Home > Episode Reviews, Usagi Drop > Usagi Drop Episodes 2-4 – Quiet Little Voices

Usagi Drop Episodes 2-4 – Quiet Little Voices

I’d like to recant most of what I said in my previous review of Usagi Drop. After spending some time around my young cousins two weeks ago, Rin is a relatively realistic six year-old. She acts a little old for her age, but that makes sense considering she’s been fending for herself for most of her life.

I can’t blame the writers for maybe fudging things a little bit, either, since the manga (and perhaps the anime) jumps ahead in time ten years relatively early on. It makes sense that they’d want to have Daikichi have to deal with taking care of Rin before she goes into school, but needed to make her mature enough to have some of the elements of her personality she’d show later on.

Shots of Daikichi picking Rin up late at night are pretty common in these episodes

The show itself continues to impress, albeit at a staid pace. Usagi Drop unfolds slowly in its early stages, quietly introducing us to the characters and showing Daikichi just what he’s going to have to give up if he wants to take care of Rin. Episodes 2-4 shows him and Rin work themselves into a routine: Daikichi takes Rin to daycare early in the morning, then leaves work as soon as possible to pick her up.

But everywhere there are sacrifices that have to be made: all the clothes and bed and supplies a child needs but he hasn’t thought about it. Any social life he once had is now gone—nights out drinking with coworkers have been replaced by a hurried rush to pick Rin up from daycare before it closes.

Another one of Daikichi's co-workers asked to be transferred after having a child. She acts as a mentor and source of inspiration for Daikichi, even though her kid is four years younger than Rin

The biggest conflict is for his time. Working as a single man meant lots of overtime to get all his work done, but every night he’s the last parent at the daycare to pick up his kid.

Finally, Daikichi reaches a decision. He asks for a transfer to a department with less work, much to the dismay of everyone at his company.

The thing I like most about this is how natural it feels. There’s no melodramatic confrontation that spurs this, no horrible breakdown from Rin, just a mature adult realizing something needs to change.

And that’s what I love the most about Usagi Drop: the maturity of its characters and the way it deals in adult issues. Daikichi may be immature for a thirty year-old, but he’s still way beyond every other anime protagonist I can readily think of.

After being treated coldly by them at the funeral, Rin is nervous around Daikichi's parents. She follows him around everywhere at their house, even to the bathroom

The story, too, would work for an even older audience than the college-age viewers that noitaminA shows are typically aimed at. Usagi Drop is about what happens after school, after you strike out on your own and do what you can to make ends meet, regardless of whether or not it’s what your heart desires.

Daikichi and Rin come to love each other as a father and daughter should in these episodes, strengthening the connection forged by blood and shared temperament in the first episode, but Daikichi doesn’t take her home because of that initial connection. He takes her home out of duty, his duty to take care of a relative abandoned by her parents and left to fend for herself.

Being raised primarily by a man in his 80s/90s, Rin's interests tend towards the old fashioned

Usagi Drop, at least in these episodes, is about duty and responsibility: one’s duty to one’s family, and the additional responsibilities that brings. When you think about it that way, it’s kind of crazy that it even made it on the air, even as late-night anime.

While it definitely paints an idyllic picture of parenting—Rin is a well-behaved, adorable angel, and even her flaws are endearing—it’s so far removed from the tawdry escapism the majority of the medium is mired in that it’s impressive.

Daikichi must be a darn good boss if his subordinates are this upset about him leaving

It’s certainly a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve been a bit turned off by fantasy and escapism in recent months (it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been writing), so I’m happy (and a little surprised) to find that there’s still good anime I can watch. Between Wandering Son, Ano Hana, and this, there’s been one every season this year.

Honestly, I hope the trend continues. I’d like to think that as I grow older, anime will grow up with me.

You can watch the episodes here, here, and here.

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