This is review number seventy two and its part of the Summer 2011 lineup. It’s Usagi Drop which is the part of the noitaminA banner for this season. I love this anime. I personally give this anime a ten. Seriously, it’s that great. It’s an eleven episode anime about the trials and triumphs of raising a child. Let’s read on.
The anime is about Daikichi Kawachi, a thrity year old bachelor who visits his grandfather’s funeral. His grandpa died at 79 and the entire family is there to pay their respect. Daikichi met Rin Kaga there who intrigues him. Rin was his grandfather’s daughter and her mother left her in granpa’s possession. Now that he is dead and there is no way to contact the mother, the rest of the family decided on who will take care of Rin. They all did not want to step up and take care of their grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. Daikichi was a bit offended at how the family was only concerned about themselves as they decide the little girl’s fate. Daikichi decided. He’ll take care of Rin.
Taking the Pants Off
Usagi Drop is a really nice anime. It had a lot of things going for it and it doesn’t have a something bad that drags the anime down. For a slice of life anime, I’m pretty impressed at how brilliant all the elements of the anime worked to give us a near perfect story about parenthood. Slice of life is a difficult genre. People watch anime to escape the real world so they go after giant robots or ninjas in orange outfits so an anime about everyday life isn’t really appealing to some. Only a few can appreciate what the genre has to offer and that requires a deep understanding of the subject theme of the slice of life anime. However, there are slice of life (SOL) anime that intrigues you and entices you to watch more episodes as you progress. Those kinds of SOL are rare though. I don’t remember a SOL that actually grabbed my attention and made me watch it straight in one sitting. Usagi Drop did just that. It caught me with its simple display of everyday life and everyday triumphs. That is a pretty impressive thing considering Usagi Drop is a SOL.
The characters are the anime’s strongest asset. Daikichi is a huge standout because the anime painted a pretty brilliant picture about his single life. He excelled at his job, his lifestyle is that of a single man and he has more time to himself. It all came to abrupt end when he decided to take Rin in. His lifestyle drastically changed forcing him to change old habits. He is always preoccupied with Rin and her basic needs and he is on the grinder trying to balance both Rin and his job. Through all this drastic changes though Daikichi never seems to get bothered by it. He has an unbelievable devotion to raising Rin that he is happy to change whatever is needed in order to keep her satisfied. It was really amazing. I admire Daikichi so much because of the lengths he takes to raise Rin. Personal sacrifices are something he gives no second thought to and it’s a nice depiction of the lengths parents take to raise their child. The anime never strays away from depicting “everyday life” which is very respectable.
Rin is also a great character. She’s a child but she’s a bit mature after being abandoned by her mother and seeing her father died. She has a stubborn personality but her independence is admirable. She’s still a child though that requires a lot of attention, a lot of loving and a lot of caring that is often a challenge to Daikichi who is slowly adjusting to his new life. Rin is adjusting too. She slowly tries to be herself and slowly come out of her shell. Her emotional fragility is slowly being mended by Daikichi and the two characters become closer as the anime progress. Rin’s ability to cope with things and still being able to portray her childish attitude is a very complex personality that I actually admire. It’s very hard to pull it off without entering the cliché that anime seems to enter rather easily. No, there is no cliché here and it’s partly thanks to the SOL appeal of the anime.
The story is mostly about Rin and Daikichi slowly bonding and establishing a father-daughter relationship. The theme of parenthood is pretty strong here. Daikichi’s sacrifices are the most standout but a lot of the characters are able to bring it forth as well. There are a lot of characters here that share their personal struggles and triumphs in raising a child. There are little stories about a parent sacrificing her career to spend time with her children, a single mother doing her best to raise her stubborn kid and a mother who is experiencing a rocky relationship while keeping a straight face in front of her child. Naturally, it borrows from everyday life as well. Nothing is too farfetched in this anime and most of the themes are easily relatable. I relate to it as well since I f*cking raised some of my cousins. It’s the strongest point of the anime. Its sheer honesty is very admirable and something very hard to pull off. I’ve seen other anime try it but fumble at delivering the message.
The anime has a nice theme of “family”. Daikichi sacrificed a lot of himself but he got something better in return. His normal boring life is brightened up as he spends his day with Rin. There is personal growth both in Daikichi and Rin that is nicely executed by the story. The anime will easily captivate you and it’s not hard to like it. I don’t actually see any fault in the anime. There are no negatives to point out and I’ve seen the anime twice. It’s a near perfect slice of life with strong theme of family values and the trials of raising a child.
Sight and Sound
When you first watch the anime, the first thing that’ll catch your attention is the animation. The anime has a nice soft color palette that comes off as very relaxing. It makes the anime establish a laid back approach to everyday life. It is very soothing to watch. The background is a great standout. It has a nice soft water color scheme to it. It’s very childish in a sense but it’s also very warm and delicate at the same time. The simplest of animation in the background is astounding as well. The watercolor trees swaying to the wind, the way the leaves pile up and the way the color of the shirts change is very unique that it captivates you at times.
The character design is pretty nice as well. Rin is the obvious stand out. She has a childish look but when the anime closes up on her face, you can see the beauty past the childishness and I believe it’s a subtle message about the events after the anime. Um… the manga ended pretty shockingly and I discovered that on wiki. The anime makes it a point that the viewer’s know that Rin is beautiful but her childish appeal is strong as well. The rest of the characters are pretty nice. Daikichi shows his age well and you can clearly see that he is in his 30s. There are some cute characters here but it doesn’t cross moe territory.
The animation is very fluid as well. You can see that from when Rin plays with her string and creates a cat cradle. The animation is very smooth and the hand gestures were accurate. The facial expressions are also great. Rin starts with a clueless frown then she slowly brightens up with a nice smile. It’s simple but it’s very fluid. The simplest of animation is a great stand out. I really like it.
Most of the anime’s charm is established by dialogue and the seiyuus in the anime really did a great job on their side. The casual mature voice of Daikichi is very nice to listen to and even if he yells, his voice has a charm about it that is very infectious. Rin’s voice is pretty nice as well. When the two of them talk, it’s the voices that really stand out. They aren’t monotonous and you can feel their personality just from the voices. I mean, even the simple talk about making rice balls is oddly hypnotic.
The sound of the anime is a great standout. It adds a lot of strengths in a lot of the anime’s best moments. The first time meeting of Daikichi and Rin is a great example because the music in the background complemented the scene. Simple piano melodies, acoustic guitars and nice flute sounds that comes off as a bit playful and a little bit nostalgic. It adds a lot the anime and establishes it’s SOL appeal.
The opening song is “Sweet Drops” by Puffy AmiYumi. My god, it’s been decades since I last heard their voice. I’m not a fan and I only heard them in the Teen Titans opening song. The opening song of Usagi Drop is really catchy and the beat is nice. The opening sequence is really nice as well. It was symbolic but the animation quality of it is top notch. It’s inspiring too.
The ending song, “High High High” by Kasarinchu,is very nice. Kasarinchu’s voice is really impressive especially when he hits the high notes. The song nicely reflects the anime’s SOL appeal. The ending song is really nice with a nice theme of personal growth.
8/10 “Its perfect execution makes this the best slice of life anime you’ll ever get to see.”
I highly recommend this. All the elements of this anime are done very nicely and I have yet to see a flaw to it. If you have, please point it out. In the meantime, I can proudly call this the best slice of life yet. Nothing can even come close.