An Episodic Breakdown of “Usagi Drop” Episode 8 – “Summertime Solace”

Hey there guys! Samurai here, and I’m here to take you through yet another episode of “Usagi Drop”! We’ve come a LONG way, haven’t we guys? Well, after this one, we only have three episodes left, so I ask that you please stick with me! Last time on “Usagi Drop”, Daikichi and Rin played host to Haruko and Reina when the former became fed up with her current living situation [If you recall, Haruko and Reina live with her husband’s mother and father…]. Haruko explains that her husband hardly has any time for her or pays her any attention, and that living with her in-laws adds its own sort of pressures. However, Haruko soon works through her problems, relying on her strength as a woman and a mother to see her through the hard times, and the two soon take their leave of Daikichi and Rin. Now that that’s out the way, let’s dive into Episode 8: “Grandpa’s Precious Thing”!

The episode opens up during a particularly hot summer day. Rin wakes up, washes her clothes and her face, and rips off a day on the calendar; August 4th. She then fills up her little watering can and goes out into the yard. That’s it. Yup. No more. …don’t look at me like that, it’s not MY fault the opening teasers are getting shorter! Oy! Puffy! “Sweet Drops” and STEP ON IT!!

We then see a group of manga artists working on a project, including the tall, lanky man we met in Episode 5 and Masako Yoshii. [Interesting how we go from Rin in the opening teaser to Masako in the opening scene of the episode…] Mr. Tall and Lanky [So called by myself because he doesn’t seem to have a name…] tries to convince an exhausted Masako to take a break as it looks as though she’s been drawing non-stop for days. Reluctantly she obliges and the two of them go out, but not before Masako notices the calendar, Masako Falling Asleep at her Drawing Board...and in particular, the date. As the two walk, Mr. Tall and Lanky notices that Masako seems stressed as her hands are cold and clammy. She plays this off, saying that her hands are cold because she has to keep the guys working on her drawings from sweating on the pages. The two then go to a cafe, where Mr. Tall and Lanky treats her to quite a wide variety of sweets. He implores her again to take it easy and not take on an additional project she’s been offered as she’s already very successful, and that her weak body might not be able to take it. Masako wants none of that, wanting to stay on top of the game as newer, younger manga artists are maing their premiere. [One wonders if she’s talking about Muto Ashirogi?] When Mr. Tall and Lanky wipes some ink off her face and says that she’s a girl, Masako gets furious, saying that she is manga artist, not a girl, and storms off back to work. [Masako you dingbat, this is the ONLY person since Grandpa who will give you the time of day…MIGHT wanna put that attitude on the back-burner…and quit wasting food!]

Meanwhile, Rin is busy tending the yard, watering her loquat tree, bell flowers [which are beginning to bud…] and, of course, her six-year-old fragrant olive tree. Daikichi finally wakes up… somewhat… opting to lay Rin Laid Out on the Floor During the Dog Days of Summer...Awww...out on the cool kitchen floor and bemoan the fact that he has to get up and go to work soon. [Since Rin is on Summer Break, she and Kouki are going to a daycare center while Yukari and Daikichi work.] When Daikichi finally gets up to fix Rin’s lunch for the day, she opts to try Daikichi’s cooling off method. [Hey, if you can’t beat ’em…] Later, Daikichi suggests that since it’s the Obon, they should visit Grandpa’s grave. [The Oban is a holiday during which one pays homage to one’s ancestors. There is often a festival associated with the Oban where a traditional dance is performed…] Rin doesn’t show much enthusiasm over doing this as she would rather take the bell flowers she grew in their garden to his grave and they’re not bloomed yet. Daikichi makes the suggestion that they buy some from the store for this visit, and then return to the grave with the ones she grew. Rin accepts this reluctantly, but Daikichi further explains that Grandpa would be happy with the fact that she visited, regardless of the flowers she brought. Rin happily agrees.

Kouki Showing off his Cicada Husk Collection...Everyone Needs a Hobby...Later, Rin and Daikichi, along with Kouki, begin the walk to the daycare center. Kouki ducks off behind the bushes to fetch something he saw. It’s then when the pair notices a poster for a Obon festival. After a minute, our red-socked boy wonder reappears proudly holding a cicada husk. Daikichi suddenly gets nostalgic for the shell, but then immediately gets grossed out when Kouki reveals he has a box full of the dried exoskeletons and begins shaking them. He then slaps one on Daikichi’s back before running off. [Hey, some people collect string, other people collect stamps. Kouki collects cicada shells…bless his little heart.]

Thanks to the magic of anime, Saturday soon comes around. Daikichi and Rin make the commute to Grandpa’s grave. Along the way, Daikichi ruminates out loud that his grandmother [Grandpa’s wife, of course…] is also The Ink Jar and Drawing Tools Left Behind By Masako...laid to rest here. When Rin asks about this, he explains that Grandpa and Grandma’s child is his mom and that he is her son. This surprises Rin and she soon figures out, much to Daikichi’s horror, that she is, indeed, the little sister of Daikichi’s mom. Thankfully for Daikichi, Rin’s attention is diverted to the fact that she has found Grandpa’s grave. [Thank goodness for the short attention span of a six year old.] She notices that, not only is it wet, but someone has left behind some bell flowers in an ink jar full of water, and three drawing nibs. Our little cutie immediately recognizes these items as belonging to Masako. [The reason the grave is wet is because, if memory serves me right, it is customary to wash a grave either by actually scrubbing it, or by simply pouring water over the top. It’s also customary to leave something behind like flowers or fruit.] This ticks Daikichi off internally as Masako didn’t even come to the funeral. Suddenly, he tells Rin that he’ll be right back and to start clearing away the weeds as he dashes off.

Daikichi sets off to find Masako, looking around for a minute before finding her and Mr. Tall and Lanky walking away. He darts behind a post and, to get her attention, he barks like a dog. [Yeah, I don’t get it either…] Daikichi Pretty Much Shuts Masako DOWN...Masako whispers a quick explanation to Mr. Tall and Lanky then goes back to Daikichi to ask what’s going on? He explains what he’s doing there and tells her that Rin is visiting Grandpa’s grave.  Daikichi tells her point-blank that he really doesn’t a flying chopstick about her or her circumstances, and that unless Rin desires to, he has no plans on ever bringing the two of them together. However, he does tell her that she can get a secret peek at Rin while they’re offering incense and cleaning the grave, like normal. Masako is speechless. Daikichi runs off, but not before telling her that, either way, he and Rin are going about their business, so she should do whatever she wants to do now. […Daikichi…YOU ARE WHAT I LIKE TO CALL “THE AWESOME!!!!!”]

Daikichi runs back to the grave to find Rin, already finished cleaning the grave. He apologizes for his absence, which she brushes off like it was nothing with a smile. Together the two of them place the flowers. Meanwhile, Daikich and Rin Visiting Grandpa With Masako Looking On...behind the shadows in the bushes a few feet behind the grave, Masako watches Daikichi and Rin laugh and enjoy each other. Mr. Tall and Lanky comments that Rin looks just like Masako from behind while ruminates just how amazing the ties of blood really are and how, from that distance, Daikichi resembles Souichi. On the walk back to the studio, Mr. Tall and Lanky admits that he was surprised about Masako having a daughter, assuming that Daikichi was simply a former boyfriend. [Oh, if you ONLY knew, Mr. T & L…] Masako hotly replies that she feels Daikichi doesn’t have a lick of intelligence, but given about 50 years, that might change. [Oh shut up, Masako! You’re dissing the man that is raising YOUR daughter becuase YOU decided that your career was more important than her well-being! Honestly, he’s one of the smartest and caring characters in this series and ten times the parent you will ever be!] Masako soon decides that she will, in fact, take on the additional project, much to the shock of Mr. Tall and Lanky. She explains that it’s because of her work that she is alone, so she must give everything to it, pushing herself so hard that she even forgets what she eats for dinner the previous night. [If it gets to THAT point, you have more issues to worry about than just drawing a manga…]

On the walk home, Rin decides that she wants to go visit Grandpa’s house. Daikichi explains that his uncle now lives there, so it’s not Grandpa’s house anymore. However, he relents, saying that he can see if they can at least walk about in the yard. Happily, the two of them make their way to the house and open the gate, but sadly, the Rin Discovering the Bell Flowers Are Gone...whole yard, including the flowerbed where the bell flowers grew, is filled in with rocks. Daikichi explains that his uncle probably didn’t know that, even though bell flowers whither in the winter, they do indeed grow back in the spring, and that he paved the yard with rocks to prevent weeds from growing out of control. [A trick that actually works in my own yard. Spread rocks around and it does keep weeds from coming up.] Internally, Daikichi is thankful that he grabbed Rin’s tree before the yard work was done, otherwise it would’ve met a same fate as everything else. Rin is saddened by this, but she eventually brushes her dress off and, with a smile, says that it’s lucky that they at least have some of Grandpa’s bell flowers planted in their yard and that they are thriving. As they leave, Daikichi ruminates that maybe change isn’t all that bad after all.

Rin about to blow out the candals on her birthday cake. Later that night, while Rin is drawing in her diary, [And doing a bang-up job of it too, I might add…] Daikichi walks in with a special gift for Rin–a birthday cake; today is Rin’s 7th Birthday. Daikichi lights the candles for her, which she then promptly blows out…save for one…which causes the two of them to laugh as Rin takes one last puff and blows out the candle, leaving us in darkness. Let’s make like a balloon and get “High, High, High”!

The end teaser shows Rin slipping on her geta sandals and running out the house, dressed in a blue yukata. She hurries Daikichi along, saying that the festival stalls are going to close up. As Daikichi locks up the house, Kouki walks up in his usual clothes. Why? Because it wouldn’t be roomy enough for him to jump over Rin’s Loquat tree, of course. When Rin asks him where is mother is, he explains that she will meet them there once she gets her yukata on. The simple thought of Yukari in her elegant Yukata is enough to get Daikichi running off, leaving Rin and Kouki in his dust.

If you were to tell me that, after this one episode, I would have even the remotest feelings of remorse for Masako, I would look at you as though you came from one of the states that legalized recreational marijuana. But, color me crazy, I indeed felt a hint of remorse for the manga-ka. Granted, by no means I’m giving her a pass for any of her past digressions; after all, the fact remains that she pretty much abandoned her child strictly for the sake of Masako and Mr. Tall and Lanky Looking on in the Bushes at Rin and Daikichi...her career, and feels no kind of maternal affection for her. But this time around, we really get to see that she does give some thought as to the decisions she’s made, and that she does, in fact, appreciate Daikichi for jumping in and taking over in Grandpa’s place. Speaking of Daikichi, I didn’t think it was at all possible for my admiration of him to get any higher than it already was. But, once again, I was proven wrong, as Daikichi really and truly lays all the cards on the table with regards to Masako–he pretty much tells her [Paraphrasing here, folks…] “Look, I don’t think about you, and I really don’t care about you or your current situation. My #1 priority is Rin, and unless she wants to meet you, I don’t want her to have anything to do with you.” This is, by far, the strongest we’ve ever heard Daikichi talk to Masako, and it shows just how deep his love for Rin goes. For all intents and purposes, this is the moment when he tells her “Look, I’m Rin’s parent now; you don’t have to do a thing.” Finally, I really love the idea that we don’t really find out that today was Rin’s birthday until about seven minutes before the episode ends, and that it’s Masako who says it out loud. In some way, it seems fitting.

Rin's Artist Rendention of her and Daikchi's visit to the Shrine...Favorite scene? Well, this time around, my favorite scene has to be when Rin is drawing in her journal about the events from earlier that day. Her drawing is so freaking adorable and detailed. I also found it interesting that they showed Masako drawing a frame from her manga and immediately afterwards showed Rin drawing in her book. They do this several times in the episode; where they show Rin and then cut to show Masako. It just goes to show the detail the animators put into this show.

Coming up next, we break down Episode 9 – “A Typhoon Came!” Typhoon? Wait! I thought hurricane season was over al–oh, this is something somewhat different…and in Japan. Gotcha. Oh, and it looks like Yukari and Kouki are coming over for dinner, that’s always–OY! Kouki! Take off those sopping wet socks before you step into the house and catch cold! And who are those two girls at the daycare and why do they look so freaking familiar? Tune in next time and find out!

On a more serious note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the events of the last 48 hours. The tragic shooting at an Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut where dozens of kids lost their lives and the 20 Chinese kids that got stabbed overseas shook every single one of us to the core at some level, myself included. I’m not going to sit here and try to sound all holier than thou, nor am I going to use the cliché “Thoughts and Prayers” line, because, honestly it’s been said enough, and I believe that the matter of if/when/how you pray is between you and the Deity or Deities you worship. I will say, however, that we here at “The Cajun Samurai” are indeed mourning the loss of those innocent lives. The remaining “Usagi Drop” reviews will be dedicated to their memory.

Andrain here, reporting from Sub base New London CT, what a welcome to my new Duty Station huh? I really can’t understand how this happened or why this happened. My prayers are with those poor people and yes to the families of those 20 Chinese kids that got stabbed too. It’s just as bad! Anyway. I pray those children found peace and to the families of those 8 staff members that sacrificed their lives to protect the children… I salute their sacrifice. They were true heroes and they will be remembered as some of America’s Finest.