July 8, 2011

Usagi Drop Pilot: Single Parenthood

Posted in Usagi Drop tagged , , , at 9:33 pm by meotwister5

Being a parent, of even the more mild form of “guardian”, is harder than it looks.  I’m not a parent and I don’t expect to be one for a long, long time, and as such I doubt I’d be prepared for the responsibilities that come with it any time soon.  Some say you learn on the job, some also say each person is born with some instinctive parenting skills, but it would be a bald faced lie when someone claims parenting is easy.  Much more if you’re single, and much more if it happens almost on a whim.

Daikichi, waking up the next day, is about to learn just how heavy his new responsibility is.

The story begins with Daikichi calmly telling us that his maternal grandfather is dead.  He’s on his way to his home town to meet his relatives and of course attend the wake of his grandfather.  When he arrives home he sees a little girl up and around the house, which he mistakes for his niece.  It’s only inside that he learns that the little girl, Rin, isn’t his niece but his… well his aunt.  His grandfather’s daughter from another woman  it seems.

When the shock subsides the episode goes on like any family at a wake goes, and when we see the family council start, we finally get to see how big an issue a child out of wedlock is.  No one is willing to take in the quiet, slightly antisocial child of their relative that no one knew ever existed.  Out of everyone else in the room, it was the one who was least prepared and least experienced in the matter to give this girl a home.  It’s only in the morning after that Daikichi realizes that he’s now living with his aunt.

Characters being voiced by someone in their relative age range is usually a rarity in anime, where it’s usually women who voice children, so hearing a child character being voiced by an actual child voice actor could be considered a treat.  On one hand, that sense of authenticity is there as a child is being voiced by someone who is experiencing an age very much similar to the ones they voice.  They sound and act more natural than their older colleagues.  On the other, they don’t hold that same level of experience and skill that professionals do, so that authenticity may not translate as well as one wants to.

But like Wandering Son,  fortunately, for what little lines Rin has she sounds and acts exactly how I think an introverted little girl who is a stranger in her family’s house would act.  The VA is only 9 years old, and she brings her age through Rin’s character.  As I said in the PV Rin sounds exactly as I thought she would, and the episode showed it.  Kudos to both her and the mangaka.

Comments that the setting suggests lolita-esque ideas would be insulting if the stereotyped anime trends weren’t actually valid to some extent.  Fortunately for us the moment I read/heard Daikichi say at the end that she’s his aunt, we already know beyond a reasonable doubt that he is has a good head on his shoulders.  His shoulders may be completely unprepared for the task that faces him, but hey no one ever is.  He hasn’t realized it all yet of course, but when she woke him up that morning after it’s already running through his head that he’s unofficially adopted a young child.  He is in ways different from his relatives who themselves make all sorts of excuses to not take her in, when in fact they are the one most experienced in raising a child.  It fell on the shoulders of the one who has little or no idea what child rearing is to give this girl that no one else wants a home.

Daikichi may have been impulsive, but in the end he did what was right for Rin, and you must give him props for that.

A child-rearing manga story might be everyone’s cup of tea worthy of their time, but NoitaminA covers a lot of subjects.  The similarities to Aizhiteruze Baby is almost immediately evident for those who have ever seen that series, the difference of course is that Daikichi is a 30 year old salaryman and Kippei was a high schooler.  There is perhaps a better sense of realism in this story as opposed to someone being adopted by their high schooler cousin.  The focus as presented by the first episode is of course the same, that is the difficulties to be faced by the one who is put into a position of caregiving that they are not fully prepared for.  Daikichi is of course a working man of age so there is a bit more father-daughter bonding sense to be felt in this tale.  Not too much drama, not too much comedy (if there is any), and the simple story telling presents a no-frills, simple tale of a 30-something man who has taken the choice to adopt a young child.

Part of my manga bias is speaking as usual, but like other shows bearing a simple tale, a simple presentation is enough to get the tale across.  Sometimes having so many bonuses and extras take away from the experience of the story.  No-frills anime series does not equate to being boring.  This show should be proof of that.


1 Comment »

  1. great review

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