I am watching Usagi Drop / Bunny Drop on DVD. NIS America was having a sale, and since I enjoyed Poco’s Udon World, Usagi Drop was a recommendation I kept seeing. I’m very glad I bought it! It’s such a heartwarming anime.
Daikichi Kawachi’s grandfather has passed away. Unknown to the rest of the family, he’d been raising a little girl as his own. Her name is Rin Kaga. While the rest of the family argues over what to do with the little girl, the one they didn’t know about, Daikichi asks her directly if she’d like to live with him. He reminds her very much of her beloved father figure, and they bond instantly. Being a single dad is a huge adjustment for Daikichi. He learns how to do hairstyles (kind of), meets other parents and discuss challenges and seeks advice, changes his department at work so he doesn’t have overtime, quits smoking, spends more time with his family, adjusts his commute to get Rin to/from preschool, and is a wonderful and loving caregiver. Watching their interactions, Daikichi’s life seems more focused, authentic, and meaningful. Both characters have emotional growth. They share funny moments, like when Rin is practicing for her school performance, then remembers it was supposed to be a surprise for the parents, and runs off. I don’t think Daikichi was necessarily unhappy before meeting Rin, but I think he was on auto-pilot, watching the days go by, with every day basically being the same. Together they navigate life and it’s delightful watching them grow as individuals and as a family.
There are many cases of birth parents lovingly (albeit painfully), allowing another family to care for and adopt their child, because they feel their child’s quality of life will be better. There are many reasons, and I imagine it’s an extremely difficult decision. Not knowing my own birth father since he left when I was very young, and having an alcoholic abusive stepfather who left, the sense of abandonment is something I can relate to. Daikichi ponders the concept of abandonment as he worries about his daughter. Meeting Rin’s birth mother in the series, it is evident that Rin’s environment with Daikichi is more stable, safe, and caring. Daikichi’s grandpa knew Rin’s birth mother, and took her in knowing she’d be in a better environment with him as her caregiver. After his passing, Rin is processing the sense of abandonment, loneliness, and sadness she has. She is fearful of her own mortality and Daikichi’s. He helps her process her emotions and let’s her know she has a new home, and that he will take care of her.
What really makes Daikichi a great father, in my opinion, is he loves Rin unconditionally. Not having a father figure myself, I imagine that is a wonderful feeling. The hug scene was touching and left an impression on me. There are so may touching moments in Usagi Drop. If you’re looking for a heartwarming slice-of-life anime, this one is outstanding and I recommend it.