Title: Usagi Drop
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 8 Jul 2011 – 16 Sep 2011
Synopsis: When 30-year-old bachelor Kawachi Daikichi returns to his hometown for the funeral of his grandfather, he finds an unfamiliar little girl in the courtyard of the latter’s home. To his astonishment, he discovers that the six-year-old, Kaga Rin, is apparently his grandfather’s illegitimate child! The rest of his family is equally astonished by this twist, and not one of them wants anything to do with the silent little girl. Annoyed by their dithering, Daikichi decides to take Rin in himself. However, how would a man long accustomed to living by himself cope with the demands of a child in the house?
Realism: Crayon-tinted, but otherwise quite accurate to real life.
Characters: Very true-to-life, with motivations that mirror real-life parents.
What is it like to be responsible for a child? Adapted from the highly-acclaimed manga of the same name by Unita Yumi, Usagi Drop has proven to be one of the most true-to-life depictions of the act of raising a child. This, along with the genuinely heartwarming tale of a man and his ‘aunt’ starting on a new phase of their lives together, makes this slice-of-life series one of the most memorable to date.
The premise of Usagi Drop – a bachelor finding himself with custody over a young child – is not particularly original to be frank, but it can be said that the series is one of the few to make proper use of the potential of such a premise. Of course, since the story has to be appealing, it goes without saying that there is a bit of a rose-tinted (or crayon tinted, rather) approach to the plot; Rin comes across as pretty well-behaved for her age, Daikichi’s financial considerations have minimal impact and becomes something of an afterthought, and his extended family warms up to Rin rather quickly despite their earlier misgivings. This, however, does not hinder Usagi Drop from portraying the demands of raising a child so realistically as to be educational at times; Rin’s peers are a fine example of the trouble children can actually be, Daikichi wings his way through his new role and struggles like many new parents do, and the social stigma associated with a non-traditional family unit in Japan is omnipresent, even if subtly.
The characters themselves are fairly accurate representations of real-life people as well, and interact with as well as react to each other pretty much how one would expect them to in real life: Rin is not without her own issues, adults play authority figures to the children with varying amounts of success, and the same parents are clearly products of their varying circumstances, which is obvious from their body language as well as their words. Daikichi and Rin in particular learn as much from each other as they do from everyone else around them, and grow a great deal as people throughout the beginning of their life journey together.
Usagi Drop depicts some of the most mundane aspects of life, and never really comes to a real conclusion. Yet, it is precisely because of this that it is simultaneously a most accurate and heartwarming portrayal of real life, one which might well strike a chord in those going through a similar life stage. For a defining series in what is already a strong year, Production I.G. deserves a pat on the back.
The Rating: 9
Reviewed by: Ascaloth