Hasegawa Tamaki is high school graduate in her early twenties. Both her parents passed away, so she skipped going to University in order to work several part-time jobs to support herself and her younger brother. Although she's completely unqualified, she is trying her best to get a regular full-time job at a good company...
I almost dropped this after barely reading it. There was sexual harassment, sexual assault (several times), homophobia, putting people in life or death situations, and lying—all in the first chapter. I powered on so that I could give this a thorough review.
Both the protagonist, Hasegawa Tamaki (Tama), and the love interest, Sugou Kagetora (Tora), have an unhealthy codependency. She wants him to need her and he refuses to let her protest anything he does. Upon their first meeting, he found it so offensive that she thought he was gay that he wanted a woman for a bodyguard to prevent the misunderstanding. If you were a
respectful person, being called "gay" wouldn't be the end of the world. After that fiasco, he repeatedly touches, kisses, and invades Tama's personal space when she doesn't want him to or when she doesn't expect it. Tora is always throwing Tama on her back as if that were some great, romantic feat. All the while, Tama harbors a lifelong crush on her neighbor and childhood friend (whose personality can be equated to a glass of air) that she magically forgets about within the last 2 chapters.
Tama is less like a bodyguard and more like a babysitter who is constantly getting harassed, poked, and prodded by the kid she's babysitting. Tora, a bored and wealthy politician's nephew, doesn't know how to be a decent person and wants Tama to change him. He even says that in one of the later chapters. The author tries to excuse his sexual abuse with something about "dulled emotions" or whatever but it's just bad writing. I decided a long time ago that I was done with men who have the resources to take care of themselves and better themselves but refuse to. I won't have it in real life and I won't stand for it in my fiction either. Sexual abuse isn't something impressionable young girls should be thinking is "normal."
The one thing I can praise about SP x Baby is the fact that Tama started out going to a job interview. I like how Enjouji portrays how tough the job market is, whether you're 18 or 28 or older. Another thing I really appreciated was that Tama had no degree and very few qualifications for the jobs she applied for. It's another realistic thing within our generation as college standards become more difficult to keep up with (especially if you're poor) and college tuition rises. The author doesn't focus on it but it was an introductory exposition I liked.
The concept of a political man falling in love with his bodyguard is a terrific one and I would love to read a great story about that. The execution in SP x Baby, however, veered off into a ditch and burned out. The minor characters are either ridiculously mean to Tama, antagonists, or they're completely forgettable and the main characters are somehow worse. Skip this and opt for something more sensible.
I had decided that all of Enjouji Maki's female protagonists are misogynists. Then I read this. Wow. This reminded me of Hapi Mari, where the spunky opinionated girl becomes a soulless doormat. This overturns all of that. Of course, this is a fairy tale and the male protagonist is like Mr Darcy, but the girl remains true to herself and sticks to her decisions. This is the first time I have read something like this in a Japanese manga. The heroine is a bodyguard and is to remain a bodyguard after marriage too. The hero like other other Enjouji Maki's male protagonists is handsome, rich,
adorable and open to reviewing himself. But the heroine does not make him a monster here.
Due to the unfortunate event of her parents' death, the main girl has to support her brother and herself alone with no relative contribution. She provides well for her brother so he can focus on school, but as for herself, she only has a high school education. The lack of qualifications makes her a bad candidate for full time jobs. She's in her 20s and has only had part time jobs. One day, she is on the way to an interview, and sees these two men chasing each other, assuming it's a lover's quarrel, she tries to break it off. The one man is in
awe and wants her to be his...full time bodyguard???
She finds the offer strange too but it's the opportunity of a lifetime. Her boss is the prime minster's nephew and has a one sided love for her. Apparently, they have met some time long ago but she doesn't remember. He's strange. He has a condition where he is unable to feel anything, but with her he can, which is why he kisses her at inappropriate moments. He even stole her first kiss! However, she has a crush on her childhood friend who has been helping her and her brother from the start. She just hasn't confessed.
I think it's a cute manga. The art is very good. It's funny at times because the main character is very innocent and freaks out. It's a nice josei but I feel like 10 chapters is too little.