Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bunny Drop (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll

Bunny Drop (aka Usagi Drop) is an 11-episode slice-of-life series. It's based on a manga series but ends before the manga does. This detail is important, because quite a few people, including me, were horrified by the manga's ending. I've only read spoilers, not the actual manga (yet), but, in my opinion, it takes the nice, sweet family relationship developing between Daikichi and Rin and spits on it.

I watched most of this series via Crunchyroll's website, because I had to get it finished before March and the website currently works more smoothly than the Crunchyroll app on my TV. Buffering problems, ahoy.

Synopsis:

When Daikichi, a 30-year-old single man, goes to his grandfather's funeral, he learns that his grandfather left behind a 6-year-old love child named Rin. Rin's mother ran off after Daikichi's grandfather died, so the remaining family is trying to decide what to do with her. Realizing that everyone sees Rin as a problem to get rid of, rather than as a family member and little girl in need of care, Daikichi offers to take her.

Daikichi soon learns that there's a lot to taking care of a little girl that he didn't even think of. Since he works full-time, he has to get her enrolled in some kind of nursery school. Rin is pretty good at taking care of herself, but she still needs someone to buy her food and clothing, make sure she doesn't hurt herself in the kitchen, and take care of her when she's sick. When she develops a bed-wetting problem, Daikichi realizes that she's also still trying to process her grief over his grandfather's (her father's) death and her fear that others in her life could die at any moment.

Mostly, this series is about learning what it means to be a parent. At the same time, Daikichi tries to navigate life as a single dad (including potential romance!) and track down Rin's mother.

Review:

It seems like Crunchyroll only just added this show to their lineup, and suddenly they announced it was going to be removed. I bumped it to the top of my queue right away – I love sweet slice-of-life stories.

Bunny Drop is a very well done series. I have absolutely zero plans to ever become a mother, but, as a single person, this series had me wondering what I'd do if I ended up in a position similar to Daikichi's. I have to say, I think Daikichi adjusted awfully well. He resisted requesting a transfer to a position with better hours for as long as possible and felt a twinge of regret when he finally did make the request, but he didn't really seem to miss his old job all that much. He also didn't seem to really miss going out drinking at night with his work buddies, or any of the other little adjustments he had to make to his life when Rin entered it. I kind of wish I'd gotten to see a little of his life prior to taking Rin in, just to get some kind of comparison since his adjustment seemed so smooth.

That's not to say he eased perfectly into fatherhood, though. There was a lot he had to figure out, and I loved watching him stress over what to do in various specific situations. How was he supposed to pick clothes for Rin when he didn't know what size she wore? Did she need skirts? How was he supposed to get her registered for nursery school? What was the best thing to do when Rin got sick or wet the bed? Should he register her for school using his own family name or his grandfather's? I appreciated all these little details and events that Daikichi had to think about and deal with – suddenly becoming a single parent isn't an easy thing, and I was glad it wasn't presented as such, even though Rin was probably one of the most easy-to-take-care-of children in existence.

Rin was cute without being overly so. I liked seeing her friendship with Kouki, a little boy whose mother was divorced, develop, and seeing the two single-parent families together made me smile. Daikichi was adorable, acting as a father figure for Kouki while also fretting over his attraction to Kouki's mother.

I also liked seeing Daikichi figure out how to have a life with Rin in it. When Rin first came into his life, he still had his original job, and it seemed like his entire life was “work” and “must pick up Rin from nursery school and take care of her.” There wasn't much time for other things. When he transferred to a new position, his life opened up a little. He had briefly thought about how he'd handle dating now that Rin was in his life, but I don't think it really entered his mind until he met Kouki's mother. At one of Rin's school events, Daikichi meets other fathers and makes his first father-friends, further opening up his life. Pretty much everything in his life involves Rin in some way, but in a way that still allows him to have a life as an adult. It was interesting to watch, and I'd love to hear what real-life single parents think about this series.

While I absolutely loved this series overall, I do have two complaints about it. The first is that it feels overly short. I felt like I'd only just started watching, and then suddenly it was over. The second complaint is a little more complex.

I really did love watching Daikichi and Rin's relationship develop, and I found the show's exploration of parenting and being a single parent to be fascinating. However, as someone who doesn't personally wish to ever have children, I did raise an eyebrow at the series' slight demonization of those who simply don't want kids. Rin's mother was one such person. She only had Rin because Daikichi's grandfather convinced her to – left to her own devices, she probably would have never become a mother. Her entire  goal was to become a famous manga artist, and her career and lifestyle didn't lend itself to taking proper care of a child. One of the reasons I'd like to read the manga is to find out what the manga does with her as a character – in the anime, she seemed to be rushing towards her own self-destruction, overworking herself maybe as a sort of self-punishment (for choosing her career over motherhood).

Daikichi's sister was another character who didn't seem to want to be a mother. Her husband (fiance? can't remember) wanted a child right away, while she didn't. She wanted to keep her career, and she wanted to be able to go out at night and have a few drinks whenever. When she asked Daikichi about being a parent, his response was something along the lines of “You get used to the changes you have to make in your life. You'll be fine, you'll find that out once you have kids.” It's the kind of thing I'm told from time to time, and I hate it, because what happens if that's not the case? It sounds like a terrible situation for both the parent and the child.

So, yeah, it's a cute series, but I wasn't always comfortable with what it seemed to be saying about adults who are childless by choice. Even if that's a huge hot button issue for you, you may still enjoy this show – just keep in mind that this series is very pro-wanting kids.

Extras:

Be sure to watch past the closing credits of each episode. There's always a little more to see, and a little more Bunny Drop is a good thing.

Watch-alikes and Read-alikes:
  • Chi's Sweet Home (manga) by Konami Kanata; Chi's Sweet Home (anime TV series) - In this series, the newcomer isn't a child, but rather a kitten. The Yamada family finds and takes in Chi, their very first pet and first kitten. They have to figure out how to hide her from their landlord (their apartment doesn't allow pets), feed her, entertain her, convince her to use the litter box, and more. This would be a good series for those who'd like another relaxing, cute, and sweet slice-of-life series. For those who liked Rin, the Yamada family's young son, Yohei, might be another draw. I have written about the first volume of the manga and Chi's Sweet Home - Chi's New Address.
  • Yotsuba&! (manga) by Kiyohiko Azuma - Those who'd like another series based on the premise of a single guy taking in a young child might want to try this. It's a bit goofier than Bunny Drop but should still satisfy a need for something cute, sweet, and a bit funny.
  • Listen To Me Girls, I am Your Father! (anime TV series) - I haven't seen this yet, but it looks like it would be good for those looking for another series about a single guy who suddenly has to figure out how to be a parent. I'm pretty sure this is more focused on humor than Bunny Drop, but, like I said, I haven't seen it yet.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends (manga) by Yuki Midorikawa; Natsume's Book of Friends (anime TV series) - Those who'd like another relaxing, heart-tugging, sweet series might want to give this a try. Like Rin, the main character of this series just makes you want to hug him - he's been shuffled around various homes for almost as long as he can remember, and it takes him a while to come to trust the couple he's currently living with and the friends he gradually makes. The series has strong fantasy elements, but don't let that scare you off. I've written about all four seasons of the anime.

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