Anime Vice News

Watch & Learn: USAGI DROP #1

Awwwwww...

Thankfully, this never got "tricky."
Thankfully, this never got "tricky."

Josei, huh? That’s the term for “women’s interest” in these circles, apparently. Once again, I’m a little vexed by how audiences are classified so strictly, here, but that’s not stopping for me enjoying USAGI DROP - - even if I’m a guy.

I’m certainly not averse to close-to-Earth dramas and I’ll certainly champion the notion that animation’s a medium that can handle stories of every genre and tone. However, from a purely logistical standpoint, I always wonder how worthwhile it is to lavish so many extra hours of rendering on a subject that can more easily be presented in live action. Animation lets you entertain the wildest flights of fancy without leaving the studio, but using that same “magic brush” to paint a breakfast table conversation seems somewhat akin to putting something like 50/50 out in 3D. Perfectly conceivable, of course, but is anything added to the experience if it’s not going to be a spectacle?

To whit, I could very, very easily picture USAGI DROP as some light live-action drama - - something that Rob Reiner or James L. Brooks might direct. Still, there was enough stylization and expressiveness in the art to warrant the ol’ pen and ink and, on a more basic level, this is simply an interesting and moving human drama; and that transcends a lot of concerns. Seriously, the concept of a guy adopting his much-younger aunt is something with universal appeal and I’m quite surprised that this hasn’t ever gotten adapted by Hollywood. More so than AKIRA, EVA or BEBOP, this is the manga/anime that wouldn’t require much retooling to hit those elusive “four quadrants.”

Color me charmed, but I don’t know how appropriate it would be for this column. For as much as I’d love to continue watching, the other edge of the show’s gentler hand is that there isn’t too much to speculate on or analyze. It’s not like there’s any use in me speculating if these two will go to the zoo in the second episode or something, you know?

Watch this episode "The Bellflower Girl " here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

ZombiePieon Oct. 6, 2011 at 12:44 a.m.

You know as someone who has very little tolerance for wet works and gore light, slice of life dramas or comedies are right up my alley. Also yes, I enjoyed Usagi Drop, there I said it.

I saw something I liked.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Oct. 6, 2011 at 2:54 a.m.

I have yet to watch the anime, but I did enjoy Usagi Drop the manga. It's such a unique story of a single guy on a bullet train to an average life who starts to mature as he opts to raise his own aunt. I would more fear if Hollywood did this. It would wind up being a comedy starring Seth Rogan. Not that I have anything against Rogan, mind you. It just seems to be the way of things.

I once heard Josei described in a way that really sort of fits. It's sort of the kind of paperback novels you see in grocery stores. They are intended to target a more mature female audience. I think part of the focus of manga and anime is what helps them do well. One of the larger problems I see with comics is that too often they try to be too many things at once. Rather than making a focused story. They flood their market and shatter their reader base. Look at what they are doing with X-Men comics. Now, on top of all the other X-Books. There will be X-Men and Wolverine & the X-Men. Two separate books, telling the same story, with the same characters, and at a full price for both. The only difference is that they are on different coasts. Readers wont know which book to follow for the whole story, and they are being optimistic if they think readers will be willing to buy both.

Sure, categorizing their series may intimidate readers away from a series because they think it's not targeted toward them. But it also allows them to focus on exactly who they are targeting. People who want a certain kind of story know where to go. You know with Shonen you are going to get more lighthearted action and adventure. Seinen is a more darker and mature series. Shojo things are going to be more flowery and cute. Josei is going to be more drama based

Theresonlyoneon Oct. 6, 2011 at 3:12 a.m.
This show is easily my favourite show of the year. Me and the gf sat and watched every week we haven't done that since HotD.

It's really cute and very well animated although some don't like the spartan background design (same arguments agains Azumanga and that shows amazing)
Om1kronon Oct. 6, 2011 at 3:46 a.m.

This was an amazing show and I enjoyed it very much. The art and the animation style just had my jaw dropped the entire time. It makes you wonder if anything is actually hand drawn since the animation at times looks like watercolored art set in motion. Such simple backdrops and ink and color washes set the tone. It's a great show and a little sad it's only 11 episodes and ends. No need for a second season although I would love to see it continue.

Sophismon Oct. 6, 2011 at 4:15 a.m.

I enjoyed Usagi Drop, but I will agree with you that it might not be something that encourages a lot of discussion. (Unless you want to talk about the manga, and quite frankly, the less said about it, the better.)

If you're looking for something that strikes that down-to-earth cord, while tackling a really hard subject, (One controversial enough that it likely will spark a good amount of discussion.) I'd highly suggest you check out Wandering Son. Its art style is in fact very reminiscent of Usagi Drop's anime adaptation, but it's definitely better realized, mostly due to its stupendous production value.

Maybe go check it out without reading anything about it first. You might be surprised.

It's available for free on Crunchy Roll, in case you feel like checking it out.

Petiewon Oct. 6, 2011 at 4:34 a.m.
I didn't check this out when it was airing, after finding out how the manga went. Since they stopped before that though I might actually give it a watch.
Halberdierv2on Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.

I really wanted to check it out when It came out, but never got around to doing so. it looks really great, though.

PenguinDuston Oct. 6, 2011 at 6 a.m.

I watched this series recently and it was fantastic. The premise reminded me of Aishiteruze Baby, a similar show about a self-centered teenage boy suddenly tasked with raising his 5 year-old cousin after her mother abandons her. There's a lot more going on in that series since it is a lot longer and it spends more time with Yuzu, the little girl, and her fears as well as a romance subplot involving the boy and a emotionally fragile classmate. I don't know if we'll get to see more of Usagi Drop but I hope so since from what I understand there is a second phase to the story in the manga which takes place 10 years after Rin enters Daikichi's life. However, reading the plot outline over on Wikipedia, it might be a bit too "Woody Allen" for some.

As for this series being a live-action movie, well they made one in Japan already. As Tom suggests, it looks to be a sappy drama and I personally have no interest in seeing those types of movies anymore. However, I will see them if animated. Call it a bias. Animation doesn't just have to be about the "zip pow" fantasy to be entertaining. I believe that line of thought is a huge stumbling block in the West. Exploration of the mundane is something Western animation seems to shy away from, or at least American animation does.

By the way, child actress Hallee Hirsh played Tom Hank's 11 year-old aunt in 1998's You Got Mail, so the concept of an aunt being decades younger than her nephew has been approached by Hollywood.

metalsnakezeroon Oct. 6, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.

Keep watching Tom, it a show that makes you want to be a good person. Also there is a Live action movie of this.

buhssuhton Oct. 6, 2011 at 6:31 a.m.

it brings out parental instinct our of all of us

Larsaon Oct. 6, 2011 at 6:39 a.m.

I fucking loved this show, best anime of the year by far.

VanTeslaon Oct. 6, 2011 at 7:24 a.m.

I have not watched the anime adaptation yet, but I loved the manga until it got to the second half of the series... The ending was just weird and came out of nowhere... I hope they end it on the first half since it was a fine ending just there.

Scalecon Oct. 6, 2011 at 8 a.m.

The only thing that put me off this series was the ending of the manga. But for all thier own I guess.

Username_Undefinedon Oct. 6, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.

The thing that I remember about anime and manga "genres" is not that those are the only age and gender group that will like it, but that is the main focus audience. Just because you're not a young teenage girl doesn't mean that you can't read shojou series; if you enjoy really dark storylines, you'll probably enjoy seinen even if you aren't the "target audience." I see these labels more as "this series has these qualities, so it's a _______ series" than the more restrictive rules you seem to set Tom.

zaldaron Oct. 6, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.

Of the series you have watched so far this is the only one I have interest in following. It does bring up stuff for us to talk about...as we could talk about parenting and how it is done right.

You didn't bring up the thing that could be talked about in this episode..watch it again and note how everyone seems to blame the child for her father's sin and talk about how the child brings dishonor onto the family. This is a REAL Japanese view point. That is something worth talking about...

PewPewLazerson Oct. 6, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.

@ZombiePie said:

You know as someone who has very little tolerance for wet works and gore light, slice of life dramas or comedies are right up my alley. Also yes, I enjoyed Usagi Drop, there I said it.

I saw something I liked.

I don't mind the former but I wouldn't mind a change of pace, especially as I'm watching Death Note at the moment. I don't remember it being quite so drab in its colour palette!

I might check out a few episodes of this and see how it goes.

AlexanderSheenon Oct. 6, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.

Every time I watched an episode of this, I'm just melted. It's very adorable and I liked the change of pace, compared to the other anime's I'm watching.

xeroxkittyon Oct. 6, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.

I saw this a few months ago when Amazon recommended the manga to me. It is very ordinary in appearance, definitely slow-paced and gives the characters enough time and space for the viewer to get a good sense of who they al are.

However, having read the plot for the whole series then I know that the second half of the series isn't 'cute'. Sure, Rin is just as cute when she's grown into a teenager, but the way her relationship with Daikichi develops is far from "kawaii".

Superevil225on Oct. 6, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.

I borrowed the manga of this one. It's soooo adorable~

Darokion Oct. 6, 2011 at 9:08 p.m.

@Sophism said:

I enjoyed Usagi Drop, but I will agree with you that it might not be something that encourages a lot of discussion. (Unless you want to talk about the manga, and quite frankly, the less said about it, the better.)

If you're looking for something that strikes that down-to-earth cord, while tackling a really hard subject, (One controversial enough that it likely will spark a good amount of discussion.) I'd highly suggest you check out Wandering Son. Its art style is in fact very reminiscent of Usagi Drop's anime adaptation, but it's definitely better realized, mostly due to its stupendous production value.

Maybe go check it out without reading anything about it first. You might be surprised.

It's available for free on Crunchy Roll, in case you feel like checking it out.

Wandering Son might have a bit more fat to chew on than Usagi Drop did, but you're not going to go wrong with either, since they're both absolutely fantastic. If Tom's afraid that Usagi Drop might be a bit too little to write about, checking out the first episode of Wandering Son's a GREAT suggestion.

+1 to Sophism

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