This was my favorite episode of Usagi Drop so far. The ending of this episode was one of the most emotional moments in the show so far.
We spent the majority of the episode focused on procuring a tree for Rin. She plants some seeds for when she enters elementary school, but wishes she had a tree from when she was born. Daikichi does some detective work, interrogates Rin’s mother with ice cream, and discovers that his grandfather did indeed plant a tree for Rin. He goes to the house to pick it up. While he’s gone, Rin speaks with Daikichi’s mother about her birth tree, and how Daikichi’s sister has the same tree. When Daikichi returns home, he tells everyone that Rin has the same species of birth tree as him, and everything comes together in the scene where everyone in the family walks through the cherry blossoms. This scene captured themes of family continuity extraordinarily well.
Another thing which stood out to me was how childish Rin acted in this episode. She’s mature for her age, but really: she’s only six years old. The entire thing with the cereal, her jumping over the tree to become a ninja and her choice of tree— these all added humor and showed how she really is still a child. The danger of having a highly capable little girl who cooks breakfast and wakes up her father for work is that she doesn’t seem quite like a child, but it’s moments like this which keep Rin as a child in the viewers’ minds.
I’d also like to point out the animation in this episode. Once again: it was gorgeous. Not only did we continue with the plethora of bright, pastel colors, we also had some very detailed scenes. Just look at the scenes from the grocery store below. The scenes inside homes may not be the most exciting, but when Rin and Daikichi leave home, the animators just go wild.
One last thing which stood out in this episode: I just love the way they’ve developed the familial relationships between Rin and Daikichi, and Kouki and Yukari (the boy who went to Rin’s daycare and his mother). Kouki and Yukari have barely gotten any screen time, but you can still tell how closely intertwined the two families have become. Rin and Kouki walk to school together, take entrance pictures together, and play ninja together. And Daikichi is acting as a father figure of sorts to Kouki. He removes the burs from his jacket, combs Kouki’s hair, scolds Kouki quite often, and thanks him for protecting Rin. There is some male bonding going on here that Rin is amusingly oblivious to.
Daikichi met up with Rin’s mother in this episode, and she seems to be quite the interesting character. I’m guessing that she’s a prostitute? She sneaks out at night for her job, Rin was an unwanted child, and I highly doubt that grandpa was actually Rin’s father. Plus she was with that guy at the end. So an aspiring mangaka / maid by day, and a prostitute by night?
I have to agree with Daikichi’s mother on this one though: she is a terrible mother. I don’t think Daikichi should feel too torn about taking Rin from her. His grandfather definitely made the right decision in entrusting Rin to a random relative over her birth mother. It doesn’t seem to be a temporary thing either due to personal difficulties: she doesn’t ever intend to act like a mother to Rin.
The other major thread of this episode was whether Rin would change her name to share Daikichi’s. It was amusing how Daikichi and Rin’s mothers both agreed so vehemently on this point. I can certainly sympathize with Daikichi here in wanting to leave the decision up to Rin, but let’s face it: she’s six years old. She’s not exactly equipped to realize the enormity of the decision, and Daikichi’s plan backfires. Rin ends up having to hold Daikichi in her lap to comfort him. I doubt the consequences will be as enormous as the two mothers think… but I’m not a mother, so what do I know.
One last thing I’m pleased about: the pace of this anime. Rin has already graduated from nursery school and will soon be starting first grade. I’m not sure exactly when she started, but at least several months must have passed by. You can observe the passage of time from a bunch of the small details: Rin and Daikichi have a well established tooth brushing routine, she apologizes for never hugging him before, her knife present, Daikichi saying his home will always be her home, and more. With such a short timeslot, Usagi Drop needs to make the most of its time. So far it seems like it will be prepared to give a solid conclusion.
The initial scene in the nursery school was just too cute. Rin saying that her father was her grandfather, and running away with the boy holding hands— *HNNNG*.
Now Daikichi has a love interest as well, and possibly a love triangle with Rin’s mother? But I can see why he is still single at age 30. Definitely not a ladies man. He’s old enough where he can use his daughter and single father status to pick up women.
The scene where Daikichi and the mother from the nursery walked home together would have been quite awkward if it weren’t for Rin’s presence. Rin makes everything about Usagi Drop shine. We had two events in this episode— the awkward walk home together and the drinking part— which would have been stereotypical and dull in any other show. But Rin’s presence makes these events much more interesting. She interrupts the conversation on the walk home, gets held by Daikichi’s coworkers, convinces the underling of the wisdom of Daikichi’s decision, and inspires Daikichi to resist the desires to get drunk and to lecture the gossips in the bathroom toilet. Most of the humor revolves around Rin as well— the childish things she will do (those pigtails- lol) and Daikichi’s desire to keep secrets from her.
Another thing I was reminded of from this episode is that the animation is superb. In particular, I can’t get enough of the colorful scenes, like the one with Rin playing at the nursery. Animation like in Stein’s; Gate is good too, particularly for that setting, but I just love things that are filled with color the most. Usagi Drop, Miyazaki movies, Hourou Musuko— hell, even Fractale— it’s simply such a pleasure to look at them.
I’d always thought Usagi Drop was great in terms of characters, but this episode has convinced me that it knows where it’s headed plot-wise as well. With Daikichi’s discovery of the will, his meeting at the daycare, and Rin’s pending enrollment in kindergarten, the wheels are starting to turn. I’m looking forward to see where things go— we may even get some good drama and / or romance.
There’s no better way to get on the good side of old ladies than by calling them young. Good work, Rin! You are already a master of social graces at such a young age!
This episode’s main focus was on Rin’s interactions with adults. She’s very shy, but more outgoing once she gets to know people. I can relate, since I used to be quite similar, always hiding behind my parents.
Rin won over her grandparents quite easily, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It seems like her aunt will be a bit harder, but with the grandparents on her side they will browbeat their daughter into submission.
Rin also seems to have built up quite the fear of death at an early age. For a little girl whose father just died, this isn’t all that surprising. It seemed that Daikichi was able to ease her fears a little bit. Rin is also in an awkward stage where she still wets the bed, but is old enough to be embarrassed about it.
Daikichi returns to his grandfather’s house to search for clues as well. He looked like a thief in this scene, he’s lucky none of the neighbors spotted him. I’m guessing that the “maid” is probably Rin’s mother, although this seems to be too obvious a conclusion to actually be correct.
Daikichi has won me over in a big way in these first few episodes. In a medium where everyone gushes over how “kind” boys are for being nice to attractive girls their own age, Daikichi’s kindness is the real deal. He basically put his entire life on hold to take care of a little girl he had no obligation towards. He isn’t the impulsive or rash type either, which makes this all the more admirable. And he’s done an excellent job of raising her so far, although it’s only been a week.
Usagi Drop is the first new show I’ve decided to blog this season. I’ll still continue with Iroha and Steins; Gate, and pick two or three others as well. Right now one will most likely be Kamisama Dolls (contingent on the second episode), and the rest are still undecided.
The thing I like most about Usagi Drop is how the creators are developing the relationship between Rin and Daikichi. They aren’t shouting about how they feel to each other: the development is understated (at least by anime standards). For example, look at the scene in this episode where Daikichi looked at Rin’s drying clothes and put out his cigarette, or where Rin gave Daikichi a gift after he was late to pick her up. These scenes spoke more to Daikichi’s willingness to take care of Rin and Rin’s affection for him than any amount of talking could have.
The other thing I love about this series is how down to earth it is. Daikichi’s concerns at the moment are practical and immediate: where should he send Rin to school, what clothes does he need to buy her, and what should they eat. There’s no emoing out over whether he’s fit to take care of Rin. He just tries to do all that he can.
The interactions between Rin and Daikichi are cute and endearing. My favorite scene in this episode was when Daikichi called his cousin, and her daughter wanted to talk to Rin on the phone. It was only the last episode that she was bullying Rin and stealing her Jacob’s ladder, and now they’re best friends. It’s the small things like this that make Rin feel like an actual little kid and not another loli.
The other thing is that the main characters of Usagi drop are a girl in nursery school and a 30 year old man. How often do you get either of those age groups in anime, much less both at the same time? I’m looking forward to seeing how the creators deal with their age gap.