Reviews of yesteryear: Usagi Drop

Usagi Drop started out as a manga by Unita Yumi. The anime adaptation was handled by Production I.G. It’s also the second Josei series I’ve been asked to review. The other being Nodame Cantabile, which was excellent. Let’s take a look at Usagi Drop and see how it compares.

The story follows a man named Daikichi who goes to his grandfather’s funeral only to discover that his grandfather had an illegitimate child named Rin. His family treats her like a nuisance, which angers him so he makes a snap decision to take custody of her. You know, like all of those other stories where someone without kids is somehow forced into looking after one. The anime follows the two in their daily lives as they grow closer and as Daikichi uncovers information about Rin’s past. There’s really not much in terms of an actual story. The biggest negative is just that the series is largely boring. A bunch of ordinary events like a kindergarten graduation or visiting family may be a natural part of life, but they don’t make for an interesting or compelling narrative. Not unless there are some really spectacular characters behind them, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The most tension you get is that Rin comes down with the flu for all of an episode. The series tries to maintain a humorous tone most of the time, but most of the jokes aren’t really funny. They’re just like those stories that some parents tell about their kid doing something kind of stupid that the parent finds hilarious but no one else actually cares about because it’s not really funny but you feel compelled to fake a laugh to be polite. To give the series some credit, there are some cute moments and Daikichi’s search for Rin’s mother is kind of interesting. It also avoids the cheesy romance plot that usually comes with “single person is compelled to look after a kid and discovers the ‘joys’ of parenthood” stories.

Then we have the characters. The kids in this act like actual children which translates to them being pretty obnoxious most of the time. The only real exception is Rin, who’s, thankfully, the one we spend the most time with. She can be annoying at times, but most of the time she’s mature in enough ways to be tolerable. Most of the adult characters are just kind of boring. They spend a lot of their time focusing on their kids, which kind of reminds me of some people I’ve known who were interesting before they had kids but won’t shut up about their kids now that they’ve had them and aren’t interesting anymore. Now, before you send me a bunch of angry messages, I’m not saying all parents are like that. I’m specifically talking about parents who don’t have interests outside of being parents or don’t seem to since all they ever talk about is their children.

The art in this is kind of sketchy. The opening scenes for every episode have this kind of chalky unfinished look and then it transitions into a more complete look. Initially I thought that they’d just run out of time and hadn’t been able to completely finish, but after a few episodes it became clear that it was just a very odd stylistic decision. They also have some very strange moments where the character’s faces convert to a very minimalistic style which I think is done as an attempt at humour, but I’m not sure since it can be impossible¬†to discern what’s supposed to be funny and what’s just whimsical. The backgrounds tend to be pretty plain. Most of the time the characters and various objects do look pretty nice though. The flora especially.

The cast in this is decent enough. Although not really anything special. the music is kind enough to play an effect most of the time something funny is supposed to have happened. Which is kind of weird. Did they just know the material wasn’t going to actually be funny and having a character hold a sign saying “laugh” would’ve been too obvious? The music is pretty fitting for the series. It’s slow, soft and bland.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. Most of the focus is on six year olds so it makes sense that there’s not yuri in this.

So, that’s Usagi Drop. Honestly, I’m not in the demographic for this in more ways than one since my general reaction to children can best be summed up as “meh.” It’s a mostly light-hearted and very dull series. There’s nothing egregiously wrong with it, but you probably aren’t going to be entertained by it unless you really like children. For myself, I give it a 5/10. Meh.

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