Another week, another anime review from me. Lets start of with the synopsis of the anime. While attending his grandfather’s funeral, thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is surprised to discover that his grandfather had an illegitimate child with an unknown mother! The rest of his family, fearing the obligation and embarrassment, want nothing to do with the silent little girl, Rin. Sensing her imminent abandonment and outraged by his complacent family members, Daikichi decides to adopt her himself! …yet he may have underestimated the difficulty of balancing his work, family, and love life with his role as her guardian.
The fluid art and animation, we’re able to see how they become so close. Soft watercolour-esque scenes start out each episode before the opening song rolls. It’s really a nice way of preceding the bulk of the episode. Using a muted, but far from dull, colour palette full of lighter hues the series has an altogether soft appearance that mixes well with the fluffy and comforting content. Character designs are markedly simplistic but there’s no need to fuss over it. With some added touches of realism, it’s nice knowing they do change clothes each day and night and that Daikichi does grow a stubble if he doesn’t shave every day like any other grown man. The backgrounds are subtle yet detailed; from pavement cracks to packaged market meat, everything in view is easy on the oculars.
Daikichi is the most important focus of this anime. Rin is but a reflection of Daikichi’s development. We get to see the “change” through his eyes, and we do await his next moves. Daikichi is but a romantic teenager in the head. Had he not been one, he would have never made such a decision. Portrayed as a considerate man right from the very first episode, Daikichi always tries to put himself in Rin’s shoes. Goodhearted enough to accept this from the start, he is also a very good learner. Quite often you see Daikichi asking for advice, whether directly from his sister, or implicitly acquiring it by observing how other parents behave… Yet, the most important quality Daikichi’s character lays on the table is LOVE. This huge sacrifice he is offering, simple to see a child’s smile, is nothing but pure love.
Rin, on the other hand, is just six years old, and so often she does behave as such… Yet, from time to time, we are reminded of her calamity: her father is dead, and she has no clue who or where her mother is. This is why we get to see her having qualms about being abandoned; these qualms are naturally displayed as nightmares from time to time.
Rin’s classmate Kouki & his single mom are pretty much permanent fixtures in Daikichi and Rin’s life. Aside from his apparent cheekiness, Kouki’s a good kid and it shows in his submissive yet protective behavior towards Rin. They are a form of mirror to our protagonists, so similar in their single parent family structure yet so very different in character and dynamics. The rest of the characters are also very realistic.
The music, consisting primarily of piano solos sometimes accompanied by strings, kicks in at the perfect times fading in and out seamlessly. They are not grand scores but are beautiful none the less. At key moments the director sometimes chooses to have the music go silent, leaving only the key background noises and the voices of the characters, and he uses this to great effect. It can be said the music is as light as a child’s emotions, void of the heavy ideals of a grown up, easily carried away by the breeze of the moment.
The story is quite simple indeed. Out of the blue, Daikichi decides to take Rin under his wings! A very surprising, and somehow far-fetched decision coming from a single man who has no experience whatsoever at raising a child. What’s not surprising, though, is of course the fact that Daikichi’s life is about to drastically change… Well, the idea of a single man suddenly thrown into the catacombs of parenthood has been tackled so many a time before, so what’s special about Usagi Drop? It is the PACE! The pace, at which this change comes through, is simply perfect. Each episode takes you by the hand, along with Daikichi, and makes you slowly sip this change like red wine. And just when you feel like this is going to be only a portrait of Daikichi and Rin’s everyday activities, you are reminded about the origin of the whole situation, and you start getting answers for your questions: who is Rin’s mother? Is she alive? Why has she abandoned her daughter? Would she wish to see her daughter..
The show may seem slow throughout the course, but it’s a steady character driven piece that delivers consistently. Normally I’d pass up shows like this but I am always anxiously waiting for an episode every week. Usagi Drop manages to cement itself as one of the best slice of life shows around. It manages to transcend anime in the fact that I think the story is one that can be enjoyed by both anime and non-anime viewers alike. The story is very heart warming and provides many uplifting emotions throughout its run. It is a show I would recommend to almost anyone, and it is definitely deserving of much accolades.