Hyper Baby article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 4, No. 7, June 2001
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

While Hyper Baby may not have made it into any top ten manga sales lists, its artist, Kazumi Ooya, has been a well-loved regular in the shojo manga anthology Betsucomi since her debut in 1988. This charming four-volume series combines comedy, action, drama and suspense in fun and unexpected ways that are sure to delight almost any fan of shojo comics.

A child is born. In an old fashioned Japanese house, eight shadowed adults are gathered because of the birth. "Where..." speaks the leader, "Yes, to the east. Search..." A barefoot boy stands atop a hospital and contemplates the cityscape below. In a high school, something causes a bespectacled young man to look out the window. Outside, a girl runs to the school gate.

Although the series begins rather mysteriously, readers are soon caught up in the excitement of the heroine, Maria. Finally her sister's baby has been born! Maria's a fairly normal girl from a loving family. Her family has become even closer since her brother-in-law's untimely death, leaving her sister a pregnant widow. Everyone is overjoyed that the delivery of little Masaki went smoothly, but strange things begin to happen to Maria after her nephew's birth. First there's the mysterious boy she keeps glimpsing the day Masaki is born, then the shockingly intense look the baby gives her in the hospital nursery. Newborns can't really focus their eyes, so Maria figures she's just over-tired. One week later, when it's time for Maria's sister to bring Masaki home, the family encounters a strange young man at the hospital. When Maria's sister bumps into a chair and is about to stumble, this young man catches her and asks the baby's name. His intensity totally creeps the family out. After mom hustles her sister and the baby away, the young man turns to Maria and gives her a huge bouquet, saying it's for Masaki.

At home, the neighbors and their monkey, Pete, come to see the baby. When Maria thinks she hears Pete speak, she writes it off as hearing things. After all, having a baby around the house can be very tiring. That night, Maria's awakened by someone calling her name. She goes to her sister's room and sees the baby float out of his crib! Then Masaki turns into the boy she kept seeing the day he was born. "Hey, Maria," he says with complete familiarity. Maria snaps awake -it was just a dream. Everything seems normal in the morning, but more weirdness awaits: she can't get the words ‘meet Ichiro (long o) Kozuki (long o)' out of her head; she guesses correctly that there's going to be a pop quiz in literature; and on the way home, she thinks she sees that boy again. "Maria," his voice echoes in her head. She turns with a vehement "Quit following me!" only to discover a couple behind her. After Maria apologizes and rushes into her house, the couple exchange villainous glances. Maria retreats to the sanctity of her room only to find the mysterious boy there. Although she tries to convince herself she's only seeing things, he explains that he's the spirit of her nephew. He is Masaki! Since babies can't talk, he has manifested as a boy so he might communicate with Maria. The spirit of Masaki warns her someone's after him. With a look that could melt a girl's heart, he pleads, "Maria, please protect me."

The story becomes even more bizarre and amusing as Masaki's spirit begins to pop up regularly and Maria discovers the true identity of the young man with the bouquet. Who are the mysterious eight? Why does Maria need to meet Ichiro (long o) Kozuki (long o)? How is it she can hear a monkey talk? Kidnap a copy of Hyper Baby and find out!

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