Bunny Drop, a heartwarming film about the rewards and sacrifices and parenthood and adoption, subjects not often touched upon.
Based on a comic series of the same name, Bunny Drop is a story of a bachelor, who ends up taking care of the six-year-old daughter of his deceased grandfather. While this might sound the set up for a silly comedy, the film takes a serious route by exploring what it takes to be a parent, yet it maintains an optimistic and cheerful tone. The comic and TV series, which the film is based on, is one of my personal favorites, and Bunny Drop, also known as Usagi Drop, actually adapts the story fairly well.
Directed by: Sabu
Release Date: 20 August 2011
Running Time: 114 minutes
MMPA rating: PG
The Good: Explores parenthood, Expresses the importance of family, Excellent child performances
The Bad: Dream sequence is out of place, A few corny performances,
Plot Summary: 30 year old bachelor, Daikichi Kawachi, attends his grandfather's funeral, and then discovers that his grandfather left behind a six-year-old illegitimate child named Rin. After the family decides to put Rin is a foster home, Daikichi decides to take the girl to live with him, and thus his journey into parenthood begins.
Plot: 7.9/10- Usagi Drop excels in its simplicity. There are not many twists and turns, but the central plot of Daikichi learning the struggles and rewards of parenthood are so well executed. Actually, I have yet to see a film that takes the concept of becoming a parent and portray like Usagi Drop does. It makes you think about what your parents have sacrificed to raise you. I am curious as to how a parent would view the film though. The film barely manages to ride the fine line of being too sappy at times, but, in the end, everything feels earned.
In terms of being an adaptation, it manages to touch on all of the important parts of the source material. Of course, certain parts are rushed due to time constraints, but many of the most memorable moments are translated to live-action to near perfection. However, the film adds in a few of Daikichi dream sequences that seem jarring compared to rest of the film's tone, and how a character ties-into those dream sequence feels unnecessarily contrived.
Characterization: 8.2/10- Daikichi's transition from a work-consumed bachelor to a caring father figure to Rin is a compelling and entertaining transition to watch. His character explores the idea of learning to care for a child as if he/she was your own, and it is a concept that I enjoyed seeing.
Due to the constraints of live-action, Rin does not play as big a part as she does in the source material. However, she still has her adorable moments that make you understand why Daikichi sacrifices so much to raise her. The other characters in the film all play their part, but they not particularly prominent.
Direction: 5.9/10- Director, Sabu, does a decent job with the direction. Unfortunately, like many Japanese films, he is held back by a small budget and hence the film looks more like on-par with something on American network television. Thankfully, the story portrayed does not require any special visuals.
Acting: 7.3/10- During the 20 minutes of the film, the acting felt goofy and unnatural. While this is not uncommon in Asian cinema, it detracts from the believability of the early scenes. Thankfully, after the plot is set in motion, Kenichi Matsuyama, who plays Daikichi, receives the majority of the screen time. His performance, while not groundbreaking, is quite good.
The scenes with child co-star, Mana Ashida, are where Matsuyama shines, as the small interactions between the two is the heart of the film. Surprisingly, Mana Ashida gives fine performance for a child actor of 7 years of age. She even manages to capture much of the quite innocent of the character from the series. Also, you may recognize her from Pacific Rim where she played the child version of Mako Mori in the flashback scenes. The rest of the cast range from slightly subpar to average, but nothing to hold the film back.
Soundtrack: 6.0/10- While not exactly memorable, Takashi Mori's score is fitting for the film. Also, just like series, the song, "Sweet Drops" by Puffy, is played during the end credits.
Humor: 7.2/10- Far from a comedy, Usagi Drop's humor plays off of Daikichi's lack of knowledge of parenthood, without outright playing those scenes for comedy.
Entertainment Value: 7.8/10- After a slightly disjointed start, Usagi Drop maintained a constantly pleasant pace throughout that held my attention throughout the film.
Overall: 7.7/10- Bunny Drop is the definition of a "heartwarming" film. It is sweet, yet not overly so, and portrays likable and relatable characters in an entertaining manner. If you are interested in a film about parenthood for adult, while still being clean enough for children, give Bunny Drop a watch; you will not be disappointed.
Closing comments: If you truly want the full experience, my recommendation is to watch the anime adaptation. However, considering the negative stigma of anime, maybe this live-action film is the only way for you to experience the story, and if so, check it out.
Recommended for: Drama fans, Parents, Foreign film fans, Fans of the source material,
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