wJun 27, 2008

Baby & Me

Takuya Enoki is an 11-year-old boy whose mother died less than a year ago. He and his father are left to care for Takuya's 2-year-old brother, Minoru. The artwork in this series leaves something to be desire, but it is pretty consistent with the general style of the early 1990s from whence it came.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume: both Takuya and Minoru miss their mother, but it is Takuya who is forced to fill part of her role by helping his father raise his baby brother. Takuya isn't in any after-school clubs because he picks Minoru up from daycare. He often buys groceries so his father can make dinner. Takuya resents this at first, saying that he hates Minoru, and wishes he would go away forever. By the end of the volume, though, Takuya accepts that he loves his brother, and continues to be the best brother he can be. It's very sweet.

And then the series continues for 17 more volumes.

I made it through volume 4 because that's all my library has, but the series got very repetitive after volume 1. Ragawa introduces Takuya's classmates and their baby siblings, so Minoru and Takuya have more people to interact with, but not much else happens. Maybe one day, I'll sample volumes 10 and 18, and see if Minoru and Takuya age, or otherwise develop.

The series is notable in that it is a shoujo series with a male protagonist. I can't remember any manga series I've read in which Japanese school life and family life are viewed from a male perspective. Additionally, I can't remember any series in which a baby was featured as a main character. There are a few in which babies are faceless props, or very minor side characters. Pregnancy is often used as a dramatic plot device, but I've never seen the baby portrayed as a person before. I've never thought about it, but that's a pretty untapped market. Babies are cute, and invoke emotional reactions in other characters.

The closest series that I can think of is Yotsuba&!, but she is 6 years old, and the series is technically sienen (who comes up wtih these categories, anyway?).

In conclusion, volume one was original and good, but the series was too much of the same thing after that, for me.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 9:53 AM

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