Bunny Drop truly is a fantastic anime. It really is. But despite that (or rather, maybe because of it), explaining it in detail in a manner like this is infuriatingly difficult. In what way can I properly articulate why I had certain feelings during the course of watching this series? How I can explain those feeling, or even figure out where to begin to describe those feelings to people who may have not watched the series themselves or have different opinions on it?
I currently have two stances on analyzing both drama and Bunny Drop, each with their own set of problems: the cynical approach, and a more heartfelt approach. The first one basically puts the genre under the guise that there can never be a certain formula to creating the perfect drama. There are always countless attempts, and with each one needlessly pounded into our heads under the impression that "this must make you sad" or "this must make you feel sympathy", that, after many iterations of the same formula, people will begin to lose any emotion behind it. Therefore, are new attempts at creating more original drama situations and themes better than those who "follow a formula"? While many would love to answer "yes" and be all for more original content, would that automatically place the original shows on a higher pedestal?. Should I consider the Hourou Musuko manga series more supreme than His and Her Circumstance because of that, even though I shared relativity equal amounts of emotion and enjoyment through both (albeit in different ways)?
The other approach is simply embracing the norm; being divulged into the expected and enjoying the ups and downs of a series, without worrying about how original its content is. Sounds relaxing and carefree, right? Sadly, most of the time my cynical side wins over while watching drama this way, and the worst of the examples put me into a worse mindset as they seem like they insult my intelligence. Case-in-point: No. 6.
So what then? How should I have watched Bunny Drop all of this time? Should I look deeply into the character interactions and subtle hints of their emotions and thoughts on raising children? Or should I simply focus on the fun and hilarious times had on the show, and write stuff like: "I liked it when they hugged and said 'I wub you' and then I HNNNGGGGG-ed when Rin wore that dress"? Since I already gave you a positive overview of the series, please just bear a bit more as I try and make sense of everything that made me absolutely fall in love with Bunny Drop.
Bunny Drop is a show of two distinctions: a warm and funny slice-of-life approach to parenthood, and a complicated drama, telling about the life of an abandoned child. The past of Rin isn't grim-dark, though it is one with its share of horror and sadness. It's the perfect blend of natural and dramatic situations, sprinkled with enough mystery to make you come for the cute things that children do, and stay for the way adult and adolescent characters act.
It's enough to say that "because character x does this, they must be y", as when my first thoughts of Rin's mother, Masako were "Masako chooses her career over Rin, so she must be a bad person". However, when reflected back throughout the series, instead of feeling like she's an absolutely evil person and that she completely abandoned Rin, I felt that Masako had enough reason for her choices, and even afterwards we still see her regretting her decisions at times. That doesn't mean that she's a likable person, or than anyone necessarily has to agree with the choice she makes, especially since she knew exactly what kind of troubles she'd leave behind.
I wouldn't go beyond saying that the characters themselves are revolutionary and deep, because in essence, it's easy to relate to them because they are very real people. Obviously, very few young mothers would not be sad or regretful after leaving their child, as was the case for Masako, so naturally we see her struggling with her own life as she continues on, pretending to ignore Rin. She's despicable on a very real level, as opposed to if she were just always nasty and unforgiving. It's an original character personality in the sense that we've hardly yet to see someone like that in a drama series. It's almost too real, and if thought about long enough, it's more disturbing and sad than Masako portraying a bitchy mother who wants nothing more than to be single and not have children. To me, that resonates to a deeper character.
The more I think about it, actually, Bunny Drop really focuses on characters... more specifically how they interact with Dai and Rin. While watching episode seven, a thought suddenly clicked as I saw Haruko and Reina leaving Dai's home after running away: there's a rather modest bunch of secondary characters in the series, and in some way each feel like they have a reason, a purpose of interacting with Dai and Rin. While Dai serves as an example of a single parent taking on the troubles of raising a child, Haruko serves as an example of a parent in an estranged marriage who must sacrifice her pride in order to keep her daughter happy.
What's even more amazing is the resilience of Yukari, even after all she's been through. While she's an example of a divorced, now single parent of Kouki, in contrast to Dai and Haruko, she's also someone who has sacrificed something that's key to a six-year old boy: a father. Kouki loves his mother indirectly through insults about her age and acting nasty to remain as the strong and authoritative man of the house, yet that also means that because he's trying to act like a very strong man, he takes the responsibility to help both his mother and Rin while sick.
The message is rather clear in retrospect: raising a child is tough, no matter the relationship status. It's a rather well-known statement made by many parents today, yet this series took things a bit different, and sets clear examples as to how even the sacrifices made aren't always immediately relieving. After following suit of a female co-worker of his who demoted herself to spend more time with her child (who herself still regrets the decision at times), Dai's troubles at work are still present, yet he still finds relief in the small things, like spending nights with Rin. Haruko is in a tormenting relationship with her ever-working husband, yet both believe that any relationship is best for Reina rather than none. When she's ready to sacrifice all of that by running away, she may initially feel a bit better about having people worry about her for a change, she's regretful for being selfish and not thinking of Reina. Even Reina herself, who I first thought of as a brat with a careless and lazy mother, shows that she at times she's a good friend of Rin, and is rather smart and tolerant for her age.
Now, what about the relationship between this anime adaption and the controversial manga? While I beg that no one attempts to spoil anything in the comments below, it's clear that some of you have heated opinions on the tone of the end of this anime and the end of the original manga run. It's odd how, with the way that Bunny Drop can effectively change the moods and tones into something more dark and adult, opts out toward the final stretch of the anime and plays it safe with happy and carefree episodes. While this is an obvious hint that there is plenty of room for a second season, it's interesting that nothing dramatic was strongly foreshadowed, though you never know what kind of information can come back down the road.
It's beautiful, really... how this series can take the high road out and give us some of the best final episodes it can without tugging at our heartstrings, and those who haven't caught up to the original manga source will have to trust me that there's room for improvement need there be a second season. Even if it's a bit too hard to justify that statement without saying that it's "warm and fuzzy", as I've attempted to clarify, there's not a doubt in my mind that if given the chance for a new season, Bunny Drop can go far and exceed past what it currently is, and that's already saying a lot, too.
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