Aishiteruze Baby: Love for the Unloveable

I’ve grown to like shows in which young children play a prominent role in a story that isn’t for kids.  Usagi Drop is my my favorite among the trio I’ve watched in the past year, joined by Kurenai and Aishiteruze Baby.  The latter was the one I liked least; honestly, I barely made it through the show.  Still, I thought Yuzuzu was a terrific character and, maybe even more significantly, I enjoyed that the series took some themes and storylines pretty seriously – chief among them, child abuse and the episodes focusing on Yuzuyu’s friend, Shouta.

In episodes 15 and 16, we find that Shouta is being abused by his mother.  It’s an unusual twist, not only because abuse is usually depicted as being perpetrated by the father, but because the children in the show are usually so happy-go-lucky.  The episodes are dramatic and uncomfortable, maybe particularly because they feel real.

The abuse isn’t just a plot point to create drama and add to the plot; Shouta’s family situation is developed well and shown to be complicated.  His mother is stressed out largely because of lack of money.  Drowning in a sea of stress, she’s changed into someone she never wanted to become.  And further complicating the situation, her emotions are frequently mixed, as are Shou’s – he’s both scared of his mother and loving toward her.

Aishiteruze Baby
Kippei could’ve approached Shou’s mom differently, but at still… (shot courtesy of Kiwi Island blog)

Aishiteruze Baby presents the situation for what it would be in real life – a tangled and layered one.  Kippei can’t just solve her problems with his naive ways.  On the other hand, he attempts to do the right thing – to help.

Generally, I’m very quick to judge when I hear about child abuse.  And to be sure, adults need to be held accountable and most of all, children need to be protected.  But not all cases are sensationalistic and involve parents who are monsters.

I fully understand Shou’s mom and how she became what she became.  Like Kippei, most people without children have no idea what it’s like to raise children.  I’ve had people tell me, “Oh, I’m practically a parent because I raised my siblings/I babysit all the time/I’m always around kids,” and my ungracious sides comes out and wants to say, “No you don’t, you silly, silly person.”  My thoughts have been confirmed when a couple of said people eventually had kids and changed their thinking entirely.

To have children is to become an adult.  While you can generally coast through, living a life of selfishness when you’re alone, or even to a great extent when you’re married without kids, you can’t do the same when you have children.  The responsibility of caring for one so little can be overwhelming.  The stress of work, family,  and finances can make life extremely difficult and can easily change us something we never wanted to be.

Unfortunately, without support from a spouse, friends, parents, church, or community, a mom or dad can become an island.  And that’s a situation that’s almost never good.  Unless you’re the resilient type (and even if you are), you’re likely to become even more burdened and pained, and thus become more irritable, angry, and maybe even violent.

But this is where love comes in.*  While Kippei was too immature to engage Shou’s mom the right way, his heart was right – he wanted to help Shou.  And his “meddling” perhaps helped spark changes in Shou’s family for the better.

We, too, can be that spark.  There are people in all our lives that are in need of love to help heal a variety of situations, but because of thoughtlessness, laziness, ignorance, or fear, we don’t reach out to them.  We let people suffer when we just might be able to provide some assistance, be it little or large.

Love is a powerful catalyst – the most powerful of actions we can do.  But it’s weak and ineffectual if there’s no one to show it.  And if love isn’t demonstrated, well, it’s like that tree in the forest: no sound is made, but the tree still falls.

Is there anyone in your life that you could show some love to?  Is there a reason you haven’t thus far?  Will you try to show them love?


8 thoughts on “Aishiteruze Baby: Love for the Unloveable

  1. Ah, Aishiteruze Baby. Before there was Usagi Drop there was this.

    I loved that show back in the day. So much so, that I bought the manga direct from Japan after the show ended. I was going through my shamelessly shoujo phase at that point.

    Hana to Yume, Ribon and Margaret. Oh my!

    Anywho, I liked Aishiteruze Baby more than Kurenai, even though I liked Murasaki more than Yuzuyu. I liked Aishiteruze Baby because Kippei gaining guardianship of Yuzuyu was a lot more realistic than Kurenai or Usagi Drop.

    Let’s be real, Murasaki and Rin are also a little too precocious and Yuzuyu seemed the more realistic child. I’m not saying that Kurenai or Daikichi had it any easier but, they had it (slightly) easier than Kippei.

    I think since Aishiteruze Baby was more classicly shoujo and was specifically written for that audience. Both Usagi Drop and Kurenai were both a little more mature especially as the manga/light novel continued and, as such, had a broader appeal. I haven’t watched or read Aishiteruze Baby in over 7 years so my opinion may change after a rewatch/reread.

    1. Did you read Kurenai or watch it? In my opinion, Murasaki is the most troublesome of all the girls (at least in the anime); her selfishness and childlike emotions (positive and negative) lend her an air of realism for a girl that age.

      But all three girls display some realistic characteristics, though I would probably agree Yuzuyu was a bit more realistic.

      1. I watched the anime only. I wasn’t proficient enough in reading Japanese when the books were originally released. By the time I was able to read light novels, I had forgotten about reading Kurenai.

        Murasaki was a spoiled, selfish child but she (kind of) turned herself around. She really had no choice given the “unusual” situation she was in. OTOH, Yuzuzu seemed to have the right balance of positive and negative childhood traits.

        Anyone who has ever raised a child understands the old adage, “Love is bigger than happiness.”

  2. I actually wish I could gain access to the anime of Aishiteruze Baby after finishing the manga. It became one of my favorite shojo series. I also liked how Yoko Maki handled most of the serious themes presented in the story. There’s great care and sensitivity when she portrayed child abuse, child abandonment, etc.

    I don’t have children myself, but the ones I know who do have children, I already know it’s a lot of work based on what I have seen. Children are a reward and challenge at the same time. Life definitely changes when you factor in the care and well-being of a small, innocent child. You really can’t live the usual life you are used to once you have children.

    1. Definitely an interesting series – the romantic elements of Aishiteruze Baby were what I liked least, which is a large reason I don’t particularly like the show. But I do agree that the serious themes were handled well, which is part of its appeal.

      I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the anime v. manga, if you ever do get to see the anime.

  3. In my experience with shoujo manga, the moms are more abusive than dads. Maybe because the dads are absent. It doesn’t surprise me then that that is the case for Aishiteruze Baby – which I haven’t read because when it was originally being published it didn’t interest me, and now it’s hard to find. Abuse and neglect seem to be common plot elements for Japanese teenagers in anime and manga, just in my small sampling.

    1. Thanks for adding some context – that leads me to wonder if there a small case of art imitating life, at least in terms of neglect toward Japanese teens.

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