Baby & Me Book 2

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.

Baby & Me Book 2 cover
Baby & Me Book 2
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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.

6 Comments

  1. One of the things I’m finding most interesting and enlightening about the series is that we follow Minoru’s acculturation as he learns how to be Japanese: bowing when he greets people, using polite language, finding his way in social interactions with the other kids in his kindergarten group. (And yes, praying at the shrine…and peeking to see if he’s doing it correctly!)

    Ragawa’s honesty in her treatment of Takuya’s feelings about Minoru is also refreshing. No matter how cute young children are, they can also be whiny, stubborn, tantrum-throwing little monsters – and how many parents, no matter how devoted, haven’t felt at some time like just running off and abandoning the little horror in the street? Or at least yelling out their own frustration and anger at the top of their voice? But adults are supposed to know better (especially in manga) – whereas 13 (?)-year-old Takuya can be allowed to vent from time to time. I suspect that the real audience for this book isn’t teenage girls, but first-time parents…

  2. Great points. I hadn’t thought about the learning not just to behave, but to behave in a way appropriate to his society. Takuya’s 11, I think. And yes, there are lots of potential hooks for different audience types.

  3. 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.

    I found that to be an interesting comment since, reading the title in Shojo Beat, I felt differently. I suspect that says something about how a series reads differently depending on how much you read at once.

    I’m really enjoying this series because it’s heartwarming and cute without feeling like the creator is trying to keep all my “Awwww” buttons pressed.

  4. Good reminder, Lyle. I don’t have the patience for short chapters any more — so I didn’t think about that reading experience.

    And yeah, very cute without feeling manipulated.

  5. […] Baby & Me — Cute characters, but too many of them too quickly (with all the siblings of the family down the street), and not enough depth. Ended with book 3. […]

  6. […] I last read this series, the cast has apparently been expanded to include a ton of kids, all of whom play baseball in this […]

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