Usagi Drop

July 21, 2012

Every family has their own skeletons in the closet. Other than reunion gatherings during the lunar New Year, I guess the only other time when most of the family members will gather is when one of them passes away. Now, what would you do if you found out that one of your family members had an illegitimate child out of wedlock? Shocking, eh? Are you going to take care of this lonely child or abandon this innocent little soul? The choice is yours to make. If you choose the former, then continue on and go ahead to watch Usagi Drop. Even if you do not fit into this criterion but is a single parent or a young parent just starting a family and having a few new additions to the family, I’m sure this sure will inspire you. I’m not saying this series is a solution to fix those age-old problems, but you’ll be motivated to carry on and do what is best for your child.

Basically, in this series we have the main protagonist, Daikichi Kawachi. He is already at the ripe old age of 30 years old. Still a bachelor. Still single. I suppose in today’s hectic life, people like him (and yours truly) are so busy about their own lives that they don’t have time to sit down and think about marriage and raising a family. But all that changes when he finds out his grandpa had a young child that nobody knew and since his demise, with nobody else looking after that kid, Daikichi takes it upon himself to look after her as his own child. Can a man just change his priority just like that in life? Well, like I said, this show is quite inspiring in that sense. So we see how the relationship between both of them blossom that they look like a genuine family unit. It’s good for the grownup because it opens his eyes to a wonderful world he has never known. It is good for the child because there will be less one lonely abandoned kid bumming in the streets resorting to crime.

Episode 1
Daikichi Kawachi’s grandpa, Souichi had just passed away. As he returns to his mom’s house where the funeral is held, he spots a quiet girl in the garden, Rin Kaga. She runs away. Talking to his mom who that girl is, she lets him know Rin is grandpa’s illegitimate child! Holy sh*t! Souichi is 79 years old when he passed away! How the?! What the?! Daikichi could even joke that this means Rin is mom’s sister and his aunt! Bad timing for jokes dude. Anyway his lover abandoned everything and ran away so looks like this kid has nowhere to go. So as all the other family members gather, Daikichi observes Rin doing her own thing around the house. Nobody else talks to her. Reina (the daughter of Daikichi’s cousin, Haruko) is being noisy and hyperactive, not fully understanding the impact of her surroundings. Well Reina did ‘interact’ with Rin and that’s just to steal her Cat’s Cradle and show it off to the grownups. Then the guys stare at Daikichi. Yeah, he looks like Souichi when he was younger. Daikichi takes over watching the incense that night and notices Rin trying to stay awake and keep watch. He lets her sleep on his lap. Next day, Reina continues to throw a fuss when Haruko tries preventing her from throwing chrysanthemums as she wishes to make a flowerbed over grandpa. Daikichi calls Rin over to say her goodbye to grandpa. But she refuses and jumps out of the house. She plucks a few bellflowers to put it in grandpa’s coffin. Daikichi knows these are grandpa’s favourite flowers. Rin asks if grandpa is going to wake up again and Daikichi replies he isn’t. Then Rin starts crying. Next day as everyone is talking about who to take responsibility of Rin, Reina complains to Daikichi (she pummels him with her stuffed doll?!) that Rin ‘cannot talk’ and is boring. Of course Daikichi disagrees. To shoo her away, he gives her all his candies. So back to the serious talk, Daikichi thought his mom should do the job but she instantly disagrees, giving reasons of how hard it is to raise a child and the sacrifices she made all over her years. In short, everyone has their own reasons why they don’t want to take Rin in. Till one of them suggests to put her in a facility did Daikichi stomp his foot down. Then he calls out to Rin and asks if she wants to come home with him, shocking everyone. Instantly Rin comes rushing into his arms. And so, now Daikichi takes on the responsibility of a 6 years old girl. She wakes this old guy up because he is hungry. But Daikichi didn’t like being called that. Because she is her aunt!!! A growing girl like her needs more food but all Daikichi has is rice. So how? Rin makes onigiri with rice and salt and it was simply delicious. Poor but happy as a family, right?

Episode 2
Daikichi brings Rin to buy clothes and other necessities. Then he realized that tomorrow is Monday and he has to start thinking of nursery school. I guess he bought a lot of stuffs, eh? Back home, he calls Haruko for advice on how to enrol someone in nursery school. Haruko can’t help much because that bratty Reina is bugging her to let her talk to Rin! I really want to say STFU to that girl. Reina gets to talk with Rin as Daikichi looks up the internet. I wonder if Rin is ‘controlling’ Daikichi’s life because she’s like teaching him a two about saying grace for breakfast and not putting his elbows on the tables as bad manners. Daikichi has work too so it is no surprise he rushes as fast as he can to the nursery school. Because Rin had that sad look on her face, he makes a promise that he’ll definitely come back for her. He rushes back to work across town and ponders he never thought of her feelings and that her mom’s position and grandpa’s lifespan aren’t under her control. Yet the sad fact was that she was left all alone. Daikichi catches the train and his panting is so hard that the woman next to him thought he is some kind of pervert! Daikichi is swamped with work and with meetings late in the day and working overtime, Rin is feeling that Daikichi may not turn up at all. All the other kids have left. So much so the nursery had to call and remind him. Once he manages to leave office, he makes another mad dash. Never thought it was THIS far, eh? The nursery lady was kind enough to wait with Rin till Daikichi arrives. Though Rin is happy, she acts up and gives him some paper burdocks she made for him as punishment. Daikichi eats them as a sign he haven’t forgotten about that needle-swallowing-promise, returning Rin to be her happy self. The process of Rin waking him up in the morning, sending her off and rushing back to work and coming back late at night becomes a ritual. He might even be slipping up at work. On another night walking home, Rin is feeling sleepy so Daikichi carries her on his back and sprints home. Isn’t that going to make him tired? But Rin is happy as she gets to see a different view from a higher perspective. Back home, Daikichi goes through all the documents that mom gave him before he took Rin in. One of them includes the maternity record book. He notes how the relatives talk like as though Rin is a horrible villain when the real one is supposed to be Masako Yoshii, Souichi’s lover and Rin’s mother. Next morning Daikichi wakes up and thought he had wet his own bed! Well, Rin may have crawled over to his side before returning to hers. She asserts it is sweat. Though Daikichi believes her, somehow she isn’t convinced…

Episode 2.5
These short 5 minute specials come with the DVD and there are 4 of them. Since I watched this series in chronological order, don’t be surprised to find a special episode sandwiched in between. For this first one, Rin uses coloured leaves with crayons to make her own marine life. Seeing how she is so into it, Daikichi buys her a book on fish but the way she could identify some of them made him think she just wants to eat them. They collect more leaves and Rin didn’t want Daikichi cheating by cutting them. However he makes an excuse that this is what you called adult intelligence. Can’t argue with that, can’t we? Then the leaves start to get all wrinkly and the acorns filled with holes due to bugs. He calls Haruko for advice. I’m not sure what they did for the acorns (the holes are gone!) but for the leaves, they are kept in their crisped form with books pressing over them. In the end, Rin compiles a magnificent album of underwater life called Aquarium of Leaves. Man, that’s creative work.

Episode 3
Rin didn’t like an educational programme about bacteria. This prompts her to ask if she will die too. He cheers her up by lifting her but the low roof means Rin got her head bumped on the ceiling. Oops. At work, Daikichi talks to colleague Gotou about children. She’s the best person for it because when she got pregnant, she asked for a demotion so she could go home at regular times. So the thing he discussed with her is about kids wetting their bed. No problem. Just make them go to the toilet before bedtime. Daikichi’s mom called up to check on them. He plans to bring Rin over this weekend and also to search for clues on Rin’s mother. Rin remains quiet and sticking to Daikichi like a leech at mom’s place. Yeah, she even wanted to follow him to the toilet. Daikichi’s other sister, Kazumi couldn’t believe he really took her in. So when they talk why Rin is being introverted, Daikichi explains it is because they were uptight at the funeral. If adults are gloomy, kids tend to think they’re mad at them. Mommy could feel the truth in his words because she too went through that. Daikichi continues to tease Kazumi. She got so pissed that she threw an orange in his face! Mommy breaks the ice with Rin by playing Cat’s Cradle with her. Actually Rin is much better than her. Plus, mommy may like Rin because the little girl notes she doesn’t look old enough to be her grandma. Yeah, young at heart. Daikichi goes over to Souichi’s place and finds nothing important. Not even a will. But a modem catches his attention. He returns to see Rin sporting a new hairstyle (to match Reina) and wearing clothes from Kazumi’s younger days. Daikichi talks to his father as the latter lets him know that mommy used to work even after he was born. But when she was pregnant with Kazumi, she had to return to the hospital. By the time she was able to return to the company, they already found a replacement. Since Kazumi was tiny, mommy often had to take leave from work or come back early to look after the kids. Perhaps she was always giving Kazumi the priority, which led her to become arrogant like that. Daikichi and Rin leave and Rin whispers in his ear wondering if they can come back again. Of course they can. Mommy seems to have taken a liking for Rin since she wants a grandchild. That’s totally opposite when nobody first wanted to take her in, right? Maybe she’s someone else’s responsibility? But Kazumi isn’t too thrilled. She doesn’t want to raise a kid while working because she’ll lose her womanly charms. Has she even got a boyfriend first or not? On the train ride home, Daikichi asks if Souichi had a computer. She mentions the maid used it. Who is the maid? Masako. Rin didn’t like her much because she was always angry at her and the feeling is mutual with Masako. Thus she wanted to forget about her. Daikichi seeks more advice from Gotou about sacrificing for a kid and changing jobs. That night Daikichi spots Rin getting up going to the toilet herself. Looks like she wet the bed again. “No it’s sweat!”. He talks to her wondering if she had a bad dream. Suddenly one of the hardest questions that a child can pose to you: “What’s it like to die? Are you going to die before me?”. He assures her she will be alright till she becomes a lady or at least an aunty. Till then he promises he will not die. It must be his big hug that convinced her. As for wetting the bed, he says it’s nothing to get mad or laugh about and that it’s fine to use the toilet before going to bed. He’ll accompany her if she’s scared. Next day, Daikichi requests from his colleague Hidaka to transfer him to a department that requires less overtime work. After learning about his situation, he understands and will go talk to the chief. But his junior didn’t like it and wants to continue working as they are. Daikichi mentions about transferring of managers which is pretty normal and the department will eventually settle down when he’s not around and return to normal again. So life with Rin becomes less hectic as he no longer needs to rush her to nursery. Daikichi thought that stuffed doll was Rin’s dog. She points out it’s a rabbit. Oh, I wouldn’t have guessed…

Episode 3.5
The second of the specials, Daikichi wants to know what Rin wants for her Christmas present. And she better decide soon since Santa has to come from a faraway place. She wants another bunny so that this one will have a friend. Coming home from work and school, they decorate the tree and Rin writes a thank you note for Santa with cookies and a carrot to go by. Carrot? That’s for the reindeer. Reindeer eats carrot? Rin can’t sleep so Daikichi gets her to quickly go to dream land by saying Santa won’t come to those who aren’t asleep. “Quickly turn off the lights!”. Dead in the middle of the night, Daikichi tries to take and put Rin’s present by her side while she’s sleeping. Hope the creaky floor doesn’t give him away. Next morning, Rin is one happy girl because her bunny doll has got a new friend by its side.

Episode 4
Rin’s friends ask her about her mom since it is always her ‘dad’ that picks her up. But Rin corrects them her dad is her Souichi. Confused? So who is Daikichi? Can’t be her mom, right? Yeah, she doesn’t know him that well either. Kouki scolds her friends for asking weird questions and takes Rin away to play. Kouki doesn’t care if one needs a dad or not. This means he lives with his divorced mom. Do kids know what divorced means? To put it simply, when you stop getting married. Daikichi arrives to pick up Rin and at the same time Kouki’s mom, Yukari Nitani is there for the same. Hey, she’s quite pretty. Both families walk back together till the different paths part them. Rin wonders if her mom got a divorce and if she’s like Nitani, she would like to meet her. Daikichi enthusiastically agrees. I guess he likes her, eh? Daikichi gets an earful from mom when he deduces that Souichi’s maid is probably Rin’s mom. Nevertheless she finds out for him that Souichi hired her from an agency and is Masako herself. Daikichi’s colleagues invite him to a farewell party. He didn’t want to attend seeing he is now a changed man with new responsibilities. But Gotou pesters him to come because she will bring her child along so he can bring his too. I think it’s an excuse she just wants to drink. So Daikichi and Rin did turn up. But Rin is quite timid in front of the adults but gets along well with Gotou’s son, Yuu. Gotou loves Rin so much that she wants her to be her daughter! I think she’s drunk when she said that. Soon Daikichi and Nitani enrol their kids in a nearby elementary school. Though Daikichi knows nuts about anything, he gets by with Nitani’s help. She notes how Rin fully trusts him despite always talking back and won’t keep quiet at home. No matter how you look at it, they’re like a family. As Rin is sleeping, Daikichi goes through the maternity book again only to find a website. Thinking that is what the modem is about, he goes online to see a blog page by Souichi. I guess he had trouble typing with the keyboard and there are lots of typo errors. Seems he was trying to write something as a secret code away from Masako. Since he got tired of writing the blog, the next clue is in the maternity book. Flipping carefully through the pages, Daikichi sees a hidden letter underneath a page. Reading it, the note says whoever reads it must be one who cares for Rin very much. This letter gives an account on Masako, Rin’s mom. Firstly, Souichi would like to state that Masako is the kind that is easily misunderstood and not a bad person. She loves Rin very much to the extend she is willing to continue to be his maid and hide her existence from his other relatives. However she may not have the maturity to act as a parent and left. At the end of the note is Masako’s number. Daikichi is pondering whether to call her or not when Rin bugs him to help her tie her hair into rabbit ears because she wants to be cute since her friend said she wasn’t. I guess girls at her age are starting to think like a lady. So Daikichi didn’t do a good job. It’s messy an uneven but heck, Rin still likes it. Then off she goes to practice some performance for Parents’ Day, Daikichi notes that Rin has matured a lot mentally but there’s still a side that hasn’t matured yet and needs an adult to keep an eye on. He thinks if Masako abandoned Rin thinking she’d get over it soon enough since she didn’t like her to begin with, he’ll truly hate her. Daikichi buys a study desk for Rin and though it may look plain, at least she can use it till high school. Well, Daikichi convinced her to get a table that is more lady-like rather than kiddie. But when Rin shops for a perfume, Daikichi puts his foot down and it’s a big no! I guess some lady-like things will have to wait for much later. Late that night, Daikichi calls Masako and to his surprise, she picks up.

Episode 5
Daikichi finds Rin crying in her sleep. He thought of letting her sleep with him but she just took her bunny doll and went back to sleep. Huh? While on the way to his mom’s place, Daikichi remembers making an appointment to meet with Masako. Leaving Rin in mom’s care, he waits for Masako at the family restaurant. He wonders why a person who went to great lengths to hide her existence lived so nearby. Then he calls her. He is surprised to see her sitting behind him. She is surprised to see Souichi. Well, didn’t his relatives note how he looked so much like grandpa? After showing Rin’s photo, Masako puts away her work materials (seems to me she is a mangaka). Masako explains that work was a reason why she left Rin. Even when she was pregnant with Rin, she was determined not to think of her as her daughter. The kind of work she does isn’t something she can do while raising a kid. Souichi convinced her to keep the baby and when Rin came into this world, she saw how cute she was and loved her a lot. But she couldn’t handle juggling between work and as a mother though at times Souichi cared for her. Daikichi learns she often takes walks at night so he tells her Rin still cries at night because it’s scary for her to find no one is by her side in a situation like that. That’s why Souichi wanted her to be part of the family. Masako has no objections of Rin living with him despite the fact she was once in her tummy. She doesn’t even know how she should feel for Rin. On the way out, Masako wants Daikichi to use his surname for Rin so it won’t be so hard on her. I guess you’ll be treated differently when your surname is not the same as your guardian. As a guy, Daikichi doesn’t understand the importance seeing changing one’s name won’t be that easy and that Rin is only 6 years old. Masako says that as a woman, she doesn’t feel attached to her surname because it’ll change when she gets married. She lets him know the name Rin is from Souichi. But Daikichi wants to talk to Rin and get her opinion first. It’ll be cruel if he decides without seeking her view. Daikichi returns to his mom and she instantly labels Masako as the villain. Then on to the talk of changing Rin’s surname, mom instantly agrees. Her reasons are exactly the same as Masako. It’s like hearing a tape recorder… Daikichi then decides to adopt Rin and he means it. It’s not like he’s passing the baton to someone else. If it’s for Rin, he’ll do anything. Later Daikichi buys a children’s kitchen knife Rin wanted. They make curry (Daikichi is good because he’s been living alone for so long), take a bath together (nothing fishy going on) and brush teeth. Daikichi has a hard time trying to put it in words about him becoming her father and changing her surname to his. She doesn’t agree and prefers her name. Besides, grandpa is her dad and Daikichi is Daikichi. She likes him the way he is. Daikichi is overcome with tears but brushes it off as sweat. It’s not even summer… Daikichi attends Rin’s graduation ceremony at the nursery. Then he calls Masako to update her of what has happened. She continues eating her pudding while some guy who could be her boyfriend just watches her eat all that fatty stuff. She wouldn’t mind because she thinks she’s a bad person. Rin thought she has graduated and hugs are for babies but Daikichi says sometimes adults want to be hug too although he doesn’t know why. Since it’s okay, Rin hugs him and he assures her he’ll hold her in her arms no matter how old she is. Then she realizes and apologizes she should’ve hugged him when he cried then. She promises she’ll hug him the next time he cries. Daikichi wonders if he is raising Rin or the other way round.

Episode 6
Daikichi takes some photos with Rin during her entrance ceremony. While shopping, Rin thinks a cereal is a snack instead of something you eat for breakfast. On the way home, they see the splendours of the blooming sakura trees. Daikichi thinks of planting a tree to commemorate Rin’s entry into elementary school. He continues he has a tree himself too. When he was born, his parents planted a fragrant olive tree and for Kazumi a sweet olive tree. But it was a bad memory for Daikichi because Kazumi was always ripping his tree as she was jealous his tree was more fragrant than hers. Seeing they have a few loquat seeds, they plant one in the house as Daikichi mentions about being a ninja who trains by jumping over a hemp plant every day till it grows taller. Now we know why ninjas can jump so high and far. Rin starts jumping over it several times… While preparing for school tomorrow, Daikichi gives Rin a whistle to blow in case she is approached by suspicious people and to take cover in any house or shops. Next morning, Daikichi gets a distressed call from Nitani. Seems Kouki got too excited and went off on his own. Oh by the way, the kid is here now. And he’s all messed up. After cleaning him up, Daikichi prepares himself from work when he hears Rin’s whistle. He panics and rushes outside to see if anything has happened but finds Kouki fooling around with her whistle and jumping over the planted loquat spot several times. Then off the kids go to school. Naughty Kouki convinces Rin to follow him through a shortcut. Seems like a long way round through people’s backyards. Kouki accidentally breaks a pot and they both make a run for it. So back home as Rin tells Daikichi about Kouki’s mischief, she feels her loquat tree is somewhat a different commemoration than Daikichi’s birth fragrant olive tree. She gets a little depressed wondering if grandpa did plant one for her. Daikichi feels sorry for her. Just when Masako thought she would never have to see Daikichi again, here they are talking again at the family restaurant. After passing a photo of Rin’s entrance ceremony, he asks her if she had planted a tree for Rin. She remembers there is one but was planted by Souichi. Daikichi wants to replant it in his place and asks for the location and type of tree. She’s not pretty sure and even if she’s a mangaka, she can’t draw maps well. Heck, she doesn’t even know where north points to! Daikichi finds the tree at Souichi’s place while Rin in his mom’s care, she shows her the olive trees she planted for her children. It is very big now. Mom has a tree that grandpa planted for her too. It’s a sweet olive and it is very, very big and tall now. Daikichi returns with the tree and it turns out to be a fragrant olive tree. Rin takes care of the tree and even measures her height with it. Daikichi notes that he doesn’t even know Rin till half a year ago. But even long before the day they first met, she was in the same flow of life as him. One morning, Daikichi hears the frantic whistle blow again. Kouki with Rin tagging along is in a frantic because a weird old man is outside the house. Just when Daikichi is going to give that weirdo a piece of his mind, Rin manages to get their attention and explain. The weirdo actually turns out to be Matsui the neighbour. Oh… Daikichi and Kouki (by force) apologize but Matsui also apologizes for being at fault because his call may have startled them. After that, Daikichi thanks Kouki because while he ran away, he dragged Rin along. He can count on him a little. A little? Because he’s still a brat.

Episode 6.5
While walking back together, Rin and Kouki are fascinated by the sakura petals at a park. So it is decided that tomorrow afternoon that they will come here to watch the flowers as its season is almost over. But that night Daikichi cautions that tomorrow may rain since spring storm is coming. Plus, it is now raining too. Rin suggests making Teruterubouzu. Next morning, the rain clears up and it’s a bright and sunny day. So did it work? Well, for the girl it did. But when they meet at the park, the sakura petals are almost gone and its leaves scattered all over the park. However they see an amazing and beautiful phenomenon. A big puddle of water that reflects the sky while the sakura petals sprinkle all over it like as though the sky is in full bloom.

Episode 7
Haruko and Reina suddenly pay Daikichi a visit. Hmm… Something must be wrong. Just as Daikichi suspected, Haruko is having problems with her husband and the in-laws so she and Reina ran away from home. Since she had no siblings, she didn’t know where to turn to. Look how convenient Daikichi has become, eh? While they are out shopping, Daikichi thinks it must be a worst case scenario when Nitani happens to be at the same supermarket. He tries to clear the air that Haruko is just his cousin but he worried for nothing because the ladies are getting along fine. Even Rin and Reina have already make friends with Kouki. Haruko teases Daikichi that he may have a thing for Nitani but he brushes it off. His body reaction doesn’t look very convincing. After the girls are put to bed, Daikichi lets Haruko know that he called her in-laws while she was in the bath. She didn’t like what he has done but it is obvious that there would be people are worried for them. Even if Haruko had left them a letter and may be fine for her, it may not be for Reina. I guess they’re arguing loud enough for Rin to eavesdrop on them but Reina ushers her to sleep next to her. She says her parents are always fighting and whenever that happens she always pretend to be asleep. Haruko is on the verge of a breakdown when she decides to go to sleep. They see the girls holding hands while fast asleep. Next morning, Haruko is surprised to see Rin up early doing the cooking. She thought Daikichi is making her cook for him so he scoffs off that they always cook together. Rin stops them before it turns into an argument (albeit the harmless kind). Then with Kouki coming in, he thought Daikichi got married! Then he gets disappointed to learn Haruko is just his cousin. The kids talk about being single, which is like divorced. Ah, kids don’t need to understand such complicated stuff. Yeah, cheeky Reina even asks if Daikichi wants to get married and if Haruko wants to stay single. Can’t really answer, do they? While Daikichi is washing the plates, Haruko thinks he’s been busy lately because of Nitani. Not that he would admit it all but he worded it in a way that he is helping her out since Rin and Kouki do get along fine. He might not know the details of what they went through and it’d be rude if he was being too forward. This has Haruko noting that it must be hard for a woman to live alone. Haruko sends Reina to school and wants her to keep their run away a secret. However as soon as she meets up with her friends, she blurts out everything! Oh dear. Haruko hangs around town alone while pondering over things. That night, Daikichi is relieved to hear Haruko isn’t going to make a big deal out of this and ask for a divorce. Actually, she thought about it every day! She explains how she only felt as a family with Reina and everyone else the enemy. She got married right after getting a job because it was her girl’s dream to be a good wife. Staying the way she is now is the safest for family though having a normal family is tough. She rarely talks to her husband because he works overtime and comes back late. She has bottled her feelings all these years and it is what made her get through most of the stuff. It may be unhealthy but if she doesn’t, she’ll snap. Daikichi notes she has become stronger but that is only when once you start raising kids. When you keep at it, you naturally get used to it. Haruko says she never wanted to grow or nor become strong in the first place. She wanted to stay a girl forever. This prompts Daikichi to think the meaning of being married and a parent. That night, Reina could guess it was her daddy’s car coming to pick them up though Haruko dismisses because he wouldn’t be off work this early. To her surprise, it really is daddy. Reina rushes into daddy’s arms as he soon apologizes to Daikichi for the trouble caused. Haruko thanks Daikichi for everything and the latter is okay if they come again next time since the little ones get along well.

Episode 8
Rin’s summer vacation starts but she’s up early and doing lots of chores around the house like normal. Meanwhile Masako is having a hard time keeping up with the deadline of her manga. She’s dozing off and has bag under her eyes. Her colleague takes her out to the family restaurant for a break to freshen her up but she’s pretty worried about the deadline. Yeah, it’s tonight. He tries to advice her not to overdo it and that she is earning enough. Though this may be the case, she is concerned it will be a different story next year since there are up and coming mangakas. He tries wiping her face but she blows her top and leaves when he refers to her as a girl. She insists she is a mangaka. Daikichi plans to visit Souichi’s grave next Saturday. Rin wasn’t too keen at first because she wanted to bring the bellflowers (which haven’t blossomed yet) to his grave. But Daikichi says the important thing is that she is there. While accompanying Rin and Kouki to the day-care centre, Rin spots the Obon Festival poster which is around 10 days away. Cheeky Kouki goes off to catch cicada skin. Yikes! He has a box full of that creepy collection! He sticks one behind Daikichi’s back! Daikichi and Rin are on their way to Souichi’s grave when he accidentally brings up the subject of his grandma in which Rin thinks she could be her sister. Thankfully the conversation didn’t steer into a bad direction. At the grave, seems someone has recently washed it and there are pen tips and an ink bottle next to it. It could only be one person. Daikichi wants Rin to pull the weeds while he rushes off to find Masako. A short distance away, Daikichi sees Masako walking away with her colleague. He calls to her to let her know that Rin is with him at the grave. He tells her Rin is important to him and couldn’t care about her circumstances and have no intention of letting her meet Rin unless Rin wants to. So what is he trying to say? She can come watch them clean the grave in secret. When Daikichi returns, he thought he saw the same lonely expression when he met Rin at Souichi’s funeral. Luckily it’s just in his mind as Rin is like a happy little bird. Masako watches in secret and is amazed to see Rin all grown up. On the way back, Masako feels she wants to work even harder and thinks of taking up that new job. She wants to work so hard so she won’t remember what she ate yesterday (?!) and forget these memories. Rin thought of visiting grandpa’s house but Daikichi notes it belongs to his uncle now. But it’ll be alright if they just go into the garden. Upon entering the garden, Rin is devastated to see the plot of bellflowers gone. Daikichi quickly cooks up a story saying that his uncle at least knew it was grandpa’s favourite flowers and since winter is coming, they’re not guaranteed to blossom when spring comes. Daikichi is relieved he took that olive tree back intact as Rin herself is thankful that they took some of grandpa’s bellflowers back home then. While Masako continues her manga work at full speed, Daikichi and Rin celebrate together the latter’s seventh birthday. On the day they’re supposed to go to the festival, Kouki arrives first. Where’s mom? She’s busy putting on her yukata. I’m sure Daikichi would love to see her in that. Yeah, he’s looking forward meeting at the stalls. Who is acting like an excited kid now?

Episode 8.5
It’s time to leave the festival but Kouki is still feeling energetic and not sleepy. Before he could rush off somewhere, Daikichi grabs him and then lets the kid swing on his arm like a monkey bar. I wonder how long he could hold up. Nitani gives Rin a hairpin accessory. Taking a detour to the river, the darkness is soon lit up by little fireflies. I guess Kouki is now feeling sleepy so he and his mom part ways. Rin hugs Daikichi and he notes how she has grown taller.

Episode 9
A typhoon is forecasted tonight. Kouki starts laughing when he misheard the news reporting the train will poop (unko) but Daikichi sets him right that it is the train will be operating (unkou). Then too much pooping talk means Kouki needs to head for the toilet too. Daikichi wonders Kouki’s call as running out of toilet paper. But he wanted a ruler instead. A ruler? What for? It’s a long poop. Yucks! As Daikichi takes a break at work, he talks to his married male colleagues about insurance and education for their kids. Though they are always seen complaining, he felt there is a sense of security deep down. In class, Kouki can’t seem to be a good boy and draw quietly unlike Rin. He fools around especially throwing his hat in the air like a boomerang. Even when the teacher tells him off, he soon returns to his playful ways. Then when Rin couldn’t take it anymore and tells him to instantly stop, he agrees! Everyone is shocked! Daikichi goes to pick up Rin and it seems Kouki will be the last kid left if they leave. Seeing his gloomy expression, they in-sync invite him to walk home with them. Not letting this chance pass up, eh? While walking through the rain, the kids play in the puddle like the kids they are. Back home after taking a bath, Nitani comes by to thank and apologize for taking care of her son. Since only Rin’s clothes fit him, it’s odd to see Kouki wearing them. Yeah, he wants Daikichi to lend his clothes. Wouldn’t that be too baggy? Then as the ladies cook, Nitani is surprised her son wants to help out. He never did so before. Okay, maybe he’s just playing around cutting the onions and making odd shapes with the burger patties. Hope it tastes good. Daikichi asks him if he loves his mom. Despite being a naggy old lady (gosh, the kid is calling her mom this?), he loves her. Kouki is dozing off doing his homework so it means it’s time to go home. Rin didn’t want them to leave and suggests if they could stay just like Haruko and Reina. Of course Daikichi says they can’t. Those two are a different case. Daikichi calls the taxi and a little spark of romance may have set off because Nitani notes Daikichi’s kindness in holding an umbrella and escorting them to the taxi. Next morning it is all bright and sunny and Kouki once more is early at Daikichi’s house. Because he was hesitating to come in, Daikichi and Rin just realized and quickly stop him before he does. Yeah, look at his dirty shoes!

Episode 10
Rin loses a milk tooth of hers. Daikichi attends Rin’s school’s cultural festival. He is surprised that the father of one of Rin’s friends is a handsome guy despite the same age. Even some of the mothers are swooning over him. Well, he was once a model. Then meeting up with another acquaintance of it, before you know it, Daikichi has made friends with a few fathers. He then sees Nitani at Kouki’s classroom. Hearing the talk from other mothers about the flu season depresses her. She is worried for Kouki because you know, boys don’t really like to put on much clothes even when told to. When Rin and Kouki comes running down the hallway without their jackets, Daikichi gives them a stern reminder but they continue as they are. Well, Daikichi knew this was coming because he was like that too when he was young. Nitani laughs and feels relieved since he was like that too. On the way home, Nitani notices Rin’s face redder than usual. Daikichi is surprised he didn’t even notice it. Touching her head, it seems she has a fever and it will get worse. Seeing a doctor, he assures Rin doesn’t have the influenza but gives advice to wear a mask as precaution. Rin’s condition takes a turn for the worse that night. Daikichi calls mom for help and she is even more dramatic. Call for the ambulance! Daikichi gets worried and couldn’t sleep when Rin doesn’t even want to drink a special juice with medicine he made. Next morning, Nitani and Kouki come by to check on Rin. Daikichi is starting to panic because he has never seen Rin in such a state so Nitani says he can’t lose his cool. An adult has to stay calm and tell the child they’ll be alright. Rin will be fine as long as he is here. Nitani does all she can to nurse Rin and makes her feel better before she leaves for work while Daikichi takes a couple of days leave from work. Though Daikichi seems calm on the outside as he puts Rin back to sleep, his heart is stirring. Nitani and Kouki also come by that night to make porridge for Rin. Kouki even helps out when he heard Rin asking for water. Daikichi thanks him and notes how Rin feels more relaxed when he’s here. However he still needs to keep his distance so as not to catch anything from her. He’s fine with it though. Of course not! Next morning, Rin is back to her healthy self and Daikichi’s nightmare is over. As Daikichi picks up Rin from the day-care centre, Kouki wants to come home with them. I guess that time was just a one-time offer. Isn’t he supposed to go home with mom? Well, Kouki points out mom is in bed with a cold. Oh dear…

Episode 11
While shopping for stuffs, Rin feels guilty for passing the flu to Nitani. Daikichi assures her that the flu is everywhere. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. Oh, Kouki’s tooth is starting to come out too and he’s pulling it out! Daikichi and Rin walk Kouki back to his apartment and don’t want to disturb his mom resting. But that kid was so noisy ringing the bell that mom had to come out. So Daikichi and Nitani meet face to face. I can guess their sentence is made out of these: Thank you, sorry, don’t worry. While brushing teeth, another tooth of Rin is coming loose. Daikichi and Nitani (already well) meet up with his other father friends at the park as their kids practice rope skipping for a competition. I guess it’s the season of losing your milk teeth because their kids’ tooth is also coming out. Daikichi realizes he doesn’t have a cute tooth container for Rin like the rest. He never thought there would be such things existed. Rin gets one from Nitani. Daikichi weighs himself and finds he has gained weight so the next time he joins the kids practising rope skipping (the other fathers had the same idea too). He might seem cool and like a boxer but he ran out of steam. Daikichi mentions he isn’t Rin’s real father and unlike them who has spent their entire time with their kids, he spent all his time for himself before Rin came in, in which his lifestyle suddenly changed. He is wondering if he can live without any time for himself in the future. The rest don’t think of it that way at all. Rin may have flopped in the rope skipping competition, but she got first place for skipping ropes backwards! 203 times! Daikichi and Rin visit his mom on a weekend and she really wants to do something to Rin’s loose tooth. While eating dinner, that loose tooth came off. And she’s bleeding! Later Daikichi talks to Kazumi as he found out she’s getting married soon. The problem is her soon-to-be husband wants a kid fast but she is not too keen. She still wants to maintain this single life of hers and doesn’t want to turn into a whiny old lady. Well, she sounds like one to me already. Besides, how did she manage to get married if starting a family wasn’t on her mind? Whirlwind romance? But for Daikichi, he is sure it will all work out since this is what she decided. He may sound like it doesn’t concern him but he had never been in a position of a mother, father or husband. True. He remembers what Nitani and the other guys told him then. Even if they don’t have time for themselves, the time spent with their child is also their time and it is very precious. Being a parent isn’t anything special and if you look around, there are parents everywhere. After the family prays at Souichi’s grave, Daikichi remembers the important moments from the time he first met Rin. He probably would continue to be alarmed over the smallest things from her (because she’s getting another tooth loose), in any case, that smile will turn into his own happiness. Oh, Rin has lost 2 of her front teeth. Looking very cute and funny… So what do you want to wish for Christmas?

Lovely Drops
Ah well. This is such a heart-warming and sweet series. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In any case I felt the focus of this entire series is on Daikichi and Rin (duh!). That’s because it didn’t really tie up what happened to Masako after that grave visit. So does this mean she really wants to forget about Rin? Rest assured Rin is in safe hands. I thought there was going to be some budding romance between Daikichi and Nitani late in the series but I guess it never happened. Perhaps the joy of taking care of their kids is more important than thinking of getting married. Look at it this way. It is only after that you are married and settle down that you get to know each other’s faults and less desirable qualities. Which of course may lead to divorce (and it will be the second time for Nitani’s case). So by staying the way as they are, they get to continue to communicate and help out each other as always and more importantly the kids don’t get dragged into the messy tussle of legal proceedings and such. Well, one day when they kids grow up, they’ll really know the meaning of divorce. But for now, let’s have them think it’ another form of being single, eh? So while the ending may not be much and it feels more like life-goes-on, I suppose this is the best way for this short series to end. It could have lasted longer but that will be repetitive and boring. All you see here is mainly Daikichi and Rin bonding with each other and doing things together. I know real life is like a routine but if this is going to be applied to the anime, then that’s a different story. From what I further read on the brief plot on Wikipedia, though the first half is what we see the focus on Daikichi adopting and bringing Rin up, the remainder of the manga focuses on Rin 10 years later as a high school student, the truth about her family ties (I guess when you’re a kid, you don’t really care about the details of who is who), her feelings for Kouki and her decision for a career. Seems interesting for a sequel. If that ever happens, I’m sure I’ll be sticking around to find out.

It is obvious that within the few months since Daikichi and Rin met, their lives have been drastically changed. For the better I would say. Daikichi learns how to take responsibility while Rin opens herself up more. They may not be directly related but it goes to show that they love each other like a real family. At first everybody was treating Rin like an outcast. Slowly, all that seemed forgotten and Rin is as though like part of their family from the start. That should be the way. It might seem odd that Daikichi is not married and yet he has a child to take care of but you don’t have to be a conventional family unit in undertaking responsibilities as a parent. Because Daikichi has lived alone for so long, he is quite self sufficient. With Rin in the picture it doesn’t add to his burden. Though it might be hard to get used to this life but look at how they are getting through. Daikichi is not alone in raising Rin because he has his family as well as other parents to help each other out (and I don’t mean using Google or play online simulations in raising a kid. It’s the real deal in asking for help in person). As far as I can see, he is doing quite a good job in involving himself in Rin’s life and trying his best not to make any traumatic memories. I won’t really say Rin comes from a broken family but the circumstances in which she arrives in this world would definitely make her the source of bully and ostracize. Kids can be honest and cute, but they can also be cruel. Thankfully Rin did not face this problem. Yet. Kouki is a cheeky boy and like boys his age, it is natural for him to be mischievous. I guess it reminds Daikichi of himself when he was younger, eh? Though naughty, at least he still thinks of Rin and protects her whenever the need arises. You can say Rin and Kouki are close enough to warrant that cliche childhood-friends-turned-lovers story once they hit puberty (as I have mentioned earlier on). Of course we don’t see any sort of that romance blooming between them at this young age. Ah, the age of innocence. At first Reina seems like a handful to handle with her tantrums and fits but after getting to know her a little, she isn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe all she wants is just some attention. Now good friends with Rin, she seems less naughty than before. Another point to ponder: If Rin is Daikichi’s aunt, that means to Reina, Rin is her grandaunt! How often can you have your grandmother the same age as you!

As with Daikichi taking care of Rin and the issue of family ties and dependability being addressed, I’m sure the other dark issue is Masako’s case of abandonment. Just like in the real world, there are mothers who wouldn’t bat an eyelid to abandon their child. It is worse if they do so right after birth. It is hard not to see Masako as the villain but I guess you can say what she did was also a blessing in disguise. For had not she left Souichi and Rin, Daikichi and Rin wouldn’t have met and these events leading up to where they are now will never happen. Of course it is still a bad idea to dump your kid at a crucial time when your child needs a parent’s love the most. Masako must have loved Souichi so much to even listen to him and keep the child rather than go for abortion. However maybe she still has to think about herself and that’s why she left. Souichi is at an age where he just may kick the bucket any time. And true enough it did happen. Masako is still young and perhaps that’s why she needs to find a way to support herself. Perhaps the reason why she became Souichi’s maid in the first place to earn extra income to supplement her mangaka job? It’s not my place to say it is good or bad what Masako did in general and even after seeing Rin in secret, she still doesn’t harbour that motherly love. But I hope there won’t come a time whereby in the future Masako would come knocking on Daikichi’s door wanting her daughter back. That I feel would be unfair to Daikichi who has put in all the effort, hardship and trouble to raise Rin, who has also bonded and trusted Daikichi like her own father (despite saying Daikichi is Daikichi, I feel deep down she looks to him as her father just like how she did with Souichi). Of course no family is perfect too as we see in Haruko’s case. Despite having a seemingly perfect family, she feels isolated and her husband is a workaholic. It is easy to always resort for divorce (like cases nowadays) but sometimes to make marriages work, lots of sacrifices to be made. I know I’m not the one to say either since I haven’t experienced it but being married is like give and take. You don’t just understand the other instantly. It takes a long time and possibly an entire lifetime to know the good, bad and ugly bits.

The drawing and art seem simple enough to be close to a water colour-like painting. However this is quite obvious during the parts before the opening credits. It is like as though the colouring wasn’t filled enough so as to see the water colour-like effects. Otherwise the drawing of the characters and background sceneries are quite simple and light. In a way, some scenes make Rin look quite cute. Especially when she makes her kiddie smile. Now that she has lost her two front teeth, she looks even cuter. Or like a Cheshire cat? There is a live adaptation film of this series but I didn’t watch it. I guess it’s more or less the same thing. The opening theme is Sweet Drops by Puffy AmiYumi. Yes, that girl group duo who had an American cartoon of their own. Since I don’t watch their show, it’s not like I recognized them. I think they even made a cameo appearance as the nursery school teachers. Seeing a little resemblance… However this song when I first heard it, it felt awfully familiar, like as though I heard it from somewhere before. Then I realized that is not the case. In fact it sounded very similar to Bobby Fuller’s I Fought The Law And Won. Well, it’s a happy, happy, happy song that makes you, er, happy. I swear I thought the ending theme was also familiar in this sense. High High High by Kasarinchu sounded like some pop country music but I just can’t put my finger on it. Anybody can help me on this? But hearing this song, you really feel like going high, high and higher. In both the opening and ending credits animation, there are lots of crayon and kiddie-like drawings scattering all over the screen. Cute?

At first I thought there was something unique about Rin’s voice. She sounded like a real kid instead of those grownup female seiyuus trying to do a squeaky high pitched girl’s voice. True enough, Ayu Matsuura was only 10 years old when she took on this role. I would say this is her debut in TV anime but her second since her first voice acting role was a movie for children. Another real young girl lending her voice is Nanako Sudou as Reina. She was 9 years old when she debuted in this role as her other role as far as I could find was that side character Risa in Shinryaku!? Ika Musume S2. I couldn’t find much info on Noa Sakai who is the voice of Kouki. Not sure whether the person is a kid but from my experience, she would be an adult who fits voicing boys’ role. However this is only her first and only anime role. At points I thought Mamiko Noto was the voice behind Masako because of the character’s soft and monotonous voice. Even so, there were parts whereby she didn’t sound like my favourite seiyuu so I wasn’t sure. Upon checking, Masako is voiced by Maaya Sakamoto who did Ciel in Kuroshitsuji, Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club and Morute in World Destruction. Other casts include Hiroshi Tsuchida as Daikichi (Masamune in Soul Eater), Sayaka Ohara as Nitani (Alicia in Aria The Animation series, Erza in Fairy Tail), Kana Ueda as Haruko (Rin in Fate/Stay Night), Yumi Uchiyama as Kazumi (Nagi in A Channel), Yui Kano as Gotou (Kazuho in Nabari No Ou, Cecile in Gosick) and Atsuko Mine as Daikichi’s mom (Maiko in Okusama Wa Mahou Shoujo).

Being a parent or a single parent isn’t child’s play. May look easy and fun at first but when you’re in this kind of job, you cannot quit halfway, have no breaks, no compensation and it is full 24/7 attention and care. Of course the rewards you reap from all that will be worth a zillion dollars plus all the material wealth you would accumulate even if you have lived a hundred lives. I know I myself have yet to get hitched or think about starting a family. Can I blame anime for being my ‘baby’? I’m sure my uncles and aunties will start asking and the usual eternal question, “When are you going to get married ah?”. I’m around the same age as Daikichi when I watched this series but I just can’t find the courage to take the plunge. Yet. You know, that fear of failing, screwing up, falling short and not living up to expectations. But that’s life. The scary part is that after hearing so many cases of child abandonment, neglect and abuse all over the newspaper and internet, it feels so disheartening and de-motivating. But sooner or later I too would have to go through this phase or risk being a single otaku for life. Maybe I need to watch more of this sort of animes before I really get moving in my life. Really, I kid you not.

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