Stray Thoughts on Usagi Drop

On Daikichi’s recent sacrifices, you can read a survey here from E Minor, which summarizes the issues that appears in Usagi Drop 3. However I was under the assumption that most of us have already internalized it on the basis of what child rearing means in general. I’ll cover a few things that E Minor didn’t.

1. On time spent on Rin–in general, at least in America, when your kid is 6, you are actually well positioned to re-enter the workforce full time, if you took time off to take care of his or her formative years. It’s easier to find child care for kids in that age range than, say, 0-2, with the onset of elementary school. The kids themselves are easier to take care of (and thus freeing up the caretaker to do more things). In Daikichi’s case, this was not possible simply because he has a different take on Rin’s psychological burdens than an average foster parent. That perspective gap is what drives Usagi Drop’s drama later on, as I can see it from manga readers’ reactions. At the same time, Rin probably needs more time with some stable parent figure to cope with the unusual events that has so far transpired in her short life.

2. But even if we don’t care about any of that, if Daikichi works 12-16 hours a day (and by that I mean it in the usual Japanese salaryman sense), there is just no way he can take care of a child simply on the basis of government-provided childcare. There’s also the “Daikichi seems to be entirely clueless about administrative burdens of parenting” angle. If he was a savvy parent, he probably could try to juggle a more-than-fulltime career with parenting especially given his social network (ie., he has one). This is a conceit on the part of Bunny Drop, I think.

3. At the same time it is exactly in areas like this that Japan feels so antiquated, compared to the west. It isn’t that westerners don’t sacrifice for their kids; arguably the time spent is actually more in the latter case. The impact of that on one’s career is just somehow less as a matter of corporate culture. It isn’t that women (and some men) are indirectly disadvantaged due to adding new members into their respective families in the west, but that gap is socially accepted. I should rather say, taking time off to care for a newborn (again, it’s not the direct counterpart to Daikichi’s unique situation, but it seems to maps the best) is a luxury that companies use to entice prospective employees. At least with a straight face, anyway; culturally it is considered as a luxury as well. And the fact that it’s somewhat government-mandated makes it easier for companies to just man up and do it that way.

4. While we can phrase it as a “parent’s sacrifice,” it means different thing to different people. I think if you are choosing between two things you love dearly, after failing to have that cake and eat it too, the fact that you can be regret-free after having one and not the other is not a real problem. To me, the term has a large component of respect that some how happens that the person has aligned his or her choice with the well-being of his or her family via spending time there. It is a selfish decision as well as a selfless one. So it’s not a dimension that I particularly want to dwell on. But if human beings make large career choices such as these based on reason, that’s where social policy can affect real change in the direction of its population. That is, if social policy can be changed in a way that shifts the nature of the Japanese corporate culture, anyway.

5. From this point we can speculate the other tangential issues that may come into play with a single-foster-parent situation. I always thought anime is kind of a weird medium to try to affect social change. Or manga, in this case. It is a good incubator of such thoughts, perhaps, and hopefully Japan will wise up and allow its people to live in the 21st century.

Lastly, there’s one thought that bothered me this entire time with Usagi Drop–people who are whining about the manga in the anime discussion. I normally don’t really mind, but some people really crossed the line when it comes to this title: Basically everyone who’s read the manga extensively and pisses on the title due to their colored impressions as triggered by the anime. I mean, sure, some people put “spoiler warning” on their posts and…if it wasn’t a FIRST IMPRESSION piece that would be okay! And what’s more this typically happens with people who … well, have a certain disposition which tend to make them interesting “first impression” folks that I read. Except in this case their true natures rear their ugly heads and I just want to forget it has ever happened. In my book that’s worst than the worst spoiler that you could have given. It’s simply irresponsible.

Actually that kind of extends to a general complain about people who whine about the medium-specific aspects of the adopted work because they’re judging it from some presupposed perspective as a result of an prior experience of the work in a different medium. Or, as before, whine about some non-specific aspect of the adopted work because they’re judging from a post-hoc position in the knowledge transfer process of storytelling from a different rendition in a different medium, before the transfer process has even started in earnest. They, for what it’s worth, can all die in a fire.

With that said, I think I might actually like the manga and its post-time-jump conclusion! I guess after the anime is over I will give it shot. Six volumes and all.

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8 responses to “Stray Thoughts on Usagi Drop

  • RP

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I actually do like the manga and its post-time-jump conclusion. Ok, I don’t love it. It is a bit weird. But it’s not at least as bad as I feared (at least up to the point I’ve read ch. 54, haven’t quite finished it yet.)

  • Ubiquitial

    Prepare for the greatest disappointment of your life, omo. I pray for your soul.

    And for people who’ve read the manga NOT to have their impressions skewed is impossible. The nonsense later on really puts all the events in a different light. If, for example, I told you Dumbledore was a pedophile, and then told you to read the Harry Potter books again, would your impressions not be altered even a little?

  • omo

    Not really.

    Don’t spoil it for me!

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Speaking of being in the 21st century, I noticed that in this episode, Daikichi’s parents seem to readily acknowledge that the personalities of their children are based on the ways that they were raised from birth, rather than being “natural,” if you will. Maybe this has always been the way Japanese thought (I know I’ve seen the “how was she raised?!” line in anime before), I don’t know nearly enough about Japanese culture to think too hard on it, but I did think it was interesting that thinking this way was mutual among the characters and not unique to The Hero Daikichi.

  • Installer

    “whine about some non-specific aspect of the adopted work because they’re judging from a post-hoc position in the knowledge transfer process of storytelling from a different rendition in a different medium, before the transfer process has even started in earnest.”

    WTF is that sentence. It just blew my mind up.

  • omo

    in short, basically know what the story is and judging another retelling of the source material in the adaptation without knowing what it would actually be.

  • Seinime

    I am seriously wanting to read the manga and spoil myself. I’ve heard mixed opinions.

  • omo

    Me too. But I guess I can wait until the anime is done first.

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