Disclaimer: I am a very disorganized human being, this can be seen in my writing, especially since Josh hasn’t edited this post (he’s too busy doing ocean related things). Therefore, I would like to apologize in advance for all run-on/verbose sentences, lack of cohesiveness, fundamental “all over the placeness”, and other random errors that will likely be found in this blog post. I’m great at editing things for other people, but when it comes to my own stuff, it tends to be a hot mess.
That being said…here’s my post!
As it’s common consensus that Usagi Drop is one of the cutest shows ever. I thought so too (until I read the second half of the Wikipedia article, which completely destroyed it for me). I’m usually not the biggest fan of slice-of-life or Josei shows, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this one. I mean I finished it in two days, which is shockingly fast for me, the queen of 1-3 episodes a day. However, in this post I’m going to be focusing on the anime and leave the creep factor that the manga provides out of this. Not that there isn’t something creepy about the premise of the anime anyway:
While attending his grandfather’s funeral, thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is surprised to discover that his grandfather had an illegitimate child with an unknown mother! The rest of his family, fearing the obligation and embarrassment, want nothing to do with the silent little girl, Rin. Sensing her imminent abandonment and outraged by his complacent family members, Daikichi decides to adopt her himself! …yet he may have underestimated the difficulty of balancing his work, family, and love life with his role as her guardian. (Synopsis courtesy of MyAnimeList.net)
I think it fair to warn you now, that although this is a happy show, this will not necessarily be a happy post. I will be talking about how idealistic the world portrayed in this show was and the fact that people tend to romanticize childhood–their own in particular. This show portrays that concept to an extreme. Anime tends to put things in the realm of fantasy or idealism, but Usagi Drop does a particularly good job of butchering reality.
Rin is an ideal child. She is remarkably well-adapted and mature in spite of the fact that she was raised by a 70 some odd year old man. Not to mention, she grew up with an absentee mother–one who creepily stuck around and pretended to be a maid, but had no positive interactions with her own child. Daikichi is a lucky, lucky man. I’m sure parents everywhere wish they had thoughtful and well-behaved children like Rin. She doesn’t throw temper tantrums, she enjoys helping around the house, and she has no difficulty assimilating to her new life with Daikichi. No wonder he is so willing to adopt her and be her guardian. If Rin had been like any normal child he would have turned directly around and returned her to his parents’ house. I mean we see Reina, Daikichi’s cousin Haruko’s daughter, running around at the funeral throwing flower petals and being a nuisance. Sure, it’s not the cutest thing ever and it’s annoying, but isn’t that the point? Yes, I understand that Rin’s father died, while for Reina it was just a distant relative, but Rin never behaves like this throughout the entire show.
Another issue that unnerved me was her lack of grief. Rin is thrown into a new household with a new guardian after her father dies and she goes from being distant and standoffish to enamored with Daikichi in a matter of a few days. A normal child would probably be freaking out and likely dragged to a child psychologist to help him/her overcome their grief and confusion with such an overwhelming situation. Rin doesn’t know anything about Daikichi other than the fact that he was nice to her at the funeral, yet she goes willingly with him and accepts him as a father figure with very little prompting. There is an overall lack of realism here seeing as most kids would probably be dragged kicking and screaming if forced to live with someone they’d never met before. She lost a parent and she barely bats an eyelash. We see her cry at the funeral, but after that, she shows very little emotion whenever her father is mentioned. She never talks about him, never asks about him, never cries over him. Rin seems to bear no resentment toward Daikichi either. She is too cognizant of the situation for a 6/7 year old child. At that age, she should be asking why over and over again until the adults around her are blue in the face from trying to explain. That’s what I would have done as a kid. I would have screamed and cried and tried to get answers to things that I couldn’t possibly understand.
Aside from being the ideal child, Rin is an ideal person as well. She is well-liked by her classmates, she is great with younger kids and knows how to keep Kouki and the other boys in line. She is a gifted artist at 7 years old and is always cheerful. Sure she’ll tease Daikichi and give him a bit of a hard time, but when it comes down to it, they never actually fight about anything. There are no hissy fits or screaming–Rin even finds a way to enjoy a tedious train ride. I challenge you to find a child that exists like this in the real world without being heavily sedated with horse tranquilizers. Kouki and the other boys running around and throwing their hats and refusing to participate in art class were much more believable characters than perfect Rin who acts much more like she’s 11 or 12 than 7. I have babysat for 7 year olds and trust me, they are far from sweet. Talk about the things I’ve heard when it’s time for bed. “I’m thirsty.” “When are Mommy and Daddy coming home?” “The one eyed one horned flying purple people-eater is coming to get me.”
This is why I can’t relate. My parents like to romanticize my childhood, saying that I was such a sweet, happy kid and what happened to me now that I’m older? (They like to think they’re funny.) I do not remember my childhood as such. I was an awkward kid. I was weird–as in you’d think I was mildly autistic if you saw some old home videos. One of those kids that you see and say “there’s something off about him/her, but I can’t quite put my finger on it”. I wasn’t popular like Rin, in fact I didn’t have any friends and those I did have, I didn’t keep for very long. However, I wasn’t just the awkward friendless kid sitting inside with the teacher during recess, nope. I simply didn’t know how to behave in general. Therefore that made me the awkward, friendless, disruptive kid. Great combination, I know. Raising my hand and paying attention were foreign concepts and I was constantly getting in trouble. I was not a sweet kid. Here’s a great story: when I was in kindergarten I sat behind this girl (I don’t remember her name) and she had this really long, pretty hair. I was so jealous. The entire year, I would surreptitiously snip at the ends of her hair with my kiddy scissors. As luck would have it, she never noticed–to this day I don’t know how.
While most kids don’t misbehave to such an extreme, I’d say that most kids are much more like Kouki and Reina than Rin. Most kids don’t listen to their parents unless either some incentive or the threat of punishment is involved. Children scream, yell, and throw things when they don’t get their way. They like eat play-dough and stick things up their noses because they think it’s funny. I know what I’m saying is obvious, but Usagi Drop somehow makes you forget what normal childhood behavior entails to the point that you get easily annoyed with the children who behave in a realistic way (Reina and Kouki). It’s only once you finish the show that you think “oh wait, children don’t actually behave like Rin.” Kids aren’t well behaved, especially not at 7 years old. Asking them to act like Rin is like asking Josh to not wear his orange jacket. I mean I was probably worse than most–the vice principal and I were on a first name basis, but that makes me the anomaly, not the rule.
Another reason I can’t relate is the fact that I was raised by both my parents. I don’t know what it’s like to come from a single-parent household. It’s ironic because as I was growing up I didn’t have any friends with parents who were divorced or who only had one parent for various other reasons. Now that I’m older, I don’t have any friends (in my hometown), but most of the parents of the people I used to be friends with are divorced. I can only imagine that it is an extremely different environment having only one parent to nag you to do things or having only one person to go to for advice. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I know that I can’t fully understand what it’s like because I spent my entire life with a mom and a dad in the same house as me. This show predominantly showcased single parenting with Daikichi and Yukari (Kouki’s mom) being the main parental figures. Even Haruko, was essentially a single parent since her husband was never around and took no role in taking care of their daughter Reina. This being the case, I don’t have enough experience with this style of family to fully understand it.
Then there is the matter of Daikichi–he gives up his career for a girl he’s known for a month. After I was born, my mom hired a nanny and went back to work full-time. Yes, taking care of children is important, but this show made it seem like there was virtually no resentment about having to juggle both children and a job. One line that struck me particularly was when Daikichi asked the other parents if they missed their “me time” and Yukari responds that going to work is her “me time” as is taking care of Kouki. I call total bullshit on both of those. I work, albeit in retail, and I sure as hell would not call that “me time”. Obviously I do not have children, but if my parents are any indication, they like to go on long weekends without me and my siblings in order to get “me time”. In my world, “me time” is sitting on my butt watching anime or going to the kitchen to bake cookies. Essentially things that I enjoy doing by myself or with a select individual. If and when I have kids, I seriously doubt that anything involving them will provide me with a personal outlet.
I guess the point of this post is: I can’t relate to this show. I know there are some people who can relate to certain aspects mainly either being raised by a single parent or being a single parent themselves. However, being a socially-awkward child, behaviorally problematic from a nuclear family I cannot claim any true connection with the situations or characters in Usagi Drop. Not to mention, that if Rin and I were classmates, she would probably try to become friends with me and seven year old me would probably just cut all her hair off.
*On a side note, I thought I might add that while I was a terrible child, you wouldn’t be able to tell at all if you met me now. Josh can attest to the fact that I am actually a very well behaved human being. I can also provide other character witnesses if you don’t believe me haha.