Usagi Drop, episode 5: Unlike mother, like daughter

Daikichi meets Rin’s mom, and takes another step at becoming a father-like figure to Rin.

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Hugging a rabbit makes everything better

I’m a little amazed at how Usagi Drop can take a simple scene and infuse it with so much soul. We hear Rin sobbing like a little puppy in the middle of the night, which wakes Daikichi. He reassures her and invites her to sleep next to him, and Rin responds by looking over, grabs her stuffed rabbit, and stops crying. Heck, what do you need parents for when you have a stuffed rabbit? The scene was cute, touching and funny all at the same time. But it makes an even greater impression when we learn that the reason she cries in the middle of the night, is because her mother used to leave her alone in the middle of the night to go to meetings with her editor, in her efforts to become a successful mangaka.

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But how else can you raise a troll?

Daikichi finally tracks down Rin’s mother, Masako, and meets someone who probably never should’ve been a mother. An aspiring mangaka, she was on the verge of a breakthrough when she found that she was pregnant. Which leaves her resentful. The way she talks about Souichro and her responsibilities as a single mother makes me think that Rin isn’t Souichiro’s daughter (if you’ve read the manga, please don’t spoil things). If Rin was Souichiro’s, I would think that she would’ve been able to balance her work duties better without doing things like leaving her in the middle of the night. Rin probably would’ve just been with Souichiro the whole time. Plus, she never refers to Souichiro as Rin’s dad.

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And such a cute child at that!

The other thing that stood out to me was not necessarily Masako’s poor mothering instincts, but how she resented Rin, because it interfered with her chances at becoming a mangaka, and eventually chose herself over Rin. Contrast that with what we learned about Daikichi’s mother a couple episodes back. How she also disliked being unable to do all the things she wanted to do, because she was a mother, but chose to make the sacrifices for her kids. And also to the discussion about sacrifice Daikichi had with Goutou. The decisions that these adults make remind me of the lyrics of a Cartel song:

7 years old, got his bat in his hand / He’s looking for his father and he doesn’t understand / ‘Cause dad’s too busy, got some deals on the way / His son sits alone as the children play
And he’s 18 he couldn’t wait to move out / His parents wonder what all the rush is about / They never bothered with his dreams / Only thinking of theirs / Wonders why he doesn’t call and why he doesn’t care

I’m not a parent, so I don’t know. But I think perhaps the most important quality of a parent is their willingness to think of their kids before them.

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Noooo, not the onion toothpaste

The moments between Daikichi and Rin all seem so… versatile. They grow closer through mundane activities like bathing, brushing teeth, cooking curry with a kids knife, but each of those scenes have so much heart and warmth in them. In a lot of ways, Rin is a perfect kid, she’s smart, responsible, well-behaved, but in many ways she’s still susceptible to all the stuff that kids are susceptible to – fear, peer pressure – and it’s really nice to see how Daikichi responds to all those situations and learns more about himself in the process.

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Yeah, she's a mangaka