Daikichi is a thirty-year-old bachelor who returns home for his grandfather’s funeral only to find out that the old man had a love child with an unknown woman. Rin, the child in question, is now six years old and comes off as quiet and solitary with all of the family in the house for her dad’s funeral. While the family puts on a show about trying to figure out what’s best for the girl before they ship her off to foster care, Daikichi decides she deserves better than that and asks Rin if she wants to come home with him. She does, and that’s the first chapter of “Bunny Drop.”
From there, things progress as a learning experience for both Daikichi and the reader as we’re shown the struggles of being a single parent in modern Japan. First he has to buy clothes and a futon, enroll her in pre-school, and change his work situation to accommodate his new charge. It’s not quite a “crisis of the week” situation, but it comes pretty close when you have chapters like Daikichi dealing with Rin’s bedwetting, her first illness and his cousin’s flight from her home situation.
Still, the overall story does have a very episodic feel to it and I’m sure that made the anime adaptation that much easier to produe. Though its down-to-earth tone suggests that it would work just as well in live action. Beyond Daikichi’s struggles with single parenthood, the only other ongoing plot thread involves his interactions with Rin’s birth mother, a mangaka who initially wanted nothing to do with motherhood but may be having the tiniest bit of second thoughts now. This lack of a strong narrative combined with its episodic nature makes “Bunny Drop” feel more like a “how to” for single parents in Japan than an actual story.
The best comparison here is with Keiko Tobe’s “With the Light” which details a couple’s struggle to raise an autistic child. Its narrative is comprised almost entirely of cliches and stock characters but remains interesting in the way it dramatizes the struggles inherent in dealing and coping with the disorder. Though its characters struggle, there’s really no doubt that things will turn out all right because the narrative is secondary to educating the reader as well as reassuring them that their efforts will be rewarded. I get a lot of this same feeling from “Bunny Drop” but it suffers in comparison because learning about the difficulties of single parenting just isn’t as interesting as coping with autism.
However, the characters are better defined here as Daikichi emerges as a likeable spaz and Rin is just adorable. Really, there’s no other way to put it. Seeing the girl cute her way across the four volumes released so far is likely to melt most people’s hearts, except for the cynics who will note that she tends to come across as remarkably capable and observant for a six-year-old. It’s not superior fluff, but it’s good fluff nonetheless.