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?…
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.
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.