32 CommentsAnime Analysis, Twelve Days / By Scamp /

12 Days of Anime #8: Bunny Drop and Parenting

Bunny Drop is about parenting – Yeah yeah I know – No really, it’s about the rewards and joys of parenting – Yeah I heard you the first time – Seriously, it’s about how parenting takes over your life yet you don’t mind because of how important it is to you – Yup , still got it, don’t have to keep repeating yourself – Get this into your head, it’s about PARENTING!

…oh, right.

That bizarre opening paragraph does actually mean something. You see, I knew Bunny Drop was about parenting from episode 1. But somehow this message didn’t truly drill itself into my brain until episode 7. Up until that episode, Bunny Drop felt like it was just repeating stuff I already knew. The struggles of having to raise a child and the rewards it brings you. That raising children was challenging, but kids are adowabubble so it’s OK. If anything, it’s a mark of my immaturity that it took so long for the real message to get into my thick skull.

Episode 7 followed Daikichi’s sister as she ran away from home with her child to stay at his house. She was getting sick of living with her in-laws and her husband didn’t come across as being particularly understanding. Their marriage wasn’t particularly happy to say the least. She relayed this information to Daikichi (who basically did nothing other than sit around and be useless) but simply being able to voice these feelings of hers was a great relief. So, the next day, her husband came to pick her and their daughter off at Daikichi’s house. She bid him farewell, saying she would ride through this for the sake of her daughter.

I was in shock. She was going to stay in a failing marriage? Live under the constant watch of her in-laws for the sake of sticking to traditional family values in helping her daughter? It was then that the message finally struck. She was staying because the rewards of parenting and raising her daughter far outweighed any problems she was having elsewhere. It was genuinely that important to her, and somehow the true extent to which people were willing to go for parenting hadn’t quite hit me yet. She was willing to give up her life for the sake of her daughter. In the same way that Daikichi gave up his single life of boozing and chillaxing, dropping down pay rungs in work for the sake of his adopted daughter, she was willing to give up her home life for the sake of her daughter.

That episode of Bunny Drop shook everything I had thought previously about parenting. To be honest, I’m still not sure I agree with it. The other characters in the show should be ample example of how single parent life can still raise a perfectly good child. But the very fact it challenged the entire way I thought about parenting, forcing me to reassess how important it really was to those involved, made it far and away one of the most important episodes of anime I watched this year.

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  1. CS
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I need a Like x10 button.

  2. kero92
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    once you read the manga you realise that Usagi Drop was in fact NOT about parenting… and then you rage-cry

    • Hogart
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      Or, you just realize that it was about *foster* parenting, just before you cry because you can’t handle uncomfortable things that had to be rushed because people don’t like uncomfortable things.

      • kero92
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        and then you realize that even though you put the word “foster” in the mixture, it doesn’t make it any less true that Daikichi raised the little girl as she was his own daughter, and that all that parenting theme the early manga (anime) had, disapeared completely, and the character building of him as a “father” went to hell with the excuse of “we are not blood related”

      • Hogart
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink

        Hey now, I wasn’t taking a jab at you or anyone for being uncomfortable, since I sure was. I just really have to learn how to sound more neutral.

        Besides foster parenting is raising the kid as your own. You can’t avoid the obvious reality, but I wasn’t glossing over anything because that’s really what the story was about.

        I do think the manga was rushed, and that the hinted-at ending wasn’t realized particularly well, but I don’t think that the parenting aspect vanished.. just took a back seat now that the manga was focusing on Rin and not Daikichi.

      • kero92
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:20 am | Permalink

        I apologise, I misunderstood. But be it as it may, that change in tone at the end was a little too “off” for my tastes and from a series that was working on a subject not very much treated in manga, as it is parenting, it is sad to watch it go the way it went.

      • Hogart
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        I won’t argue against that. I still think people overreacted at the timeskip, and can’t blame the mangaka for rushing it (I heard she was forced to do so because of declining ratings, though I don’t see why… I don’t think the post-timeskip stuff was bad at all until the rush-job). It’s a shame.. it could have been pretty darn good.

    • gw_kimmy
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      read “my girl” by sahara mizu :D

        Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        My Girl is pretty bad, though. It just has “prettier” art. Usagi Drop is ridiculously better, regardless of how you feel about what the series is really about.

      • gw_kimmy
        Posted December 20, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

        so your opinion trumps my opinion. got it :D

        i just feel better knowing in my girl they’re actually blood related and thus will maintain a story about parenting through and through in addition to the other “growing up” themes. the manga isn’t completed yet, so i may eat my words, but i’m confident it won’t devolve into a shoujo manga, which unfortunately, was my impression of the time skip in usagi drop. it wasn’t the ending itself that was a disappointment, but the delivery, which didn’t endear me any to whatever was going on.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      I really wished Daikichi would make a family with Kouki and his mother. Everything was so perfectly set up. And that was a reason I checked the ending of the manga and was… devastated

      Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      It *is* about parenting for like half of the series and from Daikichi’s point of view. I can’t believe I’m the only one who wasn’t surprised at the turn of events of the second half. I saw some foreshadowing in the first half, and early in the time skip it was pretty obvious where the series could go.

      People need to get over it. The theme it chose to tackle doesn’t make it a worse series, just something not to your liking. The series is about how sometimes things don’t go as planned or as they “should”, at all.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m not going to read the manga, so I don’t really have an opinion. But judging by the comments here and elsewhere on the internet, the Bunny Drop manga’s direction will forever be one of ‘those’ topics, like the Evangelion TV series ending or Endless Eight

  3. Hogart
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know what to take home from that episode. I wanted to like it, but really it just made the anime seem like it was vilifying people who had to work long hours to support an extended family. Daikichi could afford a worse job, but Haruko’s husband gets swept under the rug and reduced to a faceless antagonist role. Then Haruko is made out to be some godly mother who emasculates her husband in front of their daughter behind his back. That didn’t make me appreciate her struggles, it made her seem like she was afraid to talk to her husband.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Maybe it’s a culture I am raised in, but I thought Haruko was the one at fault. She didn’t sound like a godly mother for me with all that running away.
      The end of the episodes shows that her husband really cares and, what’s more important, there’s a chance for fixing things up. It’s a common problem nowadays, instead of fighting for their relationships, people decide to divorce, because it’s easier.

      • Scamp
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think either of you are quite right, but it’s an awkward scene to say the least anyway, so I get why they’re mixed reactions to it. As I said in the post, I’m not really sure how to take it myself, but I appreciate that it challenged the way I think

      • Hogart
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        You’re right, Scamp. In short, I know I’m wrong but only because the episode says so in a trite way. It paints this doomed relationship as being entirely the fault of an uncaring husband and his uncaring in-laws. For me it undermined the core message to the point that devalued it.

        They go out of their way to make it seem like Haruko’s carrying all this weight on her own, and that she’s the only one that cares about Reina. That doesn’t do this “impending divorce” topic justice.

        To me it felt like it copped-out on delivering a great message that stay-at-home moms are undervalued. It over-simplified everything, and swept the working-dad’s plight under the rug entirely.

        And that really bugs me. The show writes off less-than-flawless dads, while focusing on making moms sympathetic no matter what their circumstances are. I wouldn’t say it’s offensive, but it *is* disappointing.

        Still, your post makes it clear that they at least delivered their core message, so that redeems the ep a bit.

      • Scamp
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        I get what you’re saying. If you want a more even approach to depicting a failing marriage, watch Legend of Black Heaven

  4. Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    And then you read the manga and realize that from a comforting, feel-good parenting series, Usagi Drop turns into an uncomfortable teenage drama that’s just really thought provoking and totally different from what it used to be.

  5. Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    I recall someone mentioning something similar back when Usagi-Drop was running, but I had forgotten about it. How shameful.

    Anyway, it really is interesting how so many cultures, especially Asian ones insist that the wife move in with her in-laws at least for a little bit of time.

    Oh, and it was Daikichi’s cousin. His sister was husband/childless.

  6. ojisan
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I loved this episode. Honestly, I didn’t think Daikichi’s cousin had a ‘failing’ marriage, more like one in a difficult time, brought on more by the in-laws than by the husband. She takes out on her husband unfairly, but that just humanizes them both to me – she’s a lot like Daikichi, going thru the rough transition from general easygoing selfishness to major responsibilities & restrictions. And she does just the right thing – escape for a break to another family member to vent, rest & regroup. This is anime for grownups – & not just because it’s about childrearing.

  7. DarkEnergy
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Great post, Scamp. I will watch this series soon. Wow, this comment is so bland, ugh. Whatever.

  8. mcm38
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Usagi Drop was still one of the best manga I read. Regardless of the ending which I think was probably not the real intention of the mangaka to end with. Now I haven’t read any of the other manga she drew, but I am prety much sure a mangaka that mainly draws Josei, Romance, Drama and Slice of Life wouldn’t make that story.
    What I am saying is, the ending is so extreme for a Josei drawer, that it can only be explained by the mangaka wanting to break the chains of being mainstream.

    Seeing the bad points of something is much easier than praising it for it’s remarkable achievements.

    • mcm38
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Ugh, grammar. >.<

      *… its remarkable achievements.*

      Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      You shouldn’t assume stuff like that. I’ve read Sukima Suki (also by Yumi Unita) and it’s pretty out there and twisted. I don’t understand how it’s so difficult to accept that she had that ending for Usagi Drop in mind since the beginning. And it’s something that one could guess wouldn’t make her very popular, so I admire her for it.

      Jesus guys, just read Yotsubato!.

  9. Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    That episode was a great perspective from the point of view of a married woman. Her dialogue about women and their capability to carry heavy things sounded funny at first but it really made sense.

    I was glad that it was resolved, really but I was also disappointed SPOILER when I knew that it still fell through.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Kinda interesting to hear that spoiler. Makes me feel a bit smug in that I was right all along :P

  10. Posted December 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    For some reason, whenever Bunny Drop comes up, people can’t stop talking about the ending…

    It’s probably wrong to blame people. When xxxHolic ended, I also raged big time. But, you know, it’s not the only thing about the manga. And one can still choose to ignore it.

    Great post. Raising children is a topic that can often evolve to diabetes levels of cuteness, but I think Bunny Drop handled it well, and I really like that kinda stuff. (Wasn’t it obvious? My favourite manga is Yotsuba!)

  11. C
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    I, for one, liked the perspective switch after the time skip. It’s not about parenting anymore, but does it really have to be? Even when the story focuses on Rin, it still manages to cover some aspects of parenting a teenager still. It’s a nice enough compromise…

  12. Posted December 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    That episode was maybe my favorite of the entire series. It really speaks of exactly what you said – the real sacrifice of being a parent, which is giving of your entire life for that child.

    There are certainly situations where a mother needs to take her child out of a household for that child’s betterment. But generally, I think a parent in a difficult marriage (beyond certain circumstances like abuse) shows the deepest love when he or she forsakes self and does everything possible to improve that marriage for the sake of the children. If Daikichi’s sister goes back and acts the exact same way, then what was the use? But if she goes back and does her best to change the situation, even if it’s a near impossible goal, that really portrays the depths of her love, because she has to endure both the hardship of changing an environment containing people who don’t want to change AND the pain of dealing with the same abuse for weeks or years until change occurs. And it’s all for the sake of the children. That’s love.

    Through that relationship, Daikichi’s and Rin’s (in the anime at least), and others, Usagi Drop probably showed the realness of love better than any anime I can recall.

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