Bunny Drop, vol. 3-5

BUNNY_4Every time former bachelor Daikichi thinks he is starting to get the hang of parenting Rin, the young family member he took in after his grandfather’s funeral, something else crops up to make him realize how wrong he is. From Rin starting school, to learning how to treat childhood illnesses, to trying to decide how much information to pass along about Rin to her absent birthmother Masako, Daikichi is constantly on edge. New adult friends who are also parents help, as does Nitani-san, the mother of Rin’s friend Kouki, but Daikichi still worries. As Rin moves out of childhood and into high school, the family’s struggles with their emotions continue.

Readers who loved the sweet, slice-of-life story Unita began building in the first two volumes of Bunny Drop will also love volumes three and four. Unita continues developing a realistic and enjoyable story about parenting and how it changes a person forever. Daikichi’s interactions with Rin are touching, whether he is confidently handling problems or is floundering, uncertain of the right response to a young girl’s emotional or physical distress. Luckily the friends he surrounds himself with are in the same boat, and adults who like realistic stories about family life will enjoy the continuing tale of this somewhat cobbled-together family.

Unfortunately in volume five, Unita drops what she had been creating in favor of a typical manga soap opera. She jumps ahead ten years, aging Rin to high school. If Unita had kept the same slice-of-life format as in the first four volumes the story might still have worked. She instead chooses to focus mainly on the complicated emotional and romantic entanglements of the various characters to such a degree that those entanglements are turned from dramatic plot points into whiny melodrama. Kouki, cute as a smart-mouthed kid, is grating as a teenage slacker and it’s not hard to understand why Rin would reject him – or at least that is why readers think she rejects him at this point. *SPOILER WARNING* highlight to view: Rin’s romantic subplot takes a possibly uncomfortable and definitely uncharacteristic turn in the last few volumes of the series.

Unita’s art remains the same quietly effective style, even when she ages up her characters. Nothing is too over the top, no sparkles or other frills. She’s very good at using subtle hints to tell the emotions of her characters, especially her female ones, and she’s also very good at building a believable world for her characters to inhabit. It’s only too bad that her plotting takes a turn which undermines the good work she has done in the beginning.

If you loved volumes one and two, then you should definitely read volumes three and four. If you loved them despite not usually being a manga reader, then stop there and know you have enjoyed the best of the series. If you are a voracious manga reader and are used to the oddities of the format, then you’ll probably still be okay with continuing on in the series, even if you are disappointed in the change of tone. It’s just too bad that the series can’t be recommended without such a caveat.

Bunny Drop, vol. 3-5
By Yumi Unita
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9780759531208
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9780759531215
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9780316210331
Yen Press, 2011-2012