Parental Units in Erased and Usagi Drop

Satoru and Satoru's Mom, Erased
Satoru and Satoru’s Mom, Erased

Anime is usually the playground of superpowered kids, angsty teenagers and dysfunctional young adults, but the parental figures in Erased and Usagi Drop show intergenerational relationships rarely seen.

Let’s face it. Parents and guardians are an endangered species in anime. They are often absent for a variety of reasons, the most popular being some kind of tragedy. Children are either left in the care of grandparents or aunts and uncles or, most likely, they are living on their own! When anime characters do have parents, they are often off-screen and not part of the shenanigans. These kids roll as if they don’t have parents.

So it’s kinda surprising when Satoru’s mom shows up in the first episode of Erased, an anime series about a guy who inexplicably can travel back in time 3 minutes to prevent tragedies, and continues to be a pivotal figure.  Satoru is a 29-year-old wannabe manga artist who ekes out a living writing and working at the local pizza shop. He’s a man of modest means, living in a small apartment by himself.  He’s learned to work with his power, which he calls Revival.

When Satoru’s mom crashes his crib after hearing about his recent accident and hospital stay, Satoru’s response is basically an eye-roll. You don’t get the sense that they have a close relationship. She seems concerned about his well-being, but totally disregards his space. She takes his futon and relegates him to the sleeping bag. He seems to be used to it. At first, their relationship seems to be background for the anime’s main plot, but no! Something bad happens that sends Satoru back to his 11-year-old body and a childhood tragedy involving murdered classmates that he had mostly forgotten about.

Once he realizes what has happened, his first thought is to rush home, looking for his mother, and there she is. However, Saturo has a different reaction observing the situation with his 29-year-old mind. While he was totally annoyed by his mother showing up in his present, he cries out of relief and appreciation in his past. He realizes that he had forgotten that they were close, that she knows him much more than he realizes and that she has always looked out for him. Satoru gains a greater appreciation for his mom, which is no small feat in an anime that has one of the worst mother figures ever.  Satoru’s mom is the exact opposite of Hinazaki’s mom. An alcoholic woman who is obviously with the wrong man, Hinazaki’s mom is physically abusive and a horrible person and mother. Give Satoru’s mom a trophy!

While Erased features the relationship between a fairly capable mother and son, Usagi Drop features a parental figure who has no idea what he’s doing. When 30-year-old Daikichi goes home to pay his respects in the wake of his grandfather’s death, he has no idea of the drama that waits for him. Apparently, the little six-year-old girl that seems out of place at the home is his grandfather’s daughter, making her simultaneously Daikichi’s aunt and potential charge. When the rest of the family discusses putting her up for adoption or sending her to an orphanage, Daikichi steps up to the plate and says he will take care of Rin.

Like Satoru, Daikichi is living alone in modest means. He has no responsibilities beyond himself until Rin shows up and he has little idea how to take care of a six-year-old girl. Not only does Daikichi have to figure out his parental duties, he has to also deal with a grieving Rin.  Daikichi does his absolute best, makes mistakes and asks for help. He asks his sister about school and after-school care. He works out their schedule so that he can take Rin to school before work and pick her up afterwards. When his job begins to get in the way to providing quality time for Rin, he asks to be reassigned to a less prestigious position, going from salaryman to warehouse worker.

Rin and Daikichi, Usagi Drop

Daikichi is asked to do more adulting than anyone because he also has to deal with Rin’s narcissistic mom, some young girl who aspires to be what?  A manga artist. She shows very little interest in Rin’s welfare. Daikichi has to track her down like she’s America’s Most Wanted. He also has to manage Rin’s feelings about her mother. He’s careful not to talk about Rin’s mom in front of her. Moreover, he has to deal with his disapproving family. They don’t particularly dislike Rin, but seem to be more worried about Daikichi’s prospects and future. When they see Daikichi’s efforts, they relent. Daikichi’s mom comes to grow close to Rin, treating her like the grandchild she seems to be.

It’s not that Daikichi is particularly uncaring before taking Rin on as a charge, but that role certainly brings out his nurturing side. Nothing shows this more than when Rin gets sick with a fever. The worry and concern that Daikichi shows is overwhelming. Nevertheless, he proves to be a good parental figure for Rin, giving her the stability that no other adult has in her life. (S/N: Beware the live-action movie. It’s bad, or rather, lacks the charm of the anime).

When parents do show up in anime, it can be fun to watch!

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The Karasuno Volleyball Team……..Is On My Mind!


There is no reason why anyone should get this worked up over an anime volleyball tournament!

While they may have been “Flightless Crows,” the Karasuno volleyball team are now owning that court. Who knew there could be so much trash talk in volleyball? It’s amazing that these guys can even be on a team, given their radically different personalities and their sketchy coach. Yet, they are steadily making progress through the tournament. Fly, Karasuno!

Brothers and Sisters in Kimi To Boku [You and Me] and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Anime series can be a frenetic experience with complex relationships, but some low-key anime series represent very sweet relationships between siblings.

Continue reading “Brothers and Sisters in Kimi To Boku [You and Me] and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU”

BOOK: Beyond the Chinese Connection


Beyond ‘The Chinese Connection”: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production interrogates cross-cultural dynamics within a transnational context.  As a result of such films as Enter the Dragon (1973), The Chinese Connection (1972) and The Big Boss (1971), Bruce Lee emerges as both a cross-cultural hero and global cultural icon who resonates with the experiences of African American, Asian American and Hong Kong youth, experiences impacted by the rise of a global economy in the 1970s. Drawing on theories of cosmopolitanism and hybridity, I argue that Lee’s films prefigure themes that reflect cross-cultural negotiations with global culture for post-1990 Afro-Asian cultural production.  Engaging in global culture in a variety of ways, such cultural production includes novels such as Frank Chin’s Gunga Din Highway (1999), Ishmael Reed’s Japanese By Spring (1992), and Paul Beatty’s White Boy Shuffle (1996); films such asRush Hour 2 (2001), Unleashed (2005), The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) and the Japanese anime series, Samurai Champloo (2004). (University of Mississippi Press, 2013)

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