「おなかのかぜ」 (Onaka no Kaze)
「はじめの一歩」 (Hajime no Ippo)
“The First Step”
Daikichi runs into Rin’s classmates’ parents at the cultural festival and they quickly hit it up and become friends. Yet again, he gets to see and experience all sorts of joys and pains of parenthood; they are mundane, everyday aspects of life, but as always they manage to bring a smile to my face. Quite a bit does happen if you play close attention, though everything is pretty subtle. Bigger issues include juggling work and family, dealing with naughty little boys, and worrying over sick kids. All the quirks of growing up, like losing baby teeth, are very nostalgic as well. I didn’t know there was a custom of throwing baby teeth onto the roof, but where I grew up kids also saved their teeth in little containers (either that, or putting it under the pillow for the tooth fairy in exchange for a quarter).
There’s n remarkable mix of kids’ and adults’ issues, and the relatable and realistic family themes are hard not to enjoy. Even though a lot of us may not be parents yet, there’s no doubt we’ve experienced many of these things firsthand while growing up. After watching this episode for example, I can see how my mom and dad must have felt when I was very sick, or what they felt when I was acting like a brat. I cheered a little when Rin finally got better too: I’m not sure if other people feel the same, but the morning you wake up after an illness goes away is one of the best feelings in the world. They visit Daikichi’s parents again too, and Daikichi’s mom fussing over Rin made me laugh out loud quite a bit, as it totally reminded me of how my grandma was with me.
Finally there’s the relationship potential with Kouki’s mom as well, and they do seem to be getting closer, especially because of their similar issues as a single parent. After Rin’s cold, she gets sick as well; Daikichi and Rin send over a care package, and I could definitely see the chemistry between him and Yukari in that scene. More and more they feel like a family, and I wouldn’t mind if they really did become one. Unfortunately the adaption ends before that can be delved into, but I guess romance doesn’t play a significant part in the story yet.
There’s a short recap at the end of the last episode, and through the flashbacks it’s clear that Daikichi and Rin have definitely changed and grown a whole lot in the past year. I didn’t notice it while following the show each week, but a quick comparison shows how much things have progressed since that moment a 31-year-old bachelor suddenly decided to take in his 6-year-old aunt, the illegitimate child of his grandfather. Rin of course has grown both physically and emotionally, but Daikichi has matured in his own way as well; this is evident as he talks with Kazumi, who facing the parenthood issue already and does not know if she is ready to put out the sacrifice required to raise a kid — a sacrifice that Daikichi is just beginning to understand well. His family is very unique and in some ways was more difficult than a traditional family, but he has put out much effort to learn the skills of being a parent, and I do believe it has paid off.
After finally getting around to watching the final two episodes, I am no less impressed. With the same mood and atmosphere that has prevailed throughout the last three months, Bunny Drop ends on a quiet, sentimental note, with no sign of the much mentioned “controversial” time-skip and ending. While I have not spoiled myself with the manga yet, perhaps it is time to check it out myself sometime (on Takaii’s recommendation). Here however, I will judge the anime on its own, and there is certainly little flaw with this adaption.
The eleven episodes span a course of a year from the time Daikichi meets Rin at his father’s funeral to when Rin loses her second baby tooth. In many ways it reminds me of Hourou Musuko; the quiet BGM and the watercolor-like art style featured in both fit in well with the laid-back pace, and I’d go another step to say that the music and the art actually enhanced the atmosphere of the series. Even though the two shows have drastically different subject material, I would definitely consider Usagi Drop another example of “slice-of-life done right”.
Keeping in line with its genre, it’s definitely a slow-paced series though, and is fairly uneventful throughout (unless you consider elementary school entrance ceremonies, rice balls or jump rope contests “exciting”). As such, this series tends not to generate a lot of buzz, and is also rather difficult to blog about each week. That’s not to say it was boring however, as I highly enjoyed seeing a family issues being delved into, as the premise is fairly unique in contrast to the usual high school setting with absent parents. The single best adjective to describe Usagi Drop is “heartwarming” as episode after episode manages to bring warm and fuzzy feelings to your heart. Plus, Daikichi and Rin are no ordinary family either, and their interactions are just adorable.
The rest of the cast was great as well, but because of the length of the series, a lot of their stories are left hanging (e.g. Masako, Yukari, or Gotou). They were minor, but their relationship and connection with Daikichi and Rin perked my interest in their characters. Though the anime concluded rather abruptly, it really just boiled down to chronological snapshots into the characters’ lives, and for that it was a fun ride. Throw in a little bit of humor and some occasional drama, and you have a very solid series. I’m definitely planning to read the rest of the story, and am looking forward to a chance to watch the live action movie as well.