Good day everyone, Samurai here and it’s time to press on with our episodic review of “Usagi Drop”. In our last episode, Daikichi decides that to commemorate Rin’s entrance into Elementary School, they would plant a commemorative tree, just like the one that Daikichi’s parent’s had planted for him and his sister at their birth. Together, they plant a Loquat [Japanese Plum Tree], but Rin soon starts wondering if there was a tree planted for her birth like Daikichi and Kazumi have. After consulting with Masako, Daikichi finds the tree that Grandpa planted for Rin–a six-year-old fragrant olive tree just like the one Daikichi had planted for him, and the two plant it at their house. That being said, let’s jump into Episode 7: “Secretly Leaving Home”.
Okay, so our episode starts off with Daikichi and Rin eating flat sweet buns one afternoon when who should come to the front door with a fully packed bag but Haruko and Reina. Daikichi is curious as to why his cousin and her daughter just so happen to be at his front door with an overnight bag and Reina’s school satchel no less. Of course Rin is happy to see Reina, and Daikichi shoos them off for sweet buns and barley tea in the next room. He then turns his attention back to Haruko. You know what’s good with Puffy sweet buns? “Sweet Drops”!
So, once Haruko is settled in, and with Rin and Reina enjoying tea and sweet buns in the living area, Daikichi gives Haruko some tea in the kitchen, and asks Haruko what’s going on. She then lowers the boom; she’s running away from home and as she has no brothers or sisters to turn to, Daikichi’s place was the only choice. Daikichi is clearly shocked at this, explaining that her husband and family were going to be worried. In tears, Haruko explains that the family is part of the problem. [If you recall, Haruko lives with her husband’s parents…we met the mother-in-law in Episode 2]. She further explains that she hasn’t even told her own parents that she ran away, and that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, only having time to write a note. With a sigh, Daikichi relents and lets her crash in a spare room. When he offers to take her bag, he’s shocked at how heavy it is, and that Haruko was able to carry it with ease. Haruko explains that the “only” thing she has in there is Reina’s clothes and textbooks as well as her things. [I feel ya, Daikichi…women’s handbags and stuff are really heavy…]
Later that afternoon, our little group goes to the market to shop for dinner. Haruko offers to cook dinner for the group. The girls run off to look at the different sweets while Daikichi and Haruko shop in the meat section. And guess who just so happens to be in the meat aisle a few feet away? Why, it’s
Alicia Florence Yukari Nitani! Daikichi suddenly starts freaking out internally; what would she think is the relationship between him and Haruko?! Quickly, before he even says a word of “hello”, he explains that this is not what it looks like and that Haruko is not only his cousin, but his cousin from his MOTHER’S side. [Good job, Daikichi…”Yeah! Not only is she my cousin, she’s my MOM’S cousin!] Yukari and Haruko seem to get along well, though, and a few minutes later, Rin, Reina and Kouki come walking up with their sweets: Kouki gets “Deluxe Big Nyan Gum” [Seems normal enough…but that’s a freakishly large pack of gum…], Rin picks “Vegetable Sponge Cake” [Okay…Sponge Cake I get, Vegetables I get…but together? Yup, this is Japan alright…], and Reina gets “Meow Meow Kitty Candy” [No wonder she’s missing a tooth…]. The two mothers are genuinely shocked that those are actually sweets. On the walk home, Haruko gently jabs Daikichi, saying that while Yukari looks like a beautiful person, he shouldn’t try to have an affair with her. Daikichi explains quickly that Yukari has a lot on her plate already raising Kouki on her own. That night, Haruko fixes dinner, saying that she experimented a little with the recipe, saying that typically cooks to her mother-in-law’s palette. After dinner, with the girls in the bath, Daikichi makes a secret phone call…
After tucking in the girls, Daikichi and Haruko share a brewski, with Haruko commenting that this was the first time in a long time that she’s had any alcohol. After a brief discussion about weight, Haruko admits that there’s really no point in keeping herself together as her husband doesn’t even look at her in that way anymore. Daikichi tells her that he called her house to explain to her family that she was okay, and that she was going to stay with him for a while, without directly saying where they were. Reina is shocked that Daikichi went behind her back like that, saying that so long as Reina is with her, then there is no problem. She then breaks down, saying that ever since she gotten married, she has not had the chance to express her feelings openly, opting to keep them bottled up. [NEVER really a good thing, my dear…] So she feels that it’s okay to cause a little trouble for her family. During this back and forward exchange, Rin wakes up and listens in behind the door. Suddenly, Reina wakes up behind her and beckons her to come in the spare room under the futon. Reina explains that her parents argue frequently and that sometimes she pretends she’s asleep when they argue. Eventually, Reina and Rin fall asleep holding hands, which is how Haruko finds the two a little later. [D’awwwwww…I might have to rethink my “brat” assignment…]
That next day, Haruko is shocked to find Rin in the kitchen making breakfast on her own before school. [Oh come on! you act like you’ve never seen a young girl cooking breakfast…]right. Daikichi explains to a shocked Haruko that they normally cook together especially when it comes down to using the stove. Haruko and Daikichi begin to argue, but Rin quickly orders them both to be nice to each other. [You go girl!] At the table, Rin has put together quite the spread and the group enjoy their meal when who should come by but Kouki. Rin explains to Haruko that because Kouki’s mom is always so busy, he comes over early to walk with Rin to school and to probably grab a free meal. When Kouki walks in and sees Haruko and Reina eating breakfast with Daikichi, he asks, shocked, “Daikichi, did you get married?!” [Bless his little dopey heart–shouldn’t he remember Haruko from the other day at the supermarket??]. When Daikichi explains who she is, Kouki says that he figured as much that Daikichi wasn’t going to get married. Naturaly the kids join in on the conversation, with Reina asking Daikichi if he wants to be married, and asking her mom, to her horror, if being single is best for her. Curious little Rin then asks what “single” means, and Reina explains that it means when you’re not married. Rin incorrectly equates this with “Divorce”, which is a concept that Reina doesn’t know. Rin then ponders this and comes to a conclusion; Haruko is married, but single would be better for her. She then asks Daikichi, who by this point is beyond shocked, if being married for him was better even though he is single. Neither adult replies in shocked silence. It’s therefore up to Kouki to break the silence, asking if he can have a riceball, even though he had breakfast before running over. Daikichi relents, giving him his riceball. [What makes this exchange even funnier is that during the background conversation, Kouki explains that the only reason he wanted a riceball was because he just wanted one…] While Daikichi is washing up, Haruko compliments Daikichi, saying that he is good natured to help out with another person’s kid and that he really must have the hots for Yukari to do so. Daikichi firmly denies this, saying that he’s only trying to help out with Yukari because Kouki is such good friends with Rin and that it would be rude to move too fast with a relationship, as he doesn’t know much about the circumstances surrounding her divorce. [Good call, Daikichi–you never know, her ex could be the crazy type…] Haruko quietly comments that it must be difficult, being a woman on her own. Before Daikichi inquires about this statement, Haruko pulls the ol’ “Come on, Reina! Time to go to school so I can avoid answering the question!” maneuver.
When Haruko drops Reina off at school, she gives her explicit instructions to not tell ANYONE that they’re running away or that they’re living at Daikichi’s house. Of course, Reina agrees to keep it secret. When she meets up with her friends, who ask why her mom is dropping her off, Reina cheerfully stats that her and her mother are running away from home and that they took the train. [Bless her little heart, the blabbermouth…] After she facepalms, Haruko wonders listlessly through the city, looking at the different mothers with their children going about their day. She’s clearly deep in thought about the decisions she’s made.
Meanwhile, at Daikichi’s job, he runs into Gotou on his way home. He inquires about how her son, Yuu is doing. Gotou laughs, saying that her husband is at home watching him today. [It’s then we cut to what has to be one of the cutest moments in the episode–a shot of little Yuu fighting a large stuffed teddy bear… and the bear winning.] When Daikichi says that it’s good she has a husband to help out, Gotou complains that she can’t rely on her husband to raise their child, and the only reason he’s watching him now is because he just so happened to be off that day.
That night, Daikichi and Rin hurry home to meet Haruko and Reina. They stop just outside their front door and marvel at the fact that the front porch light is on and the inside lights are on as well; someone is at home waiting on them.
Later, with the girls tucked in, Daikichi and Haruko have a talk. He asks her what exactly her plans are–will she wind up getting a divorce? Haruko reassured him that won’t happen, which gives Daikichi some relief, which is short-lived when she reveals that she has considered it quite a few times, especially when she finds herself thinking of her husband [and by extension his family…] as enemies, save for her daughter. However, she admits that this is not really logical thinking as she considered the difficulty of caring for her daughter and earning a living for the two of them. She then explains that she got engaged before working for her new company and that the only thing that was on her mind was becoming a good housewife. Daikichi admits that married life seems hard, even when done alone. Haruko states that Daikichi and Yukari are doing good jobs raising their respective kids on their own, so she and Reina can hang in there as well, on their own. When Daikichi asks about her husband, Haruko states that he always works overtime shifts and hardly has time for the two of them and that she and her daughter will do their best together, one on one, as they’ve done for years now, so long as she tries not to feel anything. When Daikichi compliments her on her strength she plays it off, saying that giving birth to and raising a child makes you toughen up quite a bit. [One would think so…] She then tearfully states that she never really wanted to be strong like an old woman, and that, if she could, she would be a girl forever. As she wipes her tears from her eyes, she apologizes for spilling her guts and says that she will be leaving tomorrow. This causes Daikichi to ruminate to himself what does it really mean to be a parent or even to be married.
That next night, while the group is playing a game of cards [Note to self, Rin, never bet it all on the river unless you got a full house], Reina gets a distant look in her eyes. When probed what’s the matter, she says that she hears her fathers’ car outside. [Boy, this girl got hearing like a bat!] When Haruko says that it’s impossible because it’s not the usual time for him to be off work, Reina decides to prove her wrong by running outside. Sure enough, dear old dad is waiting outside with a happy Reina in his arms. Haruko is pretty cool about his arrival while Daikichi freaks out over how sloppily he’s dressed as compared to Haruko’s husband who is in suit and tie. Daikichi says that she can come by anytime to visit if she needs to, especially since Rin enjoys playing with Reina, so long as she tries to pack a little lighter as the bag is not the lightest thing in the world. With ease, Haruko hefts the bag over her shoulder and says before departing that girls always have a heavy load to bear and that little bag was nothing. Time to say Hi to “High, High, High!”
The end teaser has Rin, Yukari, Daikichi and Kouki shopping in a clothing store. Suffice it to say that while Yukari is having an awesome time picking out clothes for our little cutie Rin, the boys are less than amused and Daikichi takes Kouki up to the roof for a drink. Our little ninja-in-training gulps down an entire bottle, giving a satisfied sigh, commenting that it tastes just like summer. Daikichi agrees with a smile.
Once again, “Usagi Drop” shows us its expert mastery of story telling. Remember when I told you in Episode Two that the whole situation regarding Haruko’s living arrangements would come back? Welp, here it is, and honestly, it’s a wonder the poor woman didn’t go crazy long ago. Not only does she have to fuss over raising Reina with an all but absent father, but she also has to deal with her in-laws who live with her. Though the entire story of the living arrangements haven’t been revealed, it can only be assumed that her in-laws aren’t exactly the loving, caring, “You go take some time to yourself while we take care of Reina” types, otherwise she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in now–having to resort to running away to a cousin’s house for a break. You really feel for Haruko in this episode, and the scenes with her and Daikichi talking alone where she can finally break down and express herself are really touching. One thing that particularly struck me about this episode is the fact that while it’s not a Rin/Daikichi story, it gives the viewer a chance to compare other parent/child relationships to our main characters and form opinions therein. We also get to see more Daikichi/Kouki Yukari/Rin interaction, which just gives me all the feels. Lastly, with this episode, Reina has finally been moved from the “Annoying Brat” category. I really felt sorry for her during the scene when she tells Rin that she hears the arguments that her parents have; no kid should have to deal with their parents issues like that. I also have to say that it’s good on Rin to keep Daikichi and Haruko from arguing during breakfast. Perhaps I’m reading into this too much, after all, she’s only six years old, but perhaps Rin wanted to keep the peace after listening to Reina explain the situation she experienced back home. Either way, it shows just how bright this kid is.
Favorite scene this episode? There’s two this time around. The breakfast scene with Daikichi, Rin, Haruko, Reina and Kouki is highly amusing on so many points. The logic that Reina and Rin use to figure out what would be best for their respective parents is highly amusing. It’s hilarious that the girls are more concerned with figuring out relationships while Kouki is more concerned with eating the last riceball–especially since he already ate breakfast earlier at his own house. Also the fact that Daikichi has a severe case of bed-head throughout the entire scene is highly amusing. The second favorite scene, hands down, goes to Gotou’s little son Yuu fighting the overstuffed teddy bear…and losing.
Coming up next, we take a look at Episode 8 “Grandpa’s Precious Thing”. It looks like our little duo is going to pay their respects to Grandpa at his grave and–wait, what’s this? Who left this at his grave? And hold up–what happened to the bellflowers at Grandpa’s house? What is going on here? Stick around to find out!