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?
- It’s funny having kids act like adults and adults act like kids.
- 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