Adult’s Picture Book Manga Explores Love and Family
Image via Yen Press

Adult’s Picture Book Manga Explores Love With a New Family

Adult’s Picture Book is one of those manga series that mixes these poignant, heartfelt, dramatic moments involving a new family with lighthearted slice-of-life asides and love. How? Because like many other series with a young child involved, it balances callbacks to the past, former loves, and potentially awkward or heartbreaking situations with the innocence of an earnest kid.

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Souichiro Kudou’s former classmate, dear friend, and former one-sided love Haruki died. When he did, he left behind a four-year-old named Kiki and asked Kudou to raise her. We don’t see the emotion behind this event or the transition between Kudou suddenly picking up a child. Rather, the story begins in medias res with the little girl already comfortable with him and us starting to understand how he rearranged his life to work from home and raise her.

It’s then that the final piece of this new family puzzle enters the picture in the manga. When dealing with some business forms, Kudou meets a woman named Fusako Makino who bears a striking resemblance to Haruki. The fact that there’s such a physical resemblance, and even similarities in their personalities, results in an immediate connection. After realizing Fusako is also single, he asks her to marry him. 

While some of the set up acknowledges this as a marriage of convenience that benefits both of them and ensures it is easier for them to properly adopt and keep Kiki, there’s more to it too. Throughout the first volume of the Adult’s Picture Book manga, we’re getting the idea of the different kinds of love coming up between characters. 

The most obvious is the relationship between Kudou and Haruki. While the latter is dead throughout the volume, we get these vignettes showing interactions between them over the years. Kudou even made a bit of a confession as to his feelings at one point when explaining if he met a woman he liked as much as Haruki, he’d marry her. I appreciated the security Kei Itoi seemed to present when it came to Kudou’s situation. He’s secure in the fact he loved Haruki, was fine with rearranging his life to raise his daughter, and there’s this impression that even though Kudou doesn’t seem to know what sorts of relationships he’d have or if he’d be cut out for them, he is willing to try.

I also appreciated that Haruki himself is a bit of a mystery. There are moments when it suggests he could have similar feelings for Kudou. Certainly, he trusted and valued him enough to leave his daughter in his care. But it’s almost like because of the situation, we get to spend the first volume of the manga appreciating the type of love he might have had for this person who mattered to him for so long. 

Then, there are the moments with Fusako. She only appears briefly in the manga, so we don’t get any sort of major relationship revelations and only see her just start to fit into the new family. However, she’s this easy-going, pleasant woman. She gets along well with both Kudou and Kiki. I got the impression that it could be starting out as the sort of love between friends, rather than family, with perhaps the potential for something more.

Of course, there’s also the love between Kiki and Kudou, with Adult’s Picture Book already suggesting in the first volume of the manga that she’s starting to grow closer to her new father. We see how easily she gets along with him. She trusts him. She wants to ensure he’s taken care of, with small gestures like her asking for juice for him when she’s being given some. When it comes to the future family’s last name, she gets the final say and very assertively determines it will be Kudou’s already showing her affection for him. There’s this innocence and acceptance that is quite moving.

It just all comes together very well. It makes me feel like we’re going to get to see Adult’s Picture Book spend the rest of the manga exploring the relationship dynamics between Kudou, Fusako, Kiki, and Haruki. The only thing I felt was missing is the absence of anything relating to Haruki and Kiki’s relationship, but then there’s also room for that to develop. 

Volume 1 of Adult’s Picture Book is available now, and Yen Press will release on June 18, 2024

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Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.