Usagi Drop Ep. 1: Fittingly Mature


Kawachi Daikichi

Usagi Drop did itself a huge favor right from the start: Daikichi isn’t a child.

This tiny, seemingly unimportant fact about Daikichi’s age dictates how the anime will proceed from the very start. Usagi Drop will be the uncommon anime that has both an adult and child perspective. I’m not saying that Daikichi won’t undergo any maturation as a result of his age, but being 30 is a far cry from the emotionally turbulent years of a teenager. Rin, a girl orphaned by her father’s death and her mother’s abandonment, needs her growth to take center stage. Had Daikichi been a young teen in high school, I think his story would just compete with rather than complement Rin’s character arc.


Kaga Rin

When Daikichi’s maternal grandfather died, he left behind young Rin. Daikichi jokingly remarks to the other family members that they should give the old man props for being able to have a child at such an advanced age, but no one laughed. In fact, the whole family seems uneasy over Rin’s fate. Other than Daikichi, we don’t get to see any of the other family members utter a single word to the lonely girl.


The family coldly deliberates over what to do with Rin.

When it came time to decide what to do with Rin, the adults’ true colors come out. Granted, a child is one of the biggest responsibilities anyone can assume in their lifetime, but even so, isn’t the alternative much, much worse? Sure, one of them will have to re-work his or her life to fit Rin into the picture, but if nobody takes the bullet, so to speak, Rin ends up with no family. Unfortunately, it struck me that the entire family was playing chicken. Almost every single adult in the room claimed that they were simply too busy to take in the young girl in the hope that someone else will assume responsibility: “No, no, why don’t you take the hot potato? I insist.”


Daikichi offers to take the young girl in.

Suddenly, the bell tolled and one of the old men in the family threw out the nuclear option: why don’t they just have some facility take care of Rin? This set something off in Daikichi as he figuratively stepped up to the plate and slammed his tea down before the entire family. He then approached Rin to offered her to stay with him. As she ran to him and her new home, the anime began to fade as if the episode had ended, but it would have beeen pure fantasy to stop here, wouldn’t it? Had the anime stopped here, our heads would be in the clouds.

As gallant as Daikichi’s act was, the realities of parenting started in right away, but how can the anime show that he had grown up just a little over the course of a single episode but yet being a dad is no easy task? In the following morning, Rin woke Daikichi up by calling him “oji-san. She then indirectly asked for something to eat by saying she was hungry. Right here, I thought the anime pulled the story from the clouds back down to earth; it was a subtle, realistic touch to cap off the first episode.

Usagi Drop’s premise isn’t complicated nor does it have to be. The anime is a character study first and foremost. It’s fascinating to see that although Rin is young, out of all the family members at the funeral, she was the only one to remember her father’s favorite flower. The way Rin wandered about the premises like an unseen ghost by the whole family, it was a little heart-aching when she gave up her cat’s cradle to Reina. She only wanted to make a friend, but this plan didn’t quite pan out.

Daikichi seems to be caught in between worlds. At 30, he isn’t like the older folks, fussy and set in their ways. He doesn’t have a family yet either; there’s a mother too busy chasing her own daughter around to really play any active role in the episode. Finally, Daikichi is definitely not a young child. As a result, he is, like Rin, somewhat alone despite being amongst family. The silver lining, however, is that this position offers him a unique vantage point: Daikichi was the only person in the story to stand back and observe. In doing so, he was the only one who could connect with Rin. Although he didn’t say much to her in the first episode, sometimes, the first step to solving a problem is simply acknowledgement of the problem. None of the other family members connected with Rin because they just didn’t see her. In the end, the two lonely family members found solace in one another.

In saying that the anime is a character study, however, it was good to see that the anime didn’t short change the supporting cast. While Daikichi and Rin are naturally the main characters of the story, the others aren’t just flat cardboard cut-outs.


Daikichi’s sister.

For example, there appears to be some resentment in Daikichi’s sister (I’m a little weak on the names at the moment) for her brother. She first nagged him for being too busy to visit his own mother. Later in the anime, when Daikichi was merely trying to help, by offering ideas on what to do with Rin, his sister bitterly complained that he was not being realistic nor did he have any intentions to do anything about the situation. When Daikichi kept quiet, his sister rubbed it in: “See? …you can’t even give me a comeback.” I sense some bad blood.


Daikichi’s mother (on the right) reacts harshly to the suggestion that she could take care of Rin.

Daikichi’s mother lamented at one point that her father’s illegitimate child is such a shame on the family. Later in the anime, she wondered if Rin is even truly her father’s daughter. It must surely be a shock to discover that you have a half-sister young enough to be your own grandchild, but even so, why is Daikichi’s mother so concerned about appearances? Will it be difficult for her to accept Rin into the family in later episodes?


Reina complains to Daikichi about Rin.

The only character that I find annoying and uninteresting is Reina, another young girl in the anime. She served somewhat as a foil to Rin in the first episode; she acted as a loud, obnoxious brat but none of the adults would scold her; Reina even stole praise from Rin at one point. The latter is what I find a little over-the-top. Reina is supposed to add contrast, but I don’t know what purpose this serves other than to rankle the viewers’ feelings. Drawing out the audience’s emotions is a good thing, but not in such a contrived manner. The fact that the adults treated Rin as a black sheep of the family should be enough to inspire anger and indignation in the audience; inserting a bratty child like Reina into the picture is a little much.

Overall, Usagi Drop is summer’s most interesting anime thus far thanks to a strong first episode, and I hope the anime stays this way for the remainder of the season. ‘Cause, honestly, the rest of the shows I’ve seen so far have not been inspiring.

Stray Observations

• When Rin asked for more rice so that she could make onigiri, it felt like a callback to Ashiteruze Baby, another anime with a similar premise to Usagi Drop.

The latter anime, however, appears to be a more mature, solemn version of the former.

• Another slightly over-the-top moment:

Everyone gawked when Daikichi asked Rin to come say goodbye to her father. The lack of subtlety in this scene stuck out as a sore thumb in an otherwise strong episode.

• Visually, Usagi Drop appears to draw from the strengths and weaknesses of Production I.G.’s previous work, Kimi ni Todoke.

The scenery, from its rustic, sketched lines to the soft watercolor palette, is totally reminiscent of Kimi ni Todoke.


Sis went and lost her eyes.

Likewise, however, Usagi Drop shares similar flaws in the character animation.

• The soundtrack of the first episode accompanied the mood and tone of the anime well, but I don’t really have much more to say about this than that.

• I don’t care for the songs, but the OP and ED are gorgeous to look at.


The OP and ED respectively.

Absolutely amazing. Almost makes me wish the actual anime was done in either of these styles.

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32 thoughts on “Usagi Drop Ep. 1: Fittingly Mature

  1. Mira

    I’m loving Usagi Drop so far. There’s so much I think my family and I can relate to. Which probably explains the *~namida~* I shed over this episode. I really hope it keeps it up. This summer season is making me appreciate the previous season even more, most of the shows aren’t catching my attention nor do the impress me. But luckily, theres Usagi Drop. (and Natsume, but that’s a sequel) there’s that IKUHARA Penguin anime (because come on, most of the hype is because of him and Utena, it’s not like people would care as much if it were done by anyone else) and Kamisama Dolls but everything else looks bleak so far.

    Oh and– I know kids just like Reina, how I wish I didn’t.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Which probably explains the *~namida~* I shed over this episode.

      I was streaming the first episode to some friends and one of them was just going “AWWWWWWWWW” over and over. This guy’s favorite anime is Berserk and the like. Usagi Drop is a far cry from the stuff he usually watches. So yeah, I’m enjoying Usagi Drop a ton so far and I hope it continues to turn heads.

      …most of the shows aren’t catching my attention nor do the impress me.

      I watched No.6 and I like the potential. It’s far too young to call it, but I’m crossing my fingers that the show holds up.

      Oh and– I know kids just like Reina, how I wish I didn’t.

      Oh, I’m sure children like her exist, but I just don’t think her character’s necessary in the story.

      Reply
  2. Richfeet

    So it’s a more dramatic version of Yotsuba. This is the only anime worth notice in the whole season for me. I’ll wait until it gets dubbed.

    Reply
  3. Hogart

    >> Sis went and lost her eyes.
    And all this time I thought that was the standard anime “glowering” face.. I honestly didn’t think that was an animation mistake, just a way of showing that someone is hiding their true intentions/feelings and being manipulative.

    This one caught me right away for not talking a lot, and focusing less on words and more on imagery. Watching characters interact through body language and the like is always fascinating when it’s done realistically.

    It was nice to see how far Daikichi’s willingness to simply pay attention goes. I wonder if that’s why the family was giving Rin the cold shoulder – they were too scared that they would fall in love with her like Daikichi did.

    Also, from what I remember, Reina becomes far more important later in the manga, and she was really only this annoying in these opening scenes. I really liked how they used a typically spoiled little brat to help cement why Dai would be so angry at his family shunning Rin.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      And all this time I thought that was the standard anime “glowering” face.. I honestly didn’t think that was an animation mistake, just a way of showing that someone is hiding their true intentions/feelings and being manipulative.

      Eh, it looks bad to me, so I’m going to assume it is bad.

      Watching characters interact through body language and the like is always fascinating when it’s done realistically.

      Which is why I disagree when people say this episode was bad because it was slow. Yeah, slow is bad when nothing happens, I thought a lot of information was being conveyed in these scenes.

      they were too scared that they would fall in love with her like Daikichi did.

      Unless they feared her rejection, I’m not sure about this. I think the family was just being stubborn about the situation.

      I really liked how they used a typically spoiled little brat to help cement why Dai would be so angry at his family shunning Rin.

      I just felt like the anime tried too hard to annoy me with Reina’s antics. It’s okay for anime to “manipulate” the audience’s emotions, but when it’s too apparent, I think anime crosses a line that shouldn’t have been crossed.

      Reply
      1. Hogart

        > Unless they feared her rejection, I’m not sure about this. I think the family was just being stubborn about the situation.

        I can’t buy into that, given that none of them even tried to even explain to this six-year-old what was going on (this was her dad’s funeral). The looks on their faces when Daikichi brought her to say her goodbyes at the wake.. well that spoke volumes. Those weren’t the faces of someone who even wanted to consider the kid’s feelings.

        > It’s okay for anime to “manipulate” the audience’s emotions, but when it’s too apparent, I think anime crosses a line that shouldn’t have been crossed.

        This kind of manipulation happens so much in anime that I just don’t care anymore :)

        I suppose I’d rather see a realistically obnoxious kid for a few seconds at a time, then put up with an unrealistically obnoxious anime character for most of the show.. but yeah, she’s definitely the type of kid that make people not want to be around kids :)

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          The looks on their faces when Daikichi brought her to say her goodbyes at the wake.. well that spoke volumes. Those weren’t the faces of someone who even wanted to consider the kid’s feelings.

          Or it could just be anime’s propensity to have its characters wear their emotions on their sleeves. This is still an anime and anime hasn’t been the most subtle medium out there.

          Plus, I just don’t understand why they would scared to love her?

          This kind of manipulation happens so much in anime that I just don’t care anymore :)

          Well, I’m not there yet. ;v

          Reina’s so obviously in the picture to piss me off, but I just feel that I’m pissed off enough at the adults. I don’t think I gain anything in getting mad at a child.

        2. Hogart

          > I just don’t understand why they would scared to love her?

          Not in general, they wouldn’t, but I think of it this way: they were like people who walk past a puppy in a box on the sidewalk, because they know if they fall in love with it, they’ll have to take care of it. They’re doing the same thing, in my eyes, except they openly cross that line where it becomes emotionally abusive.

          >> Reina’s so obviously in the picture to piss me off

          Yeah, I understand your rage, especially if you’re not as far gone as I am :D

        3. E Minor Post author

          because they know if they fall in love with it, they’ll have to take care of it.

          Maybe. Still, I’d like to think none of them really seriously considered giving her up. I can’t imagine a room full of adults would be so irresponsible. Surely, one of them would have given in eventually had Daikichi not stepped up to the plate. Of course, I might just be a little too optimistic about mankind in general.

        4. Hogart

          Agreed, it just didn’t seem that way, and they sure as heck didn’t step up once Daikichi threw himself on the fire.

          But then not even I would suspect them to be that outright terrible, just that they didn’t realize how heartlessly they were acting towards Rin while they tried to sugarcoat their various excuses (perhaps valid) for not taking Rin themselves.

        5. E Minor Post author

          Well, I think Daikichi kinda stunned everyone. Plus, they were already hoping one of them would take Rin (again, just my conjecture) so it would make sense that none of them would speak up as Daikichi was doing his thing.

          Here’s another thing I forgot to bring up in the original post. We all know corporations do a lot of heinous stuff, but why does it keep happening? Well, one theory out there is diffusion of responsibility. A corporation is made up of a ton of people. It’s not just one person screwing things up, it’s all of them. As a result, no one feels fully responsible or even half as responsible for what the corporation does as a whole.

          Likewise, imagine you’re one of the adults sitting in that room. You realize that if nobody takes poor Rin in as a daughter, she’ll be without a family. Still, you say to yourself, “Yeah, but I’m not the only one at fault here!” This is just another example of diffusion of responsibility.

        6. Hogart

          True, it was an interesting character study in concepts like diffusion of responsibility and groupthink, even moreso when you stop to consider that they were all grieving the loss of a family member, and so would be primarily concerned about their family (including the themes of shame and reputability they hinted at).

          And that’s why this scene can be swept under the rug somewhat, because as you say Daikichi “snapped them out of it” to some extent. But ultimately, it’s all down to how they respond to help Daikichi and whether they accept what little responsibility then now have. It will be especially interesting to see if his mother changes tones.

    2. E Minor Post author

      Gonna respond to your original comment ’cause the nested comments are getting ridiculous.

      But ultimately, it’s all down to how they respond to help Daikichi

      I can’t imagine that it’ll be an easy task, that’s for sure. I assume that Daikichi has a career, and likely a day career at that, so what’ll happen with Rin? In Aishiteruze Baby, the “dad” was merely the girl’s older cousin still in high school. As a result, he could pick her up after school and everything. I’m curious to see how an adult with a 9-to-5 job handles the same problem. This is where someone will just chime in and say, “Duh, daycare!”

      Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Reina is an addition, actually; she did not exist in the manga.

      She’s there, unless we’re reading different manga?

      AMG, WHICH IS IT?!

      Reply
      1. Nyoro~n :3

        She’s there and not there. Kind of like a Schrödinger’s cat that is super annoying.

        Pusheen is no Schrödinger’s cat and you should love Pusheen:

        Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, if the ending truly sucks in the manga (I don’t read manga so I wouldn’t know), maybe Production I.G. can exercise some creative license and change it… nah, probably not gonna happen. Still, I’ll stick it out for now.

      Reply
      1. Nyoro~n :3

        SPOILERS POSSIBLY YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!1 PUSHEEN WILL PROTECT YOUR EYES FROM THE SPOILERS:

        If you stick with the anime what if someone thinks you’re a pretentious pedophile because you liked the first episode and the anime had a bad ending?

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Hm, that is quite the possibility, but I think I’ll manage, my dear!

          *twirl ‘stache*

  4. inushinde

    I liked the tone of the anime a bit more than the first chapter of the manga. Despite just how cold the family was to Rin, there wasn’t as much a sense of hostility toward her as there was mere apathy. Granted, that’s almost worse to a child who needs a family, but it made Daikichi taking her in a little easier to swallow than it was in the manga.
    Though either way, the stigma that she had to bear was almost hard to believe, but surprisingly realistic in these affairs.

    As far as protagonists go, a thirty year old really was a good choice for showcasing a surrogate parent/child relationship with both used to being outsiders.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I haven’t read the manga so I really can’t comment on the differences between it and the anime adaptation.

      As far as protagonists go, a thirty year old really was a good choice for showcasing a surrogate parent/child relationship with both used to being outsiders.

      Having a 30 year old could also be an utter trainwreck though, if the anime ending is anything like the manga ending. Yeah, I had Nyoro~n :3 look it up and I think curiosity more than killed this cat. Still, I’ll give the anime a chance if and when it jumps the shark.

      Reply
      1. inushinde

        If it’s that bad, then I imagine it’ll follow the manga’s lead. Still, for most of it at least, it’ll be fine. Maybe not groundbreaking material, but sufficient enough to last most of the series.

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    With regards to the family’s treatment of Rin, it’s odd to some. But it’s reasonable. This is (possibly) illegitamate child the grandfather had. You don’t just talk to her, there’s the stigma with being associated with her and well… she’s a stranger as well. It’s an uncomfortable situation finding out that there’s this branch of the family you didn’t know about. I know in some western households, people are more welcoming and such. But in eastern households, such is not always the case, Additionally, propriety must be observed.

    , it’s like being the daughter of the second or third wife in the larger families, they hold a lower rank. Now, admittedly, not every family is like that, but many are. Or the situation is like finding out your dad had another family and they happened to be invited to the funeral. It’s going to be awkward.

    The distance serves to make sensible adorable Rin stand out all the more and to draw empathy from the audience.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Some of us are from “eastern households,” and the way the family dealt with Rin was pretty heartless and unreasonable no matter how you slice it. Treating others with respect and compassion is a universal maxim, not some newfangled Western tradition.

      Reply
  6. Taka

    I think my favorite moment in this episode was when Rin ran to get the flowers in her socks and came back treading dirty footprints on the tatami. To me it was a image that summed up just how a lot of the family probably sees Rin: muddy footprints tarnishing their otherwise spotless home.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      To me it was a image that summed up just how a lot of the family probably sees Rin: muddy footprints tarnishing their otherwise spotless home.

      Ah, I hadn’t thought of the scene that way. You can never get everything out of a decent anime with just a few viewings.

      Reply

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