A boy becomes a man: Kippei Katakura of Aishiteruze Baby

Aishiteruze Baby by Yoko Maki has been one of the many series I’ve gotten into a while ago. I’m actually one volume away from completing the entire series so I won’t do a traditional review of the series just yet. Once I buy and read the final volume, I’ll revisit the series again and review the story as a whole. I want to write about what attracted me to this particular shojo title.

Yuzuyu & Kippei of Aishiteruze Baby

Aishiteruze Baby is about a 17-year-old boy by the name of Kippei Katakura who is an irresponsible, womanizing, slacker teen who coasts through life chasing after girls and taking life lightly. His carefree life as a teen is put to an abrupt halt when he meets his 5-year-old cousin Yuzuyu. She ends up staying with the Katakuras for a while after her mother disappears. Thinking Kippei needs some stability other than adding girls to his conquest list, his older sister charges him with the responsibility and care of Yuzuyu.

What makes this manga series appealing is how the entire plot centers around Kippei’s relationship to his little cousin. Each volume finds Kippei maturing and becoming less selfish. He becomes more aware of how his actions affect others. By taking care of Yuzuyu and seeing how much she heavily relies on him for comfort and support while her mother isn’t around, Kippei finds himself more sensitive to the feelings of other girls. He stops being the school playboy and he tries harder to be the kind of stable and loving adult Yuzuyu needs in her life. It’s a very family centric manga series, which also covers difficult topics such as child abandonment and child abuse. Yoko Maki does a wonderful job broaching these sensitive topics in her series.

Aside from watching Yuzuyu steadily get over the trauma of being left behind by her mother at a critical stage in her life, there are other supporting characters in the manga who have their own emotional traumas and issues to deal with. The cause for these emotional traumas end up coming back to the home. Interestingly enough, the characters who mainly need to cope with their problems are girls who Kippei encounters throughout the series. He is not only protector of Yuzuyu, but also a protector of these girls who are broken in some way by parents who have failed them at some point in their lives and are trying to deal with the aftermath.

I don’t believe I have ever encountered a series like Aishiteruze Baby where the main protagonist is a teen boy who acts as a surrogate parent to a young kid. The driving point for this series is the importance of family and being lucky enough to have the kind of love and emotional support system to make growing up much easier. Kippei’s encounters with people who have their own demons to sort out and to a certain extent Yuzuyu’s own encounters with kids her age who are being raised in a less than stellar home environment shows the contrast of their family life compared to these other characters. Most of the time you will see in the manga how the supporting characters would rather be anywhere but at home. Kippei and Yuzuyu, on the other hand, are lucky to have family who care and will always be there for them no matter what.

I do enjoy watching Kippei reach his potential as a man. It is particularly sweet to see Kippei become attached to Yuzuyu. If there is some reluctance to be charged as “babysitter” to Yuzuyu by Kippei’s older sister and without any objection from the rest of his family, that reluctance is no longer there when he makes the effort to fix Yuzuyu’s school lunches in the morning and picks her up from school in the afternoon. There is, of course, the looming inevitability of Yuzuyu having to go back to her mother eventually. How this affects Kippei and Yuzuyu when the time finally comes in the series’ conclusion is something I look forward to reading.

15 thoughts on “A boy becomes a man: Kippei Katakura of Aishiteruze Baby

  1. I haven’t read Aishiteruze Baby, but I did read a preview of it in Shojo Beat. Along with Beauty Pop, Aishiteruze Baby is the only preview I really liked but never got around to reading the rest of the series. I also thought the premise of a teenage boy taking care of a little girl was unique and sounds really sweet.

    1. Yeah, I decided to pick up the series after reading the preview in Shojo Beat. I loved how different this series was from your typical shojo manga fare. The best thing about reading this series is the bond Kippei and Yuzuyu share with each other. In a way, I think they both learn something from each other whether they realize it or not. Yuzuyu is probably the best thing to happen in Kippei’s life. They are very cute together. 🙂

  2. Wow…this manga is definitely not what I thought it would be about! It actually sounds pretty good! When I first heard the name of this manga a while ago, I thought ‘Nothing good can come of this!’ and ignored it. Now I think I’m going to have to try it out! I should really try to stop judging mangas based purely on their names alone.

    1. The name sounds kind of ridiculous, but the series is definitely engaging. If you also want a break from the typical shojo stories where it centers around a main boy and girl falling in love or some such formula then Aishiteruze Baby is the perfect series. The focus of the story is always really about Kippei and Yuzuyu. There are so many heartwarming scenes with these two together. It’s also refreshing to have a storyline where a teen boy matures greatly by taking care of a little girl and not because of a sweeping romance plotline (though I do enjoy those too).

  3. I haven’t read the manga, but I did watch the anime and I did like it. Just one minor problem with this series is how absurd the premise is. It seems a little crazy that an entire family is pretty much fine with having this 17 year old boy take care of a 5 year old kid. I grew up with a younger brother and helped my mom out and just helping out was tough with school and friends. It seems, I don’t know, a little odd that they are leaving the fate of this vulnerable child (who was just abandoned) up to someone, who up to that point was lazy and didn’t care about anything. He’s buying her premade rice balls and the rest of the family is fine? It seems extreme that this poor kids has to take this sort of treatment because the rest of the family wants Kippei to “man up”. What if he didn’t do it? That part always always bothered me, but yeah, the rest was fairly good and it was a pretty interesting premise.

    Also another little nit pick of mine: I don’t know why they call him a Playboy. He doesn’t seem to be dating lots of girls, he just likes to hang out with a lot of them. He’s popular, sure, but I don’t recall him having a girlfriend at the start or ever there being mention of one. Seems a bit harsh to call him a playboy if he’s not dating girls left and right. But well, perhaps it’s some odd translation thing, where the Japanese word doesn’t have an English equivalent and the closest word to it’s meaning is “playboy”.

    Ahem, sorry for my massive rant. Great post as usual. 🙂

    1. I’d like to watch the anime, but it’s hard to find on the Internet. I wish they released it on DVD. I can see what you are saying about how it’s weird to leave the fate of a young, traumatized kid to an equally young and irresponsible kid. Obviously if I were a parent I wouldn’t say, “Here. Take care of this kid in the hopes you will wisen up and get serious about something in your life.” Not the best way to do it, especially if there is no guarantee he will do it.

      Being a flirty is hardly being a playboy at school, but like you said it must be a cultural thing. I guess being a flirt is playboy status by Japanese standards? I really don’t know. Then again, I figured maybe Kippei has slept around anyway and he does seem to not have any real interest in finding a serious girlfriend in the beginning until he meets Kokoru (I think that’s her name).

      In the end, it’s still a shojo manga. Most of the stories you read are hardly realistic. It’s just fun to think about. 🙂

  4. read the whole series already amd I liked it… very heartwarming. Most of the stories I read currently are shoujo romance, and I’ve following quite a number since … forever…. some are about to wind down, thank goodness. What are you currently reading, Simpleek ? At the moment I’m obssessing on quite a few… one of which is Bokutachi Shitte Shimatta. I hope you can read it if you haven’t yet. I’d like to have a discussion aout it here on your site.

    1. There’s a lot I’m currently reading. 😛 Probably the main thing I’m reading right now is Ceres. I only have a few more volumes of the series left to collect and read. Once I’m done with that I can move onto another series like Boys Over Flowers. That will be a major project to collect all the books for that series. XD

      What’s Bokutachi Shitte Shimatta about? I’ll try to see if I can get my hands on that series.

  5. I haven’t read or heard of this manga but it seems quite sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a story line like this but it kind of reminds me of another manga that recently had an anime series (the name eludes me right now). It was very heartwarming then it went down another road that I didn’t want to go down.

    1. It’s too bad you can’t remember which series that is. I’m curious now based on what you’ve said. It’s disappointing when you get into a series, like where it is headed, and then only to have it veer off in a direction you don’t agree with.

      1. I second the recommendation for Usagi Drop. You don’t get the convention of the cool, handsome teenage lead, like Kippei, but it’s an outstanding series. The anime, at least, is superior (by leaps and bounds) to the Aishiteruze Baby anime.

      2. I definitely plan on checking it out as I’ve never heard of the series before. I do wish I could watch the Aishiteruze Baby anime just to compare it with the manga. Unfortunately, that has been harder to track down.

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