Double Noitamina review: No.6 and Usagi Drop

Like last season’s [C] and AnoHana, this passing summer season of anime included a sci-fi and slice-of-life Noitamina series; No.6 and Usagi Drop respectively. With the typical Noitamina run of just 11 episodes, how did the two vastly different shows fare?…


No.6

While the first episode of No.6 can be a bit jarring in that it takes place four years before the rest of the series, it’s vital in establishing the relationship between the two protagonists and introducing the setting. Both of these components – the relationship between Shion and Nezumi, and the setting of No.6 – are the driving points behind the series.

For those of you who are familiar with the book “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, that’s the kind of sci-fi feeling I got upon watching the early episodes of No.6: a futuristic world in which people are living in complete ignorance and bliss by a deceiving government that has banned all forms of humanity’s culture – books especially – and silently eradicates anyone who disagrees with this society. The majority of the episodes deal with Shion and Nezumi’s relationship, conflicts with the other characters (specifically Shion’s past girlfriend Safu), and slowly unraveling the secrets of No.6.

Besides building an engaging, believable setting in No.6, which I feel the series did a fairly decent job of, Shion and Nezumi carry the show. While not the most original characters I’ve seen, their plight and interactions with each other are interesting enough to make me care about how their story will end. Nezumi fluctuates between being a total jerk to being an otherwise good-hearted anti-hero while Shion is basically the typical naive, nice kid who just wants to help everyone. Again, they’re not very striking as protagonists go but they’re sympathetic enough, especially together. And speaking of that, one of the outcries early on about No.6 is the yaoi relationship between the two. For me, as long as a relationship in anime is well written and engaging, I don’t care who it’s between. I think the ones who berated the series because of that were fanboys looking for a dark, masculine sci-fi series and felt like they got yaoi for fangirls instead.

Besides Shion and Nezumi, there’s isn’t much to say about the other characters other than I felt like they fit their roles just fine. The series made a wise decision in not having too many characters in such a short show and all had just enough development to make them likable.

My only complaint about No.6 is, unfortunately, the final episode. It wasn’t the worst ending but it could have been better. A bit of a deus ex machina going on in terms of the vaguely defined Elyurias wiping out No.6 and bringing Shion back to life. Also I felt it ended a tad abruptly…we didn’t even get to see Shion reunite with his mom after she was pining for him throughout the series. A little montage or something at the end showing the people rebuilding society and seeing what the other characters are doing would have been nice. But I actually didn’t mind the fact that Shion and Nezumi went their separate ways at that moment since it’s obvious they’ll be able to be together again anytime later on.

Overall, I would say No.6 is a very good sci-fi anime. A well-written, fascinating setting, decent characters, and lots of suspense. If you can use your imagination to fill in the less explained plot points and take the abrupt ending with a grain of salt, I can certainly recommend it.

—–


Usagi Drop

Being a very short series as well as a fairly episodic slice-of-life series, I find that I don’t have much to say about Usagi Drop. But what I do have to say about it is all good ^_^

The plot is a simple one: a rather passive 30-year old guy winds up adopting the daughter of his late grandfather. The episodes follow Daikichi as he discovers all the pains and rewards of being a “father” both through his growing bond with Rin and with other people he meets who also have children. Every episode is sweet, cute, and soothing yet also solidly written and it never feels like it’s just cutesy fluff. A little drama here and a little comedy there, but it doesn’t tug our emotions in any extreme direction. Daikichi and Rin are likable right from the get go and the other characters play their parts perfectly well. What I find very interesting about Usagi Drop’s characters is that they act more like real people than anime characters. Even the children – Rin and Kouki in particular – act very much like real kids and not hyper or unusually insightful anime kids.

The unique pastel-like coloring style of the animation is a bit strange at first, but I think it fits the child-like gentleness and innocence of the show. I enjoyed the BGM as well and the opening, “Sweet Drops,” is the only opening of the summer season anime that I’m particularly fond of.

Being the kind of show that it is, it’s natural that Usagi Drop’s final episode wasn’t anything drastic. Pretty much just an ordinary episode with a bit more reinforcement of Daikichi’s decision to truly be a father figure to Rin. Since there’s no real conflict to begin with, nothing really needed to get resolved. Rin and Kouki being childhood friends (or something more later down the line), whether Masako will return, and whether Daikichi will hook up with Kouki’s mom are all things that are hinted at in the episodes, but I feel the atmosphere of the show makes it unnecessary to flat-out resolve them in the end. I know there’s a lot more to the story in the Usagi Drop manga and changes were made in the anime version, but personally I’m satisfied with the anime and don’t care to investigate it further.

To conclude, Usagi Drop is a sweet, lovely little show that gets its themes of family and children across in a beautiful, gentle way. It’s one of the few shows where I feel every episode is up to standard. You can definitely tell just by the first episode or descriptions of it if it’s a show for you.

11 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Myna says:

    Fahrenheit 451 is the best book ever.
    But in retrospect, dystopian society stories all have similarities (ignorant/innocent people, controlling govt., a seemingly perfect city, etc.), so I wouldn’t JUST compare it to Fahrenheit.
    As for the yaoi…well, Wikipedia does classify this as shoujo. So I guess it shouldn’t entirely be unexpected.

    There was no doubt in my mind that Bones was going to do one of their rushed endings again. They really could’ve used another episode or two. A bit too many deus ex machinas for me, but hey, it’s scifi.

    I don’t understand why you said that Usagi Drop’s colors where strange.
    The anime was pretty faithful to the manga, and managed to cover the majority of the first 25 chapter (before the time skip) into its eleven episodes.

    I just read the entire manga last night, and I don’t want a second season. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got one, but the ending was indeed bad. But back to the anime,: Usagi Drop is definitely worthy of the noitaminA timeslot, and I’m going to miss seeing Rin and Kouki and everyone weekly.

    • Yumeka says:

      The reason I picked Fahrenheit is because it’s pretty much the only dystopia novel I’ve read. But you’re right, those kinds of stories naturally have similarities.

      Heh, I wouldn’t think of No.6 as shojo. Besides the two main characters being in a yaoi relationship there’s nothing “girly” or “romantic” about it at all, which is what shojo is all about. Maybe it’s more josei? I would just call it sci-fi and maybe yaoi.

      I personally don’t think the colors in Usagi Drop are strange, but I meant they could appear strange to the average viewer because they’re very “pastel-ish” and don’t follow the typical shading techniques of most anime.

      Glad to know that the anime is actually a good adaptation of the first half of the manga. I suspected that Rin grew up in the manga since I saw pictures of her older version floating around XD A second season would be nice just to see what happens but it’s not something I need.

      • Myna says:

        Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was the one that I was reminded of more. You should definitely check it out.

        Well, I think it’s safe to say that alot of shoujo fans are also yaoi fangirls as well.

    • Salion says:

      Wow…after reading your comment, I had to go find a plot synopsis for the second half of the manga. I have to agree with you, I don’t really want a second season. I’m glad I saw the whole show before finding out the rest of the plot, as that would surely have spoiled my enjoyment of the anime. Assuming Usagi Drop stays as a 1-season show, it can continue to be my #2 favorite anime :)

  2. Kal says:

    I loved Usagi Drop. It was simply a great anime. Your review is spot on as well. I feel that the major strength is that all the characters were very believable and life-like. The situations were very day-to-day so they are very easy to relate to as well. Although, I do not have any kids, I could relate to Daikichi at some level. The difficult things that you have to go through in life, but how they are worth it in the long run. Rin is incredibly likeable. While she is portrayed as being mature for her age, she still acts just like a kid would. I have to say Usagi Drop was my favorite this season. Really, really good show.

    No.6 on the other hand, I really did not think it was so great. I have no problem with the relationship between the 2 main characters, and actually think that was one of the strong points in the series. The whole plot was simply predictable and nothing really new. There were no surprising plot twists along the series, and nothing that made it stand out for me at least. It’s not a bad series, it’s just not that good.

    • Yumeka says:

      I agree that Rin acts like a very true-to-life little girl who’s mature for her age (but not mature enough that it’s unrealistic). I don’t particularly like kids and don’t ever want any, but I still enjoyed the characters and day by day stories in Usagi Drop ^_^

      No.6 doesn’t have the most original story but it just happens to be the kind of sci-fi story I like, so maybe that’s why I liked it more than others. I feel it was fairly unpredictable in the early episodes but once the conflict with saving Safu was brought up, it became less suspenseful. I knew right away that if any character was doomed in the end, it was her XD

  3. Artemis says:

    I adored every minute of Usagi Drop – I’d have to say that it’s been my favourite anime release of the year so far.

  4. I would call No. 6 shonen-ai, rather than yaoi, to be technical about it. ;) A couple of kisses do not a yaoi anime make, nice as those kisses were.

    Strangely enough (considering it’s ME) – I was actually more intrigued by No. 6’s sci-fi world-building than by its shonen-ai bits here and there. I agree that the last episode wound everything up rather quickly and with limited explanation, and also agree that it was still a worthwhile series to watch.

    • Yumeka says:

      Ah, I didn’t know that distinction between yaoi and shonen-ai. Thanks for informing me ;)

      I agree that No.6 wasn’t perfect, especially in its ending, but I too found it to be a good sci-fi anime overall.

  5. Mushyrulez says:

    Derp – it wasn’t the government in Fahrenheit 451 that banned books, it was because of the people who didn’t want to be intellectual anymore that eventually discouraged books through peer pressure. They also don’t eradicate the people – they merely burn their books.

    That said, I cannot think of any dystopic novel less similar to No. 6 than Fahrenheit 451. People question the system in Fahrenheit 451 all the time, and nobody does anything about it. They can do anything they want, and everything’s basically in utter disorder – the only thing they can’t do is learn. Meanwhile, in No. 6, people are encouraged to learn about /everything/ (besides No. 6’s EVIL EVIL EVIL… whatever-they’re-evil-for), everything is in order, and you’re snatched up for questioning the system or even witnessing the death of an innocent person.

    Uh I feel like I’m splitting hairs here, but that’s only because you covered most of everything else in your post. I think I’ll end on a light note – the thing about Bunny Drop is that it can be both light and heavy simultaneously. People who watch it on a shallow level will see a really nice, cute show with some elements of drama in it, but people who really analyze deeply will see tons of little remarks about society and differences of the main characters. (I’m not one of those people, derp.)

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