Baby face. If you don’t know what that means, then I will explain it to you right now. A “baby face” is someone who has a face of a child. This person’s face has a youthful, innocent appearance even as he or she grows older. In this post, I am going to introduce two shoujo manga where the protagonists have baby faces. These manga are Saruyama! and Hiyokoi. Yet despite having cute and adorable faces, baby faces can cause an inferiority complex within a person.
Saruyama! (Monkey High!,サルヤマっ！)
By: Shouko Akira
Haruna Aizawa transfers to a new school due to her father’s political scandal. Haruna’s first impression of her new school is that it is like a monkey mountain. All the students are loud and energetic. The students have cliques and they get into fights. Haruna befriends and falls in love with a boy named Masaru Yamashita, also known as “Macharu.” Macharu is known to the entire class as “The Baby Monkey” due to his personality and appearance.
Macharu has a boyish charm that captures the attention of Haruna. Usually, Macharu’s best friend, Atsuyuki Kido, gets all the girls because of his more manly appeal, leaving Macharu as the lonely wingman. Macharu is the shadow behind his best friend’s player status. His silliness and boyish appeal makes him more prone to be friendzoned as oppose to the guy that is “date-able”.
By Moe Yukimaru
Hiyori Nishiyama is a shy and short 15 year-old girl, who was hospitalized for a year due to a car accident. She starts school halfway through freshman year, and is desk mates with a very tall and popular boy named Yuushin Hirose. At first, Hiyori gets annoyed at Yuushin’s bad habits like sleeping and eating during class, but she eventually becomes friends with him, and slowly develops an unrequited love for him. Yet due to her shyness, she does not know how to confess to him.
Hiyori’s nickname, Hiyorin, was created by Yuushin when he thought that Hiyori’s physical appearance is like a little chick. She is cute and adorable. Yet due to her shyness and petiteness, Hiyori has a hard time talking to people. As a result, she is unable to make friends. She admires Yuushin for his friendly and outgoing persona because it allows him to be friends with everyone in the class. There is an actual OVA for Hiyokoi. I kind of wish they make an anime for this manga though.
What is interesting about both shoujo manga is how the main couples seem to balance each other out. In Saruyama!, Haruna is a quiet and reserved girl while Macharu is a goofy and energetic guy. Unlike the usual shoujo manga storyline, Macharu breaks the stereotype of how the main guy is typically handsome, smart, and popular. Macharu is the complete opposite; in fact, he could be considered average and normal. However in Saruyama!, he is the main guy that gets the girl. Similarly in Hiyokoi, Hiyori is a timid, petite, but studious girl while Yuushin is a very tall, social, but lazy guy. Yet by becoming friends with Yuushin, Hiyori soon changes her outlook on life, and slowly becomes more social and open to people.
The reason why I entitled this blog post, “Baby Face: Thoughts on Saruyama! and Hiyokoi” is because one of the main characters in each manga possess a baby face appearance. Baby face. It is a blessing as well as a curse. For Macharu, he is categorized as the goof ball. He is more of the nice guy who is friends with the girls as oppose to being the boyfriend. While Hiyori’s petiteness causes her to feel shy and inferior among her classmates. As a result, she has a difficult time making friends.
Now in reality, how would I know that being a baby face is a blessing and a curse? Because I have a baby face. There are benefits to it. I don’t have to wear make-up in order to look young. However, I do find it annoying sometimes when people treat me like a child. Some people make a quick assumption that I am a young kid based on my baby face appearance. When people assume my age based on my appearance, their tone of voice and dialogue towards me changes. The terms, “sweetie” and “honey” are constantly used. Rather than speaking as equals, it becomes a scenario of an adult speaking to a child. I feel like this is another form of age discrimination because people do treat me differently by assuming my age. Now, I don’t go around telling people I meet my age every time. I learned to deal with these situations as a normality. It is an annoying, yet also interesting observation though.