Usagi Drop: The Manga / Spring & Summer 2011 At A Glance

Usagi_drop_01_manga

As much as Rin and Daikichi are engrossed in their respective choices of literature, I decided to pick up the Usagi Drop manga and haven’t been able to put it down lately. Does that explain why some shows on my blog reel are a bit behind, like Sacred Seven and Ikoku Meiro no Croisee? Well, partly.

I have to admit that I’m not as avid a fan of manga as I am with their animated counterparts, but it isn’t because the manga itself is worse off as a medium. My recent experience with diving into the initial Usagi Drop volumes is a good example of how both forms of storytelling do well to compliment one another in various ways at various times of their respective timelines. Where the manga portrays a certain aspect of its characters well through static art and witty dialogue, the animation does fair justice by extending the characters’ interactions via fluid movements and a great crew of voice actors to bring the cast to life. Rin on paper is quite adorable, but it’s only until you see her interact with Daikichi in real time in animation that those two just make a greatly compatible surrogate father-daughter team.

If it isn’t obvious by now, then I don’t know what else to say. Usagi drop is awesome. For an anime fan that loves slice-of-life the most, this show steals the award this season. And since I’m behind on talking about the other shows I’ve been following, let’s just break it down by categories as if each series won a particular award. You know, just for fun since the season is still in its infancy.

Spring/Summer 2011 Anime Awards

Best Supporting Cast: It’s the Only NEET Thing To Do, a.k.a. Kamisama no Memo-chou; Heaven’s Memo Pad

– Not gonna lie about this one; Alice is only as good as her crew of NEET, students, and her master (i.e. Min-san and her wonderful ramen shop). Without it, she can’t go that far with her 30-some-odd flat screen panels just surfing the net for clues.

Best Slice-of-Life: Usagi Drop

– Well, this one was easy. The history behind Rin’s cloudy lineage to her and Daikichi’s genuine struggles in carrying on with life together as pseudo father/daughter make up one of the most heartfelt and down-to-earth stories I’ve ever watched since Honey & Clover (another all-time favorite). And H&C was nothing but drama. Usagi Drop? A little here and there, but very realistic and not drawn out to the point of exhaustion.

Best Guilty Pleasure: Sacred Seven

– Sacred Seven was the main reason why I wanted to start this award thing. The show is definitely something where I have to turn off some crucial parts of my brain to enjoy without too much expectation. Many of the scenes were engineered to be serious, but they still rub off on my as illogical to the point of amusement. Hence, Sacred Seven is a wonderful guilty pleasure of a show where it makes me just want to shrug my shoulders and remind myself to just sit back and enjoy the cast of characters and their interesting monster-of-the-week hunts.

Or maybe I’m just moe-moe for Ruri and her awesome seiyuu, Megumi Nakajima. Yup, guilty.

Best Harem: Mayo Chiki!

I liken this show to a 21st century Love Hina for its over-the-top female cast lineup and each of their rather extreme quirks. Female-turned-wannabe-male-butler Subaru and dominatrix Kanade are absolutely stealing the show at this point, but we still have at least two more girls to be introduced to. So far, lots of laughs, perverted moments, and facepalm moments to go around.

Best Breakthrough Story: Mawaru Penguindrum

A strange twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty becomes even more twisted yet distractingly humorous as two brothers attempt to figure out how to prevent their seeimgly ill-fated sister from kicking the bucket. The catch? The power of her penguin hat, the assistance of three wacky penguins that only the three siblings can see, and the mysterious penguin drum that ties everything together. It’s a show with story concepts that have been introduced before, but it’s with the creative mind of director Ikuhara Kunihiko that marries those concepts together to form quite the unique and very entertaining show this season.

Best Historical International Concept: Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, a.k.a. La Croisee dans un labyrinthe entranger; The Crossroads of a Foreign Maze

– Coming off of the Gosick high from the Winter season, Ikoku introduces the plight of a young Japanese girl traveling to France during the nineteenth century to learn about their lifestyle and culture. If it weren’t for Usagi Drop, this show would have won Best Slice-of-Life for me. But the pacing is a little funky and not as coherent as Usagi’s. More Alice and her retro otaku personality, please.

Best Drama: Hanasaku Iroha

– Yeah, I went ahead and did it. Many may not agree that Hanasaku shouldn’t be anywhere near a drama category, but I think they’re just classifying drama as the hard and heavy type. Of the shows I’m following, NEET probably comes closest, but it still seems more mystery to me than drama whereas Hanasaku has a lot of the lighthearted type. Still, if they ever bring the Ko arc back again, I’m going to take this award away. No more Ko!

Best Comedy: Nichijou, a.k.a. Ordinary Life

– Well, this one wasn’t too hard to justify. The beginning of the series started out slow (ironically just like Lucky Star), but it began picking up after a few episodes. There are few series where I go back to watch from time to time out of sheer enjoyment of the way the story was told, and Nichijou is now one of them. Beware if you despise trolls though because this show accentuates their activities. Still, it’s only funny when it’s not happening to you. Unless you know someone like Mai in real life.

Runners Up: Dantalian no Shoka, iDOLM@STER, Kamisama Dolls, Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi, No. 6, Ro-Kyu-Bu!

Yup, these are the shows I’m somewhat following but not blogging about this season. However, Dantalian, iM@S, and Dolls are probably the three closest shows that I’ll start adding to my season lineup once I catch up with the others. Dantalian is another witty Gosick-like show but with a more drastically mature feel to the characters’ interactions, and iDOLM@STER is nothing but character ogling, but it’s still entertaining to see all the girls’ quirks as they work together to find jobs fit for successful idols.

So far, this season has been fantastic. I’ve dropped quite a few shows in the past few seasons due to disinterest, but there are a total of 10 shows that have been keeping my full attention every week. Amazing! So when will I catch up to all of this? Hopefully and gradually by the end of this week. My car is getting repaired at the local body shop and I’ve been putting more time into my family back home the past few days, so the posts have been a bit light. I know I hit a nice blog groove last week, so I have nothing but high hopes to get caught up and be on track again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rest my eyes after reading 14 chapters of Usagi Drop in one sitting, all on the tiny screen of my iPhone.

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