Story and Art by Yoko Maki
Released in the U.S. by Viz Shojo Beat
Slugline: Cute kids remain cute no matter the language and country, damn their scheming, innocent eyes!
Kippei is that guy you hated back in high school, the one that all the girls fell in love with even though he didn't do anything worthy to deserve it and treats them casually and interchangeably. That all changed one day when Yuzuyu, his female five-year-old cousin moves into their home since her mother left her after Yuzuyu's father died. Kippei is given the job of taking care of her. Okay, besides the point of who in their right mind would make the primary caregiver of a five-year-old a seventeen-year-old who seems barely able to take care of himself, never mind someone else, this is actually a fairly affecting and sweet story.
Kippei doesn't immediately make himself over in order to become the world's best caregiver, but by the same token his attempts to help Yuzuyu are believable and just confused enough to seem reasonable. I am not sure if the whole situation behind getting Yuzuyu is believable, but once she is part of the family, Kippei starts making changes. Not big ones, and not ones he himself realizes he is making, but changes nonetheless. The supporting female character Kokoro has a very reasonable desire to stay the heck away from Kippei, if for no other reason than he seems to use women up like -- well, how can I say this without seeming mean or getting an R rating -- like they weren't real, more like they were masturbatory devices that thankfully did not require much care.
Plus, this is an attempt to show an actual parent-child relationship, not the fake ones that seem to proliferate in manga where one parent is dead and the other is never around. Not exactly the woe-is-me stuff of more typical manga, but still very interesting.
Aishiteruze Baby vol. 1 is available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.