by Marimo Ragawa; adaptation by Lance Caselman
published by Viz; $8.99 US
This second volume opens with a story that unfortunately doesn’t really demonstrate the appeal of the series. Takuya’s being harassed by a classmate due to a misunderstanding over a girl. Little brother Minoru is irrelevant to much of the story, although his presence does demonstrate that Takuya, who won’t be teased or otherwise badgered into fighting, will do whatever’s necessary to defend his charge.
I enjoy watching the two interact; Takuya’s learning to take care of another, dependent human, and two-year-old Minoru’s learning more about the world around him. Minimizing that interaction may provide some variety to the creator and/or reader, but it’s still early enough in the series that I don’t feel the need for that yet.
The next story is right back into the heart of the family, though, as Dad and the two boys celebrate New Year’s. There’s slapstick, significant milestones (Minoru’s haircut), and interesting cultural traditions shown. It’s so adorably touching when Minoru joins in at temple prayers! After that comes an introduction page recapping all the characters. There’s gotten to be quite a few, what with Takuya’s two schoolmates and all of their families, too, so that was a help.
Minoru and Takuya are both growing up, at different stages, a change emphasized in the next chapter. The intense determination Minoru shows at trying to gain new skills, like undressing himself, is charming; it’s those kind of realistic, down-to-earth moments that I find most attractive about this series. Minoru’s a little cutie, and the girls his age recognize it, with two of them fighting for his attention. He nicely sidesteps their jealousy by focusing elsewhere.
The kids are, of course, charming, and the various families provide comparisons among various stages of development, allowing for the kids to be themselves, individual characters, instead of symbols for an entire age group. The way Takuya’s friend Gon is drawn, simple lines for facial features and big dark straight eyebrows, oddly reminds me of Peanuts. There’s also a story about a bunny that’s quite touching.
In short, I’ve taken all this space to say that this series is cute and heart-warming.