Bunny Drop Volume 1 By Yumi Unita
I have to confess that I initially bought this manga mainly because I want to support publishers bringing out more josei titles in the US. I was not attracted to the premise of a bachelor unexpectedly becoming a father. I don’t think that there’s necessarily anything extra cute or special about men acting as a primary parent, so I was worried that this series would be overly sentimental. But when I picked Bunny Drop up I was happy to discover that it was much more subtle and interesting than I assumed it would be.
Daikichi travels to meet his family on the occasion of his grandfather’s death. When he arrives at the familial home he sees a strange little girl hanging around the house. It turns out that the little girl is the product of his grandfather’s secret affair. Daikichi now has a six year old aunt! Rin immediately attaches herself to Daikichi, silently following him everywhere. It turns out that he’s the spitting image of his grandfather as a young man, so he seems like a familiar person in a house suddenly filled with strangers for the funeral. Daikichi is enraged when he hears his relatives dismissing Rin as an odd child and going through the motions of talking about what to do with her when it is clear to him that they’ve already decided to put her into some sort of institution. He asks Rin if she wants to come home with him. Daikichi suddenly has to figure out what to do about his demanding job, finding childcare, and figuring out how to parent a six year old girl.
While Bunny Drop has some lighthearted moments, it doesn’t portray single parenthood as the idealistic barrel of laughs that Yotsuba&! does. Daikichi has to carefully weigh every decision – which day care will be best for Rin? Can he provide her any companionship when his job requires so much overtime? He starts to notice Rin’s habits and figures out which bunny stuffed animal she likes the most. The details of sudden parenthood seemed realistic and interesting, but Unita adds in another storyline to engage the reader. There’s a larger mystery that remains in the back of Daikichi’s mind. Where exactly is Rin’s mother, and why did Rin have so few possessions at his grandfather’s house?
One of the things I liked very much about Bunny Drop was the character designs. Rin is cute, but with her silent mannerisms, curtain of hair, and neediness she seems realistic and more like her own person than a generic adorable kid. Daikichi is drawn to deliberately look not very handsome. He looks like a nebbishy salaryman in his 30s, which is exactly what he is. Unita’s drawing style is very economical. There’s just enough detail, but she doesn’t spend an excessive amount of time drawing tiny background details or adding flourishes of tone. This lets the reader focus more on chracter expression and interaction. While seeing Rin and Daikichi bond over cooking and shopping was cute, it is balanced by Daikichi’s realization that taking care of a child does represent a sacrifice. I’m always happy when something turns out better than my expectations, and Bunny Drop was a nice surprise. I’ll be on board for the second volume.