Make no mistake, this was as open-ended as endings get. We didn’t get any real progress on the romance front, there were no life-changing events, and the notorious time-skip of the manga was never even referenced (I thought we might see it in the prologue, but no). This was just another episode about the joys and challenges of learning how to be a parent – a bit more reflective, perhaps, but very much in-kind with the series as a whole. Fortunately, that’s exactly the kind of ending I was hoping for, because this show does the everyday as well as any show this year, and tends to suffer a bit when it forces the action. This is how I put it last week:
I don’t think a traditional finale will work well for Usagi Drop, and I hope it goes for the lighter style of the earlier eps with an open-ended conclusion.
Obviously, it was as if I had the pipeline to Production I.G. on this one. One thing that really struck me in watching the finale was that Daikichi is a person with extraordinarily instincts. It was a tiny moment that brought it to mind – when he remembered to tell Yukari that the pudding and the little drink were from Rin, not himself. But that tiny moment was important to Rin, and his instincts told Daikichi that. As we watch him constantly being surprised by all the little things that go into being a parent – things there’s no way he could know, never having experienced it (like the little boxes for baby teeth) – we could wonder how in the world Daikichi manages it. But it’s because he’s a smart guy who has good instincts in both senses. They tell him what the best course of action is, and they push him towards doing the right thing. His instincts are both practical and morally sound, and that’s what drew he and Rin to each other in the first place.
So what Kamei Kanta and I.G. gave us in this finale were some very normal slice-of-live moments directly from the manga. Rin starting to lose her baby teeth, with Kouki having a head start. The jump-rope contest, which gave Daikichi the chance to show off his skills and his insecurities both, as he worried about his weight. It gave us some play dates with Yukari and the fathers he met at the school last time. But what it also gave us that was a little more “finale-like” was Daikichi wrestling with some self-doubt. It’s only natural that he would wonder if he’d still be as cool with totally subverting his own interests for his child’s in a few years as he was currently, as a newbie parent. His friends had no great pearls of wisdom for him – just their resigned but contented view that living for their kids was still OK by them, even if it meant they had to steal their “me” time at work, or surrender it altogether. And it seems as if Daikichi decided he was OK with it as well, with the realization that Rin’s smile was enough motivation to get him through the night. Daikichi has grown up – he’s at a place now where he can calmly give Kazumi advice about her impending marriage and the question of kids, counseling patience and self-sacrifice.
Open-ended conclusion indeed – I commend I.G. and Kamei-sensei for having the guts to avoid artificial drama and give us an ending that fit the personality of both the manga and the anime perfectly. There’s very little definite as we leave things except that Daikichi and Rin are together, Yukari and Kouki are their dear friends, and anything is possible. The traumas of puberty and adolescence are a far-off worry, with only Rin’s startling growth rate as a gentle reminder than time is indeed passing and everyone is changing. If there were ever a second season of Usagi Drop I’d certainly watch it gladly, but I’m quite content to leave things as they are, with a world of possibilities open and no limits except what the imagination will allow.