Bunny Drop, Vol. 7

By Yumi Unita. Released in Japan as “Usagi Drop” by Shodensha, serialized in the magazine Feel Young. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Please do not discuss Bunny Drop in the comments beyond Volume 7.

Everyone thinks a lot in Bunny Drop. I don’t just mean that we see their thoughts in addition to their dialogue, which we do, but that they think deeply all the time. Weighing decisions – and then wondering if they’re the correct ones – is something that Daikichi and Rin have done since this series began, and now that Rin is getting near graduating from school, she’s starting to think about her future. Which will involve having to resolve her past, and that means that she is finally going to have to meet Masako.

Yumi Unita knows that the best way to write a lovable, heartwarming manga is to make sure everything is as awkward as possible, so I was relieved to see that when Rin and Masako finally do meet, it wasn’t all hugs and tears and resolve to see each other every 2nd Saturday from now on. Rin still barely remembers Masako, even now – though we find out a reason for that here – and Masako may be moving on with her life and trying to be a better person, but she still acts like she regards Rin as a failed time in her life that makes her think lots of things she doesn’t want to. Masako’s childish qualities haven’t gone away, and it’s still very hard to sympathize with her. But we’re meant to be on Rin’s side here anyway.

Rin does a lot of soul searching here, spurred on partly by what happened with Kouki in Vol. 6 and partly through hearing about Reina getting a boyfriend (and then later watching it fall apart). She’s spent her last ten years growing up in an unconventional family, and realizes that she has a rather small pool of friends as well, mostly as she’s not doing clubs or sports, but going home to take care of Daikichi. I don’t think this is meant to be a dig on Daikichi himself – the general sense is that Rin really wants to do these things, and is likely better at cooking, etc., so has just stepped into this role at home.

Daikichi, meanwhile, is also growing older, and is having to deal with a serious injury for the first time – he puts his back out catching Rin when she falls off a stool. Given that he works in the shipping industry, this could be a big problem if it lingers. I was amused to see his co-workers coming over and reminiscing about their own back pains of the past, as well as Kouki’s mother telling Rin she had a back injury when she was in her twenties. But all this does is remind us how insular Daikichi’s own life has become as well. He doesn’t really hang out with co-workers anymore – his closest friend, in fact, may be Kouki.

So Rin is wondering about what it means to be a mother, and what it means to be a daughter. And realizing that the time may come when her life takes her away from Daikichi. And, unsurprisingly given how she’s grown up, she is not particularly fond of that day coming at all. That said, it’s not clear that day is coming soon in the manga either. The romantic drama we saw in Vol. 6 gets a brief mention here, but for the most part still appears to be over. So where does Rin go from here? Stay tuned for Vol. 8, coming out in April. Which may have a certain elephant that’s been lurking around the room. In the meantime, Vol. 7 gives us more of what we like about this series – thoughtful moments in the life of a kid who’s far too smart (but naive) for her own good.

Bunny Drop, Vol. 6

By Yumi Unita. Released in Japan as “Usagi Drop” by Shodensha, serialized in the magazine Feel Young. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Please do not discuss Bunny Drop beyond Vol. 6 in the comments. At all.

When I reviewed Vol. 5, I noted that I couldn’t wait to see what direction Unita would take things, even though I thought it would make me cringe. And I was 100% correct – this entire volume is like a giant train wreck, where both of the main ‘ships’ we could be rooting for are faced with tortured reality.

Last time around, we had been told about Kouki’s ‘bad boy’ period in middle school, and now we get to see it in the form of an extended flashback. Which is good, as it really gives us insight as to why Rin has decided that she’s no longer ‘romantically’ inclined towards him. The two of them walked that fine line between ‘like brother and sister’ and small crush last time, but seeing Akari’s wholehearted efforts to drive Rin away, you can’t help but feel horrible for her. Cyber-bullying isn’t just an American thing.

This is paralleled with the ongoing not-relationship between Daikichi and Kouki’s mother, who still doesn’t have a first name (and likely never will, sadly). Their conversation at the end of the volume is all about wishing things could be different but having to move forward anyway, and it almost feels like Nitani-san cares about Daikichi too much to get involved with him. They’ve been there for each other in order to raise their children, but this has perhaps led both of them to be too self-sacrificing – Nitani-san is marrying someone else so that Daikichi can move on and find anotehr as well. The whole scene is heartbreaking.

Rin and Kouki aren’t as sad, but they’re equally hemmed in by feelings that things have moved beyond a point where everyone can go back to how it was before. This is helped, of course, by Akari, who Rin confronts when she tricks Kouki into thinking she’s pregnant. There’s a nice effort to show Akari’s side of things, which isn’t sympathetic at all, but it’s quite understandable – and mercenary. Akari wants to be her own woman, and if that means abusing the love of a gullible high schooler for money, well hey. Unfortunately, all this seems to have done is shown Rin that she needs to get over Kouki, and she tells him so – though notably getting over him is not as simple as she thinks, judging by her red-eyed face the next day.

We all make bad choices in life, and wish that we could turn back the clock and do things better. But we can’t, and that’s what this volume is all about. There’s no going back in time so Nitani could meet Daikichi when she was younger. There’s no do-overs so Kouki isn’t sucked in by Akari’s schemes. And sometimes you can’t fix things, and you have to accept it and move on. Which is where we are now in this series that, while it still has a lot of quiet and cute moments, has come an awful long way from the saga of a young guy raising an adorable daughter.

Bunny Drop, Vol. 5

By Yumi Unita. Released in Japan as “Usagi Drop” by Shodensha, serialized in the magazine Feel Young. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Quick note: Please do not write spoilers about this series in your comments. They will be deleted.

When we last left our heroes, Rin was a cute 6-year-old, enjoying school, and starting to come into her own. Daikichi was still bumbling along, but generally had gotten the hang of being a good parent and was making inroads on getting closer to single mother Nitani. And so we come to Volume 5… where ten years have passed.

Yes, it’s a giant time skip, and Rin and Kouki are now in high school. Well, I had said that the series needed to shake itself up a little, and this certainly does that. More to the point, however, it manages to shift things to an entirely different place. The basic premise is still the same… we’re seeing Rin grow and Daikichi parenting. But Daikichi has raised Rin to be a self-sufficient, strong young lady. She can take care of the cooking and cleaning when necessary. No, being the parent of a teenager brings fresh new issues. Like romance.

It is fairly obvious throughout this volume that Kouki is completely in love with Rin, and that it seems to be mostly one-sided. Not that she doesn’t like Kouki, but they get compared to brother and sister, and Rin doesn’t think that’s far off. Plus, in some of the gap filling we get in this volume, Kouki apparently has an ex-girlfriend who was not very fond of Rin, and this seems to have soured her opinion of Kouki and romance a bit. Rin is at a point where she’s not sure what she’s feeling. Honestly, the person she’s closest to is still Daikichi, whom she asks for advice. His advice is not particularly helpful, but it’s from the heart. Which sometimes is all that matters.

Then there’s Daikichi and Nitani-san. I had noted in early volumes that I wanted them to hook up, and now ten years later it hasn’t happened. This is quite frustrating to the reader. And to Kouki. And indeed to Daikichi and Nitani-san, both of whom clearly have feelings for each other. We get a flashback in the last chapter to a moment a few years back, where Nitani-san is trying to deal with Kouki acting up and being a delinquent (he’s gotten better by the present day). This scene is one of the most awkward, heartfelt yet also heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen in manga, an encapsulation of everything that doesn’t go right in romance. Sometimes even when everyone wants to… you simply can’t quite make that final leap. There’s several volumes to go, but after this, I honestly no longer expect these two to get together. Which is a shame.

When this series began, we had four volumes of cute, which fit very well with cute little six-year-old Rin. But now Rin is a teenager, which means we’re at that awkward period. And true to form, this entire volume is filled with awkward. People not quite saying the right thing, not getting their point across, unsure of how to handle something. And this is the entire cast, not just the actual teenagers. Bunny Drop has grown with its heroine, and now asks that you stick around while she deals with all these pesky feelings. I suspect I may cringe on the fallout from all of this, but I’ll be riveted nonetheless.