SP Baby Graphic Novel Volume 2 cover image
Rated “+” for “Older Teen”
Twenty-three year old Tamaki Hasegawa wants to join the “Security Police” (SP) and works hard towards that goal. One day, she is on the way to an interview for a much-needed job when she stops to help a young man whom she believes is being assaulted. That young man turns out to be Kagetora Sugou, the nephew of the prime minister of Japan. Now, Kagetora wants Tamaki to be his bodyguard, and although she accepts, Tamaki does not realize that she has met Kagetora in the past.
As SP Baby, Vol. 2 (Chapters 6 to 9 to Final Mission) begins, Tamaki isn't feeling well. She perks up, however, when her younger brother, Taishi Hasegawa, informs her that the most important man in her life, longtime friend, Natsuo “Natsu” Shino, is coming for a visit. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old who wants to be the most important man in her life, Kagetora, also stops by for a visit.
With Kagetora acting more like a boyfriend than a boss, he is bound to give Natsu the wrong idea about their relationship, which is supposed to be strictly professional. Natsu, however, also has some big news to share with Tamaki. So will Tamaki let her guard down and accept Kagetora's advances? Will she become his “SP Baby?”
[This volume includes a five-page bonus SP Baby manga story.]
THE LOWDOWN: The SP Baby manga is written and illustrated by Maki Enjoji. She is one of the current reigning queens of shojo romance. Enjoji specializes in chronicling the evolution of romances between young females and young males whose personalities clash, as seen in VIZ Media's current Enjoji project, An Incurable Case of Love.
SP Baby Graphic Novel Volume 2 is the final volume of this two-volume series. Vol. 1 was not so much a love story as it was a “Me Too” era violation. Enjoji depicted Kagetora as a bore who did not respect Tamaki's space. He acted like a privileged brat, and his actions sometime bordered on being criminal. Tamaki was depicted as plucky and determined, but she lacked the good sense to quit her job as Kagetora's bodyguard. In fact, if she had trusted her feelings, she would not have taken the job in the first place.
Vol. 2 is a more traditional frothy shojo romance story. Kagetora comes across more as a desperate pest who is madly in love with Tamaki. The plucky Tamaki of the first volume is still plucky in Vol. 2, but her feelings are more conflicted. Also, now, her feelings lean more towards accepting Kagetora's courtship. JN Productions' translation conveys the sharp change in narrative tone from the first volume to the second. As usual, Inori Fukuda Trant's lettering is perfect for a Maki Enjoji manga.
In her afterword, Enjoji writes that she was pregnant will producing the chapters that comprise the first volume and struggling with a newborn child will producing the chapters for the second volume. That might explain the shifts in tone from the first half to the second half of the series.
So, SP Baby is not a great series, and I think that it is the least of her works in terms of quality that I have read to date. But the ending is nice.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of Maki Enjoji will want to try the Shojo Beat title, SP Baby.
6 out of 10