[Manga Mondays] Usagi Drop
Title: Usagi Drop (Bunny Drop)
Author: Yumi Unita (Story & Art)
Genres: Josei, Slice of Life, Comedy-Drama
Published: 2005 – 2011 (magazine); 2010 – 2014 (manga) [Complete]
Japanese Publisher: Feel Good magazine (original run); Shodensha (tankoubon format)
English Publisher: Yen Press
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Amazon / Indigo / Barnes & Noble)
This week I wanted to introduce Usagi Drop. It is another series from my shortlist of all-time favourite manga.
Usagi Drop is like nothing else I have read before. It centers around a single thirty year old bachelor named Daikichi, whose grandfather one day passes away. At the wake Daikichi meets Rin, a five year old girl who is apparently his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. When the rest of his family shuns Rin out of shame and embarrassment, Daikichi gets pissed off and steps up to take care of Rin. The series explores his sudden transition from a workaholic bachelor to a single father. Along the way Daikichi learns how to balance childcare and daycare, gets parenting tips from his coworkers, finds Rin’s birth mother, and deal with the changes in his relationship with Rin as they both get older. Initially Usagi Drop is very much a child-centered series, with many of the plots revolving around topics like fatherhood and issues at school. In later volumes, the series becomes more about changes in friendships and relationships, and life beyond high school.
There have been both an anime and a live-action film created based off the manga, but while I can’t speak for the live-action film because I haven’t seen it, the anime primarily differs from the manga in that the anime only covers up to volume four.
Why is this? Well, the manga is part of the josei genre for a reason, let me put it that way. If you’ve read a wide variety of manga, or seen anime from many different genres, you may have noticed that certain trends or topics are not considered as taboo in Japan as they are in the West. (Anyone else remember the teacher from Card Captor Sakura who was in a relationship with Sakura’s friend Rika in the manga?! (┛◉Д◉)┛彡┻━┻ ) And from volume five onwards, starting when Rin is a fifteen year old high school student, certain events happen towards the end of the series which not all readers may be comfortable with.
Indeed if one reads the Amazon reviews for the last 2-3 volumes of the manga, they will see that many readers are turned off of the chain of events which sum up the final three volumes of the manga. I personally do not mind this plot twist; in fact it can be debated that my second-favourite series, Saiunkoku Monogatari, has a similar situation with two of its characters. But to each their own, right?
So if readers choose to read Usagi Drop, because of the way the series is structured they have the option of stopping partway through the series without feeling like they’re missing much of the content. One can either read the first few volumes of Usagi Drop and enjoy the tales of child!Rin and Daikichi (as the anime portrays), or they can read the series through to its end.
The art style of the manga is rather simplistic, but I think that gives the series a certain amount of charm. It’s easy to read and it can make some things like facial expressions and body movements rather comical. The flip side is that this style can sometimes appear a little rough or hurried.
Between the art and the story arcs themselves, I found myself really caring about the characters and what happened to them, which is a mark of a really good series in my book. Above all else, to me this series is about family and people finding their way to one another through unconventional means.
My Score: 9/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: Yes, though I’d recommend it to readers who consider themselves open-minded or able to deal with more mature content, just to be on the safe side. I will say that prior to reading this series, I hadn’t bought actual physical copies of a manga in a long time, and I enjoyed Usagi Drop enough that it made me brave buying something from Amazon for the first time. It’s just that good. Overall it’s a cute series, and the parent-child relationship between Daikichi and Rin will warm your heart.