It’s very easy for people to equate manga and anime to a very limited scope: characters with big, shiny eyes and impossibly small noses dealing with issues such as long-lost loves reincarnated, evil organizations bent on domination, magical transformations, and everything under the sun that screams out-of-this-world fantasy. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it really doesn’t do justice to the wide range of subject matter that manga covers. One such example is Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita. The story revolves around Daikichi, a 30-year-old single man. When his grandfather passes, he and his family are shocked to discover that Daikichi’s grandfather had a love child–a 6-year-old girl named Rin–with a young woman who is nowhere to be found. Ashamed of what the grandfather has done, no one in the family is willing to take in Rin and so, Daikichi rashly decides to take care of her himself. Of course, as a man who has never taken care of a kid, Daikichi has a lot to learn.
After reading multiple raving reviews on the manga Bunny Drop, I was happy to see that the anime based off of it was going to be added to Crunchyroll.com’s anime lineup (under the name Usagi Drop) and it has not disappointed me so far.
This story is sweet, but has also managed to bring up some very modern and thoughtful issues related to parenthood so far. Obviously, it brings up single men raising children. Stories featuring dads raising kids singlehandedly are not new, but the way Bunny Drop is handling it comes off very well and is one of the best depictions of this type of scenario I’ve seen; just like real parents, Daikichi is realistically clueless about parenting and has to figure it all as he goes. Moreover, because he’s single, Daikichi has to handle everything from clothes shopping to bedwetting on his own–no help from a girlfriend or wife. This leads to cute moments like Rin asking Daikichi to do her hair up in pigtails as well as more serious but also heartwarming situations relating to Rin’s family situation.
Interestingly enough, Bunny Drop shows how similar being a single dad is to being a mom, married or not. It brings up equally important and neglected issues relating to mothers and single fathers. After Daikichi takes in Rin he realizes that he can no longer work the long hours at his company that he used to. Upon realizing this, he remembers a former colleague who requested to be demoted to a position that had more consistent hours so that she could spend more time with her new child. In the same episode, Daikichi is told that his own mother was essentially kicked out of her job after she took a maternity leave. Thus, in one fell swoop, Bunny Drop brings up real issues that affect working single fathers and single or married mothers. Because Daikichi is a single dad, he discovers issues that mothers often deal with such as working and taking care of a kid. At the same time, we realize that single dads might have similar issues.
Not only does it realistically portray a single man trying to adapt and become a parent to a child, but Bunny Drop seems to be showing that not all women are born to become excellent mothers. At a point, Daikichi starts to wonder if it would be good to get Rin’s real mom involved in her life. Here readers/watchers are introduced with a young woman who is by no means wicked, but simply and honestly uninterested in becoming a mother. She realized that having a child was not for her and only had Rin at Daikichi’s grandfather’s insistence. I like that Unita is delving into this. Rin’s mother is presented as the tiniest bit odd, she is not vilified but depicted as just another human being trying to figure things out in life, just like Daikichi. I like to think it’s growing less common, but I think there are still people out there that expect girls to dream of marriage and babies even the girls themselves. The expectation is the problem because not everyone dreams of that. I’m looking forward to seeing if/where Unita takes this part of the story.
Marriage is not depicted as happily ever after, either. So far in the anime, there are two characters who represent this; Rin’s classmate’s mother, a woman who is divorced and raising her child on her own and Daikichi’s cousin Haruko who is in an unhappy marriage, but must also consider her young daughter’s feelings. The story manages these realistic scenarios well as it takes them seriously but the show never feels depressing, but rather an honest depiction of people just trying to figure things out.
In the end, Bunny Drop shows us parenthood is no picnic, but as we watch Daikichi, Rin, and all the other characters going through their day-to-day lives, it’s hard not to feel touched by the warm atmosphere Yumi Unita has created in Bunny Drop. It’s thought-provoking and an enjoyable ride so, if you haven’t read or watched it yet, I recommend checking it out. I’m going to leave you with an exert from the manga of when Daikichi tried to do those pigtails for Rin.