When 30-year-old Daikichi returns home for his grandfather's funeral he meets an unfamiliar child in the garden. His mother explains that Rin is his grandfather's illegitimate daughter by an unknown mother. The girl is an embarrassment to all his relatives and nobody wants to take her in because of the scandal. Annoyed by their attitude, Daikichi decides to take care of Rin himself, even though he is single and has no experience raising a child.
Usagi Drop was published in English as Bunny Drop by Yen Press from March 23, 2010 to April 22, 2014, which became a candidate for the 2011 Eisner Award in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia category.
Warning: Massive ending spoilers ahead. I'm very sorry but that 6 up there can't be properly explained without delving deep into spoiler territory.
I wish Usagi Drop had 2 separate entries, one being the start and one everything after the time-skip, starting in chapter 26. It's for one very simple reason. Usagi Drop is a prime example of how a great concept can still run off the rails badly. It's a masterclass in turning what starts as a warm, cute and fuzzy story into a catastrophic failure of a 'romantic' drama.
The gist of the premise is that Daikichi (a man who couldn't more obviously be unhappy
and feeling unfulfilled unless he stuck a neon sign on his face) takes a 6 year old girl, Rin, into his house for the sole reason that everyone else either hates her or straight up doesn't care for her. And it's not hard to see where this goes. A man with no experience with children now has to take care of one with the comedic hijinks that ensue. During that time, we see Daikichi and Rin grow as characters as we learn more about them, who they are and their relationship. I'll be honest, the first part of Usagi Drop is one of the best and most enjoyable things I've ever read. It's just sweet enough to tug your heart strings and make you feel great but also sincere enough to show the problems Rin and Daikichi cope with. I was ready to give this a good solid 9, maybe even a 10!
Now, those of you who have seen the anime or the live-action movie might notice there's a considerable amount of material that wasn't adapted. There's a reason for that.
The great part about having one person both writing and illustrating a manga is that you have synergy. Who else can better convey their thoughts, mental images and general ideas to paper than the writer themselves? The problem that comes from it is that there's no second person to openly doubt your decisions and no manga is a better example than this. I'm not sure what Yumi Unita was thinking but I hope she realizes how poorly it worked out.
In chapter 26, we leap forward about 10 years. Rin is in high school and Daikichi is 40, having to deal with the appropriate issues. Already this brings up some headscratchers, such as how both of our protagonists still hang out with the exact same people they did 10 years ago with no new additions. One of two bigger problems is a shift in tone that is about as smooth and fluid as trying to walk while both your legs are asleep. Gone is the happy heartwarming slice of life, in comes an unnecessarily angsty and gloomy 'romantic' drama. Everything is a lot darker for no adequately explained reason other than some cardinal rule that anything involving teenage characters must be existential, dark or depressing.
No, the biggest problem of all is that the second part builds up to an almost gutpunchingly disturbing conclusion.
Part of the second part involves Rin dealing with her relationship with Daikichi getting more....complicated. Her feelings for him get out of the comfy wholesome foster parent/daughter zone and instead the considerably ickier kind. It's just as disturbing and just as well-executed as you'd expect. After an ass-pull 'but they're not really blood-related' card (on the level of SAO episode 14), Rin decides she wants to marry Daikichi and he goes along with it. Oh boy, where do we begin?
Let's start with the fact that at its very core, this is still creepily close to parental incest. For all intents and purposes, these 2 had a father/daughter relationship for the last 10 years and now she's genuinely in love with him. There's also a distinct lack of consequence shown. There's one character who's ever made aware of her attraction and, no joke, she encourages Rin to go along with it. But there's another layer of disturbing that you might not pick up on the first time. Hell, you might not pick up on it until a good while later. Namely, Daikichi just rolls with it. There's no real shock, no real contemplation to speak of, he listens to her and accepts it. On the surface, it's bad writing. Underneath, it's worse. Disregarding for a moment that this is quite clearly an action of impulse, since his feelings for Rin have always been parental and it was never really hinted that it was more. What we have is a man who's more concerned with the age difference than with the fact that he raised her as his daughter. A man who has no qualms doing so. A man who, I swear I wish I was making this up, is okay with her carrying his child and raising it. A man who's just plain given up on a proper relationship.
A man who by all rights shouldn't be in one because he isn't fit for one.
The first part of Usagi Drop is a 9 or a 10 for me without a doubt. It's well-crafted and heartwarming to see these 2 misfits grow on each other. The second part is disgusting in every way. The change of tone, the ending, how it plays out, the implications it carries, it's nothing short of insulting your readers.
If you want to read this, by all means do so. Sounding like a broken record but the first part is excellent. I highly suggest you finish chapter 24 and stop there. Because unless you're into poorly written, poorly executed semi-incest, there's just nothing for you there.
Never before have I read a manga that felt so different throughout the whole reading process. Really, if it were anime, I would think that after the first part the creators ran out of original material and decided to improvise from that point on to the very end. But of course, it is not so: ‘Usagi Drop’ is a manga created by one person, Yumi Unita, and surely as an author she has every right to do anything she considers necessary in terms of a story and plot development – but I have to admit, her vision is a rather strange one.
As you may know,
‘Usagi Drop’ is clearly divided into two parts – the first one covers the first four volumes (ch.01-24), while the second one consists of the later chapters. Well, first things first, so here’s the summary of the first part. It tells us a story of a 30-year-old Daikichi and 6-year-old Rin, who is the illegitimate father of Daikichi’s grandfather (and therefore Daikichi’s aunt) and who has been nearly abandoned by the family after her father’s(grandfather’s) death if not for Daikichi, who decided to take care of her. And so, the life full of hardships begins for a 30-year-old bachelor.
I can’t give enough accolades for the first part. It is cute, adorable, nice, soothing, mellow, but at the same time very realistic, philosophical, thought-provoking, melancholic, sometimes bitter. We get to see how Rin grows, but most importantly – how Daikichi’s viewpoint on life changes, how he approaches problems differently now that he has someone to take care of, how he sees many people in the other light, how he thinks of things he has never thought of before etc. To put it simply, it’s just wonderful and deserves the highest mark possible.
But then, the chapter 24 ends, and… Well, I don’t want to spoil you anything, but if you expect more of the same, then I suggest you stop reading right there. Because things take a sudden and unexpected turn and the closer to the end, the more drastic changes become.
While reading through the second part, I’ve been constantly wondering – ‘Is it really ‘Usagi Drop’ that I‘m reading?’ – the only thing that reminded me of it was the drawing style. You can argue that major changes aren’t always a bad thing. ‘Yes, the first part was wonderful, but the second one was awesome too, though in a completely different way’ – you can say. But that is not in our case – yes, the second part centers around Rin and her feelings, and that can be considered positive – but the execution of this idea was far from perfect. What I mean is that characters start to lack motivation in their actions, making the story incomprehensible at times. Really, if the first part was well thought-out, later for a while I couldn’t tell where the story goes, why certain characters make strange decisions, have awkward feelings, why the new storylines are introduced etc. – what was it all for?
To tell you the truth, a few chapters before the end I had no idea what a conclusion would be. But then I understood. I understood everything (well, maybe, not everything, but why the second part was necessary). Yes, there was a plot twist. And it was HUGE. As for me, I have a very broad interest in manga and I appreciate every genre, so I don’t mind mature stuff – and really, I didn’t find the end to be that disturbing – but it’s completely unexpected. You see, when you are reading Jiro Matsumoto or Shintaro Kago, you know what you’re going to find there – so you aren’t surprised when you encounter something weird. But here it comes as a complete shock, so be warned. Clearly, the manga shouldn’t have ended the way it did.
The additional volume softens things quite a bit - that is, it helps the reader to overcome the state of shock(if there was any, of course, as I'm sure many were prepared for something unexpected if they were reading on the Internet) - but really, it offers next to nothing important, as only one story happens after the actual manga end(and even in that story there is little new material). The rest are just backstories, which are nice, but not something significant. Still, I think that this volume is necessary, because it offers a smoother ending than the previous volume's abrupt one. Other than that, it has no real meaning.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that ‘Usagi Drop’ is a certainly unique manga in more ways than one – though personally I would be happy if after the unique first part we didn’t have a ‘uniquely strange’ second arc. Definitely, this manga is not for everyone and if you decided to read, be prepared for everything – there’s much more to it than it seems at the first glance.
All in all, ‘Usagi Drop’ can serve as a prime example of characters becoming independent from their creator – as long as they lived their own life how they wanted, everything was great. But unfortunately, mangaka didn’t allow them much freedom and forced them to do what she wanted to. And that’s a shame, really.
This story should have been a 9 or 10 overall. However its time skip destroyed everything that made this manga so enduring.
WARNING!! Spoilers ahead.
It isn't possible to discuss why this gets such a bad score without delving into spoilers.
The first 25 chapters were brilliant they were heartwarming and enduring. They brought out all of the good feelings you could possibly want from it and they were golden. A solid 9 even 10.
They were all focused on Rin and Daikichii becoming a family and the struggle of raising a child as a single "parent" and the finding the joy that a child could bring to your
For Daikichi, Rin was basically his saving grace as he had nothing in his life. He was 30 years old, working the same job for 9 years, living only for himself and wasting his money on drinking and doing nothing but going through the daily motions of life. Rin saved him from that, she gave him a purpose to start living his life for something other than himself and as much as he needed her, she needed him more.
A 6 year old abandoned in the world with no parents. The family members who gathered around for the grandfather's funeral all rejected her and the "embarrassment" that she represented as an "illegitimate" child to a 79 year old man who is no gone from the world. Daikichi saved her from being thrown into a world of upheaval and gave her a stable life and became her parent to support her on her path to adulthood.
Those first 25 chapters were amazing to read, the bond between Daikichi and Rin, it was so enduring to your heart.
However it all goes downhill starting with chapter 26.
Chapter 26. A time skip of 10 years takes place and we jump forward to Rin's 1st year of high school and right before her 16th birthday.
The inclusion of a time skip baffles me. The story before was great in the direction it was headed. The bond between Daikichi and Rin was ever growing, there was a chance of romance between Daikichi and Yukari (Kouki's mother). It had all the makings of a heartwarming story of a child being saved who had no parents. Of gaining a father and even a mother.
The thing that made it so great was the innocence involved in all of it.
However the author chose to do a time skip and we're left with the jumbled mess that is made.
From there story evolves into a darker coloring, relationships and friends have barely changed. There is hardly any inclusion of any new characters and older characters are almost entirely removed from the story only to have a few thrown back in again right at the very end.
It's understandable that there will be conflicts and a darker tone during ones teenage years however the implementation of this darker tone and route was poorly implemented by the author.
At this point in the story Kouki and Rin are portrayed as love interests, but an item that well never occur due to Kouki's poor decisions.
The author throws Kouki into this new role of a guy who is looking for love from Rin, but well never achieve it. Due to his "bad boy" streak during middle school and is now a reformed good boy who has woken up.
This is poorly implemented and just a mess of story writing as we learn about what happened during little flashback scenes that are spaced throughout the remaining chapters.
The only reason I mention this bit of spoiler is, because it is the catalyst that leads to the true catastrophe of the story.
After giving up on ever letting herself love Kouki again Rin begins to move forward with her feelings. However the author has trapped her in a box. A box that is "self" made as the only boys she's ever been involved with were Kouki and Daikichi. As she begins to explore her feelings she ends up deciding that she is in love with Daikichi. The man who raised from 6 years old.
As it goes it begins questioning the boundary of what is and what isn't allowed. How far can she go with her feelings that is acceptable. In a climatic conclusion to her feelings for Daikichi a very poorly implemented excuse of that they aren't blood related is revealed. That Daikichi knew this ever since reading his grandfather's will that he found in Rin's parental booklet back when he first took her in.
From there it evolves into Daikichi not even having the capability to reject Rin's feelings for him and accepting them instead.
In a final chance to try and change her opinion Daikichi makes the deal to make her wait 2 years so she finishes high school and if she finds another boy to love during that time then she must give up her feelings for him of love.
The story writing throughout this is so bad compared to the first 25 chapters.
Rin went from being a lovable little girl that one could sympathize with. To a teenager that has never tried to get close to other people. She's blocked herself off from ever finding other people as her whole world is just her and Daikichi and on occasion Kouki her childhood best friend and Reina. Who in the story is basically the equivalent of a cousin to Rin.
Rin wasn't part of any school club or activities even though she didn't lack talent. The world created for her was just her and Daikichi. In this environment it is basically forced upon the readers that the only conclusion for her is to be with Daikichi forever.
Rin in this state ignores the feelings of Daikichi completely, forcing him into a position of accepting her feelings through a poorly written explanation that they're aren't blood related even through he raised her.
Any proper figure in Daikichi's position who has raised a child is only looking for the best opportunity for they're child and to provide them with whatever they need in order to succeed. Rin completely ignores these feelings of a loving father only focused on what she wants in the end.
The story almost completely writes out Yukari and Daikichi's cousin Haruko is completely wiped except for being mention.
As a final mention it haphazardly brings back Sayaka and Nobu in the final chapter after writing them completely out since the day back in the park during the jump roping practice.
This story was amazing for 25 chapters. After that is was destroyed due to poor story planning, poor writing, haphazard character development, and the destruction of and haphazard return of old characters.
This story had so much going for it. There was plenty of material to go with, without doing a time skip. It crushed the roots of its story and its very sad to see that.
This is a prime example of how a good story can be destroyed so easily.
I love the first half,easily a 10/10 for me when it comes to slice of life...Then the second happened and suddenly,this enjoyable series became painful to read. Everything turns depressing,relationships are messed up and honestly what kind of audience was author going for? Pedobears? Those are the only type of people I can imagine who would read the first half hoping for the ending that happened at the end.
The reason i give it a 6 is because despite the messed up second half, I still enjoyed the first half and giving it anything less than 5 would be a
not being true to the first half of the series.
Now is the time of year when family members from both near and far gather to reconnect. This goes for anime family members as well. Check out this list of 15 of the most memorable anime families out there, who have gathered just in time for the holidays! Just remember, every anime is different...