Daikichi is just a regular guy, 30 years old, single, holding down a good job and earning a decent wage, going out in the evenings drinking with his work colleagues. Not a care in the world. Then he goes to his grandfather’s funeral and a bombshell drops: also attending the funeral is his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. Rin is 6 years old, her mother has done a runner, and nobody else in the family wants anything to do with her. So Daikichi, being the decent bloke that he is, decides to take in the girl who is technically his aunt, and raise her as his daughter. That’s the premise of Bunny Drop, or Usagi Drop according to the DVD release, which bizarrely doesn’t bother to translate the Japanese word “usagi” into English, despite the excellent manga series being titled Bunny Drop.
I’m going to do something I haven’t done for this blog so far, and talk about the manga series in another blog post, because it really is quite a separate entity. So we’ll look at that when I’ve finished it (at the time of writing I’m on volume 6, out of a total of 10 volumes). But the anime stops at the end of volume 4, a convenient point to finish, with volume 5 jumping ahead a decade to Rin’s teenage years. The later manga volumes do something very different with the characters, and have a very dodgy reputation, but I’ll judge for myself and let you know.
The little synopsis I gave you above might sound melodramatic, but don’t let that mislead you as to the nature of this series. Once you get past that odd premise this is nothing more than a very gentle, lovely slice-of-life anime series, focusing on the daily life of Daikichi as he copes with the enormous change in his life, suddenly a father to a six-year-old. The anime covers roughly a year of their lives.
It’s an absolute eye-opener. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of Japanese people work very long hours and have a long and tiring commute at either end of their day. Daikichi is a prime example of that lifestyle, often required to work late into the evening, with no consistent end point to his day. If there’s work to be done he’s expected to stay and finish it. Suddenly he has to find daycare for Rin, but that means dropping her off at crazy o’clock and picking her up late in the evening, and the poor thing is exhausted, let alone Daikichi himself, who quickly starts burning out. Something has to give, and the only option is to take a major demotion, which will allow him shorter, set hours. His new colleagues are a whole bunch of people who have had to make similar sacrifices, and the series explores beautifully the nature of parents making sacrifices for their children. It is uplifting, validating the importance of making those sacrifices and how it is completely 100% worth doing that and doesn’t need to be a negative thing. As a father myself, I found this an enormously compelling series, and completely in tune with the nature of parenthood.
The art style of the anime won’t be to everyone’s tastes but I loved it, with its use of watercolour, something very rare in anime. It does move back and forth between watercolour and more standard animation, which I believe some people have found a little disjointed, but I never found that it detracted from the story. The other standard complaint I’ve read is the character design for Daikichi being unattractive, but I think that’s rather a shallow viewpoint. He’s an entertaining and amusing character, and that’s all that matters. Surely he doesn’t need to be pretty in order for us to appreciate a series like this?
The opening and ending credits sequences are both beautiful, and apparently impossible to find on YouTube. Here’s a trailer:
The song is “Sweet Drops” by Puffy. The pop video for that is really odd. There’s also a live action version of Bunny Drop, which looks quite cute, but I really don’t do those live action adaptations. There are better things to watch, in my opinion.
Now back to the manga series. Can it really be as bad as people say? My wife has read the whole series and disagrees with the majority view. I’ll find out for myself soon and report back… RP