“Band of Brothers” – Baby & Me (manga) – 9/10 Candy Canes

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. ~Marc Brown

Genre: Slice-of-life/Drama/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (18 Volumes/ 18 Volumes)

Art: It’s definitely 90’s artwork, but not as ‘girly’ as most shoujo from that era.

Licensed: The manga is licensed in the US

Summary: Takuya is a normal Japanese elementary student whose mother died not very long ago, leaving him alone with his father and his baby brother Minoru. But his father is a busy man, and Takuya has to look after Minoru. Because of this responsibility that would normally never burden a child of his age, Takuya sometimes resents his fate and his baby brother… but his love for Minoru gives him the strength to carry on. (Source: ANN)

Review: One of the things that kids must go through when a parent dies is that there are so many ways a parent fills our life that it can be hard to fill their shoes. Takuya can no longer be a normal boy, he must also be a mother at a very young age.

This is equal parts learning to be a parent and brotherly adventures. Takuya attempts to teach his brother to eat correctly, not throw a fit, share and be nice to others. Then you have how Takuya and the other brothers in the series bond over their sibling’s misadventure and childish love triangles. Many times what happens never fails to draw a smile out of me- possibly because, as an older sister, I can relate to many of these stories and events.

Because of the variety of side-characters, you can see the different attitudes towards family that are taken by some of the guys- you have the reluctant and bored older brother who doesn’t want to take care of his siblings (Gon, who has both parents but a sister that unfortunately takes after the dad’s side of the family), and one from a very large family, where playing with the youngest is given to the one that has the least responsibility around the house.

Not all story arcs are serious. Many are just fun or silly, like the two times we get to go on ‘dream adventures’ with the characters. You have festival arcs and beach ars, buit all offer something a little different to the story.

This is for the most part a decent depiction of life as an older sibling, and resonates with how a household would be with a missing parent. My small complaints are that some of the story arcs get a little farfetched- at one point, Takuya and Minoru are in a bank robbery, and in another must deal with a guy who got stabbed.

Also, Minoru and Takuya are fairly static characters, with little growing-up or changing. This does change a bit near the end, when Takuya deals with issues about resentment about his brother, and it boils over when Minoru has a temper tantrum, but this is for 2 volumes out of 18. That’s not much. Minoru remains a fairly typical 3 year old throughout the story. Even so, this did little to hamper my enjoyment of the manga.

Overall, this is an interesting manga about two brothers growing up without a mother.

Recommended: Definitely! 13+ though, since there are more mature themes dealt with here. There’s an arc about a mother who’s overwhelmed with her baby and starts abusing him (this never gets too violent, and is resolved fairly quickly). There is some sexuality present- one of the women tries to attract the father by doing some scandalous things, such as having him get his Valentine’s Day chocolates from between her breasts (not as dirty as this initially sounds) and the father having pre-marital sex is implied. One child gets hit by a car later in the series- this is not graphic but may be disturbing for younger readers. The boys occasionally go shirtless, as when they’re at the beach in bathing suits or Minoru needs his short changed. In one arc a man is stabbed (he gets better). Takuya was conceived out of wedlock, but his parents married before he was born. And there are arcs dealing with bullying, other abuse, and a friend of Takuya’s going through a physiological thing that all teenage boys go through and needing to talk to Takuya’s dad. This conversation is just implied, though Takuya does ask what they talked about. There is also some corporal punishment such as slapping and spanking, some playful/comedic violence (lighter than Looney Tunes), and one of the side characters smokes and gambles on a regular basis.

Other Series You Might Enjoy:
Aishiteruze Baby (manga and anime)
Flat (manga)
Bunny Drop (manga)
Yotsuba (manga)
Minami-ke (anime)
Tokyo Godfathers (anime)


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