Usagi Drop Half Season Review
Alright, since comparing anime and other things is COOL and TOTALLY A TREND now, time to COMPARE ANIME and OTHER THINGS!
This’ll be a rather short post, then.
Canada Sings is an original, six-part series where randomly chosen groups of everyday people form teams with their coworkers and sing (I still have no idea what a glee club is) in an attempt to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice. Somehow (I have no idea how this was possible), a group of teachers was chosen to compete – teachers from my high school. And thus, they competed.
If you haven’t watched the episode, it works like many other ‘reality TV’ shows – first starting off with professional choreographers and voice actors meeting the groups, and then showing TEARFUL, DRAMATIC, and EMOTIONAL backstories of important members of the groups, as well as their personal REASONS TO SUCCEED and the like. Eventually, the day approaches and everybody’s practising like CRAZY and shit’s SUPER INTENSE, yo. Finally, it’s the day of the performance and after lengthy opening comments, both teams perform in front of judges who eventually decide on the winner – which happened to be our school, hooray (we got $10,000 for the BC Children’s Hospital).
Obviously, Usagi Drop has nothing to do with Canada Sings at all.
BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK
No, rather, it’s what Usagi Drop /isn’t/ that has to do, not with what Canada Sings is, but with what Canada Sings /isn’t/ either. Didn’t make sense? Good, because YOU HAVE TO BUY YOUR SENSE AROUND HERE
The episode looked extremely polished, and everything seemed realistic – they had five days to do this, which really is a lot – maybe even up to 60 hours, if they were practising full-time. Each person’s backstory was tearful and emotional and they were sad and they were crying and it was sad and we didn’t really cry and but and and and. The judges’ comments, the principal’s comments, and the host’s comments all seemed very spur-of-the-moment – they weren’t rehearsed at all, right?
Likewise, in Usagi Drop, everything feels extremely realistic. Daikichi has to deal with Rin, which has both its ups and its downs, as Rin learns new things and Daikichi has to sacrifice things for her. The interactions between the characters are realistic, the situations they’re in are realistic, and their feelings about the situations are realistic too.
The people in Canada Sings were working with a purpose – to get that $10,000 for the Children’s Hospital. For this, they seem to have suffered much pain, but also had some fun. Daikichi isn’t necessarily working with a purpose (unless his purpose was to, y’know, ‘capture’ Rin), but he also seems to have suffered much pain and had some fun (actually, he’s had no ‘fun’). Is this true? I’m pretty sure that most drama in reality TV are acted, and in fact, everything’s overstated and made more exciting, similar to newspapers. Usagi Drop is the same – the reality of Daikichi’s situation with Rin is probably much different from the ‘slice of life’ that the anime gives to us. After all, life is a pie of many flavours, and simply having one slice won’t tell you anything about the entire pie.
“I must keep my virginity!”
The rest of the episode wasn’t entirely true either. They portray the teachers as having practised everything this week (especially with the host’s aside remark, ‘But who’s teaching the classes right now?’) – when really, all this filming happened last /year/, during Spring Break – and the teachers’ practising must have started much, much, earlier. They show the teachers as having only five days of practise time /in Vancouver/, and going to Toronto for just one day of performance, when in reality they even /stayed/ at Toronto for an entire week. I also have suspicions about some other parts of the episode – some crying seemed to be an (admittedly good) act, and I’m not sure their singing could be that good, either. Nevertheless, most of these are just suspicions – things that most people who don’t know the performers first-hand wouldn’t suspect.
All of these have one thing in common – the producers don’t make their show boring, they want to make it exciting. Instead of saying ‘these teachers had three months to practise and multiple chances’, they say ‘these teachers have FIVE DAYS to DO EVERYTHING and then ONE CHANCE to perform in front of a LIVE CROWD’ (I wonder if the crowd was live, too – there weren’t many shots both of the performers and the crowd). Instead of ‘this teacher’s already gotten over all of this’, they say ‘AND THIS HAS EMOTIONALLY AFFECTED HER… for SIXTEEN YEARS’. Instead of ‘hey look, here’s a bunch of people practising things over and over and over and over and over’, it’s ‘hey look, this person can’t take it anymore and CRYING’. Just like how the director filming Rikitarou in RRR only wishes to capture the interesting shots, the director of Canada Sings obviously also wants to capture only the interesting shots.
In Usagi Drop, all of the ‘mundane’ everyday tasks are left out – while every moment must be an interesting one in reality TV shows, Usagi Drop is not an anime about interesting events – it’s an anime about this girl and her… cousin… growing up. It’s OK for a reality TV show to lie (even though it’s an ‘reality’ TV show), because the main point is to entertain. Is Usagi Drop’s main point to entertain? The best way to see somebody grow up is to see the chance in their everyday life – not how differently they react to interesting events. Ultimately, we can only conclude that Usagi Drop is not primarily intended to educate – even as a noitaminA show (which have the somewhat negative connotation of trying too hard to educate), it’s still primarily entertainment.
I realize that noitaminA has different blocks – one of scientific educational anime (Fractale, [C], No. 6), and one of emotional entertaining anime (Hourou Musuko, AnoHana, Usagi Drop), but EH.
I guess this post did tumble off the deep end, as my thoughts haven’t been organized enough (this is what happens when you’re strapped on time!). To conclude, a few closing thoughts:
I thought the teachers would be singing some sort of complex harmony when the other team remarked how good their singing was – our choir teacher regularly manages to do that sort of stuff with his choir class – but when the end result was just a mashup of two voices (really, nobody else sang), I was sorely disappointed.
Six episodes have passed in Usagi Drop (nine, as of this post, but six that I’ve watched), and I really doubt this dreaded ending will appear – Rin’s not even in high school yet. The pace is very slow, and I really wonder how they’re going to end this anime. Hopefully not with this.
tl;dr: I WAS GOING TO MAKE THIS AN ANIME POST BUT I DELETED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE PAINSTAKINGLY LONG NOTES I TOOK WHILE WATCHING (and also I didn’t have time).
P.S. I almost misspelt Canada Sings as Canada Signs. TEAMS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY GATHER TO SIGN AS MANY SIGNATURES AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE