Hey guys! Cajun Samurai here again, and this time around, we’re going to be continuing our episodic look at “Usagi Drop” with Episode 2. If you recall our last episode, our male lead Daikichi found out that his late grandfather sired a young child named Rin. Because the family would rather not have anything to do with this most unusual love child, and because the mom is currently MIA, Daikichi decides to take little Rin in to live with him. And now we move on to Episode 2, “Pinky Swear”.
Okay, so the episode opens up with Rin and Daikichi walking down a sidewalk to do some shopping. While Daikichi is lost in thought, Rin decides to induce a heart attack in her caretaker by suddenly dissapearing under the thinly vailed guise of collecting leaves. [Kidding…but I can completely relate to Daikichi’s moment of panic. That tests the ol’ cardiac muscles…] After the opening credits, Daikichi and Rin arrive at the kids section of the department store, and this is one of quite a few “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” moments in the series for Daikichi. Having never bought kids clothes before, he is a little throwed off at what to pick. However, Rin has enough style to know what she likes. However, our little bundle of cuteness doesn’t know what size she wears and Daikichi relies on looking at others to see how best to determine what size would work. [Umm, Daikichi, for future reference, why don’t you just look at the tag on the collar behind the shirt she currently has on…I’m gonna go into a bit of detail about why I think it’s weird that our male lead has a problem with clothes in a minute…] Rin then chimes off everything else that she needs; Pajamas, Underwear, Shirts and Socks. When Daikichi asks about a skirt, Rin states that she can’t wear skirts at a nursery school. Daikichi has yet another panicked-induced coronary: tomorrow is Monday. He has to go to back to work and he also has to find a place to take care of Rin. At a loss at what to do, Daikichi calls the one person who would know about nursery schools–his cousin Haruko. [It’s then we find out that Haruko lives with her husband’s mother. An issue that will come back later in the series…] While Rin plays bouncy-bouncy on top of her new futon and blankets, Haruko tries to relay to Daikichi the required information while dealing with her little problem child, Reina. Daikichi hits the internet and finds an emergency child care facility that’s open late. [Japan, this is why I love you…] Fast-forward to the next day. Daikichi wakes up to find Rin, fully dressed, yet unable to take the tags off her clothes. After a quick breakfast, our duo hits the infamous Japanese Subway Sardine Can and then run to the nursery school, Rin immediately ordering Daikichi to set her down so she can walk in on her own. [Little Miss Independent already…] Daikichi drops off Rin, but notices that she seems to be somewhat depressed at the idea of Daikichi leaving her. Before he leaves, he pinky swears with her that he will be back for her soon, swearing to swallow a thousand needles if he lies. As he goes off, Daikichi ruminates that he didn’t consider how Rin might feel being left behind after being all but abandoned by her mother, having her father-figure die, and being shunned by all other adults in her life, save for him. Daikichi swears that he will never let that happen again. Back at the school, Rin goes about her day: interacting with other kids, reading stories to some of the younger ones, napping, eating, playing, the usual. We then finally see what Daikichi’s job is–apparently, he works in the clothing industry as a kind of supervisor; processing orders for different stores, attending meetings, and the like. [Now, here’s the issue that I had earlier–if Daikichi works in the clothing industry, and is actually seen handling clothes, how in the heck does he NOT know how to see what size Rin wears? Granted, it looks as though Daikichi works with adult clothes, and sizes vary between adults and kids, of course, but I still find it weird that he didn’t have the foresight to check the TAGS to see what size she was currently wearing and just move from there. Ah well…] Soon, the hour grows late, and Daikichi, completely in his working groove, all but forgets that he has to go pickup Rin from the daycare. By the time Daikichi gets off from work and makes it to the daycare, Rin is the last one there, save for the teacher. At first, Rin is delighted to see that Daikichi indeed did not forget about her, however, she is upset that he was so late, and shows it as she angrily presents Daikichi with her “cooking”; little slips of paper neatly folded to resemble potatoes burdock root. Touched that he made this for her, Daikichi keeps his promise, swallowing the “thousand needle” burdock root. This cheers up Rin. That next day, Daikichi makes a few modifications to his routine. He leaves a little earlier, this time wearing running shoes instead of formal shoes when taking Rin to work. This seems to work a bit, but the two of them are still exhausted at the end of the day. That night, with Rin snuggled next to him in his futon, Daikchi ruminates what would happen if he were to so happen to get a girlfriend. [Dude, you’re taking care of a little girl out of the kindness of your heart–girls will LOVE you!] That following day, one of Daikichi’s coworkers points out an error that he made on an order; an unusual mistake for him. He apologizes and ops to call the client to offer his apologies. When another one of his coworkers suggests they go out for a drink, Daikichi turns him down saying that he has something important to take care of. The employee, obviously, misinterprets his statement thinking that Daikichi got a girlfriend. That night, when an exhausted Rin and Daikichi are walking home, Daikichi decides to surprise her by sneaking up from behind and picking her up on his shoulders, running past the glittering city much to the young girls delight. However, due to his smoking, the running adventure doesn’t last for too long. That night, as he catches up on his work, Daikichi begins to light up, but pauses has he notices how much his life has changed in the few days he’s been around Rin. Thinking better of it, Daikichi sets down the cigs for good, wondering just how long he can keep up his current lifestyle. That night, with Rin fast asleep, Daikichi thinks back to the funeral when his mom gave him all of Rin’s few worldly possessions including her Mother and Child Health Book; the ONLY link to her mother. The next morning, Daikichi wakes up to find Rin curled up tight, sleeping in her own futon. When he pulls back the blankets, to his shock, he finds a damp, warm spot next to him. Rin firmly attests that the spot is simply SWEAT, nothing more. Daikichi, having not been born yesterday, gives her a “Yeah, right, sure…” reply, which causes Rin to declare again, with a pout that it IS sweat…REALLY.
If I can say one thing about “Usagi Drop” is that each episode has a certain theme associated with it. While I know this is a common trait of Slice of Life Series, I think this show does it particularly well. If I were to assign a theme to this episode in one word, it would have to be “Change”. It starts off subtle with Rin comparing the changing color of the leaves, and ends with Daikichi making a great change with regards to the way he lives his life. [His quitting smoking being the main difference.] We also see just how deep his feelings are with regards to Rin: he kicks himself when he forgets about her feelings regarding abandonment, he feels the need to offer some kind of retribution when he breaks his promise to pick her up [The “thousand needles” thing…], and he even forgives her in the end for
wetting sweating the futon. He’s clearly adapting to his role as a single father, but he still has a long, LONG way to go. It’s very intriguing to watch him develop and to see what kind of sacrifices he’s willing to go through to make Rin happy.
From this episode, my two favorite scenes have got to be when Daikichi picks up Rin from nursery school one night. She’s pretty much about to fall over. Daikichi offers to give her a piggy back ride, but Rin has Tsun-Tsun mode activated and wants none of that. Daikichi gets an idea. He runs up behind Rin, scoops her up on his shoulders and runs through the city, much to her delight. Not only is it a beautiful moment, but the animation of it is really very well done. The colors just pop on the screen and it really makes you feel happy. My second favorite scene is when Daikichi calls Haruko for advice on finding a daycare center. There’s nothing really consequential going on here, but it’s just cute seeing Rin bounce around on the folded up blanket and futon.
With regards to the music this time around, we’re treated to some new incidental music. I think this is our introduction to something I’m dubbing “Rin and Daikichi’s Daily Life”, as heard during the scene in the beginning of the episode when Daikichi and Rin are shopping. It’s cute, quirky, and fits when it’s used. One thing that I love about the incidental music of “Usagi Drop” is that, so far at least, all the music is instrumental not synthesized….save for the opening of course. Here’s hoping the tradition keeps up.
The last time, I mentioned that I had an idea on who I wanted to cast in certain roles in this particular show, should there be a dub. Honestly, since the first time I saw “Usagi Drop”, I knew who I wanted to play Daikichi without a shadow of a doubt. I firmly believe that Travis Willingham [Roy Mustang in the “Fullmetal Alchemist” series and Ginko from “Mushi-Shi”] would make an excellent male lead for this show. He has a deep father-figure type voice that would fit Daikichi perfectly. Also, he has an excellent “Oh, crap!” freak-out voice that would go well with Daikichi’s “What the hell am I doing?!” moments. With regards to our female lead, ideally, I would like to get an age specific actress, but barring that, I feel that the next best person to play our little six year old cutie would be Rebecca Forstadt [Kanata Izumi from “Lucky Star” and Tima from “Metropolis”]. She has a great little girl voice, probably one of the best I’ve heard in a while. I think she can pull this role off handily.
Coming up next, we take a look at Episode 3 – “Daikichi’s Decision”. What will Daikichi discover inside the Mother and Child Health book? Why is Rin suddenly
wetting sweating the bed? Will Daikichi make the ultimate sacrifice at his workplace? Stick around to find out!