As an avid watcher of shows that fall under the slice-of-life genre of titles, it has come to my attention that many a times these shows offer anything "but" a slice of what life is really about. As the formula would imply, a portion of life is taken as a subject through which the viewer is meant to resonate with different themes - usually in the comedic sense - thus bringing about entertainment value. The formula worked for a while, especially with shows that deal primarily with high school themes, by turning them upside-down into situations otherwise far from the "life" of which they claim to take their inspiration from. However, once the formulas have been used over and over again, we turn to something a little "less" focused on our personal lives and strive for something a little more meaningful.
Daikichi Kawachi, an unremarkable 30-year old bachelor and salesman at a local garment company, returns to his grandfather's home after learning about the old man's untimely death. Upon arriving, he sees a young, 5-year old girl, and is shocked to discover that she is his own Aunt - the illegitimate child of his deceased grandfather. After much debate over what to do with the girl, Daikichi steps up and offers to take care of the girl named Rin - and thus begins his life as a father by default.
The story doesn't quite resonate with me. I'm not one to say I've had quite the melodramatic life, but for some reason the story piques my interest. It's an unlikely story but has its merit in producing something meaningful. It's not a "slice" of a part of life with which we can poke fun at - it's something totally different.
As early as its title, we're treated to some sort of contrast. The image of a bunny rabbit (usagi) shedding tears to the beat of PUFFY in the opening credits gives one the sense of drama that the story entails, but we're met with a sense of warmth in the events that unfold. Daikichi sees Rin in a way that no one else did - as a girl who was in fact loved by his Grandfather and a living will for everyone to see. His efforts to understand the girl go beyond his actions in accepting her into his home - from growing out of beer drinking binges with buddies to requesting for a demotion at work to have more time for Rin - these actions permeate a sense of maturity in the series that often times makes me feel that THIS is closer to reality than any slice of life I've seen out there.
And it's these intricacies that offer a taste of this "drop" of life that adds meaning to every moment on the screen. Attention to detail in facial expressions and the effective use of atmosphere and space give the series depth, as it weaves out a delicate story with meaning to every event that takes place. To spice up the good foundation, minor details like backgrounds, character gestures and attitudes, and references to real landmarks and such are sprinkled generously throughout the program, giving it a good grounding in reality and strengthening its thrust as a particularly serious story.
Quite frankly, I'm enjoying this sense of contrast: warm and fuzzy albeit serious and faithful to real life. Instead of looking for ways to resonate with the viewer, as is the formula with slice-of-life shows, Usagi Drop introduces a completely different world that I'm not familiar with, but believable enough to make me feel its characters as truly alive and real in every sense of the word.
Simply put, this is storytelling at its finest - we've simply gone back to the basics. There's no need to count on viewer experience to throw one's interest over the series. Usagi Drop is exceptional in showcasing itself as a solid and unique story that piques the interest of viewers without any resonance needed. It's a dynamic story of real-life people with real-life themes experiencing real-life drama and confronted with real-life responsibilities. It's a "drop-of-life" story that strangely moves you and has you yearning to know what happens next.
If you're looking for a meaningful story beyond the superficial pursuits of the slice-of-life shows that dominate the Anime scene, Usagi Drop is definitely the show to blow other shows out of the water. And it does so without bang or fluff - just pure, unadulterated storytelling at its finest.
His life takes a sudden turn when a fugitive boy stumbles into his room on a stormy night. This boy, Nezumi (japanese for “rat”), is the complete opposite of Sion: wild, violent, snide and cautious. Their encounter is nevertheless unforgettable, as they are intrigued by each others' radically different mentalities. Instead of reporting him to the authorities, Sion takes him in, treats his wounds, feeds him and shelters him for the night. The next morning, he finds his new friend gone without a trace. The police in search of Nezumi quickly find that he visited Sion's house and, having neglected his duty as an upstanding citizen of No.6, strip him of everything, shutting the door on his promising future.
You might think I spent a lot of time detailing the foundations of the plot, but I found it necessary in order to not let you all fall for the trap that is the first episode. Although the encounter and relationship with Nezumi are crucial to the story, it was a bad idea to put the rest of the plot on the back burner until the second episode where things are finally put into perspective and move at a much brisker pace.
Based on a 9-volume series of novels written by Atsuko Asano that started out in 2003 and just recently concluded this year, No.6 also made its debut as a manga this year, and now, with an anime adaptation upon us, one can begin to assume No.6 is onto something good. After seeing five episodes, I must agree that No.6's blend of conspiracy investigation, swift action and focus on human relationships is showing promise.
The show also makes unexpected references to classical tales such as Hamlet by William Shakespeare and The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. The latter of which rings particularly true with the theme of the anime, as The Happy Prince tells the tale of the statue of a now dead prince that knew nothing of sorrow as he lived sheltered from the outside his whole life. The statue, however, witnesses the desolation and poverty of the city and sacrifices its own body and life in order to try and save them. The swallow that falls in love with and aids the statue in its quest could also easily be tied to Nezumi.
Actually, that last line rings even truer than you might expect, and this is where I touch upon the aspect of this anime that is inevitably going to turn off a lot of you (and, mind you, that includes myself). I kept it for last because I wanted to try and first convince you that No.6 has everything it takes to be a noteworthy anime and stand on its own against the rest of this season's offerings, which is more than I can say for the other animes boasting this particular element. Enough beating around the bush: No.6 is a shoujo, it's written by a girl, for girls. The two main male characters are thus great friends... maybe a bit too great, actually, with hand holding and compliments such as “you're warm yourself” in the first episode only. They get attached a bit too much, get very emotional at times and do and say things you wouldn't exactly try on your fellow heterosexual male friends. That's not saying anything overtly gay has yet happened after five episodes, though, as it has all been kept on the down low and tolerable levels, but it's definitely there. The opening theme starts with a rainbow streaming down vertically across the sky, for crying out loud. Bottom line is, if you're homophobic, watching No.6 will trigger some alarms for you, and it might ruin your enjoyment of the rest of the anime.
As a final word, No.6 has made me think. There are countless girls out there putting up with the anime industry's tendency to put scantily clad ladies strolling around and experiencing wardrobe malfunctions at least twice every episode, all in the interest of following stories they enjoy and characters they admire despite the exposed skin. No.6 shows us a compelling plot rigged with mystery, characters with depth and emotion and a very commendable animation effort by studio Bones. Are we not going to give all that a chance because of the presence of some mild Boys Love atmosphere? Your call, really.
During their voyage, Naruto, Yamato, Gai, and Aoba stop at an island to recover from severe seasickness. There, they unexpectedly meet up with Sakura, Ino, and Choji, who are on an assignment to gather medical herbs for Tsunade.
Nozomi’s Zanpakuto breaks in the midst of trying to protect Genryusai from Kageroza’s attack. As Ichigo and Kon try to save Nozomi from being taken away, Kageroza reveals a shocking secret between him and Nozomi.
Kyohei takes Kukuri to the Utsuwashi, the clan that repairs the Kakashi. He finds that the Takemikazuchi has been sent their as well. Utao is told by the head of the Kuga clan that Kirio is her younger twin brother. Kirio, who was abused by the Hyuga clan, is taken in by Koushiro. Utao thinks about what she should do to be friends her younger brother.
Did you know that the medieval fantasy series Record of the Lodoss War started off as a D&D campaign the creators wanted to recreate in written form for the magazine Comptiq.
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