Usagi Drop–Anime Early Impressions

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Usagi Drop (“Bunny Drop”) is the sort of smart, low-key josei anime that will never get a North American DVD release, but fortunately it can be seen on Crunchyroll.
Daikichi Kawachi (Hiroshi Tsuchida) is a grumpy workaholic 30-year-old salaryman, but when he learns that his grandfather has just dropped dead he dutifully travels back to his home town for the funeral. He was not close to his grandfather and thus is astonished to learn that the old man had a 6-year-old daughter named Rin (Ayu Matsuura) that he was secretly raising by himself. (So she’s Daikichi’s aunt, which he finds more embarrassing than amusing.)

The other family members are also not amused and treat Rin as embarrassing evidence of the old man’s senile indiscretions. They want to put her in an institution. They assume that she is mute and probably retarded, though actually she is just too terrified to speak to anyone.

To Daikichi this seems unbearably cruel and he insists on taking her home with him.

So like Ikoku Meiro no Croisée this is the story of an older man who more-or-less adopts a young girl, but Usagi Drop has a different and much more realistic tone. Rin isn’t some precocious little angel; she acts like a little kid who just had her world destroyed.

The show makes it clear that Japan is not a very supportive place for single parents, particularly for single fathers. (Salarymen are expected as a matter of course to put in long hours of overtime each night.) Daikichi clearly has a long hard road ahead.

If this were an American TV show I could probably predict every plot twist and practically every line of dialog, but so far the Japanese version has continually surprised me. I’m actually eager to see what happens. If you have read the manga please don’t post any spoilers here.