Yes, the anime Usagi Drop is based on a manga that is made up of nothing but pure, unadulterated, exploitative josei ideals. Josei (for those not in the know, and I was one of you until I just looked it up myself) is a more "mature" (and I use that term very lightly) form of shoujo. Josei comics are more "realistic" comics aimed at women as opposed to the typical catty, stupid, whiny, high-school-based shoujo-themed stuff which is aimed at the typical catty, stupid, whiny pre-teen and teenage girl. Usagi Drop was first a manga that revelled in the unmanly story about a 30 year-old bachelor who takes in a 6 year-old child and learns just how hard it is to be a single parent in modern Japan (a job typically reserved for housewives turned office ladies who forced their hard-working husbands to choose between them and their hot mistresses, and who always lost). You can just FEEL the women readers nodding their heads in approval as they read every chapter and saw all the stuff that bewildered or flummoxed the main character that they themselves learned long ago.
Okay, so it's josei... Does that automatically mean that Usagi Drop the anime sucks? Typically I'd emphatically say "Hell yes, of course it does," but I actually gave the show a chance, and what can I say, it totally won me over. Now, I had previously tried to read the manga a long time ago when it first started making noise in the fan community, but I just could not get over the shitty art (filled with no background details, and the most heinous character designs outside of the original Sailor Moon manga [with super elongated limbs and fingers that looked like they were modeled on Jack Skellington]). It wasn't until I saw snippets of the anime and thought that the art style and character designs were improved over 150% from the source material (thank you, Studio Production I.G.!) that I decided to take the final plunge and watch it. When I did I ended up blasting through this short 11 episode series in two evenings after work. You seriously can't stop once you pop the Drop.
So Usagi Drop goes a little something like this: 30 year-old, hard-working bachelor Daikichi goes back to his home town to attend his grandfather's funeral. While there, he finds out that his now deceased ancient grandpa left behind a 6 year-old illegitimate daughter named Rin. Way to go, Pee-Paw!
The main problem with this is that nobody in the small family previously knew about, or now wants to take the quiet, but cute, girl in after Grandpa's death. After listening to his relatives bicker for a while over how shameful the child is to their group, Daikichi gets pissed and declares that he'll take her in, not realizing just what parenthood is really all about. Everyone's astonished at his initiative, but in the end they don't believe that he's got it in him to become a father, so they just laugh it off and pretty much tell him "let us know when you plan to drop her off at the orphanage, and we'll come over to say good-bye!".
So somber workaholic Daikichi takes the wide-eyed little girl, named Rin, home with him, and almost immediately realizes that he's in way over his silly-goose head. Little things like buying her new clothes, cooking, and getting her to day care almost end up breaking him. (You can almost HEAR the working mothers of Japan grinning in satisfaction as they watch the show and relish the fact that a fictional male character is suffering trials that were previously only dealt with by them.) But Daikichi realizes early on that all his overtime work isn't worth the strain it's putting on him and Rin, and so he asks to be demoted to the shipping docks of his company so that he can have more time to take care of his new daughter.
Soon Daikichi makes friends with the single mother of one of Rin's day care friends, and Kouki (Rin's playmate) and Yukari (Kouki's hot mom) join the story as regular characters. Yukari helps Daikichi when Rin gets sick (and he completely freaks out and has no idea what to do), and Daikichi takes care of Kouki like he were an adoptive father for the boy, and together they become a sort of Japanesey, irregular, Brady Bunch — only with 100% less broken noses due to flying footballs, and no Tiki statues plaguing their clan with the anger of the ancient gods. Good times had by all.
That's pretty much the plot of the whole thing — it's just a "slice-of-life" (*gag!* I hate that term, but there it is) story where we watch Daikichi struggle with raising his new daughter, and then realize that there's more to life than just work, eat, sleep, work, drink, eat, sleep, drink, drink, sleep, work, drink, weekend. I don't get it, but apparently that's the lesson of the show.
The thing that truly made me love Usagi Drop though (and oh yes, I loved the sugar-coated shit out of it) is the character of Rin. Rin IS a real little girl. It's like they followed my 5 year-old niece around for a year and recorded everything she did. Rin is one of the most absolutely adorable kid characters ever made (right up there with Ergo Proxy's Pino). She's cute, she's smart (for her age), she's independent, and yet she's fragile. Your heart (even if you're a MANLY man and have a heart of goddamn steel and stone) will break when she thinks Daikichi's going to leave her forever, you will tear up when you find out she's so emotionally scarred with the pain of loss and abandonment that she wets the bed at night, and you'll find yourself smiling despite your best efforts when Rin grins a huge grin after losing her front teeth. You will not be able to help yourself. Usagi Drop really exists for one purpose: to make you want to run out and adopt a little girl of your own so that you have as much fun and be as much loved as Daikichi is. And so, that's just what I did.
As soon as I finished up the final episode I ran over to the local orphanage and asked to see the cutest little girls that they had in stock... That got me a lot of questioning looks, but they were overcrowded like San Quentin and so they let me take a look at all their lil' prisoners. I picked the cutest 6 year-old who looked the closest to the anime version of Rin, renamed her "Rin," took her home, and started recreating my own personal Usagi Drop (which I called "Rossgirl Drop"©®) for my own entertainment.
First I took her clothes shopping, and I made sure we had fun holding up clothes and running around the store like goofy crazy people. I was so proud of her when we got home and found out that she shoplifted 3 tees, a pair of jeans, and a pair of Keds... I had to give her a 'panking though when I found out that none of them were in her size... Ugh, kids. Then I snuck into my neighbor's yard and dug up a nice little maple tree that looked to be about 6 years-old, and planted that sucker in my yard as a commemorative tree for my Rin's birth (whenever the hell that was... Those orphanarium nuns kicked me out pretty quickly when I chose my Rin, and they didn't even give me a receipt or any paperwork). Though when I came back outside after looking for a jump-rope (so that I could teach her how to rock it like a champ and win any jump-rope competitions that might come her way), I found that she had wrapped toilet paper around her birth tree, sprinkled it with gasoline from my lawn mower, and lit it up like the firebombing of Tokyo during WWII! I thought the effect was cool, but the fact that she waited to do it AFTER I spent all that time digging it up and transplanting it to my yard pissed me off. Why couldn't she have done that when it was still on my neighbor's property?!
I took Rin back to the orphanage (when I couldn't get that pyro-gleam in her eye to go away, and after I found those 4 dead and gutted cats she put in the back seat of my car) and tried to return her, but the nuns just threw holy water at us, kept yelling "the power of Christ compels you!" and chased us away. So I did what Daikichi probably would have done had HIS Rin been a sadistic little cunt instead of the sweet little gumdrop of a saint that she was: I donated her body to Dr. Dave to dissect and use in his experiments in finding "True, Pure Evil."
I think we all learned a little something from all that, and in the end we were all a little bit happier for it. I'm going in for my vasectomy on Monday.
I have not seen the show in question, but if it somehow convinced the Rossman to contribute to my Evil Collection Program then I heartily endorse it.
THIS. WAS. THE. CUTEST. SHOW. EVERRRRRRRRR! I just simply cannot believe that my brother — the guy who loves Godzilla and pornography with gunplay involved — actually liked this show too! Is that one of the seven signs? Is he really a woman? Does he have an illegitimate child hiding out there somewhere and he thinks watching fluffy stuff like this will help bring them both together?..... Is he just messing with me?...... Is this show really about something darker, more sinister, possibly perverted? OMG... This is a Japanese anime, right? I bet you that adopted daughter ends up marrying her dad in the end. Jesus Christ, I'm right, aren't I? Nothing non-perverted comes out of Japan. Ever. *Sigh* I knew it was too good to be true.