Baby and me
A very shoujo styled story...but this isn't of the sweetness and light type. This is very domestic, series and will happily reach in and mess with your mind and heart. This is such potent stuff that watching it can actually be quite tiring!
The story itself is simple and believable, it's the implications and effects that are impressive. In essence we follow a happy Japanese family. Dad works hard, but as a result the family is quite well off. The mother also works hard, having raised a steady and decent son (now ten) and having just had another child. They're a successful and happy Japanese family.
And then things change. The mother is hit, and killed, in a car accident. The father still has to work the long japanese hours to support the family, except now there's a definite hole in how it should be. And as a result the older brother, still a child himself and also feeling the loss of his mother, is forced to accept a large share of the responsibility for raising the baby.
It's shoujo styled and it's pretty potent stuff. It doesn't focus on the `weepy' aspects of the lost mother, as you might expect. That's in the past and the people, while they deeply feel her loss, have had to go on with their lives. The story is mostly in the mind and interactions of the older brother forced to sacrifice many parts of his own life in order to take on a duty he never expected or chose. And the disruption of the `natural' order of things causes all sorts of flow on effects that are very well depicted.
And the lead is well depicted. He's a pretty solid and perceptive person, but at heart he is still a child. While he is capable of looking after the baby the fatique, stress and inner confusion is powerful stuff. He's capable of being cruel, of being selfish or saying hurtful things when his inner stresses overcome his natural balance. But it makes perfect sense, and for powerful scenes, that a real human being would act this way. And the father, and others, while they try to help can only do so much to make it easier.
In a lot of ways the real complexity is not the `burden' of looking after the child. It's the fact that society expects there to be a mother. And the absence of a mother, plus the efforts of a ten year old to fill that gap, cause some fairly dramatic situations. Which serves to unbalance and confuse the youth even more. Add in the fact that even the baby is perceptive enough to know that it is missing something, and react to this loss as a baby would, and it is easy to see how complex the effects of this change are. It's serious and strong stuff, sometimes quite tiring to watch, but like the reality it's not without some rewards. Watching the child when he comes to an understanding, or his thrill when the baby learns to say `oniichan' (big brother), is a positive and rewarding experience.
The production itself is in a shoujo style. Relatively simple character drawings, abstracted backgrounds and environment and delicate coloring. At the same time it has an excellent sense of character, emotion and an ability to depict the `mundane' world. It's quite attractive and very well suited to this kind of subtle and largely internal story. The voices, and the dialogue, are strong and sufficient enough to carry the weight of the story. The music is generally cheerful and gives nice support from the background.
While it would be nice to have a review from someone who's seen more of this series than I, none of my regular sources have a review of this title.