TITLE: Baby & Me vol. 01
YEAR: September 2013 (USA release)
COMPANY: Shojo Beat
Story and Art by Marimo Ragawa
For Mangaka Marimo Ragawa, it took a year of persistence to become a manga artist.
At the age of 12, she had wanted to become a manga artist and began submitting manga to the same magazine until she became 16 and decided to try a different magazine, this time “Hana to Yume” and sure enough, her first submission earned her a top prize. Two years later, she would write the manga “Time Limit” and in 1991, her most successful manga series “Aka-chan to Boku” (Baby & Me),
Published in Japan by Hakusensha, the manga series would win the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1995 and receive an anime adaptation in 1996.
And now a decade later, Ragawa’s popular manga series will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in Feb. 2006.
“Baby & Me” is a manga series that revolves around two children, ten-year-old Takuya and his baby brother Minoru who’s life changed when his mother was killed in a car accident.
As his father tries to take care of the family as a single working father, his father depends on Takuya to help take care of Minoru. But as a child, Takuya doesn’t like the fact that unlike most kids his age, most of the time he’s having to take care of Minoru.
He gets irritated that Minoru follows him everywhere, Minoru is often crying and at times, Takuya just wants to hit his brother and he just wishes he can get away.
But his mother told him to take good care of Minoru and for the sake of his family, young Takuya knows he must do just that.
The first volume of “Baby & Me” showcases Takuya’s struggles of having to take care of Minoru and missing having his mother. But we also see how Minoru as a young child also wanting to be close to his older brother but also how he is affected by not having a mother.
When he sees shows with mothers and their young child or even at daycare, he lashes out especially at one child and they are not sure why Minoru is acting badly. But Takuya learns that just like Minoru, both are feeling lonely without their mother.
And with his father knowing that and others telling him he should remarry for the sake of the children, Takuya must also come to terms that his father may meet another woman, who will be his new mother. But at the same time, not sure if he can let go of his mother.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to Takuya’s classmate named Gon. Gon is often criticized for not taking care of his baby sister Hiro and is the complete opposite of Takuya when it comes to bonding with his baby sister. But what happens when Gon decides to leave his baby sister with Takuya and Minoru?
And as young children are, what happens when Minoru accidentally draws on the only photo of Takuya as a baby, with his mother?
have to admit that I was impressed by Marimo Ragawa’s first volume of “Baby & Me”.
It’s a manga that has humor and emotion but it really does capture the feelings of two young people who lost their mother. The emotions are real of Takuya not having a regular childhood because he must take care of his younger brother, while his father is out at work.
And also for Minoru, still a very young child and not understanding the trouble he creates for Minoru, may it be scribbling on the TV or walls or even on the photo of Takuya, when he was a baby along with his mother.
It’s a manga series that really touches you for the way Takuya feels at the moment, of feeling that he must be a mother or someone there for Minoru and somewhat sacrificing his childhood, while his father is often being told he must remarry for the sake of the children, but Takuya being affected by that.
For Minoru, he’s young but he is also affected when he sees other children with mothers and he does not have one. Having lost his mother while a baby, he’s not at the point he remembers his mother but we start to see how he is affected by it.
But as “Baby & Me” showcases the emotions of this family, there is also quite a bit of fun moments as well. For example, Takuya’s classmate Gon is the opposite when it comes to his baby sibling Hiro. Hiro is not as emotional as Minoru but to see what happens when Minoru and Hiro are put together, you can’t help but laugh.
Marimo Ragawa’s shojo artwork is rather well done, a lot of emphasis on the eyes and hair of the character design, not so much for backgrounds but a lot of Ragawa’s panels are closeups and nicely drawn.
It appears that I’m quite captivated with this first volume of “Baby & Me” and I look forward to the next! Great storyline and enjoyable characters!