A thoughtful response to current anime.

Usagi Drop – Episode 11

Last time on Usagi Drop, the hot divorcee whose son Rin was friends with had fallen ill, possibly having been infected by Rin while helping take care of her.  I’m not sure where they can go with this – surely we’re not going to get another episode about how people sometimes get sick and then have to lie in bed and eat porridge.  They could up the ante, I guess.  The divorcee has a weakened immune system due to the stress of being a single mother, so the illness strikes her harder than it did Rin, and she dies of it, and then Rin has to live with the guilt of being involved in the causal chain that led to her death, and also has to deal with the fact that every parental figure she has dies or abandons her.  That actually sounds pretty horrible, I feel bad for even thinking of it, so let’s hope they have something else planned for episode 11 of Usagi Drop.

…thirty minutes pass…

Wasn't Rin supposed to be *good* at art?

I was worried Usagi Drop would end as it began, with a death.  Instead, it just sort of… stopped.  They were doing silly child things like jumping rope and losing teeth right up until the very end.  Well, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Rin’s a cute kid, you don’t need to layer grand epic plotlines on top of things to make this an enjoyable show.  Just show her practicing jumping over a rope many times in rapid succession, and we can think back to our own childhoods, when doing that sort of thing was plenty epic enough for us.  I guess kids these days have their videogames, so they get fed fictional epic experiences, and maybe that dilutes their excitement in their own lives?  That’d be a shame, if true.  But kids have been reading storybooks for ages, with tales of dragons and princesses and what-have-you, and they seem to have been able to find joy anyway.  It’s not clear to me why I should expect a videogame to be more damaging to one’s enthusiasm for reality than a book.

On the adult side of things, this episode was all about the sacrifices that adults make in order to raise kids, and isn’t it sort of crazy that people make all these huge sacrifices?  But I don’t know that it is.  There is certainly a built-in biological imperative to raise children, which helps parents feel better about making those sacrifices, but I think a lot of it can be explained by general human psychology.  Raising kids is just something you do.  All your peers are having children, so you feel like you ought to have children too. (I’m personally just reaching the point of my life where this starts to become an issue.)  And from the outside, the work and expense you put into raising children looks like a huge burden, but once you start, you get used to it, and then it just seems like life. You do these things, make these sacrifices without thinking about them, because that’s what you need to do, so you do it.  It’s amazing what humans can do if they have to.  I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich for a philosophy class once.  It’s a story about the Soviet Gulags, and a guy imprisoned in them.  The message I took away from the story was different from the one most people take, I think.  On its surface, it’s a story about these horrible things that the prison guards did to the prisoners, and sometimes the prisoners to each other.  But when I read it, I saw a man, who was alive, living a human life.  Even in this forced labor camp, he got by, he put one foot in front of the other and did what he needed to do.  The lesson I take away from the book is that the circumstances you are in don’t matter as much as people think; it’s what’s inside that counts.  And this would apply to parenthood too – I’m sure parenthood is hard, but probably not compared to the Soviet Gulags.

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