Usagi Drop – 3

There’s just something subtle and innocent about the comedy in Usagi Drop that really adds to the charm and the enjoyment of the show.  In fact, it might be the best comedy this summer given these first three episodes.

Usagi Drop has been a masterpiece of an anime so far, built on a foundation of magnificent writing and realistic characters.  The drama and emotion of the series really thrive through these aspects and are probably the most recognizable elements of the anime.  And rightfully so, they are very solid in this anime.

But the comedy in Usagi Drop adds a different flavor to the anime, bringing an abrupt shift in atmosphere in a scene or being used to decrease the tension between two characters.  It often is used without disturbing the moment or the story, meaning the comedy comes and goes while every other aspect of the anime continues without missing a step.  Partially the reason here is that most of the comedy is subtle compared to other elements of the series, which works well for keeping the story or scene in perspective, but it does mean that the comedy can fade into an afterthought when taking in the scene as a whole.  But the comedy of Usagi Drop is one of the strengths of the series, mainly not due to the content of the humor but how it is used throughout the episode.

Usagi Drop is not a comedy powerhouse like other famous comedy anime but it is humorous and worth a couple of smiles and laughs every episode.  What works well for Usagi Drop is how the comedy is used rather than the jokes themselves, which is another reflection of the excellent writing and dialogue.  A prime example reflecting the strength of Usagi Drop’s comedy was shown near the beginning of the episode.  After watching a troubling program on television, Rin calmly asks Daikichi if she’s going to die.  It’s a scene that shows insight into the thoughts, worries, and confusion of a six year old who just lost her father that caught Daikichi off guard.  Immediately choosing the appropriate route of cheering up the distressed child, Daikichi counters Rin’s question and happily lifts her in the air.  THUD.  He goes to far and hits Rin’s head against the ceiling.  Not the greatest of jokes, especially since it had no build up and lasted only a handful of seconds, but the scene was enough to bring an instant smile to my face at the sudden and random change in mood.  Adding in that little gem to that emotional scene creates some variety that you wouldn’t expect.  Watching something humorous like that, especially after some serious dialogue, is why I feel Usagi Drop has a strong, yet subtle, style of comedy.

There were numerous other incidences of comedy throughout the entire series but this episode had the greatest frequency, as well as some of the best jokes to date.  One reason is due to the reduced amount of conflict in this episode, most of which was resolved when the family opened up to Rin, thus causing Rin to open up herself to others.  In addition to the lack of significant conflict in this episode, allowing Daikichi and Rin more time to get to know each other truly aids in the familiarity and comfort in their daily interactions.  They are acquainted with each other, looking more like a family than a man raising a child.  In addition, the cast expanded, showing more of Sachiko, Kenji, and Kazumi, who each added their own personality to the anime.  Each played a part in some joke or another giving the comedy in this series some much needed diversity instead of only being about Daikichi and Rin.  And still, even with all the humor in this episode, the story remained uninterrupted and developed at a nice pace, meaning that the comedy can coexist with the story for both an entertaining and engaging anime.  Again, these are both qualities highlighted by the outstanding writing thus far in this anime.

In the episode, we learned just a little bit more about Rin’s mother, Masako.  Rin recalls that Masako was the maid at her father’s home but doesn’t seem to know that this person is also her mother.  The major detail revealed here, at least for Rin, is that she was scared of Masako because she perceived that Masako hated her and was always angry.  As a result, and this is not surprising, Rin hated Masako back and did her best to forget her.  This scene came as a bit of a shock to me, actually hearing Rin say she hates someone.  We’ve seen many difference faces on Rin, ranging from well-behaved to shy to happy to fume and virtually everything else between.  But we’ve never seen her hate anyone or anything yet.  The closest was our dissatisfied and lonely Rin who was picked up late at the nursery but that is well below the level of hate.  I’m interested to see what Rin is like, the way she acts, reacts, and the emotions she feels when she’s around Masako.  It’s something I hope to see sometime soon in the anime, while Rin is still a young child, since it’s a version of Rin we have yet to experience.

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  1. #1 by Fuu on July 21, 2011 - 10:58 PM

    The subtle humour is indeed a great addition to an already solid foundation built on realism and great characterisation. Even though this episode lacked the intensity of drama from the previous two episodes, it was every bit as good.

    I think episode three is indicative of the general pacing and plot of Usagi Drop in its entirely(eleven episodes). The occasional revelation or piece of insight may be discovered but it’s these subtleties and nuances that you mentioned that will continue (I sincerely hope at least) to drive this anime forward. Cheers for the review! One of the first I can see. :D

    • #2 by avvesione on July 21, 2011 - 11:11 PM

      Thanks, I’m glad someone appreciates the style of humor in Usagi Drop. I’d be happy if this style, a healthy mix of comedy and drama, and pacing continued for the rest of the season but I think there’ll be some major conflicts coming up in the near future that put the drama and emotion back in the forefront of the series. I’m interested to see what happens to Haruko after hearing that her husband doesn’t help raise Reina at all. I think she’s facing a tough road ahead.

      • #3 by tomphile on July 22, 2011 - 8:22 AM

        There’s not much drama to be had in this anime, methinks. It’s great in that it gets by without too much crying or action, but I think it could do with a conflict or two.

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