February’s Manga of the Month: Bunny Drop

Bunny Drop (うさぎドロップ) by Yumi Unita

Bunny Drop is a heart-warming story of growth, discovery, and family for two unlikely people, the 30-something bachelor Daikichi and the alone-in-the-world 6-year-old Rin.

Like so many stories, this one beings with a typical life-changing event, a death in the family in this case Daikichi’s grandfather. During the funeral ceremonies little Rin, the recently discovered illegitimate daughter of the grandfather, attaches herself to Daikichi who not only resembles his late-grandfather but seems to be the only adult not angry at her existence. As the family coolly discusses Rin’s future, Daikichi hotly proclaims he will become her guardian and raise her himself.

Dai is most certainly inexperienced but he has genuine affection for Rin and his commitment to bringing stability to her life makes you instantly root for him. Rin in what seems like child’s intuition connects with Daikichi right away. Their bond is an unspoken one that is written tenderly. They are learning about the world together as well as each other creating everything from hilarious outbursts to sweet realizations. It is also wonderful to see real change in each volume that stretches their relationship. This is equally felt as Dai’s family becomes more involved, we begin to learn about Rin’s past, and Dai starts treading the waters of love.

So despite the fun and sweet but not fully grounded premise, there are beautiful moments of wisdom interspersed among the comedy and drama. With an anime TV series coming out this summer and a Japanese live-action movie also due out mid-year, it is a perfect time to fall in love with Bunny Drop.


Ongoing Investigations: Case #105

hisuiconAfter hearing several rave reviews Narutaki and I were interested in seeing the Sherlock preview at the New York Comic Con but since that was the weekend of missing out on things we never got the chance to watch it. When we did find it playing on public television we eagerly gave it a look. The show is modernization of the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries. While we have all the classic characters like Sherlock, Watson, Mycroft, and Moriarty but at the same time Sherlock has iPhone, Watson has just returned home from the Afghanistan conflict, and everyone has a web page. The cases themselves are loose reimaginings of  some of the original Shelrock Holmes mysteries. Sherlock himself has the right mix of genius, charisma, and full on prat that defines the character and makes him so iconic. At the same time Sherlock and Watson have a fun dynamic that sells the show (and would have people running to the Internet to complain about fan girl bait if this were an anime.) I did notice a bit of a vibe that I see in House which I found highly amusing because it means the influence may have come full circle. House was heavily influenced by the original Sherlock Holmes and now it seems that influence has come home to roost. Like many British TV shows the first season is extremely short with only 3 ninety minute episodes. The 2nd episode was the weakest of the three but they were all very entertaining and had a good mixture of action, comedy, and most importantly sleuthing. The only real downside in the first season ends on a cliff hanger so if you watch this you are just going to be on the edge of your seat for the conclusion.

I just can’t help myself, I really must talk about the BBC Masterpiece Mystery 3-part Sherlock (2010) series. This a modern telling of the classic detective unlike any done before, and wow did they set the bar high. The production quality is wonderful and well-crafted. Turning Sherlock and Watson into characters who live in the 21st century is a smooth transition in this series. Sherlock still relies on his incredible memory and capacity for noticing the smallest details but he does use some modern science once in a while. The reaction to him by the police is also a nice touch with most afraid of him or thinking he is a sociopath. As for Watson his war trauma and not feeling right in society is perfectly suited, and as my dad said “Watson always carried his gun.” Oh and I love that he has a blog about the cases. The dynamic between these two is comical at times but more comfortable than anything else despite them only meeting for the first time in part 1, in this I feel you can see the House influence the most. Watson is exasperated by Sherlock but also gripped by his insight and the mysteries. The first mystery is wholly gratifying in its puzzle, climax, and ending. Pretty much perfect. The second’s mystery is a little less solid but nevertheless good, and it was nice to see the solution be a bit unexpected. The final case is very intense because of the cat and mouse angle. And as everyone has already said, the cliffhanger is a major one (on par with that darned Twin Peaks first season cliffhanger!). It is excitement for the series that makes it devastating to wait a year for more of this brilliant rendition.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #092

House of Five Leaves was a quietly compelling series that came full-circle in its story. Something about beginning and ending with the same gesture really gets to me in a good way. As Masa starts to connect to each member of The Five Leaves he is changed but through his gentle and honest (minus, you know, being part of a kidnapping ring) nature he genuinely surprises and moves the people around him. Yaichi remains a bit of an enigma throughout to the people around him, even Masa is still making the connection with him in the end but learning about his past allows him to be more of an open book atleast to the audience. It wasn’t immediately obvious from the first couple of episodes that this story would be more of a personal journey rather than about the crimes playing out. As the you begin to puzzle out the story it becomes gripping despite the languid pacing. House of Five Leaves has atmosphere and characters who tell you who they are with the slightest of actions. Beautiful and recommended, I am looking forward to picking up the manga as well.

hisuiconI must say that the House of Five Leaves anime picked the perfect place to end. When adapting an ongoing manga it can be hard to decide where to end especially when the source material is very character and plot driven. But Tomomi Mochizuki ended at the point where you had insight into all the main characters and everyone had a good arc of character development. You got the impression that everyone had changed greatly since you had first met them and you had a decent idea of who they were. Masanosuke still has growing to do, Yaichi still has unfinished business, and we could have learned a bit more about Otake but overall if the manga had ended here I don’t think anyone would have felt cheated. I was sad to hear that this was got fairly low ratings for a noitaminA show in Japan. When something that is extremely experimental like Trapeze gets ratings like that I am not too surprised. But I would have assumed the mature quality would hook a noitaminA audience. That is a shame because this is a well done historical character piece that while not extremely fast in it’s execution is great at building up an atmosphere that draws you into a group of very unusual kidnappers and their stories. I hope to finish the story through the VIZ manga.

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