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The live action film of Usagi Drop is quite simply adorable.

In that respect it’s much like the manga[1] and the anime, albeit with some changes that I’m not entirely certain about.

The Cast

Both Kenichi Matsuyama as Daikichi and Mana Ashida as Rin-chan carry their roles well, and in doing so perfectly catch the spirit of Usagi Drop.

Assuming Ms Ashida can make the transition from child actor to adult work, she will be someone to look out for in the future.

The main thing is that the chemistry between these two is basically spot on.  It is exactly what a reader of the manga, or a viewer of the anime, would want to see, and director Sabu[2] delivers it note perfect[3].

Yukari Nitani

As is often the case with adaptations there have been some changes to the original story, and the spoilers start here. Many of the changes revolve around single mother Yukari Nitani, ably portrayed by Karina.

In the original manga, and in the anime, Nitani-san is a divorcee rather than the widow of the live action film. I can see why this change was made: it establishes a faster connection between Kouki and Rin, and also drives a surprisingly tense key sequence of the film.

However I do wonder if the change was partly made to not have a major character and somewhat romantic interest of a family film be a divorcee. At least one friend has described Usagi Drop as a very political series just for the supportive view it presents of single parents, particularly in Japan.

Two further changes are to make Nitani-san a model, and to play up the romantic elements more. Not excessively so, and at least partly to make the point that children can get in the way of a romance, but there’s still more overt romance between Daikichi and Nitani-san in this version than in the others.

This is emphasised by some fairly surreal fantasy insert sequences from Daikichi’s perspective, and these sequences are the only part of Usagi Drop that feels off.

Masako

In line with the changes to Nitani-san, the treatment of Rin’s mother is also a little more conventional. The anime/manga was very careful not to condemn Masako for giving up Rin, and goes some way to justify her decision as the best for all concerned under the circumstances[4].

The movie is somewhat more judgemental. It is possible that this was at least partly due to the time constraints of fitting into movie length rather than an intentional choice.

The Verdict

With the exception of those fantasy sequences, Usagi Drop catches the spirit of the manga and anime perfectly. Daikichi is a fish out of water struggling with sudden parenthood, Rin-chan is adorable, and it’s an open question as who is raising who.

If you liked the manga or the anime, you’ll like the movie and for most of the same reasons.

If you have any heart at all, you’ll probably cry (or at least sniffle) at the major points.

Oh, and as an added bonus, the end credits song is Puffy AmiYumi’s Sweet Drops[5], which was also used as the anime OP song. So that will kick the tears off as well as the anime memories come flooding back.

Overall: Usagi Drop the movie is adorable, see it if you can.

[1] At least volumes 1 – 4. I still haven’t read the remainder.

[2] I borrowed this copy from Grant Watson who, as far as I can tell, has not reviewed Usagi Drop on his blog yet. He has reviewed another Sabu film, the startlingly different Drive.

[3] With one exception, but I’ll get to that.

[4] I don’t have a link handy, but I’ve seen arguments that this aspect of Usagi Drop may be partly autobiographical on the part of the mangaka Yumi Unita.

[5] Jpopsuki link, so be patient as it will take a long time to buffer. Worth it for the surreal video clip though.