When I decided to read Usagi Drop by Yumi Unita a Josei Comic (women’s comic) I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Certainly not something I would devour in a few days and that would change my feeling about parenting.
So what’s it about?
The story is about Daikichi, a Japanese office worker in his 30s. He’s single, selfish, drinks too much, works too much and is basically an eternal bachelor.
That is until he attends his grandfather’s funeral where he meets six-year-old Rin.
Rin is the illegitimate daughter of Daikichi’s grandfather.
So she is basically Daikichi’s aunt.
Don’t worry the family dynamics don’t get any more complicated than this.
When the family start discussing putting Rin in a foster home Daikichi gets angry at their attitude and shouts that he’ll take care of Rin if no one else will.
Of course he immediately regrets his outburst and wonders what on earth he’s gotten himself into.
But his sense of responsibility to Rin hardens his resolve to make the changes he needs to give her a secure home.
Apparently some of the events in the story come from the author’s own experience of becoming a parent and I think that grounding in reality shines through.
It’s also what kept me reading.
At one point Daikichi’s sister says that although she’s now engaged to be married she’s worried that her fiancé wants to start a family right away.
She says she’s got too many holidays to take, parties to go to and hobbies to pursue to sacrifice her life to babies.
I think most people have felt that way, whether they’d say so or not.
There are a lot of opinions expressed in this comic about parenthood, about the sacrifices and the responsibilities that go with it (or should maybe go with it).
But the message is ultimately that although having children is a major change of lifestyle, you can adapt and ultimately it’s all worth it.
Interestingly though it also points out that some people just aren’t meant to be parents and don’t have that sense of responsibility.
It’s also pretty upfront about how hard being a single parent can be.
I’d also say that I stopped reading at the end of six year old Rin’s story. The story then fast forwards 10 years and we meet high school girl Rin. Now I read ahead about where the story arc goes and I can only say ‘blerg, Japan why, oh why?’.
Some things should just be left alone and the story of Rin and Daikichi is one of them.
I would like to see the Japanese film of Usagi Drop though. Can anyone tell me if it is a good reflection of the manga?
Hi Anne. I’m really glad you enjoyed Usagi Drop! I agree with you about Usagi Drop’s main message being about adapting to life with kids and that isn’t a sacrifice but a worthwhile thing.
The reason I related to it strongly was because quite a few families I’ve met since coming to Taiwan have a common mentality – raising kids is a burden, parents sacrifice their whole life for their them and they want to make sure they know it. While I don’t wholly disagree with the sacrifice part I think it’s like you said – it’s about changing your lifestyle and not giving it up.
I’m not sure about the film, I’ve seen an anime adaption which deals with Rin’s life up to age 6
which is very faithful to the manga. It has beautiful animation and an amazing soundtrack as well; definitely worth checking out (Rin’s even cuter in the anime if that’s possible)! I’m still loving Saga by the way! 🙂
Hey James, I really enjoyed Usagi Drop so thanks for recommending it! It was great to read something that treats a very emotive subject without judgement. Daikichi even seems to understand Rin’s mother’s standpoint although he doesn’t agree with it. Did you read the whole story through Rin’s teenage years? I got some negative feedback for not having read that in my review but I thought it just sounded too icky. Maybe I sold it short, what do you think?
Glad you are still enjoying Saga:) It’s a great read.
Hi Anne. I did finish reading Usagi Drop and I loved the ending. On a purely emotional level it felt right and I think the second half has a different kind of sentiment to impart, but one that’s no less touching than those in the first. I would definitely suggest giving it a try!:-)