he had a good head on his shoulders. Sure, Daikichi didn’t have all the answers, but he also wasn’t a bumbling buffoon who was incapable of using basic common sense.
Plus, I’m giving extra props for Daikichi being a thirty-year-old man who could put together a home-cooked meal. Take it from me, fellas, knowing how to use a stove properly – even if it’s just making pasta – is a necessary life skill that will save you a ton of hassle in the long run.
Now, while Daikichi might have been great, it was Rin who stole my heart. She was the sweetheart of sweethearts. The poor girl had an incredible weight dropped on her, and she was at an age where she probably couldn’t fully understand what was happening. So, unfortunately, she was forced to mature quickly, and she didn’t even know it.
Thankfully, though, Usagi Drop didn’t turn a six-year-old into a small adult. No, Rin was still a child. A highly competent, well-mannered child, but a child, nonetheless. She didn’t know what certain concepts were, she had a ton of energy, and she had a tendency to be a bit of a smart ass towards Daikichi – but in the enduring sort of way that made her adorable rather than infuriating.
In addition, can we talk about Rin’s voice actress, Ms. Ayu Matsuura? She had only just turned ten-years-old when Usagi Drop premiered, and she gave an outstanding performance.
And I think that about covers everything. Or, at least, everything I am willing to discuss in this review. Trust me, we didn’t even scratch the surface of this show’s strengths.
If there were something I had to say here, it would be:
I’m a little surprised by how much didn’t happen in this series.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything I would want to change about Usagi Drop. I’m struggling to think of an actual gripe I had with this show. Still, it seems as though there could have been more; like, a lot more.
For example, Usagi Drop was only an eleven episode anime. I have to wonder why this series was given less time than usual to work with. I don’t believe for a second the anime ran out of material from the manga. Plus, being an adaptation, there were plenty of possible routes the story could have taken.
What I’m getting at is, it’s strange that things were cut short when there must have been more to pull from.
Just off the top of my head, Usagi Drop never explored what might happen if Daikichi and Rin got into an argument. The two were incredibly close, so I doubt either would have been unwilling to push back if the other went too far on something.
This series wouldn’t have needed to make an entire subplot out of it, but why not make it the focus of a single episode?
Before I conclude, I need to make it clear I am not insinuating Usagi Drop ended unsatisfyingly. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I don’t even want a second season. This show signed off incredibly cleanly.
Yeah, a continuation is certainly possible, and I wouldn’t be upset if news of one were to be announced. However, sometimes a single entry is more than enough, and Usagi Drop was way more than more-than-enough.
I’ll say it as many times as I need to:
This show is an absolute “yes.”
The concept was interesting, the characters were relatable, the animation was beautiful, the writing was remarkable, the humor was funny, the drama was tense, the sad moments were heartbreaking, and the fun moments were uplifting.
This was the type of all-inclusive package that only comes around once in a blue moon.
That is why Usagi Drop gets the highest recommendation I can give.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Usagi Drop? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you have read, be sure to follow Anime Hajime on our social media sights so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.