Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions, Usagi Drop > Bunny Drop Episode 1 – Nobody Number One

Bunny Drop Episode 1 – Nobody Number One

Lately, we’ve been able to count on at least one solid drama show per season from Fuji TV’s two-show noitaminA block, and this season’s entry is Bunny Drop, a quiet, measured story about Daikichi Kawachi, an immature thirty-year old salaryman who adopts his recently deceased grandfather’s illegitimate six-year old daughter, Rin.

The first episode centers around the funeral for Rin’s father, as well as a harsh discussion among her family over who should take care of her. Rin’s father had lost touch with his family near the end of his life, so none of his family even knew she existed.

Daikichi is refreshingly unattractive for an anime protagonist

Uncomfortable with the idea of a 79-year old man having an illegitimate six-year old daughter, the family does their best to ignore her, and when finally forced to decide where she should go, is ready to put her up for adoption until Daikichi stuns everyone by offering to care for her.

Daikichi has spent the funeral quietly forming a bond with Rin. He’s the only one who pays any attention to her, and notices her moving throughout her house despite her best efforts to remain unseen.

It’s heavily implied that Daikichi has a lot in common with her father, too. There’s some physical resemblance, and both seem like disaffected outsiders, cut off from the rest of the family.

Those bellflowers were Rin's father's favorite, and seem to be her namesake

Rin seems to bond quickly with Daikichi, as well. Although she shies away from all the unfamiliar adults that have invaded her home, she quietly stalks Daikichi, trying and failing to keep an eye on him without him noticing. By the end of the episode, she doesn’t even run away when he approaches her. When he asks her if she’d like to come live with him, it’s a foregone conclusion.

Although there’s plenty of dialogue in this episode, it’s mostly between family members bringing us up to speed on different family dynamics. Nearly all the action takes place without words, small segments showing the bond growing between Daikichi and Rin.

The soft watercolor style of the intro should be to familiar to anyone who watched Kimi ni Todoke. It's hard to convey how good it looks in motion

The animation is done by Production I.G., with a very similar visual style to their adaptation of Kimi ni Todoke, and a similar aptitude for conveying human interaction. The result is an almost instant connection with Rin’s plight, and Daikichi’s situation.

It’s not often that the first episode of a show can get an emotional reaction out of me, but I must confess I teared up as Rin comes to the realization that her father is really gone, and she has no one to depend on. It’s an easy emotional target, for sure, but kudos to director Kanta Kamei for rising to the occasion.

Rin insists on placing bellflowers on her father instead of the prepared flowers

The only thing that sits wrong with me is the idealistic view the show has of Rin. She’s had a hard life: abandoned by her mother, neglected by her father as he slowly wasted away, isolated from the rest of the world. She’s broken and damaged, but the show treats her as some kind of pure angel.

Rin is contrasted with Daikichi’s obnoxious but more spirited and child-like niece. She exists to do rude or disruptive things like start throwing flowers everywhere during her great-grandfather’s burial ceremony, steal Rin’s cat’s cradle in an attempt to get praised for doing it, or just flat out smacking Daikichi when he’s trying to drink tea. She’s a bratty and spoiled foil to the pure and perfect Rin, who is meek, shy, and passive.

Daikichi's obnoxious niece Rena is oddly contrasted with Rin

It’s understandable that you’d want to build sympathy for a main character in the first episode, particularly if her main characteristic is to be passive and withdrawn from people. But if you can’t make a recently-orphaned girl, born out of wedlock, whose extended family is discussing how to get rid of her right in front of her face sympathetic, without beating up on another little girl, maybe you should just relax and trust your audience to know when their heartstrings are being pulled.

This isn’t to say that this is a damning flaw of Bunny Drop. Kids are just really hard to write. In the West, kids have a tendency to be overly precocious adults in miniature, wise beyond their years and dealing with their own internal conflicts with the sagacity and maturity of a grown-up (Modern Family, I’m looking at you).

I have to admire the little touches in the animation, like the mud on the porch and Rin's dirty socks

In the East, they’re either bratty and obnoxious or angels made entirely of sweetness and light, too good for the cruel world they find themselves oppressed by. (For another example of a well-made series that suffers the same problem, see Yotsuba&!, the other popular manga series about a single father raising an idealized youngster who isn’t his biological child). Neither does a good job of capturing childhood as it actually is, but if you’re going to watch something involving kids, you’ve got little choice but to go with the flow.

My issues concerning this should go away once Rena is out of the picture. And if the manga is any indication, there should be a ten-year time jump in a few episodes, anyway. So hopefully I’ll be focusing on the gentle, beautiful way the story unfolds and not on the unrealistic portrayal of its children. Either way, this is definitely a series to follow, which you can do here.

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