Friday, July 29, 2011

Usagi Drop - 04


Usagi Drop continues to hit almost all the right notes, providing a thoroughly enjoyable and heartwarming experience every week without laying it on too thick.


A couple of legendary manga characters made their first appearance this week, starting with Rin's Kindergarten classmate Kouki (Sakai Noa). As with all the child roles in this show, he's played by a real kid - and boy, does that make a difference in realism. Kouki is a bit of a misunderstood child, seemingly - a bratty exterior (he tells Rin his mother is "noisy like an old woman!") and having trouble making friends at school. Rin, fortunately, has a proclivity for taking care of younger kids and kids simply less mature than she is, and since Kouki has apparently taken a shine to her they make a natural fit. Looks like they'll be attending first-grade at the same elementary school too, as Daikichi and Kouki's Mom attend the indoctrination together.

That bit of news is a break for Daikichi, as Kouki's Mom (Ohara Sayaka) is lovely, friendly and divorced. She makes an interesting and rather obvious potential love interest for Daikichi, as they have some very obvious common interests, a reason to see each other often (they're generally the last two parents to arrive at night) and he seems to have no other avenues for potential mates, given that he goes straight from work to Rin's school every night. But then, we also have Gotou-san (Kano Yui) - Daikichi's co-worker who we met last week. Their common interests are just as obvious, and there's a genuine spark of friendship between them at Daikichi's department farewell party (which he attends only because Gotou said she would, and both should bring their kids). Her son Yuu is a year or two younger than Rin, giving Rin yet another opportunity to slip into the big sister role.

The fly in the ointment here is Masako, Rin's mother. As Daikichi wades through the steep learning curve of backpacks, desks and vaccinations he slowly learns more of Masako. I'm still not convinced Grandpa is actually Rin's father and not just a nice old man who agreed to look after Rin when Masako bailed. We still don't know all the reasons, but thanks to Grandpa leaving a secret message for Rin's future guardian - first via a hilariously abortive attempt at a blog and later through a sheet of paper hidden in Rin's health record book. We know she thought herself a bad mother, and according to Grandpa she had "a mother's love" for Rin. Daikichi wants to hate her for walking out on her daughter, but his innate decency foils him here. Not only does he feel the need to try and understand her reasons, he doesn't feel right about making the decision to lock her out of Rin's life unless that's what she wants. Masako doesn't appear this week, but Daikichi finally musters the courage to call her and her voice is heard in the person of the great Sakamoto Maaya - and that's enough to convince me she'll be a nuanced and somewhat sympathetic character.

It's looking more and more like this short adaptation will focus exclusively on the first "half" of the manga, before the time-skip that takes Rin into high school. I haven't read the manga but that seems like a solid decision. The format is so limiting, for starters, but above and beyond that it feels as if there's so much drama and emotion built into this scenario that the surface will barely be scratched in eleven episodes. Every week Daikichi wrestles with some new aspect of his life that's a mystery - be it indoctrination histories and (even more ominously) Rin's desire to wear makeup. As Haruko points out there's a certain natural familiarity between a mother and daughter (or father and son) that doesn't exist for him, even were he not just a cousin (maybe) who's only known Rin for three months. Seems to me that he can be of help to Kouki's Mom, and she to him, in this area - and he has Gotou and Haruka to help as well. Not to mention that his mother has completely drunk the Kool-aid by now, referring to Rin as her "precious child" and lashing out at Masako.

If the test of success for a series is whether it leaves you wanting more when it ends - and I can think of far worse tests - than Usagi Drop is an unqualified success for me. I like these characters and I'm always sorry to hear that ED song start up (though I love the song). I've liked every character introduced so far and want to learn more about them, and from what I hear - and this ep did nothing to contradict it - Kouki and his Mum are going to be fantastic additions to the cast.





19 comments:

  1. Before this series end, already I'm hoping for second season. My only concern is will I able to resist reading the manga, not knowing if there will be coming a 2nd season.

    This show really touch a lot of emotion. For now, the best one will be who is masako and for what reason does her leave rin all alone. I for one cannot think of any good reason she could have. I guess this is why I kept watching this show.

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  2. From what I understand the first half of the manga is the best half and we should be getting all that this season. :)

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  3. I can't remember a NoitaminA series ever getting a second season, so I wouldn't worry about not reading the manga for that reason. I suspect we'll get the first part, and that will be that.

    As Kim says, I've heard the first part of the manga is the best part, and even though they'll have to edit even that pretty heavily to make 11 eps, it should give them a chance to have a decent anime ending.

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  4. You are right she is a great actress with a wide range. Just to name a few:

    Crona - Soul Eater
    Nino - Arakawa Under The Bridge
    Ciel Phantonhive - Kuroshitsuji
    Aerith - Final Fantasy VII

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  5. That doesn't give us much of a clue which gender Crona is, does it? ;-)

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  6. noitaminA has had a few second seaons actually, Honey and Clover got one, Nodame Cantabile got two, Mononoke is kinda a sequel to Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales and a few shows were 2 cour from the start (H&C, Nodmae, Shiki and there are rumors that one of the fall shows will be 2 cour). So it can happen if the show sells well enough!

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  7. I did forget about H & C, true. I don't consider it a second season if there were 2 cour planned from the beginning, though.

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  8. wow Enzo, thats quite an assumption you've made about "gramps" (will not say a word there, too big of a spoiler already).

    At least it feels like they won't go for the second half, unless they're going to skip even more stuff just to give some completion for the adaptation...(with about 2.5 chapters covered this episode)

    ps. I'm still laughing over the lipstick...and sadden from the fact that the divorce joke got dampened

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  9. Hey, Info - thanks for posting. Not an assumption, just a guess. Haven't read a panel of the manga and don't plan to till the anime is over, though I suspect I'll read it then.

    I think it's a guess that has a good chance of being right. It fits - but sometimes it fits, and the guess is wrong, anyway...

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  10. @info600

    Blogger always blog the anime spoiler free, those unable to do that are a failure as a blogger. Imagine a blogger write (...... ....btw Daikichi is Rin's real dad but you guy will only find out at last episode....) I would have kill him/her. Spoiler blog is the last thing I want.

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  11. Yup. Though no apologies if my guesses are right! ;-)

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  12. As much as the kids are great lets not overlook the wonderfull performance Hiroshi tsuchida is giving,the role is quite an unusual one for anime since it's not everyday that a salary man is a protagonist.I feel like the acting sounds much more like it's coming from a live action movie than an anime,there's less exageration and a bit more hesitation in the delivery.

    As for a sequel,maybe we'll get one,I'll be reading the manga once the anime is over anyway.

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  13. Oh, for sure. As I've said multiple times, cute little girls are pretty common in anime but characters like Daikichi are extremely rare. He's the real marvel in this series.

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  14. Would things have been easier for Daikichi if Rin was a boy? Haha
    I've read enough spoilers to know how things turn out eventually but I can't help but root for Daikichi when it comes to his seemingly non-existent love life. Go Daikichi x Kouki's mom!!!

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  15. now that is just weird (and now I can't unsee that scenario x.x ), but any kid that is as responsible as Rin has been (as of this week's episode) should be the same...

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  16. @Guardian Enzo

    Then you should stop learning from Divine. He is sometime correct too many times. Sometime I just take his word for actual spoiler.

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  17. Heh, we have a little side bet going about Steins;Gate...

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  18. @Guardian Enzo

    Too bad for the rest of us for not knowing what is Divine thinking about. We couldn't then see who we want to support.

    P.S. Who's winning?

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