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I’ve teased and talked about the nature of film adaptations and how they sometimes divert from the source material, whether to generate wider appeal, ease marketability, or simply to make up for translation problems. While I haven’t seen the anime or manga that Bunny Drop was based off of, I could still see some of the expressions and gestures from typical anime.
How exactly does that translate on screen? Well…
Bunny Drop (Usagi Doroppu)
Daikichi Kawachi (Kenichi Matsuyama) is a young Japanese man with no real spice in life, though he’s definitely not an aimless slacker. At the funeral for his grandfather, he notices a young girl, Rin Kaga (Mana Ashida), his grandfather’s illegitimate love child. While the rest of his family would rather put her into a foster home, Daikichi takes it upon himself to take care of her, causing him to make sacrifices for the benefit of Rin’s life.
What caught me off-guard with Bunny Drop is how light it is. The basic plot, a man becomes the legal guardian of his dead grandfather’s love child, screams for more depth, yet it never comes. You don’t dive deeper into Daikichi’s psyche, which was disheartening. I really wanted there to be more of an internal conflict.
I think this is where the translation problems lie. Matsuyama is a great actor and has great control over his physical expressions. There are moments where he makes facial expressions or body gestures that come straight out of anime. There are also a few daydream sequences where he’ll imagine dancing with a woman in a fashion magazine that are… random. It works in anime, but not in live-action films. It takes you out of the story and makes you feel silly.
Ultimately, this conflict between silliness and a serious premise are what turned me off from enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the chemistry between Matsuyama and Ashida, but it’s just all fluff… which makes sense, given the bunny reference in the title. Fans of the anime might enjoy the film more than I did, but general audiences will shrug it off.