– A review by Seema Kakade
Genre: Shojo Manga
Aishiteruze Baby, a.k.a. I love you, baby is one of those rare manga you come across that manages to portray the beauty of the father and child relationship perfectly. As misleading as the title maybe, which, I believe, is the reason why half of the shonen manga lovers might have shunned away from it, the manga isn’t much about what it appears from the title.
Story: Aishiteruze, Baby is a story about Kippei Katakura is a high school boy, who, not so surprisingly, is a perv and spends most of the time goofing around with girls. His peaceful life is suddenly turned upside down with the arrival of a 5 year old child, Yuzuyu Sakashita, who is, apparently, his cousin. Since her mother fled home leaving the child under the care of her relatives, Kippei is assigned the task of babysitting the girl. Kippei is beyond confused as to what to do with her since he doesn’t know squat about taking care of a child, but decides to go with the flow.
The story weaves in beautifully from here, with each incident marking a slight change in Kippei’s personality, as he transforms from a carefree guy to a responsible father-figure, almost to the point of not being able to stay away from her. He gives up his licentious ways and decides to dedicate all his time to taking care of the child, even to the point of waking up early in the morning and taking special care to make lunch for her. And that is not the story is all about. The manga also manages to capture the insecurities of the child, since she thinks the reason why her mother abandoned her was because she wasn’t good enough, which makes her want to be as less of a bother as possible and also the fear of being abandoned by Kippei as well. Even though it seems a little unnatural for a five year old to be so mature regarding relationships or even know what is happening around, it perfectly captures the emotional turmoil, the burden and the fears of an abandoned child. Kippei understands this and acts as her protective shield giving her all the support she needs to keep faith in herself and keep moving ahead.
The story may not be one-of-its-kind, but this is probably one of those rare father-child kinds of stories where you can really see the relationship building from scratch. And of course from all the lessons learnt from various situations the duo has to deal with.
Characters: There are no out-of-the-world characters, which keeps the story on a realistic level. Each character has their own background which makes them react to situations in different ways and yet understand and support each other. Character design might not be so unique you could tell them apart instantly, but the style of drawing them is definitely unique to the author. There may not be extreme variety of characters but the manga does not bore you with monotonous personalities. The characters range from the cute and bubbly Yuzuyu, to easy going Kippei, who seems to have heard of the word ‘responsibility’ only after the arrival of Yuzuyu, and the unfathomable personality of Kokoro, who is Kippei’s girlfriend.
Art: Art is good for a slice of life story. They are not gorgeous but good enough to maintain the feel of slice of life. The backgrounds are simple and so are the characters. At this point, yes, I’m totally tempted to write an essay on the unexplainable cuteness of Yuzuyu, but I’m going to refrain myself for now.
The manga is a good read if you are looking for a change from usual romance, but don’t want to try something as serious as shonen.