Number of Volumes and Chapters: 9 volumes, 56 chapters
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Slice-Of-Life, Josei
Synopsis: Daikichi Kawachi is a simple 30-year-old salary man and single bachelor living in Japan. His appearance makes children slink away from him and can't seem to get a girlfriend even when he tries his hardest. After years of moving out of his parent's house and moving into a relative's empty home, he finally hears from his family after such a long time - that his grandfather, Souichi Kaga, has passed away. Almost reluctantly, as it seemed to be out of respect for his late-grandfather, he returns to his parent's house for the awaiting funeral processions. However, when he finally arrives, he meets a 6-year-old girl named Rin in the family garden that he's never seen before. Quick as a flash, she runs away in embarrassment. Later, as he questions his Mother who he saw, his Mother replies "That little girl you saw - apparently, she's grandpa's illegitimate daughter". Daikichi is beyond belief and floored that his 79-year-old grandfather had one last daughter before he died. However, it turns out that Rin has become orphaned due to his death and the entire family is dishonored to have Rin in the family line and do not want anything to do with her. In a fit of rage due to his family's cruel judgment towards Rin, Daikichi ops to take care of the newly-orphaned girl by himself. The series then kicks off as Daikichi and Rin learn to live with one another, learn how to properly take care of a child from scratch, create a strong bond, learn to deal with other parents, learn how to have patience, be aware of your surroundings and much more.
The Manga opens up in it's first pages as Daikichi gets off the train in his hometown and walks to his parents house, realizing that it's been years since he's even stepped foot on his parent's property - thinking to himself, "How long has it been?". The synopsis above then tells the rest of the trip Daikichi takes to his hometown. After the family get their last look at Souichi before his eventual burial, Daikichi then: says goodbye to the family, picks up Rin's (surprisingly) minimal belongings from his mother, and heads back for the train with Rin in tow. As the days pass, Daikichi: gets advise from his cousin (Haruko) since she has a little girl as well, eventually enrolls Rin into pre-school as the name 'Rin Kaga', goes to buy Rin clothes and bedding and learning even how to get the right size of clothing, learns to style hair slightly, talks with co-workers about their children, learns about teeth falling out and having to put them in 'treasure boxes', learning how to juggle having a kid and making certain sacrifices, thinking a lot more in terms of how things can affect Rin as her guardian, using his bonuses from work for other than the bars or on a possible date and use it for Rin's benefit and more. Of course, though, Rin is having to transition from having Souichi raising her to Daikichi, so she constantly makes mistakes at just how Daikichi is related to her. Calling him 'uncle' and 'grandpa' for example. Eventually, Rin becomes accustomed to Daikichi and sees him as a role-model and someone she can depend on for support. As well, Dakichi learns about Rin through her 'mother-to-child medical book' and finds out her biological mother is one Masako Yoshii. As the story progresses, and Rin enters into Kindergarten, we get introduced to another single parent and child pair - Kouki Nitani and his mother Yukari. Rin and Kouki instantly hit it off strong, and develop a friendship that reminds me of when I was younger. Both Rin and Kouki complement each other - with Rin being the timid girl and him being the rambunctious little boy that only wants to run wild and play on the playground at school. Eventually, Daikichi and Yukari learn what it's like to be admirable parents and even start a friendship of their own - making the four of them a sort of family if you will. However, as Daikichi's and Rin's relationship grows into a father&daughter relationship, Daikichi goes back to grandpa's (Rin's) old home and finds his will and a long letter explaining truths about Rin that he never was able to pass on before he died. In the letter, Daikichi finds a phone number and Souchi states it's Masako's. So, Daikichi calls and sets up a secret meeting (more like just a glance/viewing) for Masako to see Rin at Souichi's grave. During this time, it's revealed that Masako is a mangaka (manga artist) and even has a boyfriend, but - she has left Rin to continue her work in the Manga industry. This marks the 1 year since Daikichi took Rin into his home and started raising her as his own. A few chapter later, Daikichi has to deal with Rin losing teeth and as that chapter ends he states, "...It doesn't feel like a sacrifice anymore. That's how I began to feel in the Spring of my 31st year".
Now - skip 10 years.
Unfortunately, this is where the Manga takes a nose dive into oblivion. It's as if the Manga was on a drop curve (a type of diagram in electronics to show the sudden and extremely rapid loss of voltage in a device or part) and this is when the peak was hit and now there’s nowhere to go but through the unsavory floor. Seeing the first part (to save brain power, we will be saying ‘first part’ to signify Rin’s childhood years and ‘second part’ for her teenage years) playing out as a lighthearted, comical, and even admirable slice-of-life series with the quirks of Daikichi trying his hardest to learn just how it is to be a father for Rin and raising her the best he can with his parental abilities starting at ground-zero. He worries a lot, learns how to be a parent in no time flat, and eventually gets a handle on it and even enjoys being a father as Rin’s childhood arc draws to a close to name just a few. He reminded me a lot about my own father, acutely. And, I could see Rin as myself, so it turned out to be a wonderful series to get in to. Until the second part comes into play.
As chapter 25 rolls in, we get the time skip of an astounding 10 years as Rin just enters into high school, is 16-years-old, and has already been going there for a while now as well. Unfortunately, for the reader, Unita decides to leave out crucial things that would come into play during those many years as the chapter starts out with Rin already dressed for school, waking Daikichi up in time for work, and serving breakfast. What would Daikichi’s reaction have been as Rin got her first period? Would Rin have had her first kiss already? What would Daikichi think about Kouki and him growing up? Did Daikichi’s relationship with Yukari ever get going? What was Rin like during middle school? So many questions and possible hilarious scenarios were swept under the table that would have made so much more substance to the story. But, she decided to just land the time skip in the middle of Rin’s and Kouki’s first year of high school – with nothing happening what so ever during those 10 years. This pretty much shows that the peak has been hit and now it’s a ride to the unsavory floor, as it were.
While the first part of the Manga was lighthearted and had a sort of nostalgia to it with learning and understanding from all of the characters, the second half becomes nothing more than a teenage soap opera as it remembers nothing it has built up to this point with a very large and disturbing twist at the end. Angst? Yep. Unreasonable Misunderstanding? Yep. Frustrating or nasty meddlers/blockers/rivals? Yep. Moronic supporting cast? Yep. Insecurity? Of course! In one fail swoop, Unita takes her own story with so much potential and love and then takes it into the shoujo genre and steps unto every shoujo stereotype landmine she can possibly find - leaving the first part to deal with it's horrible wounds. Some may wish to call me cruel or not understanding, however, the second part of the Manga just leaves my severely dissapointed and hurt and wishing it only lasted for the first part.
So, to move on, we shall talk about the (literal) art of 'Usagi Drop'.
Unita does a good job of combining detailed facial expressions and (sometimes) detailed scenery into the Manga, and usually it's well done to the degree of how the art looks in general. The artwork is not stereotypically Anime-like either, where the characters eyes are so big you think they are going to jump out of their sockets, and Unita really does try to put a feeling of realism into 'Usagi Drop' and usually the execution is handled very well to moderately good. However, usually the artwork turns into panels of nothing but detailed faces and over use&over-powering of speech bubbles with typical Manga accents to give it a little more flavor. Sometimes, the drawings show characters heads as if they were squished or some limbs or fingers are too big or too small and other things of the like - giving the feeling of sloppy artwork and characters off model from panel to panel. Another thing to add is that some pages have no backgrounds whatsoever, and end up just as gradients behind the characters or just simple things to show that the characters are inside a building. Even though I would like to see more detailed backgrounds for panels, or some things to be changed, the artwork is decent and gives the feeling of a simpler time or just as if you were living in the same situation. Not extrememly great in terms of series like Eureka 7, but not something that I would push off as aweful or not good either. I would even call it good and it works just enough for me that I enjoy it.
Unfortunately, the characters start losing their appeal after the time-skip and it almost becomes dull and un-eventful in general and not fun at all to read when you strip it down to the bare bones. I ended up reading it for entertainment and just soaking it in while I lazily clicked my keyboard, trying to get to the next page to finally finish the unsavory second half. Not much happens, and the "interesting" parts that do happen all have to do with teenage drama and angst between Rin, Kouki, and his ex-girlfriend Akari. As well, Rin becomes especially annoying and unusual as she has trouble with Kouki and Akari's past as Akari starts showing up back in Kouki's life and tries to get back together with him as well as becoming the inevitable meddler and destructive force that completely ruins Kouki's chance of dating Rin - as it was since the beginning Kouki fell in love with Rin and finally confessed one day. Haruko's daughter, Reina, becomes the air-head and one of the insecure characters as her parents had divorced during the time-skip and a complete moron to add to it. Daikichi becomes a supporting character as he's put on the back burner for most of it as Unita heaves way for Rin to tell the rest of the story. Masako turns out to be the worst mother possible, leaving Rin to go work in the Manga industy, stating that she's not her daughter anymore, not caring about anyone but herself, having a child with a younger man and says that she'll take care of her, and just other things that really rub me the wrong way.
The real kicker for the end of the Manga is that Rin develops romantic feelings - for Daikichi. She finally vows that she only wants to live with him unti he gets old and cook for him and even get's more ackward as she confesses she wants to have Daikichi's child. However, you might be thinking "Wait - aren't they RELATED? Isn't that going into incest territory?!". Well - no! In just one of the many ass-pulls to the second half of the manga, as Rin seeks condolence in Masako (given her experience with Souichi) at her home, Daikichi finds out about this and runs to Masako's house to only be greeted with a determined Masako as she proclaims "Rin is not Souchi's daughter! I never had a child with him" - 4-5 chapters before the final ending. So, Daikichi and Rin are not related at all. Before this, as Kouki screams at Daikichi that Rin loves him, Daikichi is appalled to find this out and get's the truth from Rin and Rin starts discussing about them having a romantic relationship and Daikichi responds with things such as that he would never want her to live with him forever, he is her father, and the like. Only a chapter or two after this, Daikichi confesses that he knew she was never Souchi's daughter all along. Finally, at the very last chapter -chapter 56- Daikichi accepts Rin's feelings, is willing to try it out, and says (and I quote!) "Well..should we get married then?".
That is what the huge and disturbing twist is. This is what made the Manga go through the floor for me. It is not morally right, and - even with getting married- Rin is Daikichi's daughter in his eyes. However, Daikichi is willing to impregnate Rin? WTF?!! And, after all the anguish of Rin's confession, and trying to get her to look another way, he accepts and is willing to marry her. I - just don't understand.
Anyways, it just goes to show you that you will never know what will happen until it happens. Now, I'm just going to go over here and pretend like the second half never existed. Excuse me.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.