My Girlfriend’s Child is an ongoing Shojo manga series created with story and art by Mamoru Aoi. The first volume was released by publisher Seven Seas Entertainment back in April 2023 and the second volume was released a few months later in July. The English team responsible for the localization include Hana Allen as Translator, Phil Christie as Letterer and H. Qi for Cover Design. Recommended for older teens, fifteen years and up for subject matter, it is a series that is covering sexuality and reproduction topics with a brief scene of the teenage couple being intimate in the first volume.
Mamoru Aoi’s ongoing Shojo Manga Series about a couple experiencing a teen pregnancy remains a Shojo classic in the making. My Girl Friend’s Child has quietly been building up to be a stunning and meticulous tale on body autonomy and the lives of teenagers, especially a teenage girl’s life changed forever. With a small caveat to the English translated name of the series that Rebecca Silverman pointed out here in her review at Anime News Network, that I agree with, this is a manga series that I feel is tackling young love and tough choices in a realistic way that carries much weight. I have fallen for the mangaka’s narrative of a teen girl protected and supported by her boyfriend and the non-judgmental way the creator presents the story and their choices is a refreshing and sweet breath of fresh air.
Note: This editorial will explore the characters and plot points of My Girlfriend’s Child. Please know that while I do not spoil the entirety of the currently published volumes of the manga certain details are revealed and elaborated on. To avoid any spoilers, please consider reading this brilliant manga and returning to read this editorial if this caught your eye!
The Appeal of Gentleness
An important part of not just the narrative in My Girl Friend’s Child but the nature of how the mangaka presents the characters on page is the way gentleness is employed to young Sachi. Sachi is a teenage girl who loves hearing the story from her mom that her name means “happiness bestowed by God.” (The Japanese kanji used for her name means good fortune and is commonly read as Fuku, which is the nickname that everyone mostly calls her by.) She’s a loved child in her family and neighborhood and school with boyfriend Takara who is sweet on her and someone she’s known forever.
The first few pages of the first volume find Sachi out in the snow looking for her beloved cat, Nora, and Takara, her boyfriend who finds her. Nora is a cat she tried to bring home as a much younger child and was refused by her mother. Takara’s grandfather offered to take the cat much to the happiness of the younger Sachi and all these years later she knows that the cat is safe and loved and only a walk away to visit. Here he stands tall and resilient to her distressing, scrambling self as he comforts her and assures her that Nora, the cat is fine. Later their fun and easy banter after the two are intimate at his place present Takara as a honest and reliable young man who cares about Sachi, her body, and her choice to share her body with him.
Another person in Sachi’s support system is her older brother, a college aged student who meets her at the diner when she texts him for help when she realizes that she has no money–and no way home. She buys a pregnancy test and uses the bathroom in a local diner to get confirmation. After receiving a positive test result, she seats herself in the dining section of the building and falls asleep looking up internet search results about pregnancy symptoms and false pregnancy test results. As she has fallen asleep at the table with her phone out, her older brother finds her and comes to a realization of what kind of predicament his little sister is in. He is the first person in her family who realizes that she’s pregnant and the first person to figure out the news as he apparently calls over Takara who literally ran over to find Sachi to find her emotionally exhausted.
Turns out that older bro is an important person in My Girl Friend’s Child as his actions not only move along the story but present the first person to suggest seeing a professional. Sachi’s brother in the first volume and his actions lead Takara–the boyfriend and childhood friend to Sachi in her time of need. He does not push her to reveal the news nor does he threaten her or react badly to his younger sister who is obviously distressed and in need of help and care. She awakens at the diner with her brother’s jacket over her, with him buying her something to eat, and him point blankly asking her if she’s okay. The next day when Sachi is at home pondering if she’s pregnant as she’s had some vaginal bleeding, her older brother appears at the door with Takara asking if she wants to go for a ride in her car.
After a quick nap, she awakens in the back of the car with Takara and realizes that her older brother has driven the teenagers to an OB-GYN-clinic. In other words, Sachi has arrived at a pace where obstetrician-gynecologists practice and pregnant and possibly pregnant persons come for care. He mentions that he’s brought his sister’s insurance card and encourages them to go inside and make an appointment for surgery. Older Brother also adds that he’ll be with her when she sits down and talks with their mother. While he quietly admonishes both teens for their actions– “How were you planning to take responsibility?” (and even blares on his car’s horn) before his kid sister’s boyfriend tells him that Sachi’s just started her period–meaning she can’t be pregnant. He apologizes when he returns to the car, having taken a breather to come down and makes sure he drives both teens home, apologizing again.
Starting with these two, the use of gentleness in My Girl Friend’s Child makes way for other characters in the second volume which are just as important. When Sachi finally summons up the courage to visit a clinic to confirm from a medical professional what she already knows, she is surprised by the quiet kindness from the female doctor she meets. After greetings and quick instructions on where the teen can put her things like her coat and bag, the doctor who is also the director of the clinic thanks her for coming. Sachi’s whose head was down, either from shame and anxiety or reacting too slowly from bowing from the doctor’s greeting, looks up stunned.
In my hopeful interpretation, the doctor has already clued in on just how much of a terrifying struggle it has been for the girl so far and does her best to be welcoming alongside her professional bedside manner. To be clear, I want this type of provider for every pregnant person who goes for such an appointment. Yet here in the context of a teenage girl figuring out what to do with her body and the life inside her, the kindness of a stranger telling her that no one has the right to criticize her for whatever decision she eventually makes is paramount to gospel. In that same manner, she gives Sachi the ultrasound photos and sends her off with a smile and wave but not before reminding her that her doors are open.
Starting with the female doctor, the use of gentleness in My Girl Friend’s Child continues in the second volume with the reveal with Sachi being forced to tell her mother as Takara’s mother has found out and is coming over later with her son. After Sachi’s appointment at the clinic, her boyfriend meets her and assures her that he’s on her side at his family’s home. He goes over options with a calendar with his girlfriend and comforts her, telling her that he’s with her no matter what she decides yet they’ll need their parents’ consent in the end. It is then that his mother comes home and angrily confronts her son.
In the car ride to her family’s home, Sachi is intimidated and terrified by the anger manifested by Takara’s mother and bails out of the car in the middle of the road and runs home. While she is worried by the possible reaction of her mother, she knows that she doesn’t want her mother to be ambushed and would probably be hurt if told the news by a third party. Instead, Sachi’s mother meets her child with a different energy: a calm force who holds her hand and thanks her for telling her.
She hints that she suspected the news and guides the conversation into one of agency and decisions and consequences: this is something her child and Takara must decide on their own. Then Mom goes out to meet Takara and his mother with a brave, united front but with tears in her eyes. With her mother, the doctor, her boyfriend, and her older brother all starting out treating Sachi with gentleness, readers see the first members of the girl’s support system gel into place in these first two volumes of the series.
The Push for Agency and Knowledge
Another reason why My Girlfriend’s Child really works together is how the mangaka presents the story and the choices of the characters–in a non-judgmental way. It is a refreshing take on not just a topic such as teen pregnancy but with young adults coming into big decisions that will impact their lives forever. This includes Sachi who is now unsure what to do with a new life growing inside of her. Related to media but not manga but television, I often think about how teen pregnancies have been romanticized (used for exploitation, even) or used as inaccurate and skewed cautionary tales that don’t serve anyone.
I keep thinking back on Sachi’s first exam and the doctor asking questions, offering tissue to her crying patient, and coaching the teen girl through the physical part of the exam which includes using the ultra probe. Before I reread volume two in preparation of writing this piece, what I remembered the most was the part of the chapter in volume two with the smiling face of the Doctor and Sachi’s wide eyed expression when seeing the eight-week lifeform of her baby up on the screen via the ultrasound. Rereading this second volume made me remember just how important proper health care is and how impressionable first visits and meetings are for those in need of care and direction regarding their bodies.
At the end of the second volume of My Girl Friend’s Child, I was pleasantly surprised to find extra pages at the end of the volume that included a short interview between the mangaka Mamoru Aoi and Midwife and Sex Education Youtuber Shiori-nu-san (Onuki Shiori)! The special pages of dialogue between the two creatives starts with “A message to all teenagers” before a short paragraph about Shiori-nu’s work and some of her thoughts and questions after reading the first volume of My Girl Friend’s Child. Some of the highlights are the mangaka’s interest in seeing more accurate information about pregnancies especially for teenage girls in Japan which Shiori-nu-san praises as in this format of manga it is more accessible.
I also loved the speaking point on Takara-kun, Sachi’s boyfriend who adores her, is a protector of her and is a character ready to go the distance with and for her. The mangaka mentions how she hopes that boys that might read the manga consider Takara’s actions and perhaps emulate them. Ultimately, the mangaka asserts that she hopes readers find relatable characters on the page and that teenagers feel comfortable in asking questions and finding sex education, so they are not left in the dark about their bodies. I feel so moved by this simple but layered quest in research and heart in making My Girl Friend’s Child when the mangaka was pregnant and learning about childbirth.
The second volume of My Girl Friend’s Child did not end in any clean and pretty absolutes. While Sachi’s mother was gentle with her and steadfast in how this choice is firmly in the hands of her daughter and her boyfriend, the girl is left feeling listless and powerless. Takara and his mother are still coming over to speak about the situation with Sachi’s mother in a few days–it is a future battle to anticipate and prepare for. (As a reader, I am expecting a blowout as Takara’s mother demanded them to abort the growing child again and again in this volume.) I am really impressed with Mamoru Aoi’s mission to give the teens in this story permission to consider their choices and be the makers of their destiny. Sachi’s decision is just as important even if she’s not an adult.
The synopsis of the third upcoming volume (release date 11/2023) tells us that: “The night she told her mom she was pregnant, Sachi felt crushed by anxiety and loneliness at her unexpected reaction. Sensing the presence of the child inside her, though, one thing became clear: she doesn’t want to have an abortion. Now the day of the joint meeting between her and Takara’s families has arrived, and tensions are high. Will Sachi be able to express her mixed feelings about having an abortion even though people keep pushing her to go through with it? Or will she cave under the pressure?” With just two volumes in, I appreciate and admire the mangaka for crafting this tale featuring how important it is to use gentleness not just in Shojo manga but in stories with relationships dealing with young people in need. My Girl Friend’s Child, as a series, has also upped the bar in reminding us why accessible and accurate, detailed education is needed on the topics of sex and sexuality, especially for teens and any reader who wants to see people gain agency in their lives.
My Girlfriend’s Child is published through Seven Seas Entertainment and can be found where more comics and manga are found.
Love manga? So do we! Check out more manga reviews and related content here!