*Aishiteruze Baby — Recommended Series

Kippei’s an easygoing guy who just happens to be the crush object of most of the girls in his school. They hit on him constantly, but he likes Kokoro, an attraction fueled and complicated by her refusal to play along or pay much attention to him in return. His life becomes much more complicated when he’s told to take care of his cousin Yuzuyu, an adorable five-year-old whose mother, Kippei’s aunt, has deserted her child after her husband’s death.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 1 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 1
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I have a soft spot for manga youngsters, anyway — the typical art style seems geared to show them as incredibly cute, what with the big eyes and short height — but Yuzu is particularly heart-breaking. She’s been through some very traumatic experiences, but she’s kept her optimism. She trusts Kippei immediately, even though he’s not yet worthy of it, and that faith allows him to make the mistakes he needs to learn.

In book one, the first lesson is that kids need lunch. Kippei buys rice balls for Yuzu to send her off to kindergarten with something. Based on the other characters’ reactions, this is the equivalent of giving her a couple of dinner rolls, but Yuzu’s just happy to have what she’s given. That reaction taught me a lesson, too — compared to the elaborate bentos of the children with full-time mothers, her lunch is skimpy and lazily prepared, but all she sees is Kippei trying his best to give her what she needs. When I’m tempted to make myself unhappy by thinking about how someone else always has more or better, her reaction is something to remember.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 2 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 2
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Yuzu’s determined to be happy, even in the face of purposeful attempts to make her otherwise. Some of the girls in Kippei’s class hear rumors about all the attention he’s paying to a new girl, and they’re jealous. One particularly disturbed person is so emotionally frayed that even when she finds out that the other girl is a child, she still tries to harm Yuzu in order to get Kippei back to the way he was before.

It’s a complicated picture of the excesses of teen angst combined with the realization that life doesn’t stand still. Someone you knew previously may have changes happen that take them in a different direction or make them into another person.

Yuzu has to deal with that as well, and although she hides her pain most of the time, when it comes out, it’s shocking. Kids don’t have a lot of filters, so their emotion can be particularly direct, and the portrayal here shows it. To help heal her, Kippei is inspired to try things he hasn’t done before, like making a handmade lunch. When he gets it right, she’s immediately thankful, reinforcing his good intentions.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 3 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 3
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As book two begins, Kippei’s family has received a letter from Yuzuyu’s absent mother. She’s not returning soon, and so Kippei’s duties must continue. Never having been a previously carefree teen boy myself — even when I was his age, I wasn’t as immature, because I didn’t have the distractions offered to me he does — I can’t say how realistic his portrayal is. But it feels right.

Kippei means well, but he often doesn’t think beyond the next step. Implications and long-term meanings are right out. He’s learning to think of others than himself, something that doesn’t come naturally to any teen.

The two women in his life are teaching him otherwise, though. Kippei’s beginning to depend on Yuzuyu’s presence just as she depends on him. Kokoro, his crush, is a schoolmate who’s going through her own family disruption. Kokoro’s mother died when she was around Yuzuyu’s age, and now her father is remarrying and creating a new family without her.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 4 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 4
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Patterns keep repeating, with actions of one generation creating similar effects in the younger. Even Yuzuyu is trying to care for someone else when she finds a puppy and wants to help it reunite with its mother. How can you get more adorable than a cute little five-year-old caring for a puppy? Book two also includes an extra story, showing how Kippei reacted to news of his younger brother’s birth when he was Yuzuyu’s age.

Book three brings some depth to the comedy by providing a glimpse of Yuzu’s mother and more explanation for why she’d dump her kid on someone else. Yuzu also makes a new friend her age, a little boy named Shota. Unfortunately, the two stories tie together in a disturbing but necessary way that demonstrates that child care isn’t about playing house, that it’s a stressful responsibility and some people crack under the strain (or shouldn’t have had it in the first place).

I was impressed by how the storyline was handled reasonably without hammering the reader with a message. I also liked the way that Yuzu’s mom looks like she’d be her mother: an older version of her with less enthusiasm, as though life had beaten on her more without someone like Kippei to depend on.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 5 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 5
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In book four, another relative appears. Miki, a fourteen-year-old cousin with a knife, a bad attitude, and problems at home, shows up claiming that Yuzu should come with her. She’s mixed up about family, acting out with Yuzu as a bargaining chip. The story walks a line between heartwarming and disturbing in its verisimilitude, but it’s something of a distraction from why I read the series: seeing Kippei and Yuzu together.

Book five returns the focus to Kippei’s dealings with Kokoro, temporarily turning the series into a teen romance. She’s being hit on by a forceful guy who doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer, but she won’t tell anyone about the bruises he gave her. Kippei knows her moodiness means something’s wrong, but he doesn’t know her well enough to know what. Given the early days of their relationship, he doesn’t make her comfortable enough to allow her to tell him.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 6 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 6
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His childlike, unquestioning acceptance of those he cares for may be enough to help her through her discomfort, though. Kippei hasn’t learned dissembling or misrepresentation, which is one of the things he has in common with Yuzu.

Later in the volume, Yuzu begins having dreams about her missing mother that sadden her. She’s beginning to forget details of their life together, and she’s trying to cling to things she’s outgrowing as a way of trying to keep her memories. Kokoro’s able to assist, given her own family situation.

In book six, both Kippei and Yuzu get new classmates, sisters. The younger kids overhear the older girl express her frustration with being a constant babysitter, due to hard-working parents, at the same time Kippei’s sister sets out to find Yuzu’s missing mother. The combination of two lead the children to leave kindergarten to find the new girl’s mom at work, causing much concern at their disappearance.

Aishiteruze Baby Book 7 cover
Aishiteruze Baby Book 7
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Afterwards, Yuzu catches a cold, which requires nursing, and Kippei’s finding out that there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend all the time he wants with both his cousin and his girlfriend. A couple of disturbing revelations leave the reader wondering what will happen next.

Those questions are answered as the series concludes with book seven. Yuzu’s memory of her mother, or the lack thereof, raise cause for concern among her family. They thought she’d be happier if she changed quickly to adjust to her new situation, but has she adapted too well? And will Kippei be able to make the best choices for Yuzu even when they’re not the ones he wants for himself?

In this series, Kippei learns a lot of life lessons: how to take care of a child, how to think about someone other than himself, how to be more observant, and how to truly love a female. He’s going to become a better person through Yuzu’s love and caring, someone who might be worthy of Kokoro.

Similar Posts: March on Earth Books 1-2 § Manga Updates § Manga Updates § Manga Page Updates § Baby & Me Book 1

14 Comments

  1. [...] I’ve also converted my Aishiteruze Baby review to a recommendation page with the addition of book 3. [...]

  2. It rocks!!! I LUV this series!!!!!

  3. [...] Aishiteruze Baby 5 reveals more about Kippei’s personality by putting his girlfriend in danger from another boy. There are two other major stories in the book, one about Kippei’s younger brother’s love life, and one about how Yuzu is coping with her mother’s absence as she gets older. That made for a filling read, as I was never sure what approach would be changing on the next page. Not as cute as previous volumes, but this book isn’t the same kind of light entertainment as previously, so too much cuteness would be inappropriate. [...]

  4. I thought this was a cute, sweet series and Isurprisingly liked how Keppei and Yuzuyu interacted with each other (this is where the cuteness comes in). But, I must say, I was really disappointed in the ending. It was rushed, scattered and didn’t tie things up nicely in my opinion. BUT, everything leading up to that I really must say made for a pleasant read. Yuzuyu is absolutely adorable and Keppei tries so hard that their scenes are sweet.

  5. [...] Aishiteruze Book 7, which concludes the series by resolving the situation with Kippei and his little cousin [...]

  6. Oluchi Otugo

    Um Yoko Maki love that name XD well any ways I love all the books of Aishiteruze Baby cause I really in join it and I want to see how Kippei looks when he become older and I want to she how he reacts to Yuzuyu. So can u plz make other copy! Email me when ever u can! Plz and thanks u! =]

  7. Oluchi Otugo

    In volume 7 i got the last volume at a store at July 12 and volume 7 made me cry XD it was soooooooooo sweet love it !

  8. Aishiteruze Baby has 2 main things going on. Romance, and friendship. With Kippei finally finding someone, it does repeat in the love scene’s, but its very sweet. And then Kippei having to find ways to being a big brother and a friend to Yuzuyu, was also very cute, and at times sad. It was a bit boring, but a good series to just pick up and read once in a while.

  9. This is a really good series but I don’t quite understand the ending…so did Keppei end up happily with Kokoro? I really like this couple…I’m confused if the one he loves is Kokoro or Yuzuyu…
    Thanks for any reply..

  10. [...] Looking at the full list at Butcher’s site, I see some completed series I enjoyed (such as Aishiteruze Baby and Sensual Phrase), but mostly, I see books that never clicked with me (getting Hot Gimmick off [...]

  11. Such a cute manga. The ending was sad though I want Kippei to keep Yuzu! <3

  12. Nick Talleyrand

    I think this manga is overrated. It’s predictable, melodramatic, with an over-sweetened propensity for a knight-in-shining armor cliche plot lines.

    It’s a good read for would-be babysitters and nannies but as a general it’s flat and repetitive. It also sugar coats another message for its readers: Parents must sacrifice themselves for the children.

  13. ^ You’re probably not aware of the fact that this series (in Japan, at least) was aimed at girls from the ages of about 9-13, so yeah, it’s going to be pretty sugar-coated. But it doesn’t fall victim to a lot of the cliches that other manga in the magazine (Ribon) have fallen to, I feel. When I started reading it, I was right in the target demograph (I was 12 when it was being released in Japan, and I was buying it then) so the story has a very special place in my heart as being an excellent manga that allowed me to realize that a comic for girls doesn’t have to be shallow and ‘cute’. It can have elements of realism in it, as well

  14. [...] but a relaxing bathtub read (if you’re into that sort of thing). If you enjoy series like Aishiteruze Baby, where a teen deals with the responsibility of taking care of an adorable baby relative, mixed with [...]

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