Kippei Katakura is a 17 year old high school student, known by all at his school and home to be a playboy. One day Kippei’s mother brings home Yuzuyu Sakashita, his 5 year old cousin who has been abandoned by her mother. At the family meeting later that very day Kippei is ordered to take care of Yuzuyu. Now, Kippei must learn to be a surrogate mother to a 5 year old girl longing for her mother.
Aishiteruze Baby is one of my all favorite animes and sits firmly in my top 10 list of watched animes. It is a 26 episode anime series adapted from a shoujo manga of the same name and it was aired April 3, 2004 to October 9, 2004.
Aishiteruze Baby is about a high school playboy that is forced, by his older sister, to take care of his 5 year old cousin. The playboy and protagonist is Kippei Katakura and his cousin is Yuzuyu Sakashita. Yuzuyu is abandoned by her mother, Miyako Sakashita, who disappears after Yuzuyu’s father passes away. Kippei’s mother, Miyako’s older sister, picks up Yuzuyu and his family decides to take care of Yuzuyu until Miyako returns for Yuzuyu. During the family meeting to decide how to handle this situation, Reiko, Kippei’s older sister, orders Kippei to take care of Yuzuyu as a way of curing Kippei of his playboy ways. What ensues is a series on various serious topics about child care that are presented with a light hearted mature vibe.
The story’s nature is very serious but presented with an air of maturity and positivism that tells viewers everything will be okay so do not lose hope when faced with adversity. The plots are believable and realistic but presented in a cute and warm manner.
The story takes off from episode 1, there is no informational episode(s) before the story begins. Viewers are given a synopsis of the situation in the family meeting in episode 1 and the story is started. While there is a main plot throughout the series of how Yuzuyu and Kippei get acclimated to each other, each episode also has subplots, such as Kippei’s stalker or Yuzuyu’s kindergarten friend that is physically abused by his mother. All of the situations are realistic and viewers have probably heard of someone (family, friend or stranger) that experienced the situation first hand. It truly makes Aishiteruze Baby’s story relatable and attention grabbing. While many episodes do that subplots, there is no episode that is truly stand alone and the story is truly appreciated and understood if watched from beginning to end.
The true beauty of the story is the character interactions and development from episode to episode and not just between Kippei and Yuzuyu but also between other main and supporting characters and Yuzuyu or Kippei.
Lastly, it is important to note that manga continues past the ending in the anime and the anime acknowledges this with its open ended ending. Viewers do not get the feeling that all issues are resolved rather it is the feeling “life goes on.” To me this was very well executed because the anime never get to Miyako’s return for Yuzuyu which is presented in the manga.
I believe the art style, a cross between realistic and anime with lots of bright colors greatly adds to the tone and mood of the anime. The characters and set designs are clean, simplistic and appear to lack detail but this helps bring down the tension of the serious parts of the story and plot. The art style also gives of an ordinary life feel that is one of the keys to Aishiteruze Baby’s likeability. The character designs for each character scream personality, for example, Yuzuyu is very cute and adorable, while Reiko with her red and magenta hair and wardrobe gives of a feeling being in-charge. The art style is fluid and easy on the eyes allowing viewers to focus on the story and characters.
The opening theme is very pleasing with its mellow but upbeat tone. Listening to it is like waking from a beautiful dream. It has a very calming melody and I have used it to bring down the tension or stress from that day’s work. The ending theme is like a lullaby putting viewers to sleep. It quickly takes away the tension of the episode and is very effective in taking viewers out of the mood and tone of the episode so that they can watch something else. I used to have it on my sleeping playlist for its soothing melody.
The background music and sound effects are used quite a lot but never feel out of place and in fact works very well with the mood of the scene. The voice acting feels ordinary and most of the voices are a perfect fit for their related characters, such as Yuzuyu, Reiko, or Satsuki Katakura (Kippei 12 year old genius brother). The voice actors did an amazing job with vocal emotions, which easily cause corresponding emotional reactions in viewers. The music and sound in Aishiteruze Baby is probably one of the best applications of music and sound in anime I have seen.
All the characters have good and bad points just like people in everyday life. The main characters Yuzuyu, Kippei and Kippei’s girlfriend Kokoro Tokunaga, are immensely likeable, believable and relatable. They interact with each very realistically, for example, Yuzuyu likes Kokoro but then becomes cautious of her when Kokoro becomes Kippei’s girlfriend. Yuzuyu’s sense of jealousy that Kokoro may be stealing Kippei from her is something viewers can easily empathize with because of Yuzuyu’s situation.
The development of Kippei’s character from playboy to responsible surrogate parent for Yuzuyu is very well done and believable because of all the trial and errors he goes through to adjust to the circumstances. Yuzuyu goes from being uneasy and scared with a brave front to a genuinely happy girl that is adjusted to her new surroundings. However, it does not happen in one or two episodes but over the course of the entire anime with episodes dedicated to Yuzuyu wanting her mother or wanting to keep items from her mother. One of the best presentations of Yuzuyu’s character is when she believes it was her fault that her mother left her – for not finishing her food – which shows how children at that age feel and act with such circumstances. Kokoro’s equally goes from being cold and standoffish to warm, welcoming, and understanding.
The best part about the characters is that they are not forced onto viewers. Each character is presented and viewers are allowed to empathize and sympathize with their choice of characters. The character use and development for the anime’s serious topics is truly one of the best I have seen in an animated series.
Overall, Aishiteruze Baby is a highly addictive, beautiful and light hearted anime that presents serious topics with maturity and realism. I would highly recommend Aishiteruze Baby to anyone that wants to get introduced to the shoujo genre.
What do you think about Aishiteruze Baby? Did I do Aishiteruze Baby justice with my review? Who is your favorite character? Was there any character you did not like? Leave your comments below and let us know what you think about Aishiteruze Baby.
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