Bunny Drop DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series Premium Edition Anime Review

Bunny Drop DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series Premium Edition Anime Review Life, love, family and relationships in this utterly charming show about what people need to do to step up at the necessary time.

What They Say:
Daikichi, a 30-year-old bachelor, is surprised to meet a 6-year-old, Rin, at his grandfather Souichi’s funeral. He and his family are even more surprised to learn that Rin is Souichi’s daughter. When the topic of who will care for her comes up, the family shirks all responsibility of raising this “shameful” child. In an emotional outburst, Daikichi declares his intention to take Rin into his home. This is the story of two very different individuals coming together under one roof and learning what it means to be a family, an experience that teaches Daikichi what it means to be a parent.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is straightforward in that we get the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that is very much dialogue driven and really doesn’t even have anything like a real action segment to try and provide a little tension that way. The most we get is some bad rain weather that hits. The series does have a very good and engaging mix of dialogue and sound effects though that ties things together very well, making the blending of all of that with the music work in a way that keeps you pretty engaged. While it’s not a show that will knock your socks off, it will keep you pretty immersed in it as it goes along. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the summer of 2011, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The eleven episode series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and two on the second where the extras are also contained. The show, animated by Production I.G., has a pretty distinct look about it as it strives to adopt the look of the manga in a faithful way, both through the character designs and detail but also the color palette. It has that kind of soft and almost watercolor feeling about it while still having some really wonderful and fluid motion to it all. There’s that strange mixture of simplicity and detail that’s pretty engaging to watch and the transfer captures it well. The distinctive nature is one that gives us a show that doesn’t have a lot of pop but rather a warmth that makes it feel very inviting and in a strange way, at home. There’s some grain and noise to be had here but it fits within the context of the show and isn’t a distracting piece that leads to macroblocking or anything.

Packaging:
The packaging for this premium edition release is really solid overall, something that we keep saying with each release. The heavy and long chipboard box gives us two really great images with the two sides. One features the two leads holding hands as they walk through the fall leaves where you can really feel the crisp autumn weather through the blues of the sky. The other side has the two of them with soft colors of oranges that works well as they lean against each other, Daikichi with a great look while Rin has a big, bold smile. The hardcover book inside is wonderful once more as it gives us so much. The episode by episode guide is solid and we get a variety of character pages. We also get a look at the clothes everyone wears which reinforces just how many times Rin changed throughout it. We get lots of good art pages and some promotional material as well as several pages of interviews, including a really good one with the mangaka as she talks about some of the changes she made as the series went on.

Also in the box we obviously get the two clear thinpak cases where they hold the four discs, two DVDs and two Blu-ray’s. The cover artwork shows off some whimsical shots of the two leads together with different emotions and it all has a very nostalgic and almost 70′s kind of feeling to it that’s rather charming. The back covers highlight more of this as they use the same backgrounds and overall layout. The episode numbers and titles are included on both with a breakdown of what’s on which format, something that helps. The technical grids are clean and solid with everything listed accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is really nicely done across both volumes as it uses some static imagery while playing various stills and bits behind it. With the soft and lilting music associated with it here, we get a variety of very artistic style shots of the characters against some equally artistic backgrounds that fade in and out, providing a sense of ease and comfort and even warmth as it all comes together. With the navigation along the bottom, it has a simple strip that’s easy to access and uses cute bunny shapes for the icons. The logo is kept simple with just a couple of colors between it and the flowers around it that drives home the overall look well. Everything is easy to access and quick to load, making it an easy menu to work through.

Extras:
All the extras for this release are on the second disc and there’s some very welcome pieces here. The big thing we get are all the shorts that run a few minutes and fit in between the various episodes. They’re small character pieces that expand things nicely and are simply light and very enjoyable additions to the series. In addition to that, we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as one of the Japanese commercials. The mini episodes are what shines though and makes it so worthwhile.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the nine volume manga series from Yumi Unita that began back in 2005, Bunny Drop is a beautiful little series from Production I.G. that captures what it means to be family. The show only adapts a portion of the manga that deals with the elementary school time period, which is probably for the best since it gets into more complicated, and unsettling for many, material as the characters grow up and change. As a part of the noitaminA block from the summer of 2011, this was a series that was streamed on Crunchyroll and won me over from its first frames as its style and approach properly adapted the original josei material.

The series revolves around the unlikely pairing of Rin and Daikichi, a six year old girl and a thirty year old bachelor. The premise isn’t complicated but it has its nuances as we’re introduced to the show through Daikichi where he’s gone to his grandfather’s home upon learning that the seventy-four year old man has died. Not much was heard from him for years it seems, mostly because he was a bit of a black sheep in that he has a six year old daughter through a maid named Masako that came to take care of the house every day. There’s some real questions in the nuance of certain phrases here as to whether it’s truly his daughter or whether he just did the right thing and took her in for six years as we learn more about that maid, Masako.

The upshot though is that the maid has long since gone, the daughter in Rin didn’t know that Masako was her mother and all she truly knew was her father/grandfather that doted on her. With his passing, nobody knows what to do and is intent on just putting her into social services to be taken care of for awhile until they can figure it out. Having these conversations before the funeral, Daikichi gets to see a lot of Rin as she’s quiet and watching, moving about the house that is her home, and he finds something that draws him to her. The situation is one that he sees as really difficult for her and he makes the surprising snap and gut driven decision to take her in since family has to stay with family. You can understand the reactions of his parents and others, but they’re having a hard time seeing past Rin’s black sheep status that’s been applied to her.

There isn’t a lot of overall drama to this as Rin essentially takes in his aunt in the form of a six year old girl, something that irritates his mother to be sure. The series doesn’t focus on the legalities of it and problems that may arise and it doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on Masako either, though she gets about two episodes worth of material and even then she’s not really a primary focus but rather an avenue to be explained. And that does work in its favor as there’s no undesirable drama about how Masako wants her back and will fight to get her. No, what the series does, and does beautifully, is show us how Daikichi and Rin end up living together, getting to know each other and grow into a real and proper family.

Both of them have a fair bit of baggage when you get down to it, so it explores the problems Rin has in adapting to this new life and how she opens up to Daikichi. For his part, he has to juggle changes in his work life by now having a kid, understanding what they need and coping with her emotional needs as well. Which definitely has its challenges. It’s hard enough for new parents who do their best to prepare and at least know what’s coming, but here it’s something he does because it’s the right thing and works hard to do right by her after all that she’s lost. The struggles are really well handled as nothing is really over the top, falls into the realm of realistic constantly and in the end helps to slowly build the bonds between both of them. Each thing he does for her also works to strengthen his own feelings for her and make him more parental, even if she doesn’t want to call him anything but Daikichi.

The supporting cast that comes into it is pretty strong as well. Rin makes a friend in Kouki, an abrasive boy who ends up in the same class with her. He’s in a mildly similar situation as his dad isn’t in the picture and he’s being raised by his single mom. There are some light touches in here about her and Daikichi getting closer in a very simple way and it’s admittedly something you root for, even if the manga goes in a whole other direction. Daikichi gets to deal with his cousin who has some serious home problems herself with her daughter and husband and her whole family situation. Bring in Daikichi’s parents and those from his workplace and the schools and you get a show that feels well fleshed out, especially in how Daikichi makes new “dad-friends” when there’s an open house in school. You see growth all around in small, realistic and heartwarming ways.

In Summary:
Bunny Drop hits that sweet spot for me where it does so many things right without being sugary sweet as it unfolds. The situation is one mired in tragedy and we get the nods towards what happened and how Rin is coping with it. It doesn’t dominate but it’s not ignored, though it could have gotten a bit more time. Seeing their story unfold as two people come together to support each other, one without realizing he really needed it, is done tastefully and with a sense of heart that’s not overpowering. It may seem cloying and too blunt in some ways, but it’s also very “Japanese” in its own way as well with how people hold back certain emotions or saying certain things out of respect. The only fault I can really have with the show is that there isn’t more as I’d love to see how they could either adapt more of the manga or find their own authorized path, giving us more of Rin, Daikichi and the people in their lives.

Features:
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Mini Episodes, Japanese Commercial

Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: NIS America
Release Date: August 7th, 2012
MSRP: $69.99
Running Time: 251 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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Bunny Drop DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series Premium Edition Anime Review