Usagi Drop, episode 8: Masako’s purpose

I thought the latest Usagi Drop was the weakest of the season, mostly because of how heavy it was on the Masako characterization. But was it just me? Was I being too harsh? I decided to consult a second opinion with megas kawaii blogger, Blindability from Bokutachi no Blog.

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Life is tough as Mashiro's assistant

I think every minute spent on Masako takes away from the other parts of the UD that make it so good, because she’s sort of like the unwanted black sheep cousin who randomly shows up at family events time to time. No one knows who invited him, no one knows why he’s there, and he doesn’t add anything

Blindability: If Masako’s the “unwanted black sheep cousin” then you’re the straight-laced, up-tight cousin who thinks just because she’s made a mistake or two, she’s good for nothing and will never change. She’s still family! And therefore has some worth – even if you have to work hard to see it. She might not lend too much to the storyline right now, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t provide some sort of insight as to how Rin was raised by her for the short period of time she was raised by her, and what sort of influence Masako had on Rin directly or indirectly.

RP:  i don’t dislike her, because she has personality flaws, and she’s a deadbeat mom, but moreso because I don’t think she adds much to the story. Sure we get to see a little more insight as to how she raised Rin, but I think the most effective moments were when we got to see them through Daikichi and Rin’s recollections. Whether it was Daikichi looking through the detailed baby records, or Rin reminiscing about how she disliked visiting Masako’s place. Masako’s presence in the story, I think is more to draw some sympathy towards her decision to choose her work over Rin, but I’m not feeling that. And that aspect just isn’t integral to the story for me

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It was probably rice, it's not that difficult

Blindability: I don’t think her presence is meant to draw sympathy; I think it’s meant to answer questions. If Masako had never been shown, people would have wondered what she was like, what would have cause her to abandon Rin, and whether or not she had any redeeming value. Masako might not be integral to the plot, but her character adds some roundness to Rin’s character development as well as her personal story. Sure they could have done all of it in flashbacks, but that shows who Masako was versus who she is now in a sense. And sure maybe Masako doesn’t have any present day value as a mother or as a character, but at least we’ve seen her in present day (according to the storyline of course) and we can make that decision for ourselves.

RP: That’s fair, I’ll admit the one point where Masako felt somewhat useful was having the opportunity to learn why she left Rin – although even there I don’t think they go into as much depth as I’d like to see (e.g., how did she know that Rin would be in good hands after Souichiro’s death? We never get to hear her thinking here). It seems like without learning that piece, Masako may have as well left Rin for dead. It was complete abandonment. With that said, yeah, it is helpful to know that she left Rin because of her work. But we learned that episodes ago, what purpose does she serve now?

Blindability: Okay: I know you feel that there’s too much focus on Masako being that she’s nothing more than a side character, but it almost seems like you’re asking main character questions and development of her. No she didn’t know what would happen to Rin after Souichiro died; she probably just assumed he would have had her taken care of through his will or something, and that’s a little bit different than just leaving Rin for dead. (You’re so dramatic, RP!) But I will admit that her not inquiring about Rin after learning of Souichiro’s death shows that she doesn’t have any lingering maternal or emotional connections to Rin – willingly or not. I think Masako’s still in the show because she does have a purpose to serve though we may have to wait to find out what that is. Maybe it’s to strengthen every moment Rin experiences with Daikichi – a guardian who truly cares about her – or maybe it’s to show (not necessarily justify, but show) how poor life would have been for our little Rin had Masako not left Rin with Souichiro.

RP: well, without spoiling things, I will say you’re right, ultimately Masako does have a purpose to serve, but if you’ve read the manga, you’ll probably see that her “purpose” is extraordinarily bizarre. But that’s a different story in of itself. Probably my main issue with Masako is that every scene with her, takes away screentime from the scenes with Rin and Daikichi. And for me, those have been the scenes that have really driven the story and carved a special place within my heart. Like I said, I don’t have much interest in Masako the character, her feelings and her thoughts, but the simple but profound epiphanies Daikichi has in his moments with Rin are the scenes I love about the show.

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Need more of this

Blindability: Well of course the scenes with Rin and Daikichi are the ones that drive the story – they are the story, silly! But you have to admit that Masako as a character – as a stark difference to Daikichi in how she cares for Rin, and how she chose her career over Rin while Daikichi sacrificed his to give Rin a better life – does add something to the story!

RP: I just dont see what that something is. I don’t think she adds much color to the Daikichi/Rin relationship.

Blindability: Masako is the “what if” that makes Daikichi look like a god as a parent.

RP: ehhhh. I dont think Daikichi needs to look like a “god.” I think Daikichi is Daikichi. Someone who’s learning everyday as much as Rin learns.

Blindability: Sigh. I’m just saying that Masako provides a side – which is all she’s meant to do. It’s like… when you eat something really salty or sour and then something sweet: the sweet thing tastes much sweeter.

RP: Yeah, yeah, contrast. I hear you. But that’s the thing, I don’t think Daikichi needs a contrast. Because I don’t think the story is about how good of a father Daikichi is, and rather just the unfolding of his relationship with Rin – however good, however bad.

Blindability: I’m not saying that’s her purpose but that’s what she does do for the story. I know people love Daikichi whether he succeeds or fails as long as he’s trying. I’m sorry to keep using food analogies (maybe because I’m hungry) but let’s say the story is a cupcake, Daikichi being the cake base and Rin being the chocolate, together making a chocolate cupcake (bear with me, now). Chocolate doesn’t just happen. It comes from somewhere. And where Rin is the chocolate, Masako is her Cocoa Tree. She may be miles and leagues and worlds away from her now, but that’s where Rin came from and you can’t ignore that ingredient in her character. I’m just saying that you can’t just cut Masako out of the story like that! I’m also not saying that she needs to be in every single episode with heavy focus or character development, but she needs to be acknowledged as Rin’s mother and a necessary character.

RP: I’ll agree to that. Masako should be acknowledged as Rin’s mother. I’d just be happy to keep her presence minimal… very minimal.