American TV has slowly started experimenting beyond the standard “debut every series in September and see what sticks” model, but it’s still the case that fall is the season where the big ticket items are debuted. Similiarly, the big anime seasons tend to be spring and fall, with the winter and particularly the summer season left to left to flounder with continuing shows and one or two decent new offerings.
That was certainly the case last summer, as noted by our very tepid awards post for summer 2010. It was not the case in winter 2011, with some remarkably solid offerings including Madoka, which is still the most likely candidate for show of the year. It’s also not the case here, with some strong continuing series being equaled or bested by shows that debuted this season. Neither of us were prepared for how remarkably strong, on balance, this season’s offerings were.
It’s unfortunate that the strength of the best series of this season eclipsed some other gems. When the most competitive category is “Best Show We Didn’t Cover,” that’s a good sign that summer 2011 was a great three months for anime. And that remains true even though the second most competitive category was “Most Offensive Series.”
As bear didn’t have a chance to watch most of the summer shows, this post is written entirely by 3HM.
As winter comes, there are a lot more sniffles around the office where I work. I’ve had a sore throat the last few days, the lady in the office next to me spent the whole today clearing her throat constantly, and our office manager is once again going around telling the story of when our company was a lot smaller, and everyone in the office was sick or home with a sick child.
There are a lot of single mothers where I work, and they spend much more of their time off caring for sick children or taking them to the doctor than they take off for their own reasons. I’d never thought about it much, other than to roll my eyes at the extra work I’d have to do because one of them was home with a sick kid.
If you had asked me about it, I’d probably have agreed, purely on an intellectual basis, that being a single mother is substantially more difficult than just being single, or having another partner to help take care of children. Thinking about all the time and energy that went into taking care of you, you can kind of map that onto the average amount of free time someone who works a full-time job has on any given day, plus the additional expense of all the stuff kids need and want badly enough to whine about, and realize that working full time and being the sole caretaker of one child, let alone several, is a pretty tough job.
Last time I wrote about Usagi Drop, I wrote about Daikichi’s cousin, and my discomfort with the show’s insistence that she remain in what seemed to be a demeaning and unfulfilling existence. The show’s emphasis on traditional Japanese family values has been something of a reoccurring theme so far, and it comes back again strongly here, with its most untraditional female character.
One thing interesting about watching anime is how familiar the values and ideals expressed in it often are. While watching the product of a different (and, in the case of most anime, non-mainstream) culture is one of the style’s main draws for me, most of the time when what I’ve watched has sharply contrasted with my own beliefs, it’s been because the show is unabashedly focused on the sexual desires of lonely otaku, or because it’s just terribly, terribly written.
It doesn’t often happen in drama shows, or shows that aren’t otherwise flawed in other ways that make the dissonance easy to write off. That’s part of what makes this episode so jarring.
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.
Ever since Daikichi took Rin home, he has wondered about her mother. Throughout the previous episodes, he has been slowly piecing together information on her: she’s young, not much more than a girl herself, and was apparently his grandfather’s maid, which explains where an 80-year old man would have even met someone who could have borne his child.
Eventually, he gets a name, Masako Yoshii, and phone number. Although he doubts she wants anything to do with Rin, the temptation is too great. He has to schedule a meeting with her.
Masako, it turns out, is a manga artist who finally started to get noticed right as she became pregnant with Rin. She quickly decided not to think of Rin as her daughter, but was persuaded by the father to keep the child.
Although she grew attached to Rin after giving birth, Masako quickly gave up on parenting, the huge time demands and late night meetings that are part of making manga grew too much to be both a parent and an artist.
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.