Usagi Drop, episode 3: Becoming family

There were so many lovable Rin moments this episode. I just like sitting back and watching Usagi Drop unfold. It just brings a smile to my face.

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Rabbits! The Silent Killer.

One of the nice things about UD’s simplistic design is that small changes in expression are easily noticeable. I loved seeing Rin’s eyebrows furrow as she turned away from the health scare news special.

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Am I loud enough for you!?

There’s a couple major events in this episode. The first being Rin’s reintroduction to the family, as Daikichi takes her for a visit to his parent’s home. The little moments like how Rin grabs ahold of Daikichi when his loud, abrasive sister crashes the party, or how she follows him around the house are just incredibly adorable. At the same time, these scenes really add to the warmth of the show when we get to see her gradually growing from being a frightened mouse, to becoming more comfortable and friendly around the other family members.

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Sisters bonding

On the flipside, it was equally heartwarming to see Daikichi’s parents quickly warm to Rin like a grandchild (even though she’s technically their sister). Maybe I’m jaded, but I’m too used to seeing the stereotypical bitchy stepmom reaction, so seeing Daikichi’s parents make their best efforts at trying to get Rin feel comfortable and loved was such a nice moment.

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Tiny women have one stomach for the baby. And another 10 for all the food they eat.

The other major event has to do with Daikichi pondering the question of sacrifice with his co-worker, Gotou, and then accepting a demotion to get more manageable working hours so that he can better take care of Rin. One of things I started thinking about was how much of Daikichi’s work quandary was a Japanese-culture quandary.

The stereotypical salary man works late and long hours; it’s hard to fit in child rearing into that schedule. In terms of paternity or maternity benefits, I don’t think Japanese companies are as progressive as companies tend to be here in the US. (This is based on my understanding of Korean companies – basically the same peas in a pod)

My personal experience is that the companies I’ve worked at have provided a lot of flexibility for parents. Whether it’s the option of working more at home, or flexible hours. A “demotion” in order to be a better parents isn’t usually part of the equation. But then I started wondering about how much that has to do with the specific industry I work in, which largely adheres to a 9-5 schedule. Sometimes there’s late nights, but even then, if someone says they have to leave for their kids, no one bats an eye. It’s just an accepted practice. But maybe that’s just me.

What if you worked as a retail manager at Wal-Mart (which from what I gather seems to be the type of job Daikichi has), would you get the same flexibility? They tend to have longer and unusual shifts, due to the store hours and things like holiday promotions. Would the the same flexibility exist there? What if you worked as an investment banker, or as a management consultant? Lots of hours, lots of travel. The opportunity for flexibility is just much more inherently limited. If someone wanted to raise a child, they likely would have to take a demotion, if not get a different career altogether.

So while there’s definitely a cultural difference in Daikichi’s situation as a Japanese single parent vs. being a single parent in the US, in practice, I’m not so sure that he’d be that much better off working in the US. In the end, I think he’d be stuck making the same decisions.

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Why does Rin remember things in 3rd person?

The other subplot has to do with Daikichi looking for more information on Rin’s mother. Having read the manga, this particular subplot was never that interesting to me. But thankfully, it’s not something that gets dragged out.

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From bed wetting to philosophical. Kids grow up so quickly.

Usagi Drop has this tendency to touch on serious matters in the most… nonassuming way. It’s really quite refreshing. There’s no wailing, or unnecessary gnashing of teeth. Just simple statements, subtle expressions, but they’re so effective in helping us understand how Rin feels, what she fears, and how Daikichi feels about Rin. It’s what makes the show so easy to watch.