Plot: Due to her mother’s emotional instability regarding recent hardships, a little girl named Yuzuyu is suddenly left in the care of her cousin’s family with no warning. The middle child of the house, a teenager named Kippei, is tasked with doing most of her caretaking despite the fact that he knows next to nothing about taking care of children and spends all of his time goofing off and chasing girls. However, he soon develops the responsible and caring nature to properly care for her while Yuzuyu deals with being separated from her mom.
Breakdown: Ya know….I don’t have a good attitude towards little kids. I know this might seem ironic since I basically act like a kid, but my views on children have been so tainted over the years. They scream, they cry all the time, they’re gross, etc. and damn do they usually gain a bad rep in the media. Wanna kill a show? Bring on a kid. Wanna make a show annoying? Start off with a kid. But dammit all if Yuzuyu doesn’t make my uterus twitch for a child.
While you’re trying to get that picture out of your mind, let me explain why. Yuzuyu is probably the most real (and likable) kid I’ve seen in a long time in a show. She’s adorable, she excitable, she’s got just enough kid honesty/clarity in her to be cute while not seemingly spouting off plot points or plot resolutions and dammit she’s so ADURRRABLLLL.
Kippei is also very likable throughout the whole series. When I read the premise I was really worried that he’d be an asshole, but despite being somewhat of a player, he’s a kind and honest person. His relationship with Yuzuyu grows incredibly well and I enjoyed every second that they shared the screen.
His relationship with Kokoro (His stoic girlfriend) is also very sweet, while shaky at times, but not as enjoyable to watch as him and Yuzuyu.
Before I go any further, I want everyone to understand that this show IS very much a cutesy slice-of-life with a twist (Instead of the usual fare of teenagers going to school, it’s a teenager taking care of a child with school peppered in.) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some dark moments. Without giving too much away, we deal with incredibly cruel stalkers, self-harm (kidnapping too?), child abuse, death, and of course, dealing with abandonment.
That being said, there’s almost a bit too much drama in this show. It wouldn’t bother me as much if the situations that are so problematic weren’t handled so quickly. Let’s use a not-so-important plotline as an example. Kippei had a stalker who was so obsessed with him that she actually perceived Yuzuyu as a threat. Thus she told really nasty things to her and nearly physical assaulted her. All of this was resolved simply by Kippei rejecting her. Seriously, if you’re so obsessed with a guy that you’d be cruel to a little girl and nearly physically harm her, I doubt a gentle let down would stave her from the path. Restraining order!
There are some nuggets of drama of this show that add up to a little insanity when you think about it. Yuzuyu has an emotionally broken mother who essentially abandoned her and kinda abused her. Kippei’s older sister, Reiko, is incredibly mean and bossy, especially to Kippei. Satsuki, Kippei’s younger brother, is totally emotionless (and his plotline was ‘resolved’ lamely.) Yuzuyu’s friend Marika is a complete bitch. Kokoro’s friends are both complete bitches. Kokoro’s father is an asshole. Kokoro herself has emotional issues. And I’m not even mentioning the other characters that I can’t talk about because spoilers.
Someone mentioned to me that the show is about how they fix those problems, not the fact that they exist. Well, hate to break it to you, but the way that they handle these issues is sometimes quite lame. Major issues are handled like someone forgot to put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.
The story is very good. Even if plotlines were wrapped up too nicely too quickly sometimes. I still enjoyed the ride and was glued to my seat the entire time. After watching so many super serious shows and random shows, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air to sit through a cute and light-hearted show that can also tackle drama.
That being said, I need to address the ending, which means SPOILER AHOY. SCROLL DOWN FOR NOT-SPOILERS AND WHATNOT.
The ending of the anime was more satisfying than I first felt when I watched it. I just thought that they’d wrap everything up in a nice bow like they did other storylines. The anime just kinda ends. Reiko finds Yuzuyu’s mom who is apparently so far away that she needs to take a plane to see her. Reiko tells her that she didn’t want to find her, she wanted her to pick up her daughter on her own, but she’s worried about Yuzuyu.
Yuzuyu had recently become very depressed because she had been separated from her mother for so long that she was starting to forget what she looked like. She freaks out even more when she realizes that she’s outgrowing the pajamas that her mother bought her. She refuses to wear any other pajamas and still wants to wear them even after they accidentally rip.
Yuzuyu’s mom tells Reiko that, when her husband died, she couldn’t stop crying and she was an emotional mess. She couldn’t handle the stress of taking care of Yuzuyu on her own while also grieving over her husband. She’s been counting the days that she has gone without crying and tells her that when she believes she can take care of Yuzuyu properly in a more stable state, she will return to her. (Therapy might speed up the process, love.)
Then we cut to Kippei and Yuzuyu leaving for school in the morning.
It may seem like a cliffhanger, but not that much. Every plotline was resolved and the main one was resolved alright. The ending to the manga apparently showed Yuzuyu being picked up by her mother and Kippei and Yuzuyu tearfully parting. Cut to some years in the future where apparently Kokoro and Kippei are living together and intend on getting married eventually. Kippei gets a letter from Yuzuyu, now a teenager, thanking him for taking care of her when she was little.
That ending is a bit more solidified than the anime’s, but I really don’t have much of an issue with it. I like Yuzuyu with Kippei and Kokoro.
(Edit: Here is the link to my AniManga Clash! entry on the series.)
END OF SPOILERS
Art and Animation: The art is good, but not great. It’s very shoujo-y with bright pastel colors, but some of the proportions and stylistic choices were a bit iffy. The animation is fair, but it’s not like there’s much action to really gain a measure on it.
Music: LOVE the ED, really like the OP, the BG music is good also, but some of the music tends to get on my nerves (Like the Bwa-bwa-bwa-bwawawawa noise that is so interchangeable that it can show up in any scene)
Voice acting: Japanese – Everyone is good. Yuzuyu’s ADORABLE and speaks like an actual child. However, she gets a wee bit annoying when she yells WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! :0
Bottomline: If you need a splash of family cuteness, an adorable kid and some drama, check it out. It’s a great show with great characters and the flaws really aren’t a big deal if you can get into it.
Additional Notes and Information: Aishiteruze Baby was produced by TMS Productions and was directed by Masaharu Okuwaki. There is no English dub to date.
Recommended audience: A little kid swears once, but that’s it for swearing. We have some heavy storylines like abandonment, child abuse, self-harm, threatening suicide, kidnapping, etc. Mmm…….It’s so odd. This show stars a five year old and there are numerous plotlines about events at kindergarten and drawing etc, but since America’s such a stick in the mud about ‘mature themes’ I have to say 10+
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