When I first started seriously watching anime, I had no idea where to begin. With so many choices and almost zero experience, I sought recommendations online from various larger anime personalities, eventually finding a list by ProZD. As it turns out, he has great taste (at least for me personally), particularly when it comes to Slice of Life anime. And from this list, I pulled the anime Usagi Drop (Bunny Drop). It was short, highly rated, and on Crunchyroll (my only paid service at the time). Perfect enough to try out. So what did I think? Spoilers ahead.
This is probably the first proper Slice of Life anime that I watched (it was one of the first I anime I watched period). I chose to watch it based solely on ProZD’s recommendation and the good review scores, ignoring all written reviews and plot descriptions (a little reckless looking back). Fortunately for me, this one did not disappoint.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times on this blog: I love character driven stories, especially the ones with a lot of heart to them. They need to be good character stories, not just archetypes meant to tug at your heartstrings like a Hallmark channel movie. I want to see realistic situations and the power of the human spirit adapting to their circumstances.
Usagi Drop tells the story of Kaga, Rin and Kawachi, Daikichi. Daikichi’s grandfather has died, and among the things he has left behind is an illegitimate daughter (Rin). As the family descends on the grandfather’s estate and begins traditional funeral customs, mixed in the middle of it all is a very quiet Rin.
Most of the family doesn’t know what to think about Rin, with some being borderline offended by her existence and others trying their best to not take on the responsibility of raising her. As the family discusses very loudly how she should be handled, Daikichi takes pity on her knowing it can’t be easy to hear them talking about her as if she’s a huge burden. He announces that he will be taking her in, at least for the short term, while they try to find her mother.
As cliche as it sounds, the bond that forms between Daikichi and Rin over the course of eleven short episodes is beautiful. He’s a bachelor in his thirties that has never cared for a pet, much less a child. She’s 6 years old, brand new to both the world and the family since she’s never interacted with any of them before. They’re a quirky match.
Daikichi doesn’t have Rin in his care for very long before he decides he cannot just abandon her to a mother who didn’t want her around or a government orphanage. She’s family and she has just lost her father; he sees that what she needs most is stability and someone to love her. At first, Daikichi’s mother is resistant to the idea; she sees Rin’s existence as a black mark on their family’s name. But Daikichi is able to reason with his mother, defending Rin as one who really didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Daikichi works hard to become the parent that Rin needs. He takes a less demanding and lower paying position at his company, allowing him more time at home with Rin. He frantically scrambles to find her a school. He learns the ins and outs of shopping for various needs like clothing and school supplies. He even buys her a children’s knife so that she can learn how to cook. None of it comes naturally, but he never once complains or blames Rin for his situation. He simply wants what is best for her.
By the end of this anime, Daikichi joined my list of all time favorite anime characters. The way he patiently shows love for Rin and the rest of those around him is a really admirable trait. Having a child severely stunts the social life of two parents, a single parent doubly so. He no longer has the ability to live the life of a bachelor, doing things like drinking with coworkers until late hours or dating. But to him, none of that matters; Rin is his immovable priority. I would be proud if I could emulate even half of his personality were I ever presented with a similar situation.
Usagi Drop is Slice of Life in it’s purest form. Apart from the new addition to Daikichi’s family, there are no overly dramatic moments, action sequences or large comedy gags. It isn’t content with being happy fluff, instead choosing to showcase struggle and the hard work it takes to raise a child. It’s a look into the life of two people who happen to be exactly what the other person needs. There will be moments where you laugh, moments where you cry, and moments where you’re just happy to watch them exist. I cannot recommend this one enough, especially for any of you who tend to agree with my tastes.