Like a plot out of a soap opera, bachelor Daikichi Kawachi’s boringly normal life got a touch of the abnormal when he learned that his late granddad left behind a love child. And further rattling the unexpected skeleton in the closet? The ungainly, unglamorous Daikichi’s impulsive decision to take in little Rin! But as the impromptu dad and his charge learn to adapt to both one another and their very new living situation, Daikichi is plagued by thoughts of Rin’s mother. Who is she? Why has she been quiet all this time? Hot on the trail after discovering a modem at the old man’s computer-less abode, Daikichi plays detective in search for answers. But elementary school enrollment, extracurricular activities, and other parental obligations wait for no man, so when the day of confrontation with the mysterious Masato arrives, will Daikichi be prepared?!
If in life, you find that it sometimes throws, not a curve-ball, but a train at you, what do you do? For Daikichi Kawachi, this is what happens to him. Upon the death of his grandfather, bachelor Daikichi finds out that his grand-pére had an illegitimate child (for the purposes of the review I'm calling her illegitimate; no child should feel or be addressed as illegitimate, in my opinion), Rin Kaga. With no mother in sight and his family not wanting to stand up and do the decent thing, Daikichi does the unusual and announces that he will take care of Rin. And so begins their life together. I picked this up on the basis of a positive review from the Manga Curmudgeon site. I had heard of it earlier and didn't know if I wanted to pick it up. But after going into Hodges and Figgis in Dawson Street, I couldn't get a hold of volume one. So volume two was there and rather than admit defeat, I bought it. Glad I did.
I have a soft spot for stories about children. Mostly because I got bullied in school, I understand how children get cheesed off with grown ups and the fact that their lives are decided by people who might love them, just that they might not get how life is for them. I know parents and guardians want the best of their young charges but sometimes it helps to view the world from a vertical and mature challenged perspective. Rin is you. Rin is me. The world is a big scary place and Dad just died. You have no one in your corner. And so, you are invisible. Now imagine with someone with Dad's kind of personality comes in and decides to stick around. How would your life change then? Daikichi is you. Daikichi is me. Imagine you're enjoying your carefree life. Nothing and nobody is your master. You have a good enough job that allows you to do as you want in your free time. Now imagine that a bombshell like a child is dropped into your lap. And none of the folks will touch it to save their lives. And you know it's the right thing to do and stand up for someone who can't stand up for themselves. You do so. How would your life change then?
Bunny Drop is a story of halves. Daikichi's life is turned upside down by the arrival of this six year old. And she's quiet. And does what she's told. So, Daikichi has to become mother and father within a second of deciding to take care of Rin. Problem is, he doesn't have a clue how to do it. So he needs all the help he can get. In this he gets it from his co-workers, some of whom are parents, and the people at daycare. His family helps as well as soon as they settle into the idea of Rin being in their lives. For Rin, her father took care of her. Her mother hovered in the picture but left no trace of her involvement in Rin's life deliberately. She didn't think she could handle the responsibility of Rin and so left all the decisions to Rin's father. So Rin has grown up to go at a certain pace. Any faster and she wouldn't handle it very well. But as Daikichi coaxes her out of her shell she becomes a brighter and happier child.
The mystery of Rin's mother is discovered in this volume as Daikichi is determined to discover why anyone in their right mind would abandon their duties as a parent to such a quiet child as Rin. The revelation is amazing to say the least and it's done in a humane and non-slapstick way. I think that's a reason why people would like this title. There are poignant moments and heartbreaking ones, ones that make you laugh and ones that make you want to drop a bomb on the whole world at the unfairness of it all. Daikichi is really trying to get up to speed as fast as possible on Rin's life without traumatising her further. So walking on eggshells is called for. When he does start to uncover the details of Rin's life with his grandfather, Daikichi is not sure what to do except that nothing should hurt Rin and nothing should stop her from enjoying life.
Growing up, we watch films, read books and discover hero characters that we'd always like to have as parents. "Wow, imagine if he/she was my mother/father/brother/sister!" But as I've grown older I discovered that regular parents do the heroic stuff all the time. The really good ones do it without thought of praise or cheer. Daikichi is a regular guardian. He's doing it for Rin's happiness not his own. If he's is praised then it is a bonus and nothing more. I can't say anything else about him save that I'm sure he will slip and stumble in the course of the story but hopefully he'll pick himself and go on the attack again for Rin.
Yumi Unita's arwork is lovely. Giving all of the exaggerated expressions to Daikichi and the calm ones to Rin is perfect. As children we don't notice (hopefully) our parents stress and fuss as simple things like health booster shots and school entrance applications destroy their sanity. We just go on as we do, smiling in the knowledge that God's in heaven and all's right with the world. Having the child be the centre of calmness reflects this worldview from a child's place and the stress of Daikichi's normal parental problems fits him perfectly.
The supporting cast is good and solid. At nursery, there's Kouki and his mother. Kouki's mother helps Daikichi make sense of the little things that go with being a parent. It's clear that Daikichi likes her but Rin takes more importance with Daikichi right now. At home, Mam (grandfather's daughter) and Dad Kawachi get used to the idea of Rin quickly and Daikichi's sister, Kazumi, falls naturally into an aunt role. The sticking point in the family is Daikichi's uncle, his grandfather's first-born son. Uncle has a serious problem with Rin but he's doing it in a quiet, raging way. If we return to him in volume three, he's going to be trouble. Finally, at work Daikichi's workmates swiftly have gotten used to the idea that he's got a child to take care of.
Yen Press give a good effort on this with minor sound effects being dual translated in English and Romaji, the artwork is clear and fine and the paper is decently constructed.While the series is ongoing, the next volume will be out in March in the US next year. I can hardly wait.
According to UNICEF November 20th is Universal Children's Day. But you've missed it. So in Suriname it'll be Children's Day on December 5. Do yourself a favour and order this before then. You'll enjoy it, I promise.