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Usagi Drop Review — B+

Daikichi’s grandfather passes away, and at the funeral, he discovers that his grandfather had an illegitimate child, Rin. Instead of sending her to the orphanage, Daikichi takes her in, and begins the life of a single parent.

First of all, in a medium where most shows are about teenagers whose parents are conspicuously absent, I have to give Usagi Drop credit. It takes on parenting directly, and its main characters are a thirty year old man and a six year old girl.

With that said, the relationship between Daikichi and Rin is one of the weakest parts of the show. Rin’s main role is to act cute and need Daikichi. In many ways, she’s too “perfect” as a child to be believable— she cooks all the family meals, never throws fits, and she and Daikichi get along perfectly from the get-go. There are occasional conflicts, like Rin wetting the bed, but again, this falls in the cuteness category. In the sense of getting along with Rin, Daikichi’s job is too easy.

Fortunately, the relationships between the other characters are much more interesting. In particular, we have Yukari and Kouki, a single mother and a child of Rin’s age who befriend Daikichi and Rin. Daikichi takes on a fatherly role for Kouki, and there is some chemistry between him and Yukari. We also have Daikichi’s extended family interacting with Rin to good effect, and Daikichi’s meetings with Rin’s biological mother provide some food for thought.

All in all, this was another good noitaminA show, following in the footsteps of Hourou Musuko and Ano Hana.

  • Plot / Script – A – Never feels rushed or boring, with thoughtful dialogue.
  • Characters – B – Daikichi is a bit simplistic, and Rin is more or less a placeholder, but otherwise strong.
  • Production – A – Gorgeous, bright animation, that resembles the drawings of a child.
  • Overall – B+

RecommendationsHourou Musuko, Kurenai, NieA_7

Note: I’m going to be experimenting with giving letter grades instead of the odd 0.25 increments I used before, let’s see how it works. Thanks to Marrow for suggestions.

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Usagi Drop 11 — Losing Teeth

Too cute. Why is Daikichi worried about how she’ll look when her teeth fall out?

Family Dynamics

One thing which Usagi Drop has done consistently well at is portraying intergenerational relationships so believably. In this episode, look at the reactions of the family to Rin’s loose tooth. Daikichi, quite practically, tells her not to wiggle it too much, and looks into getting a container for her lost baby teeth. Daikichi’s parents enter into panic mode, and change the menu for dinner to include only soft foods. Rin keeps wiggling it, but seems more curious than concerned. And when it does fall out, she’s ecstatic.

Another point of interest is Daikichi’s sister. Daikichi’s been taking care of Rin for a year now, and she’s actually asking him for parenting advice. How time flies.

Daikichi, Kouki, and Yukari

I find Daikichi’s relationship with Kouki even more intriguing than his relationship with Rin. Kouki isn’t living with him, but Daikichi has still taken the role of a father figure, and Kouki is completely enamored of him. Daikichi even has Kouki shopping for breakfast food to eat at his house, and Kouki invites Daikichi over to play video games (ah… male bonding).

On the other hand, Kouki’s mother doesn’t seem to have the same kind of relationship with Rin. This may simply be that the anime mainly takes place from Daikichi’s perspective, and there are things going on that we don’t know about. The reason I mention this is because Kouki’s mother seemed genuinely thrilled when Rin brought her the pudding. Her seeming surprise makes me think they aren’t quite as close as Kouki and Daikichi— I guess she must not spend as much time alone with the kids as Daikichi.

Which may not be good for Daikichi and Yukari’s coupling prospects. It’s odd how at this stage they’re still so awkward. Take the scene where Daikichi comes to Kouki’s house. He initially tries to run away, but when he and Yukari see each other face to face, time freezes, the background changes color, the music changes, and she and Daikichi enter their own little dream world. I honestly cracked up here. When time resumes, the two of them begin to profusely apologize for nothing. It seems like apologizing in Japan is like talking about the weather where I live.

Skip Rope

I was impressed by how much they managed to get out of the jump roping segment. Kouki takes his Daikichi imitation to a new level, Rin’s tooth begins to wobble, and Daikichi gives an adult rationale for skipping rope (an expanding waistline). Again, look at how the portrayal differs between kids and adults.

Then there’s Rin’s failure / victory at the jump roping contest. It’s details like these that manage to keep the world believable, exciting and humorous at the same time.

Wrapping Things Up

I expected Usagi Drop to just peter out and fade into the distance. But they actually did manage to wrap things up nicely. The beginning of Daikichi’s conversation with the other parents was a bit heavy-handed, but otherwise it flowed naturally. There was a focus on how Rin has grown, through the flashbacks, and how Daikichi has also grown as a father. Overall, it was a satisfying conclusion for a story that can’t truly end.

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Usagi Drop 10 — Rin at the Gates of Hades

Rin caught a cold, and it’s the end of the world. Daikichi needs to stay by Rin’s bedside every second for two days straight, and doesn’t even have time to go and shave. Kouki and his mom come over to join the nursing squad. Daikichi monitors every minute change in her temperature. Rin’s face is flushed. (Is it just me, or is the art a bit off in this shot? Rin looks like an adult bishoujo, not a little girl.)

Health Paranoia

When I was a little kid, my favorite play spots were mud puddles and forests. I spent most of my time digging rocks out of the ground, collecting bugs, building traps and secret bases, and riding around on my bike. I ate food off the ground and bushes (I don’t do that anymore… of course…) and bathed and washed my hands as little as I could get away with. My idea of hygiene was covering my droppings with leaves and wiping with Indian toilet paper (if you’ve never had the opportunity to try it, it’s actually more comfortable than some of the most expensive brands). Raw eggs? Yum yum! I don’t think I’m that atypical, at least among boys. Even Daikichi seems to have had a similar experience.

So I will never understand this level of paranoia over a cold. When I was a kid a cold was just an excuse to skip school. It didn’t mean I would stay in bed all day! (Although my parents certainly tried.) Daikichi’s acting like Rin is going to die. I guess we could chalk up some of the blame to the fact that Daikichi is a new parent, and this is the first time Rin’s ever been sick. But still, hasn’t he ever had a cold before? Or, more to the point, haven’t the creators of Usagi Drop?

Daikichi goes so far as to take the martyr’s path: if only I had died in her place! Curse you, God!

I should mention that this portrayal of a cold isn’t specific to Usagi Drop at all. Every cold I can think of in anime goes the same way. The sick person can’t even get out of bed. But the next day they’re perfectly fine. The reaction to colds is partially a cultural thing: people from Asia do wear these surgical masks, even at school. But I find it hard to believe they take it this far.

Yukari provides some good advice to Daikichi: calm down. But her rationale is slightly odd: it isn’t that he shouldn’t worry, it’s that he shouldn’t let Rin worry by acting worried. Yukari is clearly worried as well, considering how often she comes over during the course of Rin’s illness. Of course, she could be more worried about Daikichi than Rin.

The most reasonable reaction to Rin’s cold comes from Kouki, after Daikichi forbids him from entering her room:

Kouki gets it.

Fathers of the World Unite!

It wasn’t really connected to the rest of the episode, but I did like the part where Daikichi befriended some of the other fathers. Parenting in Usagi Drop seems to be a world dominated by single mothers, so it’s nice to see he isn’t the only father out there.


Usagi Drop appears to have no conclusion in sight, but for once, I’m fine with that. Life goes on, kids grow up. A story like this shouldn’t end.

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Usagi Drop 09 — The Shinkansen Poops

A Kouki episode. This was probably my favorite episode of Usagi Drop yet. I seem to say that after every episode though…

Kouki is Awesome

One of the things I like most about Usagi Drop is that it has kids that actually act like kids. Rin’s mature for her age, sure, but not so mature that she doesn’t like jumping around in puddles. And Kouki is even more childish: he acts up to get attention. In this episode alone, he jumped over bushes, asked Daikichi to measure his poop, threw his hat around instead of drawing, jumped in puddles, had fun closing the storm shutters, drew circles in his かs, ate rice with his fingers, and generally made a mess of himself. Both Rin and Kouki are vast improvements over the typical anime child, who is usually either a miniature adult or some disturbing sort of sex symbol.

Kouki’s Relationships with Daikichi and Rin

It’s clear that Kouki sees Daikichi as a father figure. He seems to compete for Daikichi’s attention even more than for his mother’s. He omits the “san” from Daikichi’s name, as opposed to his mother, and as if that isn’t enough, he admires how big Daikichi’s back is. He even clings onto Daikichi and asks to wear his clothes when his mom is right there. He does love his mom though (at least when she doesn’t act like an old hag, as he tells Daikichi).

I loved the scene where Daikichi took Kouki home from the day care. Kouki says goodbye to them cheerfully, as he stares sadly out the window. When Daikichi and Rin simultaneously invite him to come home with them, his face just lights up. He seemed so happy and energetic the whole time they were eating dinner.

Kouki’s relationship with Rin is interesting as well. They’re playmates, but Kouki listens to what Rin tells him despite completely ignoring his teachers.

Random Thoughts

  • Daikichi is quite the gentleman with his umbrella.
  • Kouki wearing Rin’s clothes was cute. Especially how they’re each wearing the shirt that matches the other’s pants.
  • I noticed for the first time this episode that the music is actually quite good. It’s subdued enough that it doesn’t distract, to the extent that you hardly consciously notice it.
  • Obviously Usagi Drop isn’t going to have enough time to come to a conclusion, but unlike No. 6, this is one show where I’ll be perfectly satisfied with that. From what I’ve heard of the manga’s ending, it’s probably a good thing we didn’t get that far.
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Usagi Drop 08 — Rin’s Mother (and her Old Man Fetish)

I didn’t believe it that Daikichi’s grandfather was actually Rin’s father. I had assumed that he just took in Rin out of the kindness of his heart. But that doesn’t seem to be the case…

Masako’s Roller Coaster of Development

This episode focused on Rin’s mother, Masako. It managed to pull my feelings about her all over the place. At first, the episode made Masako come across as even more pathetic than she had before. Initially, she had seemed to claim that she couldn’t take care of Rin because of difficult personal circumstances, and I had given her the benefit of the doubt that this was the case. But from the revelations surrounding her manga career, the reason seems much simpler: Masako is too irresponsible to care of Rin, and ditched her to become a workaholic. Her career is going well, but she still wants to take more and more work on. To confirm Masako’s workaholism, she screams “I’m not a woman! I’m a manga artist!” and runs out of the restaurant.

At this point, the creators have the viewers (or at least me) looking down on Masako. She abandoned Rin because of her megalomania and fear of being displaced by younger rivals? Daikichi asked for a demotion so he could take care of Rin. This hasty judgement against Masako is strengthened by her appearance— she looks half asleep, with ink marks all over her face, and is snacking on ice cream with her boyfriend. Is Masako really as hard a worker as she claims? She just seems fickle, lazy and irresponsible. Her daughter doesn’t seem to matter to her at all.

And then the creators skillfully take a U-turn and pull our emotions in the opposite direction. When Rin and Daikichi arrive at his grandfather’s grave, they notice that Masako has already placed fresh flowers there. Seeing this, Daikichi becomes angry, as she “didn’t even come to his funeral.” I really loved this scene, because it’s a completely normal (and completely illogical) reaction on Daikichi’s part. It also foreshadows the incoming discoveries about Masako: she really does care about Rin and Rin’s father, but tries not to show it.

Next, Daikichi chases after Masako and tells her she can peek at Rin. I liked how they portrayed Daikichi here: he’s clearly still angry at Masako, and makes a point of telling her that he doesn’t care about her personal circumstances at all and isn’t letting her take Rin. But he also wants to let Masako, as a mother, see her child.

Masako nearly enters shock upon hearing that Rin is nearby, our first hint that Rin means a lot more to her than she is letting on. She decides to peek at Rin through the bushes. She comments on how much Rin has grown. The ink on her face and her detachment are washed away, and she gazes at Rin with  longing and regret. This is the scene where Masako looks the most beautiful, her physical appearance reflecting her inner womanhood which she attempts to deny.

As Masako walks back to the office, she decides she will take the extra job, even though it’s probably more than she can handle. She gave up Rin to work on her manga, but at some level she regrets that decision and feels guilty. So in response, she works even harder on her manga so that she is able to justify that decision to herself. Her claim that she is unable to take care of Rin becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Usagi Drop has been doing great at slowly and subtly building up its characters. It doesn’t have people shouting that they love one another, or talking about what a family is, or trying to make disturbing smiles at their new found siblings. Instead, it focuses on day to day interactions, and shows the character’s thoughts and feelings instead of narrating them.


I’m continuing to love the bright colors. I realized in this episode what part of the art’s appeal is: many scenes look like they’re drawn with watercolors or crayons, and could have been painted by a child. Which, obviously, fits in very well with the subject matter of the show.

Parent / Child Imitation

One final thing I noticed in this episode is how the creators like to have both the children and the adults imitate each other. Why does this work so well?

  1. It’s funny having kids act like adults and adults act like kids.
  2. It shows how close the adults and children are. The children respect the adults enough to want to imitate them, and the adults love the children enough that their habits wear off on them.

To name a few examples from this episode:

  • Rin imitates Daikichi by lounging around on the porch
  • Daikichi copies Rin and says “Let’s hurry, the stalls will close!” when he gets excited about seeing Yukari in a yukata
  • Kouki copies Daikichi by shouting at him to watch out for cars