COMPLETED! Aishiteruze Baby

This review follows my review of the first volume of Aishiteruze Baby. You can read it here.

Ah, here we are, four years later, back to A Shitty Ruse Baby. Yep, just swore. Couldn’t keep that one in forever. But it’s not an unfair name for it. I reviewed, or “reviewed” Aishiteruze Baby back in 2011 and adored it. I certainly had untrained eyes and the focus of a ceiling decoration, but I knew quality.

Ish. This manga has seven volumes and I’d read three prior to this week. I read four volumes until midnight. I laughed, I gasped and tossled, I got a few triggers from certain scenarios (will not be mentioned here which ones). Then I spat. I did not care for the ending.

Let’s go for the recap. Kippei has TOO MANY GIRL– it’s no fun when they say it as the first line of the series. Kippei’s a slacker and a Lothario, but he has a good heart. Icky. When Yuzuyu is dropped off at his family’s house, he’s been given the task of watching her. They learn and grow from one another, and it’s all adorable.

This manga is so not adorable. I’m going to list off a few of the plots. Attempted rape. Stalking (both genders). Kidnapping. Attempted suicide. Bullying. Child abuse. Teen pregnancy. Flashers. That one’s a bonus chapter, btdubs. Aishitezoorooo Bibby has cute moments and laughs, but it’s not “fun”. It’s more depressive than manic. Which is fine, if you like well-written drama over cheap laughs.

But that’s not how Oy, Shaidel Raizel Bubby works. The comedy is quirky as it is excellent, which both are accurate attributes here. The drama works well, so it’s used over and over. Trust me, I’m not the first to point this out. The drama mostly derives from this scenario:

Kippei: “Hey, today’s a fun day. What say I get us some ice cream / boysenberry pie / Cuban cigars?”
Yuzuyu: “I am but a five year wanderer of the long plain we all thrive upon, yet I shall trust your judgement as the fairer of us, my guardian. / ‘Kay!”
Evil stranger appears / scenario takes place representative of a large factor missing from Yuzuyu’s life.
Kippei returns. Yuzuyu is a hollow shell and won’t open up / has been kidnapped / ran away.

There’s other conflicts, but since the series is centered on drama, it’s flawed from the onset.

One recurring theme I noticed is absentee, neglectful, pushover, bad or whatever dads. Yeah, I said in Tesoro that there are a lot of dad-centered stories. Maybe I have a hangup. Yuzuyu’s father died prior. Kippei’s dad, oddly enough, is always around; he never touches the plot, has a bonus story, has a notable quote, or anything. It’s… weird. Kippei’s grandpares are there, but they’re less notable. Kippei’s eventual defrosting girlfriend, Kokoro, is shoved off by her dad to live with his new wife. Yuzuyu’s cousin (this is a SpOiLeR manga blog, folks!) Miki, has an emotionally distant and physically abusive father. And Kippei is “Big Brother Kippei,” not “Papa Kippei.” Why the distance from fathers?

I prefer the drama surrounding Kippei, specifically using the Kororo angle. They don’t have great chemistry (although the manga acts as though they do), but they do understand each other, how Kippei can’t make time for his girlfriend when he devotes his time to raising a child. This is what makes it worse; Kororo is unable to compete with a toddler or his father’s new wife. The key term of the series’ best drama is “loneliness.” A lot of characters have it and it’s better than drinking alone.

Let’s talk about Kippei. How do I describe an annoying Mary Sue? Aside from being a terrible guardian, he also gets away with everything. I love that the manga actually has Kippei and Kokoro consummate their relationship, I really do. It’s just… the teacher who jokingly picks on him gives them a light punishment for hanky-panky on a school trip. That should have been, suspension. Or, expelled. Not, write an essay.

But more than that, he’s the worst kind of MS:

Miki: “I have nothing left to live for!”
Kippei:“Yes you do!”
Miki: “I’m better now!”

Stalker: “You are out of my league, but I’ve been stalking you and bullying your kid.”
Kippei: “Don’t do that and my heart belongs to another.”
Stalker: “I’ll actually leave you alone now.”

Kippei: “My girlfriend is moving in with us.”
Family: “Yeah, okay, we have no problem with that.”
Kippei: “Wow, that was easy.”

Kippei has large, complicated issues. He resolves them by speaking briefly. The end. This is not a series of complex drama, but of a bunch of angsty teens who needed a good lecture. So I find it hard to buy into Kippei’s competence when he restores a girl’s will to live and reunites her with her emotionally-distant family. Plus, he constantly abandons Yuzuyu for a few minutes, yet people praise his parenting skills.

Also, this manga is a product of the Japanese mindset; that it’s okay for a five-year-old to walk around town unsupervised. It’s jarring, but I’ve seen it elsewhere. Yuzuyu isn’t trusted given the number of times she’s run off, but they supervise her. Plus, she always asks if someone she talks to is a stranger. Foolproof.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s more biting drama: One of the climatic stories has Yuzuyu block out her mommy, which seems a bit too on-the-nose, not to mention a cliche. Worstly, it’s resolved swiftly and without an impact on the plot. That’s really the only way to describe the bad drama, “it has no impact on the plot.” Neither stalker receives actual punishment for their actions. Nevermind that the male tried to rape Kokoro; all Kippei did was threaten to kill him. After an uncomfortable (for the reader) exchange with his friend, supposed to be humorous, we never see the stalker again. Or the female stalker. Yuzuyu falls in love with a boy who is beaten by his mother, she wants a fresh start and takes her son and husband to the countryside. Never seen again.

Drama is supposed to… hold on, I want to compare this review with the one of the first volume.

-Jokes about title spelling
-Misunderstanding about series’ function
-Understatement about not learning parenting from manga
-Misinformed about Cute:Drama ratio
-Past and still current favorite series quote
-“Overall Opinion;” basically repeating previous jokes
-Confusing rating system. If I loved it, why did I give it two middling grades?

Yeah, I feel pretty good about my writing and critiquing progress.

Drama is supposed to surprise and change the way the series functions. Have a brief period where Kororo dumps Kippei. Maybe we find out Kippei’s dad’s perspective. He’s ignored; how does he react? Maybe a character dies. No, let’s play it safe. Well… there is one thing. Yuzuyu acts bratty about her pajamas, which ticks off Yuzuyu’s sister. When Kippei is alone with his overbearing sister, she reveals something only their mother knows: She is unable to have kids.

It’s a vulnerable moment for a previously comic-relief character, and there’s power in the drama. It’s well-written. It doesn’t amount to much, but for the remainder of the series, it follows the character. It has an impact. It’s good.

There are funny bits, mind you. There’s a bonus story about Kippei’s brother’s birth, with an ending that needs to be seen to be believed. Also, anything to do with Kippei’s sister’s mysterious life. Her bedroom looks like India (as is the view from her window), not to mention the general acceptance that she runs the family. And I chuckled a few times at a scene where she freaks out at a roach. OOH! Kippei’s goofiness can be endearing occasionally! It is funny, so give it a shot for that.

Now, Our big spoiler section: The Ending.

It’s rushed, a contrived resolution, unfair to the cast and the readers. The sister, annoyed having Yuzuyu around because of her inability to produce children, tries to find the mother. Apparently she was getting her life together after hitting Yuzuyu, and didn’t feel ready to take her daughter back. After the “forget mama drama,” her mother decides to take her back. After a wonderful mama bear moment from Kippei’s mother (slapping her own sister), the family forbids the mother and daughter from reuniting. But Messianic Kippei is all, “No. Let her go.” Then a flash-forward. Kokoro and Kippei appear to be married, while a teenage Yuzuyu (a skillful artist now) writes to her “Big Brother Kippei,” thanking him for raising her those many years gone by. Oh, and she’s probably dating Shota, the abused boy she had a crush on.

Alright, definitely rushed. I feel a manga should have two “final chapters” or it stops dead, although this only applies to future endings. Contrived? I didn’t know what to expect, whether they would keep Yuzuyu or she’d return home. The point is “your family’s still your family, and if they try to change, give them a chance.” Fine, but she didn’t change much. She didn’t write to her daughter much. She just dropped her child off with practical strangers. Kippei didn’t recognize Yuzuyu when they met. Yuzuyu knew her father’s niece. I’m a bit incredulous that Yuzuyu turned out well-balanced. Also, we have no proof that the mother changed. On the other hand, Yuzuyu was only abandoned by her mother once and Kippei umpteen times, so maybe it’s for the best. And to only focus on the fact that Kippei has a job and that Yuzuyu is an artist with a boyfriend? Oh, I can;t say Kippei’s with Kokoro; only her hair is shown. All the plots and characters? Nothing.

I think Aishiteruze Baby had potential, but rigid writing broke the drama. It’s all very samey, not worth your time in that regard. The comedy and slice-of-life moments, though less prominent, mean more because they feel genuine, while the drama is nothing more than a means to a readership.

By the way, the reason the header image is of a sandwich is that Yuzuyu receives a doughnut from Kippei and says, “Yuzu loves enchiladas!” I thought I’d draw a cracker just for the reoccurring motif of love through clam chowder.

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