Review: SP Baby Volume 1

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Being a bodyguard means protecting your client at your own cost. Who then will protect your heart from the client?

With VIZ Media launching a new manga series, SP Baby Volume 1, in November, (we sort of, but not really) answer this question.

A manga is a style of Japanese comic. There are two general types of manga categories which are divided by gender targets: Shonen Manga for boys and Shoja 1 for girls. After learning a bit about SP 0] Volume 1, I learned that there were two additional gender targeted manga categories by age: Seinan Manga for the male demographic between 15 and 40 years of age, and Josei Manga for the female demographic between 15 and 40 years of age. A Seinan and a Josei manga focus on more mature themes explored in a slightly more realistic setting than Shonan manga  and Josie manga. A great visual example can be seen from “The Manga Demographics Explained.”

After learning what Josei manga applied to a reader such as myself, then SP Baby Volume 1 peaked my interest. As much as I love and adore shoja manga (Cardcaptor Sakura will always be near and dear to my hear), one can only handle so much sugar coated atmospheres and unrealistic situations. Well,  SP Baby Volume 1 still delivered an unrealistic situation, but at least the protagonist was an older character. Points given for having a non-student character, but major demerits on everything else.

From Maki EnjojiIn, the creator of Happy Marriage?! , comes SP Baby Volume 1 ( assuming that “SP” stands for “Special Protection”).  Tamaki Hasegawa is a young woman who is struggling to find a job.  Due to family troubles, Tamaki only has a high school diploma and in this highly competitive world, almost every door is closed to her. While waking dejectedly down the sidewalk, she happens to stop an assault on a man running for his life. This man is Kagetora Sugo, the Prime Minister’s nephew. Apparently influence by Tamaki’s quick reflex and legs, Kagetora offers Tamaki a job as his bodyguard. She refuses at first but her limited opportunities eventually changes that answer to yes. So Tamaki begins her training as Kagetora’s bodyguard. Although Tamaki tries to keep it as professional as possible, Kagetora lavishes attention on her as its hinted that they have met before.

Strange and unrealistic situations are deeply rooted in the manga universe but this was so flimsy and hurried. The whole volume is hurried as we are supposed to believe a romance is brewing between Tamaki and Kagetora. It is established in the manga that Kagetora does not feel pain (why? just why?) and has been the target for several attacks. So why, why, whu would he pluck Tamaki off the street? A complete stranger with zero background check done, no training, and someone who said no multiple times? For a high ranking person whom security is key, this is just dumb. Which makes one wonder that the so-called attackers must be even dumber if this is Kagetora’s security detail. The mysterious attacks tend to light fires in the dumpsters so that already speaks volume on their own level of talent.

Even more frustrating is that consent does not exist in this manga in any shape or form. Kagetora is constantly invading Tamaki’s space and is basically not respecting her pleas for professionalism and such.  Without knowing whatever their past connection is, at this point in their lives, Tamaki has no idea who Kagetora is. Knowing that, he should have kept his space and allowed her to get to know him. It would have been more romantic and sweet if Tamaki was allowed to see him at her own rate. The romantic situations that these land themselves in are completely devoid of any warmth, romance, or common sense.

Although both of these characters are so ditzy that maybe they do deserve one another. Tamaki does have fighting as she works hard in her physical training. She does have a big heart and is willing to place herself in danger for the sake of another. A trait that she herself acknowledges as also being a flaw as she would be placing hardship upon those around her. Just having a high school diploma should not excuse a character for her lack of common sense. One would think that such a character would be hardened and more inclined to trust her instincts.

There is just not enough in the first volume to connect to characters or root for a romance.  This fell through as a manga which is sad as I would love to see a live-action adaptation of this story. I would definitely love to a lead female actress show off her martial arts skill all while love is in the air.

It appears that josei comics are not very common  in Western distribution. SP Baby Volume 1 is an unfortunately disappointing flagship for this promoting this manga to Western audiences.

The manga is available digitally via viz.com / VIZ Manga app/ Comixology / Google Play. Available for Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, The series will conclude with Volume #2 on February 2018.

 

 

 

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