Saturday, February 15, 2020

REVIEW: SP Baby (manga, vol. 1) by Maki Enjoji, translated by JN Productions

SP Baby is a romance series published by VIZ Media. I bought it from a used bookstore.


Tamaki Hasegawa is a part-timer on her way to an interview for a full-time job when she comes across a man being chased by someone she thinks means him harm. It turns out to be a misunderstanding, but the man, Kagetora Sugo, offers to replace her ruined interview outfit and even hire his bodyguard! It turns out that Kagetora is actually the nephew of the prime minister. He insists that he and Tamaki have previously met, but Tamaki can't recall him at all. One thing she does know: she needs to establish some boundaries between the two of them, fast. For some reason he keeps trying to kiss her. It bothers her, because the guy she's really interested in is Natsu, a kind employee at a flower shop.

This is a short series, only two volumes long, and this first volume did not leave me with a good impression. The artwork was okay, but forgettable. The premise was ridiculous - what kind of person would hire a random girl with enthusiasm but no particular skills beyond "can kick high" to be their bodyguard?

Kagetora wasn't appealing at all. Sure, he was rich and good-looking. Tamaki was literally a special person to him - one of those instances where Kagetora had a medical condition that affected his interactions with everyone but Tamaki (yes, I rolled my eyes). Unfortunately, he viewed this as an excuse to commit sexual assault, kissing Tamaki multiple times throughout the volume without her consent.

I had zero sympathy for him, and in fact cheered Tamaki on, when Tamaki began setting up firmer boundaries between the two of them, calling him "sir" any time she spoke to him in order to remind him that he was her employer. When he tried to tell her how sad the distance she was putting between them made him, she straight up told him what she was doing and why:
"This is a job, right? I'm your bodyguard. Sure...I'm still a useless rookie. But I've been working hard as best I can. If you are going to treat me like that, then why make me your bodyguard? I would've been better off being a maid! Kissing me without my consent and teasing me... If you're keeping me by your side simply to toy with me, please stop. Please treat me as your bodyguard..." (145-146)
Go, Tamaki! Unfortunately, Kagetora chose to interpret this as "show me that you're serious about how you feel about me" rather than "please show me respect and treat me like any other employee." And the present Tamaki gave Kagetora at the end of the volume had me wincing. I don't care that the guy brought her flowers and was acting a little vulnerable, she didn't owe him anything. Boundaries out the window. Darn it.

I wasn't a fan of Tamaki at first, but she grew on me as the story progressed. Unfortunately, the future I see for her includes Kagetora pushing his way further into her life, and her being too nice to freeze him out and subsequently giving up on her secret crush on Natsu. Who will probably be revealed to have a girlfriend and view Tamaki as more of an honorary little sister than anything. I wish I were more interested in the mystery of how Tamaki and Kagetora first met. I'm guessing it has something to do with Tamaki's parents' accident.

Well, one more volume to go, so I guess I'll find out soon if my predictions are correct.


Each chapter ends with a single-panel bonus comic. My favorite is the one that revealed that Master Daitokuji, the elderly man assigned to train Tamaki to fight, is married to the elderly stuntwoman from the first chapter.

No comments:

Post a Comment