Heart-warming, adorable and surprising moving – Bunny Drop is a story of salaryman Daikichi, and the small child who changed his life. Review after the jump.
When Daikichi’s grandfather dies, the family discovers the existence of his 6-year-old “love child” – a daughter no one knew had even been born. It soon becomes apparent that the child, Rin (Mana Ashida) is alone. Rin’s mother is a manga artist who doesn’t want a child, and her father’s family is still in shock over her existence. Daikichi (Kenichi Matsuyama) decides to step up and take her in, much to the surprise and protest of his family. He doesn’t see the shame and problem that his family sees; what he sees is a frightened and lonely little girl who just lost the man that she loved.
Daikichi isn’t exactly prepared to be a parent to a little girl – he’s a 30 year-old salaryman who lives on his own and works long hours in pursuit of a high-flying career. It’s not easy adjusting to the new life for either of the pair, and the long hours and commute is nothing short of exhausting. Against Japanese societal norms, Daikichi decides to put this child ahead of his career, and makes drastic changes to both his working and his private life. There are obstacles and bumps along the way, but these two have a special bond, and Daikichi is determined to create a happy and stable life for Rin, no matter what the personal costs to him are.
The film is based on a popular manga series of the same name, and I can see why it has such a large following. The two leads are such likeable, yet flawed characters who are extremely endearing and engaging. Rin is just about the cutest child ever, and actress Mana Ashida does an astounding job for someone so young. She manages to give a complexity of emotions to Rin’s character, who is so much more than just an adorable face. I really liked Daikichi, who gave up so much for a small child he had only just met. Daikichi is a dreamer and by no means perfect, and I enjoyed watching him grow into the role of a parent.
For me it was the reversal of gender roles and the exploration of fatherhood in Japan which elevated this film above the typical ‘orphan’ story. In Japanese society it is not common for men to be the primary carer, and the impression outsiders are given is that this is how the men want it. I loved meeting the working men in this film who doted over their children and placed them at the centre of their worlds. It was refreshing to show Japanese men as caring and loving fathers rather than just cold workaholics. Daikichi’s own father states he is proud of Daikichi for putting the child first, something that he himself wasn’t able to do for Daikichi (and obviously regrets).
Bunny Drop is sweet and fun, but it’s also moving and charming, and a different look at parenting in Japan.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Writer(s): Tamio Hayashi & Hiroyuki Tanaka (screenplay), Yumi Unita (manga)
Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama , Mana Ashida, Karina
Runtime: 115 minutes
Bunny Drop is screening as part of the 16th Japanese Film Festival. For information about this film and other films screening, please visit: http://www.japanesefilmfestival.net