Friday, 8 July 2011

Usagi Drop - Episode 1

I feel like perhaps the only person alive (well, at least the only anime fan alive) who has read not a single page if the original Bunny Drop manga, but nonetheless its reputation precedes it sufficiently enough for me to pick it up as part of my selection of summer 2010 delights.

The show's story as it stands within this opening instalment of the series is simple enough - single, thirty year-old Daikichi Kawachi finds himself called to the funeral of his grandfather on his mother's side, only to find an errant yet quiet and sullen kid running around the place.  Despite the fact that his grandfather died at the age of seventy-nine, it appears (rather impressively, if you ask me) that the little girl in question is in fact said grandfather's illegitimate child.

Given the girl's rather awkward family status, it isn't really surprising to find that she's set aside as something of a pariah for the family - despite her being as good as gold the entire time, there's no praise or even conversation forthcoming in her direction, just whispered accusations and questions as to her parentage.  This seems to be a feeling that Daikichi recognises himself, as he doesn't exactly seem to command much respect from his fellow family members - his sister in particular can barely contain her constant annoyance at him, while he fares little better with his mother.  Thus, we have ourselves two kindred spirits who somehow gravitate towards one another during the course of funeral preparations and the send-off of Daikichi's grandfather, and as the question inevitably turns to who is going to look after young Rin (for that is the girl's name), Daikich's frustration boils over into him taking her into his charge himself.  Is this a good idea or not?  That'll be one for the rest of the series to handle.

Although its simplistic art style is a bit off-putting for a newcomer to the series (and yes, I realise it's taking its cues from the manga), there's no doubting the ability of Usagi Drop's opening to stir the emotions - its a subtle yet touching introduction to the two main characters and their circumstances that manages to speak volumes with only minimal words spoken.  It's an impressive feat that bodes well for the rest of the series, leaving us instantly rooting for this unlikely duo of surrogate father and lonely child before the first episode is even done - it's enough to leave me wanting more already, and as enjoyable opening episodes that both entertain and stir your heart I doubt this series will be beaten this summer.

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