I knew after watching the first episode that I was in for something special. Usagi Drop is heartwarming, heartbreaking and breathtaking, so I eagerly sat down to comfortably watch the rest of the series within the day.
I’m not a father, although I may possess many of the maternal instincts of one, and straight from episode one I was thrust into a story about a Rin, a lonely, lost child and Daikichi, older man who rarely visits his family as he’s so absorbed in his career. Daikichi adopts Rin when nobody else will and they begin to learn about each other, life, and how difficult parenting is.
The story deals with many questions, particularly ones younger children ask as they don’t quite understand life and death yet, such as “am I going to die too?”, and Daikichi has to explain that her recently departed father won’t be ‘waking up’ again. The series deals with death and how to say goodbye to those you love in a beautiful, awkward and heartwrenching way,knowing that you have to be delicate with young children who haven’t grasped the concept of life and death fully. I like to believe that Usagi Drop, particularly the ‘drop’, refers to how Rin was almost quite literally dropped into the care of a stranger.
Daikichi realises that being with Rin is teaching him the value of family, love, and responsibility, whilst Rin is learning about death, growing up and usual household chores. It’s so sweet to see them fill the void that they each had, particularly Daichiki, who was seemingly living for nothing before he adopted Rin, was given a reason to fully live his life. The story moves at a decent pace and I was satisfied with all aspects of it, although it may come across as slow if it doesn’t initially grab you.
The visuals have an almost dream-like quality to them, as much of it has a soft hue especially when the sun is shining; it isn’t always apparent, but the show has a slight fairy-tale feel that portrays both the mature and childish sides of the story, although younger children may not appreciate Usagi Drop as much as older viewers will. The visuals do an amazing job in complimenting the story and Rin’s golden eyes in particular are gorgeous, but I really liked that Daikichi looks like the perfect older man rather than making him look several years younger than he is.
Fortunately, due to the tone of the overall show, most of the character’s expressions remain realistic; don’t expect any overgrown heads shouting, people exhaling ghost-shaped breaths of air, and outlandish actions. The show isn’t completely without exagerrated faces, but they tend to not look out of place. Usagi Drop is only available on DVD, but at points I totally forgot I wasn’t watching a blu-ray, which is my format of choice; the animation is so strong and the colours are vivid and consistently eye-catching.
You might be wondering, “what exactly does Usagi have to do with it?” and well, nothing really. Usagi means rabbit in Japanese, and the only thing that the title really relates too is the opening animation which features Daikichi and Rin as rabbits, and the ending which also features various bunny drawings. They’re both like moving watercolour paintings that wouldn’t look out of place in a child’s pop-up book.
Having checked out the manga, I personally prefer the animation presented in the anime. Not only is it incredibly detailed, but the way that colours are played with really imbues certain feelings in you that may not come across as well in black and white. On the note of manga, the series only covers part one of it, and there’s currently no season two in sight so you may want to read it to see what happens next, although the series is perfectly fine on its own. Part two is hugely different and is set 10 years in the future.
There’s no English Dub sadly, and I think Usagi Drop would’ve been perfect for it, but the Japanese voice-over is excellent; thankfully, the subtitles are clear and easy to read. I was surprised to find out that Rin is voiced by a young girl, as I very rarely hear child voice-actors due to how broad many professionals voice ranges can be, but it was refreshing to hear a genuine child’s voice express the delight, confusion, sadness and joy that Rin experiences. Emotions are the same in every language, after all.
The OP, Sweet Drops, and ED, High, High, High tracks are enjoyable to listen too – I particularly like the latter – and their unique clips will probably have them stuck in your head for quite some time. I remember enjoying music throughout the series, but the anime itself is pretty peaceful and calm, and so there’s not a lot of tracks that truly stand out.
The DVD isn’t jam-packed with content, but it includes all 11 episodes, as well as 4 short bonus episodes. You also get to watch each of the OP’s and ED’s clean (without credits), but there’s not much else other than that. The series itself is a must watch though, and the warm, fuzzy feeling that it inspires is nothing short of wonderful. This is all of the content available, as there’s currently no word on a second season or movie.
It’s easy to dismiss Usagi Drop as a tame slice of life anime that allows little room for action, exaggerated humour, etc, but it would only suffer from any of these. It’s a beautiful story between two people who deeply care for eachother and their daily struggles. It’s cheery, lighthearted and absolutely touching, and it had me tear up more than once (twice in the first episode alone, although I tear up at anything and everything.) If the premise sounds at all interesting to you, or even if you’re a parent yourself, I fully recommend that you watch Usagi Drop.
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