It sure isn’t easy being a parent, but it definitely helps to be surrounded by those who share similar circumstances. And like the loss of Rin’s two front teeth, every character moves on and realizes either what’s been laid before them or what must be done in order to make the precious time they’re given all the worthwhile for themselves and their loved ones.
So we’re at the last episode of the season and we’ve pretty much solidified that the situation between Daikichi and Yukari is pretty much a permanent stalemate. I personally wouldn’t want it any other way. The current dynamic between the two families is so well defined that meshing them together would cause an imbalance that would likely hurt than benefit Kouki and Rin’s friendship. On the other hand, these two parents’ progression into something more than family friends would definitely lead to some interesting drama material. And that’s material that would just be forceful and unnatural for such an easygoing type of show.
Oh, and Yukari’s illness rebounds pretty quickly. Way to get on with the story!
Family gatherings have always been a treat in my book. Especially now that a lot of us in the family are older now and our friends are married and have children of their own, it’s interesting to see these gatherings from the perspective of grown adults pondering about whether they miss their time alone from the kids, to the kids themselves in their carefree spirits. In this case, it was all about learning to jump rope, and Nobu totally kicked the other kids’ butts at it.
Quite possibly the biggest draw for me this week was the two contrasting opinions of time and parenting as seen from Kazumi’s viewpoint versus Daikichi’s. Sure, it’s been a long time coming since Daikichi took Rin under his wing, and it only makes sense to begin agreeing with his fellow friends that time spent alone and time spent with kids have really become on in the same. It’s Kazumi’s unwillingness for change from her rather outgoing single life that piqued my interest the most; and her contemplation can be applied to almost any goal in life that one has to make sacrifices for. It’s the unknown realization that the precious time we spend to ourselves before and even after we have children can really be maintained through either route. I like how the show was able to pick apart this thought process and apply it to the established families so realistically. And it goes to show that no matter what it is in life you either choose to do or are drawn into doing, there will always be time to make the moments as memorable or rewarding as only you choose or allow it to be.
It’s in the same light that we get to be reminded of just how far along Rin and Daikichi have developed into their roles as surrogate father and daughter. If it wasn’t for Rin’s angelic personality for a child her age, we wouldn’t have had such a fantastic familial match to witness their very realistic growth these past eleven weeks. I was almost taken aback when I realized that there wouldn’t be another week spent wondering what other simple and random antics they’ll get themselves into, or what blunders Daikichi will face in figuring out how to properly raise Rin.
I was worried about the slow pace of the first episode, but it actually makes a little more sense looking back on it now that the season over. Though I’m not sure there are many ways to spruce up the pacing of a funeral ceremony, I’m now glad that I toughed it out to get a taste of the next two episodes because I absolutely fell in love with this show. I’ll admit like I’m sure many others would that almost every young child portrayed in this series had an unusually angelic personality to them (especially Rin in her upbringing) and took a little bit away from the realism that Usagi Drop has been known for up to now. Despite this one pitfall, the show seems to have hit a lot of accurate points home regarding families and raising them up from varying circumstances. The idea that even a casual viewer like me with zero parenting experience aside from the occasional nephew and cousin babysitting can follow and really be touched by a series like this speaks volumes about the original creator and the animation team responsible for this show.
In terms of visual animation, storyboarding, music, etc., Usagi Drop definitely hit the right marks in my book. The pastel prologue and epilogue segments were a nice homage to the style of the manga. Simple lines and two-tone colors of the characters throughout the show helped retain simplicity and a sense of authenticity to the original work. The music was excellently timed to on-screen queues, such as the show’s main piano theme that appeared throughout the entire season; is there a soundtrack out for this yet?
To be as fair as possible to keeping within the first half of the manga, the show did an excellent job in making each character as unique as possible and very likeable to watch on-screen. Interestingly enough, the character I was most eager to see develop (which shouldn’t be surprising to other viewers of the show) wasn’t Rin. Because her growth as a character was pretty much smooth sailing after the first two or three episodes, I’d say the real testament to her development would be from the story’s transition into her teenage years (which I’m sure leaves many opinions open as to whether that’s a good or bad thing to animate in a future season). Daikichi unsurprisingly took the role of surrogate father very easily despite knowing nothing about raising a child; he even had a six-year head start! So, his development was intriguing as a nonchalant, decently paid bachelor turned father seemingly overnight with the help of coworkers and friends he’d have never known would be so similar to him in circumstance. And the way he stuck up for Rin whenever he dealt with her biological mother called for some of the most mature and deep arguments about personal success versus selfless giving that need not necessarily even apply only to those with children of their own. Metaphors for life? This show has ’em.
All in all, Usagi Drop proved to be a successful show about appreciating our day-to-day lives and caring for the ones that we love whether blood-related or not. Even the seemingly discreet relationships built among acquaintances leads to paths in our lives we would have never known to take had we never encountered them at some point. And of course, it’s just absolutely adorable to see Rin, Kouki, and the rest of the children go about their carefree lives and what situations the adults get into because of them (especially Kouki). Slice-of-life has always been my favorite genre of anime to follow, and without a doubt, Usagi Drop delivers in its entertainment value and realism.
Final score: 9/10 – Highly recommend!