Usagi Drop Episode 6 – The Great Chain of Being
We are all connected to the people who came before us, just like our children and grandchildren will be to us. Those ties can be weak or shallow, depending on whom they are with, but they exist nonetheless, stretching back beyond antiquity to our very first ancestors.
To me, that’s a grand, powerful thought—that all of us are folded together into the great narrative of humanity—but it’s equally true on a smaller level, as well. Because we’re also connected to our family, to the people who created us, the people who raised us, and the people whose impact has irreversibly changed our lives.
Those three groups don’t always perfectly intersect, as Usagi Drop points out: Rin’s birth parents have died and abandoned her, respectively, leaving Daikichi to care for her. As time goes on, she might fall away from Daikichi, move out on her own, forget to call, or have a falling out with someone she doesn’t see as her “real” father, and turn to a different “family”, filled with the friends and other people in her life important to her.
I wrote in my last post that I think Usagi Drop has an agenda, a very conservative, pro-family agenda. It wants to emphasize the importance of family to adults too caught up in careers or pursuing their own dreams to start a family, or pay attention to the people that came before them.
The show wants to make it clear that, although having kids is a sacrifice, it’s one that worthwhile. In this episode, it does that by reminding us of that connection we have to our forebears, and the duty we have to continue that line, and those traditions that made us who we are.
Sure, there’s the usual cute kid vignettes: Rin eats cereal for the first time; she tries to contain her stereotypically rambunctious male friend from preschool on their first day of kindergarten, but the bulk of the episode is about tradition, and the way it connects us to our family.
You see, when Daikichi was born, his parents planted a tree. It grew as he grew, alongside a similar tree his parents had planted for his sister. His mother had a tree as well, one that she also compared her height to, although by now it has become a towering thing, stretching taller than their house. His grandfather, Rin’s father, surely has one as well.
These trees are a clear symbol for the permanence of one’s ancestors. Trees can live for hundreds of years, and as they do, they exist as reminders that that person, someone you were related to, once existed. A connection, however small, to the past, remaining in the present.
Daikichi wants to carry on that tradition with Rin. He plants one to commemorate her first day of school, since by now it’s too late to plant one for her birth. But, knowing his grandfather’s love of tradition, he wonders if maybe one had been planted for Rin’s birth.
He finally tracks it down, once again calling on Masako, Rin’s mother, and heads over to his grandfather’s house to move it back to his place. It’s the same kind of tree as his own, another thing they have in common, another indication that they were fated for each other, and one more example of the connection between them, a connection they share by being bound by blood and a common tradition.
It’s interesting that Usagi Drop, a show about a fairly non-traditional family (Daikichi is, after all, raising his aunt), would end up championing traditional notions of family. I guess it’s in part to show that, as long as those bonds are there, a family can overcome and adapt. Because, after all, it has a duty: to grow the next generation, and pass on the legacy and traditions to them, as they will do to theirs. And so on, for as long as the family endures.
You can watch the episode here.