Katakura Kippei is a high school playboy, always flirting, always lazy, and always getting into trouble. Sakashita Yuzuyu is his 5-year-old cousin, whose mother, Miyako, abandoned her. Yuzuyu is taken in by the Katakuras, and Kippei's older sister decides that until Miyako returns, Kippei will take care of Yuzuyu.
Aishiteruze Baby is one of those anime that is a lot better than it may seem at first glance. Seeing the title and the fact that the two main characters are a teenage boy and a little girl, you'd think that it's a lolicon anime. But fortunately, it isn't. Instead, it's a touching and heartfelt shoujo drama. When I heard that Aishiteruze Baby was going to be made into an anime, I immediately wanted to see it, and I was not disappointed.
The characters and plot make this anime shine. Although Kippei appears to be a lazy bum, he does care for Yuzuyu and looks out for her, and tries to take his job seriously. Of course, since he's had no experience in raising children before, he gets into some sticky situations (such as what I can only call "The Onigiri of Doom"). Yuzuyu herself is that rarest of movie and TV children: a kid who actually acts like a kid and not like a little adult. She's cute, but not sugary sweet, and watching her bond with Kippei and the rest of the family is a joy to watch. The other characters are just as good, especially Kokoro, Kippei's classmate who at first seems to be the stock EEEEEVIL character, but soon proves to be much more than that, and Shouta-kun, one of Yuzuyu's friends in kindergarten who is introduced in the later episodes.
The plot might seem to be rather "kiddy" at first, but it does have its serious moments. Yuzuyu is harassed at kindergarten because she is motherless, Kippei has to prove that he can be a responsible person, and in several heartbreaking scenes in episode 16, it is revealed that Shouta-kun's mother often beats him when she gets drunk. Fortunately, Aishiteruze Baby does not wallow in angst and has many funny scenes, too.
The art is mostly good, with lots of pastels, although the character designs only have some resemblances to Maki Youko's distinctive character designs for the original manga. The animation is somewhat low-budget, but at least it's not as creaky as, say, the second season of Tokyo Underground or any other Studio Pierrot work. The opening and ending songs are soft ballads and the rest of the music follows in this vein. It somewhat suits the anime, although sometimes the music score made me want to fall asleep.
In short, I really like this anime, and I look forward to seeing more of it. A lot of anime nowadays that have "cute" stuff in them usually push stupid bratty characters on you and expect you to think they're cute. Either that, or they pander to the toddlers. Aishiteruze Baby does neither, and that is why I recommend it.
A very sweet series that leaves you wanting more. Subtract three stars if you absolutely hate cute stuff. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: There isn't anything super-explicit in Aishiteruze Baby (it is targeted to 5-12 year-old girls, after all), but there are still a couple serious scenes, especially in episode 16. This series would probably be OK for kids 8 and up, though.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (16/26)
Aishiteruze Baby © 2004 Maki Youko / Shueisha / TMS / Animax
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