Good day everyone, Cajun Samurai here once again, and…well, would you look at that? It’s snowing! Doesn’t that just put you in the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Boxing Day/Festivus mood? No? Well maybe this will: a breakdown of Episode 3 of “Usagi Drop”! If you recall our last episode, Daikichi has found out, quite suddenly, that juggling his full-time managerial job along with the demands of a young six-year-old girl is nothing, if not challenging. Daikichi has had to make several major changes to his lifestyle to keep Rin happy, healthy and mentally sound, and for the moment he’s doing a great job. But what happens when he tries to find answers to Rin’s past? And speaking of, why IS Rin starting to wet the bed? Let’s find out in Episode 3, “Daikichi’s Decision”
Okay, so our episode teaser starts out with Rin and Daikichi watching what I can only guess is a program that tells you what kind of day you’ll have based on your blood type. Rin suddenly gets freaked out when the TV says that those with Type-B blood should be careful if they leave things as they are or else some sort of strange, life threatening situation will fall upon them. Rin then asks Daikichi is she going to die too. Daikichi tries his best to console her, saying that she’s only six-years-old and doesn’t need to worry about that. This is good. What’s NOT so good is when he picks her up and clocks the poor girls head on the ceiling, much to her obvious dismay. [SMOOTH move there, Daikichi…the girl is worried about dying, and you go and almost give her a concussion…] Cue the “Sweet Drops”!
We pick up with Daikichi and Rin saying goodbye as he drops her off at a daycare while he runs off to work with the ominous thought looming over him that he has to find a permanent solution–and soon. At work, his coworker grills him about getting a girlfriend, noting that up until a few days ago, he was the top seller at the company, breaking all sorts of records and working late hours. Daikichi blows him off, saying that it was only luck and not just raw power. [It’s here where we learn that “Daikichi” means “Excellent Luck”…] Daikichi then has an encounter with another, lower-level coworker, a lady named Gotou, who has a young child at home. Dakichi ruminates how she looks so thin he “couldn’t imagine where she stored her baby.” [NIIIIICE move, Daikichi! Compliments!] It’s now we learn a little more about Gotou–originally, she worked in the same team with Daikichi, and had been with the company longer than Daikichi, but due to her becoming pregnant and having a baby, she had requested a demotion so she could go home at a set hour every day to be with her family. Later, over lunch, Daikichi tells Gotou about his current situation and she reacts just how everyone else would–SHOCK. [Oh come on! Is it that unusual that this guy is taking care of his six-year-old aunt? Wait… never-mind.] He explains that she’s been wetting the bed the last few days, and Gotou ruminates that it could very well be some kind of emotional issue with Rin.
Later that night, after Rin has turned in, Daikichi flips through the Mother and Child Health Book and calls his mom. Mom attitude is quite different this time around, asking about Rin first before anything else and showing general concern for the young child’s welfare. Daikichi informs her that he’s going to try to find out more information about Rin’s mom this weekend, and also pay them a visit, inviting Haruko to come along as well.
That next day, Daikichi and Rin take the train, with Rin seemingly enjoying the trip. It’s only when the two arrive at their destination and Rin sees Daikichi’s mom, that she immediately shuts down, turning back into the quiet shy girl we saw in episode one. Mom and Dad are clearly distraught over this, knowing full well why Rin is clamming up. It doesn’t make matters any better when Kazumi, Daikichi’s younger and spoiled sister, arrives, balking about how she had to wait in line behind some stupid mother and her child. [Gee, isn’t she just so loving…] Later that night, after Rin has gone to bed, Daikichi lowers the boom explaining that Rin is normally more outgoing and talkative, but since her arrival at the house, and her reintroduction to the people who were so cold and heartless to her at the funeral, she’s more or less gone back in her shell. The older parents take this information to heart…Kazumi…not so much.
The next day, mom tries to make nice with her young sister by showing her how to do Cats Cradle with some handmade yarn. After failing several attempts, Rin shows her prowess with the yarn by doing complex patterns with her fingers. Rin then attempts to show dear old dad how to do it [Arthritis, anyone?] while mom runs off to fetch bean bags for Rin to try juggling. [Now all you need to do is get her to balance on a ball and hum the Japan National Anthem and she’ll be ready for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus…] Later, Haruko and Reina stop by. [Oh great…more Reina…oh, wait…she’s NOT annoying this time around? She’s actually cute?! Awesome!] Haruko is surprised that Daikichi can balance work and raising Rin and she comments that her own husband is no help at all to her when it comes down to striking a good home/work balance. [Again, this is something you MIGHT wanna keep in mind as it will come back later…]
Later that day, Daikichi sets out alone to his Grandfathers house. [The house we see in Episode 1; not to be confused with Daikichi’s parents house.] The house is relatively empty, save for a few of Grandpa’s belongings. Daikichi gets to work, donning a dust mask and going through the house to find some kind of clue about Rin’s past. Just as he is ready to give up, he discovers something unusual tucked away behind the chest of drawers–a wireless modem; an unusual thing for an old guy to have in his home. [Wait…actually I take that back. I have a very good friend of mine who is old enough to be my dad, and he absolutely LOVES Pokemon. Greg, if you’re reading this, you are the awesome, good sir!!!]
After he finishes his searching, he returns to the house to find that Rin has been given a cuteness makeover–her hair has been done up in pig-tails and she’s been dressed up in some of Kazumi’s old clothes which fit her perfectly and are still stylish. [Guess some fashions never go out of style…and hey, it’s free!] While the girls are playing dress-up, Daikichi grills up some squid and has a talk with his dad. [You have no idea how weird that sounds…normally when I’m talking to my parents, I tend to forgo grilling calamari…but that’s just me…] Dad compliments Daikichi on how good he was doing raising Rin, and then confesses that, not long after he was born, Daikichi’s mom went back to work instead of becoming a stay-at-home mom. However, due to complications with Kazumi, she had to stay in the hospital for a while longer than anticipated. Upon her return to work, she found she had been more or less ousted and so she devoted herself to taking care of the kids, mostly Kazumi as she was so tiny at birth…which explains her spoiled nature. That afternoon, when Daikichi and Rin get ready to go, Rin whispers to Daikichi to tell them that she wants to come back and visit them all again soon. This, along with a cute wave, shows that Rin is now comfortable around her extended family. Right afterwards, Daikichi’s mom asks Kazumi that infamous question that we all have been asked at some point or another: “When are YOU going to give me a grandchild?!” Kazumi replies in horror, saying that she is not at all ready for the bindings of motherhood, preferring to live life to the fullest before settling down.
On the train home, Daikichi asks Rin if Grandpa or anyone at the house ever used a computer. Rin explains that the maid, a woman named Masako, had a computer. Daikichi recalls that Masako was the name of Rin’s mother in the Health Book. [DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNNN…]When Daikichi asks what kind of person she was, Rin says she doesn’t remember much about her, but what she does remember isn’t too pleasant. We then see a flashback of a somewhat younger Rin asleep in Grandpa’s arms on a rocking chair while the maid, whose face is never seen, is vacuuming the tatami floor with a loud vacuum cleaner. Rin comments that she hates and is scared of Masako because she “hated” her and was always angry. [Rin sweetie, I don’t blame you–I wouldn’t think too fondly of the person who was vacuming while I was trying to take a nap in my father’s lap…the Wi-Fi stealing hussy!]
The next day at work, Daikichi seeks advice from Gotou over ramen noodles. [Because all the best laid plans are made over a bowl of ramen. Naruto would attest to this…] He asks her if she regretted sacrificing her career for raising her child. Gotou explains that at the time it was the best choice, and because it all worked itself out, it wasn’t a big deal at all. This seems to have struck a note with Daikichi and he asks her to continue giving him advice about raising kids. She playfully notes that since Rin is older than child, she wants him to teach her about raising kids.
Later that night, Daikichi is woken up from a sound sleep to find Rin changing her clothes in an attempt to run away. She has wet the bed again and again claims that it’s sweat. When Daikichi asks if she had a bad dream, Rin asks him what is it like to die and will he die before her? Daikichi then puts two and two together: Rin is not only terrified at the idea of yet another person she cares about dying, just like Grandpa did before her, but she’s also terrified of her own death. [Which is why she freaked out in the opening about the Blood Type thing…] Daikichi gently tells her that everything will be alright until she becomes a middle-aged lady and he promises her he will not die until then. Daikichi also reassured her about wetting the bed, saying that she’ll be fine so long as she goes to the bathroom before bed and, even if she does have an accident, it’s still okay.
The next day at work, Daikichi goes to his supervisor’s office and makes a startling request: he wants to be transferred to any section that does not offer overtime. He explains the current situation, and the supervisor sympathizes, noting that he himself has a child at home. He promises to try to work it out with the section chief, nothing that those who work under Daikichi might raise up a stink. Cut to the next scene and, indeed, one of Daikichi’s coworkers is raising up a stink. [Funny how that works…] Daikichi firmly tells the underling, in that polite yet firm Japanese way, to suck it up and deal with it because supervisors and managers often get shifted around in different companies and it’s no big deal. Later, as he rides the elevator down, he comes to grips with what he just done, justifying his way of thinking with one simple thought–it’s the best thing for Rin.
The following day, Daikichi and Rin are getting ready for Rin’s first day at her PERMANENT nursery school. Daikichi ruminates again over his decision saying that it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice yet and that he hopes he feels that way later on down the road. Time to get “High, High, High!”
The ending section has Daikichi and Rin getting ready for bed. Daikichi finally asks what the heck is the little black stuffed animal with stars for eyes and the floppy ears, thinking it’s a dog. Rin explains impatiently that the creature is a bunny named “Lop Ear”. She crawls across him and tucks herself into his futon. Daikichi wisely asks if Rin went to the bathroom, to which she replies she has, all by herself.
This episode is clearly a Rin-based episode up until the last few minutes before the ending credits. Honestly, I really like how this show seems to shift almost effortlessly from episode to episode; one day it’s a Daikichi episode, the next, a Daikichi/Rin episode, then the next is a Rin episode. While it’s not unusual for an anime to do this, “Usagi Drop” does it very well, considering the story only has two main characters at this point. It’s a good balance so far… One that I hope continues as the show goes on. I love the fact that we finally get some resolution to the issues regarding Rin and Daikichi’s family and the fact that it’s not just handled off-screen. Rin’s emotions here are about as realistic as you can get–I mean, seriously, these adults pretty much treated her like she wasn’t there and talked about her like she was just an inconvenience in their busy day and not as a living breathing girl who has just lost the most important person in her young life. Heck, I would be pretty skittish around them too. But I love the fact that it’s Daikichi who pretty much tells them off. It shows that he really GETS this girl he’s taken in his charge. Though he might not understand the technicalities about how to raise a young girl, he understands emotionally what this young girl is going through and it’s with that understanding that he makes the decision to take a transfer at his job, despite any professional or personal ramifications. It makes for an awesome ending to an awesome episode.
My favorite scene this time around has to be when Rin finally starts bonding with Daikichi’s mom and the two of them are playing Cats Cradle. It’s a funny and cute scene, made even funnier when you remember that, technically, Rin and Daikichi’s mom are sisters. I also love the big reveal when we see Rin in her pig-tails. So many feels…
Coming up next, we hop on down to Episode 4 – “Letter”. Daikichi is now hot on the trail of the maid turned mommy. What will he discover about the mysterious Misako? And who is this young boy that Rin is talking to and–wait…his mom…is that…ALICIA FLORENCE?!?! Tune in next time!