Anime Review - Usagi Drop

Based upon the eponymous manga series by by Yumi Unita, Usagi Drop (うさぎドロップ) has been turned into a feature film starring superstar Kenichi Matsuyama and also an 11 part anime series. Siren Visual have pulled off a massive coup by being the only distributor outside of Japan to release the DVD. This of course means that there is no English dub available but this should in no way, shape or form influence your decision making. In fact, I believe that the folks at Siren should be applauded for releasing a series based upon its merits regardless of whether an English version has been dubbed.

Usagi Drop is every bit as beautiful and heartfelt as its namesake. Follow on after the jump to find out more!

"At his grandfather's funeral, 30-year-old bachelor businessman Kawachi Daikichi encounters 6 year old Rin, who is shunned by his immediate family.

As he presses his relatives for information, he discovers Rin is the child of his grandfather's mistress, a secret which brought shame on their conservative family. Daikichi doesn't like children, but the cold attitude of his relatives towards her causes Daikichi to reconsider his stance and adopt Rin and raise her as if she were his own daughter. After all, she is blood...and endearingly cute! What kind of clothes to buy her? What to feed her? What to do about nursery school? Daikichi's new life raising a 6-year-old girl is an uninterrupted stream of bewilderment.

Directed by Kanta Kamei (Tales of Vasperia), Usagi Drop is based on the best-selling manga by Yumi Unita and appeared on Fuji TV's noitaminA slot in 2010 where it was met with a strong positive response."

The "Bunny Drop" manga is being released in English by Yen Press and is without a doubt one of my favourite series of recent years. This Eisner award nominated series is a wonderful "slice of life" break from boy ninja, stretchy pirates and demon slayers. There is such an incredible amount of emotion put onto the page as we follow Daikichi while he grows from bachelor to single father and so many moments of utter heartbreak and unabashed jubilation that thankfully make it into its anime incarnation. The art style closely follows that of Yumi Unita's and with Production IG at the helm you just know that the quality is going to be among the best. The subdued colour palette really emphasises the real life setting and ensures that the art doesn't detract from the characters and storyline.

Having the audio only in English is a blessing in this instance. The reactions of family and friends to Daikichi and Rin's predicament are distinctly Japanese, so having an authentic voice, a voice that understands the shock and awe at a societal level lifts the overall performances to an all new level. These voices are exactly what I envisioned in my minds eye... err... ear when reading the manga. Surprisingly, this comes from Hiroshi Tsuchida in the role of Daikichi. Tsuchida's credits include voice work in the Soul Calibur series of games and also as Lightning McQueen in the Japanese localisation of Cars so it comes as a surprise that such truthful emotion comes from his performance as Daikichi. Further to this, 10 year old Ayu Matsuura supplies the voice of Rin. Generally we get female voice actors with high pitched voices playing the role of kids but by using an actual child actor, Director Kanta Kamei (Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike) has ensured that we get a legitimately earnest and endearing performance.

The soundtrack is absolutely pitch perfect and sets the tone remarkably well. Softly layered piano backing tracks keep things light and loving. It really adds to the overall aesthetic and manages to keep things light without trivialising what, realistically, is a very serious topic. That said, it still manages to keep from being a downer. Usagi Drop is one of the most heart warming series you are likely to see. It shows the human condition and our ability to nurture in the absolute best and worst of scenarios, a delight to watch from beginning to end and a worthy successor to the source material.

Usagi Drop is available on DVD now from Siren Visual.


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