Simplicity is certainly the watchword of the day with this series after two episodes. But sometimes simplicity is a very underrated quality, in anime as elsewhere.
I think it would take a fairly hard heart not to feel some sort of emotional connection to what takes place in Usagi Drop – it’s really about as elemental situation as you can get. But as a single male with no children, the difficulty of Daikichi’s circumstances and the courage of his decision really hit home with me. Frankly, I really don’t think I could have done it. There are really two battle fronts he has to deal with – the practical and the personal.
What I found encouraging about the second episode is that the events played out in a very simple, straightforward way. You don’t need much embellishment because the challenges are pretty obvious, and in fact too much would lead to a series that’s emotionally manipulative. What does a typical Japanese salaryman who works 50-hour weeks do when a 6-year old girl is suddenly set off in the middle of his life like a depth charge? What about school, what about clothes, what about work? Even with a show restricted to 11 episodes I think it was vital that these details not be glossed over, and in fact be a major focus early on.
I’m not quite sure why Rin is going to nursery school since she’s six – wouldn’t she be ready for a normal school? In any case it’s a logistical nightmare for Daikichi, who has obviously prioritized work above all else and earned a reputation as a dependable overachiever in the process. Rin is actually pretty low-maintenance as six year-olds go, but she’s still six – and for all her toughness she needs emotional support. Daikichi is surprisingly natural at this, perhaps for the same reasons he felt he had to take her home in the first place. There’s a core of quiet decency to him that not everyone in his life has seen, clearly, but it serves him well in coping with the emotional side of his new relationship.
Again, I loved the fact that the ep focused on the simple details. Like how Daikichi switched to trainers for the commute after he realized how strenuous it would be. Or the way Rin first smiled involuntarily when he arrived late to pick her up the first night, before catching herself and scowling. Daikichi is no fool – he’s smart enough to ask himself just how in hell he’s going to be able to keep up this pace. He did call his
sister cousin Haruko for advice on registering for nursery school, but it seems to me that he’s going to have to lean hard on her for support if he’s going to make it. She’s got a bratty child of her own and seems overwhelmed, but also seems to be the only other family member who really feels for Rin. And I just don’t see how he can make it on his own.
The big question is – as so often is the case with NoitaminA – what will the production team do with the 11-episode format? As always with adaptations, sacrifices will have to be made. The manga reportedly features a time jump, and a big one at that. How ambitious is Production I.G. going to try to be here, I wonder? I think the best bet is to keep the scope of things small, and present this series as a little snapshot of the lives of Daikichi and Rin. That’s the level at which it seems to work best.